In the interest of (maybe) a new discussion... (Agnosticism)

by xeno6696 @, Sonoran Desert, Saturday, December 10, 2022, 18:04 (445 days ago)

https://www.podbean.com/ew/pb-sa3cz-13334e1

This is a podcast from a prominent teacher in my lineage of Buddhism. Ajahn Brahmali is a Norwegian who took ordination under Ajahn Brahm in Western Australia who was himself taught by Ajahn Chah, a legendary figure in both Thai Forest Buddhism as well as within the Theravadan tradition as a whole.

This precise podcast does present difficulties that aren't as difficult for me NOW as they were 15 or so years ago when I had joined this site. (Alas, the main reason I've stayed away was that like my friend Kent, the conversations never seemed to really "move," they tended to get rather repetitive, and well, I was absolutely a contributor to that.)

This discussion ranges from the issues Brahmali has with "Secular Buddhism," a branch that at times I have found myself within, but offers some critical discussion that fans out to discuss Kuhn's "Structure of Scientific Revolutions" as well as how western philosophy pendulum swings between Plato's idealism and Aristotle's materialism, and precisely how Buddhism sits within the overall mix. Yes, he even touches on NDEs and in how those topics are actually handled in the Buddhist scriptures dating back to at least 2300yrs ago.

This one was a tough one for me to get through, notably because rebirth and NDEs are two subjects that I have felt are filled with enough claptrap to fill volumes, but I just turned 43 and am approaching all of life differently than I was back when I was 27-28 and full of hubris. (well, you would hope that would be the case!)

--
\"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.\"

In the interest of (maybe) a new discussion...

by David Turell @, Saturday, December 10, 2022, 19:03 (445 days ago) @ xeno6696

https://www.podbean.com/ew/pb-sa3cz-13334e1

This is a podcast from a prominent teacher in my lineage of Buddhism. Ajahn Brahmali is a Norwegian who took ordination under Ajahn Brahm in Western Australia who was himself taught by Ajahn Chah, a legendary figure in both Thai Forest Buddhism as well as within the Theravadan tradition as a whole.

This precise podcast does present difficulties that aren't as difficult for me NOW as they were 15 or so years ago when I had joined this site. (Alas, the main reason I've stayed away was that like my friend Kent, the conversations never seemed to really "move," they tended to get rather repetitive, and well, I was absolutely a contributor to that.)

This discussion ranges from the issues Brahmali has with "Secular Buddhism," a branch that at times I have found myself within, but offers some critical discussion that fans out to discuss Kuhn's "Structure of Scientific Revolutions" as well as how western philosophy pendulum swings between Plato's idealism and Aristotle's materialism, and precisely how Buddhism sits within the overall mix. Yes, he even touches on NDEs and in how those topics are actually handled in the Buddhist scriptures dating back to at least 2300yrs ago.

This one was a tough one for me to get through, notably because rebirth and NDEs are two subjects that I have felt are filled with enough claptrap to fill volumes, but I just turned 43 and am approaching all of life differently than I was back when I was 27-28 and full of hubris. (well, you would hope that would be the case!)

I'll open it up and see if I can follow it with no background. I will turn 94 in April.

In the interest of (maybe) a new discussion...

by David Turell @, Saturday, December 10, 2022, 21:17 (445 days ago) @ David Turell

https://www.podbean.com/ew/pb-sa3cz-13334e1

This is a podcast from a prominent teacher in my lineage of Buddhism. Ajahn Brahmali is a Norwegian who took ordination under Ajahn Brahm in Western Australia who was himself taught by Ajahn Chah, a legendary figure in both Thai Forest Buddhism as well as within the Theravadan tradition as a whole.

This precise podcast does present difficulties that aren't as difficult for me NOW as they were 15 or so years ago when I had joined this site. (Alas, the main reason I've stayed away was that like my friend Kent, the conversations never seemed to really "move," they tended to get rather repetitive, and well, I was absolutely a contributor to that.)

This discussion ranges from the issues Brahmali has with "Secular Buddhism," a branch that at times I have found myself within, but offers some critical discussion that fans out to discuss Kuhn's "Structure of Scientific Revolutions" as well as how western philosophy pendulum swings between Plato's idealism and Aristotle's materialism, and precisely how Buddhism sits within the overall mix. Yes, he even touches on NDEs and in how those topics are actually handled in the Buddhist scriptures dating back to at least 2300yrs ago.

This one was a tough one for me to get through, notably because rebirth and NDEs are two subjects that I have felt are filled with enough claptrap to fill volumes, but I just turned 43 and am approaching all of life differently than I was back when I was 27-28 and full of hubris. (well, you would hope that would be the case!)


I'll open it up and see if I can follow it with no background. I will turn 94 in April.

Finally, back here. And his discussion presumes I know something about Buddhism. I don't so I am not following him as I listen. I need a basic education.

In the interest of (maybe) a new discussion...

by xeno6696 @, Sonoran Desert, Saturday, December 10, 2022, 22:02 (445 days ago) @ David Turell

I'll open it up and see if I can follow it with no background. I will turn 94 in April.


Finally, back here. And his discussion presumes I know something about Buddhism. I don't so I am not following him as I listen. I need a basic education.

List out your questions here and I can expound. I found it easy to follow but then I've been doing this for awhile.

--
\"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.\"

In the interest of (maybe) a new discussion...

by David Turell @, Sunday, December 11, 2022, 02:26 (444 days ago) @ xeno6696

I'll open it up and see if I can follow it with no background. I will turn 94 in April.


Finally, back here. And his discussion presumes I know something about Buddhism. I don't so I am not following him as I listen. I need a basic education.


Matt:List out your questions here and I can expound. I found it easy to follow but then I've been doing this for a while.

I'll find some time tomorrow. Thank you. Perhaps dhw has a better background, so I am interested in his response and look forward to it.

In the interest of (maybe) a new discussion...

by dhw, Sunday, December 11, 2022, 14:44 (444 days ago) @ xeno6696

xeno: https://www.podbean.com/ew/pb-sa3cz-13334e1

This is a podcast from a prominent teacher in my lineage of Buddhism. Ajahn Brahmali is a Norwegian who took ordination under Ajahn Brahm in Western Australia who was himself taught by Ajahn Chah, a legendary figure in both Thai Forest Buddhism as well as within the Theravadan tradition as a whole.
This precise podcast does present difficulties that aren't as difficult for me NOW as they were 15 or so years ago when I had joined this site. (Alas, the main reason I've stayed away was that like my friend Kent, the conversations never seemed to really "move," they tended to get rather repetitive, and well, I was absolutely a contributor to that.)
This discussion ranges from the issues Brahmali has with "Secular Buddhism," a branch that at times I have found myself within, but offers some critical discussion that fans out to discuss Kuhn's "Structure of Scientific Revolutions" as well as how western philosophy pendulum swings between Plato's idealism and Aristotle's materialism, and precisely how Buddhism sits within the overall mix. Yes, he even touches on NDEs and in how those topics are actually handled in the Buddhist scriptures dating back to at least 2300yrs ago.
This one was a tough one for me to get through, notably because rebirth and NDEs are two subjects that I have felt are filled with enough claptrap to fill volumes, but I just turned 43 and am approaching all of life differently than I was back when I was 27-28 and full of hubris. (well, you would hope that would be the case!)

Delighted to hear from you again! You always managed to find new angles for us to discuss, but I can hardly blame you for staying away because of all the repetitions. If it wasn’t for the interesting articles that David finds and which are a continuous source of education – plus the fact that our discussions gradually still accumulate quite a lot of viewings – I would have closed the site long ago.

I’ll listen to the podcast later today, barring the unforeseen, and will respond tonight or tomorrow. Shortage of time is a major problem for me, and I have to ration the amount that I spend on the forum. Many thanks again for your "comeback"!
--------
\"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.\"

I love this, although it applies to a far wide range of folk than just ascetics!

In the interest of (maybe) a new discussion...

by David Turell @, Sunday, December 11, 2022, 17:55 (444 days ago) @ dhw

xeno: https://www.podbean.com/ew/pb-sa3cz-13334e1

This is a podcast from a prominent teacher in my lineage of Buddhism. Ajahn Brahmali is a Norwegian who took ordination under Ajahn Brahm in Western Australia who was himself taught by Ajahn Chah, a legendary figure in both Thai Forest Buddhism as well as within the Theravadan tradition as a whole.
This precise podcast does present difficulties that aren't as difficult for me NOW as they were 15 or so years ago when I had joined this site. (Alas, the main reason I've stayed away was that like my friend Kent, the conversations never seemed to really "move," they tended to get rather repetitive, and well, I was absolutely a contributor to that.)
This discussion ranges from the issues Brahmali has with "Secular Buddhism," a branch that at times I have found myself within, but offers some critical discussion that fans out to discuss Kuhn's "Structure of Scientific Revolutions" as well as how western philosophy pendulum swings between Plato's idealism and Aristotle's materialism, and precisely how Buddhism sits within the overall mix. Yes, he even touches on NDEs and in how those topics are actually handled in the Buddhist scriptures dating back to at least 2300yrs ago.
This one was a tough one for me to get through, notably because rebirth and NDEs are two subjects that I have felt are filled with enough claptrap to fill volumes, but I just turned 43 and am approaching all of life differently than I was back when I was 27-28 and full of hubris. (well, you would hope that would be the case!)

dhw: Delighted to hear from you again! You always managed to find new angles for us to discuss, but I can hardly blame you for staying away because of all the repetitions. If it wasn’t for the interesting articles that David finds and which are a continuous source of education – plus the fact that our discussions gradually still accumulate quite a lot of viewings – I would have closed the site long ago.

I’ll listen to the podcast later today, barring the unforeseen, and will respond tonight or tomorrow. Shortage of time is a major problem for me, and I have to ration the amount that I spend on the forum. Many thanks again for your "comeback"!
--------
\"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.\"

dhw: I love this, although it applies to a far wide range of folk than just ascetics!

I'm also looking for time.

In the interest of (maybe) a new discussion...

by dhw, Sunday, December 11, 2022, 20:47 (444 days ago) @ dhw

Buddhism

I have struggled through this podcast with increasing frustration. Xeno, you will know far, far more than I do about Buddhism, but you kindly offered to answer questions, and this presentation of “true” Buddhism, as opposed to the “baloney” of western and other secular dilutions, is so full of gaps and what seem to me to be misrepresentations that I fear I may well have missed something crucial which you may be able to provide.

Ajahn Brahmali’s complaint seems to be based almost entirely on secular scepticism towards the fundamental doctrine of rebirth. As I understand this doctrine, it has nothing to do with NDEs, in which patients return to being themselves after their “souls” have entered some kind of afterlife. Rebirth means what it says: being reborn. But as what? Perhaps you can tell us. Whoever you may become next time around will depend on the mess you’ve made of your previous life, and this goes on in an endless cycle until whatever identity you have at the time achieves Enlightenment and you enter Nirvana, which as I understand it means a total loss of all “cravings” and of all individuality. With my perhaps all too sceptical mind, I have always considered this to be the perfect state of death, so why bother with the long and apparently always painful sequence of lives spent suffering? (I have always felt very sorry for Buddhists, who must feel horribly guilty if they ever actually enjoy life!)

The original teachings seem to focus on the goal of losing all the “cravings” which make life such a misery but which – apparently missing from the teachings – also make life such a pleasure. Yes, to hell with greed, lust for power, and all the consequences of human selfishness. But how about the joy of giving and receiving love, helping and being helped by others, creating a thing of beauty for one’s own delight and that of others? Not a word about that from Ajahn Brahmali.

In order to achieve the desired state of killing all desires, the Buddha recommended monastic life. I presume this would ideally entail solitary confinement, and I can’t help wondering why Ajahn Brahmali hasn’t shut himself away instead of giving interviews. (I’m sorry if this sounds flippant, but when I hear someone dismiss other people’s beliefs as “baloney”, I tend to feel less tolerant towards them than I should. I had the same feeling when Dawkins called God a “delusion”.)

I didn’t know that secular Buddhism had sided completely with materialism and excluded idealism (in the sense of dualism), but I think I can say with some certainty that there are plenty of idealists (dualists) and waverers still around. The observation that it would be devastating for materialists if their beliefs were proved wrong applies equally to idealists. I don’t see why either view should be called “baloney” when neither has been proved right. And the fact that Ajahn Brahmali considers Gotama to have been the greatest man who ever lived does not mean Gotama knew everything, and it does not mean that those who accept some of his teachings must accept them all, as he (Brahmali) interprets them. But that’s more than enough moaning from me. What I would really like to know, xeno, is if, as a Buddhist yourself, you believe in the all-important rebirth, monastic life and loss of self as the ultimate goal, or if you have reservations about all or any of these, and if you do, whether you regard your views as “baloney”. Thank you for at last diverting us from the battle over David’s evolutionary theory, and please don’t be offended by my combination of ignorance and scepticism! I’ll look forward very much to hearing your own views.

David, I will reply to your latest posts tomorrow.

In the interest of (maybe) a new discussion...

by David Turell @, Sunday, December 11, 2022, 22:33 (444 days ago) @ dhw

Well, I've listened to the first half so far, and thank goodness for dhw's entry. I gather He doesn't like secular materialism poking its head into revered teachings. As for reincarnation, it seems to me reincarnating oneself in this life to be at peace with oneself is very reasonable. Trying to propose one becoming someone else but yet the same in continuity requires one's consciousness/self to enter a new brain. This is directly equivalent the concept of NDE's and a form of dualism with a material brain hosting an immaterial consciousness. If I am now the continued result of someone else, who was that? Me in an earlier form? I'm not making fun in any way. I find the whole basis of that tenet as unreasonable. What I hope for is your clear responses. Ill comment further with time for further listening.

In the interest of (maybe) a new discussion...

by xeno6696 @, Sonoran Desert, Tuesday, December 13, 2022, 00:07 (443 days ago) @ David Turell

Well, I've listened to the first half so far, and thank goodness for dhw's entry. I gather He doesn't like secular materialism poking its head into revered teachings. As for reincarnation, it seems to me reincarnating oneself in this life to be at peace with oneself is very reasonable. Trying to propose one becoming someone else but yet the same in continuity requires one's consciousness/self to enter a new brain. This is directly equivalent the concept of NDE's and a form of dualism with a material brain hosting an immaterial consciousness. If I am now the continued result of someone else, who was that? Me in an earlier form? I'm not making fun in any way. I find the whole basis of that tenet as unreasonable. What I hope for is your clear responses. Ill comment further with time for further listening.

I don't have a full explanation for you yet but in my own research I found this: https://suttacentral.net/sn12.61/en/sujato?layout=plain&reference=none&notes=as...

That doesn't quite get to the reincarnation question just yet BUT the observation that when you study your consciousness far enough you realize that the true self is actually "empty" (the mind naturally stills itself after meditation and it's that state of the mystics where the Buddha's path really begins.)

So more or less, what we take as consciousness relies on causes and conditions and should be thought of as no different than the death of our own bodies.

--
\"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.\"

In the interest of (maybe) a new discussion...

by xeno6696 @, Sonoran Desert, Monday, December 12, 2022, 04:41 (443 days ago) @ dhw

Buddhism

I have struggled through this podcast with increasing frustration.
[snipped for brevity] With my perhaps all too sceptical mind, I have always considered this to be the perfect state of death, so why bother with the long and apparently always painful sequence of lives spent suffering? (I have always felt very sorry for Buddhists, who must feel horribly guilty if they ever actually enjoy life!)

There's a few misconceptions in much of the first part, and my heart goes out to anyone experiencing some of the same consternation. Let me address the misconception part first however. The common thread between Buddhist asceticism and well, all asceticism really is a rejection of the never-ending hamster wheel of wants and desires. Rejection isn't the right word though, because Buddhism's goal is to ideally have us be mentally present and not in the semi-conscious state that we tend to live in for most of our lives. The idea isn't to *reject* pleasures, but not to attach to them. Like, eat one chocolate, but not the entire box in a single sitting.

In my understanding (which comes from Brahmali's own tradition) the four noble truths are an accurate diagnosis of the human condition: we impulsively seek pleasure and avoid pain, and at the root of pleasure seeking and pain avoidance is the ego. So it's important (and also problematic as we'll discuss later) that Buddhism rejects the idea of a permanent immutable soul. At the time of the Buddha you actually had Eternalists and Materialists, schools which should be quite familiar to us here in the west as we're dealing with our own long history between those two poles. As suggested in the podcast, the Buddha proposed a "middle path" which says "It's not either/or, its both." I wish he went into more detail here.

To summarize a bit tersely, the key Buddhist observation (and this is one I have made on my own) is that when you observe your own thoughts, eventually you figure out that you're not in control of the majority of what's going on in that mind of yours. So for the Buddha, it became clear that what we typically refer to as a "self" or in the west as we would call it, "a soul" is actually a confluence of our "observational function" (my term) as well as conditioning received by living life... family, friends, and society. We don't even truly own our bodies... they are subject to aging and decay. Who you are as a person changes over time, so what we typically take of as a "self" is an illusion. We are processes, not things. But we are processes who often incorrectly think about ourselves as things. So the first big thing we do as Buddhists, is to try and get in tune with our minds so that way we are always observing the process. And I mean, if you're worried about what we give up, my percepts are 1) Don't kill 2.) Don't steal 3.) If I'm in a committed relationship don't break the rules 4.) Don't use intoxicants that lead to carelessness 5.) Don't speak unskillfully. (Other religions: 'don't lie' but Buddhists understand that there are moral or ethical times where lying is appropriate.) Core to the practice is Mudita (Other's joys), Metta (Loving kindness for all beings), and of course lots of meditation involving the deconstruction of our perceptions. Buddhist psychology has been making alot of inroads in western medicine, I'll leave it at that.


I think this answer would make my teacher happy and hopefully answers most of your irritation with Brahmali especially about the monastic parts of life. I have arguments with him on that but far afield from this conversation I think. (Buddhist inside football)


So... where I have considered myself a "secular Buddhist" is precisely because there's an aspect of Buddhism that talks about things such as a "Mind-made body," where supposedly if you meditate deep enough you can create a doppelganger of yourself and send it out on missions in the world. I would like to have seen Brahmali respond to THAT one. However the rebirth question is one that up until now I've felt I can do just fine without--I'm still very much the "I'll believe it when I see it" kind of guy and a critical aspect that remains to be explained... actually I'll call my monk tomorrow and ask him--I'm perfectly fine with all my ideas of self being mostly illusory. We should all believe we're part of a bigger picture. But how can we reject the idea of some sort of a permanent "soul" when there's something that somehow enters the mind-universe upon death, punishes itself, and then seeks out a new body... how exactly does that work? Isn't the mind that sheds this body still a discrete being? It certainly sounds like a self.

After having listened to the podcast a couple times, where Brahmali has heartburn is in the (mostly western) authors that are for example excluding the idea of rebirth wholesale and then calling it Buddhism. The more materialist leanings of the secularists decide not to even confront the issue, which is intellectually dishonest, IMHO.

He's not wrong. That's NOT what the Buddha taught. Whether or not Rebirth is a relevant concept for me to consider in THIS life, I don't know, but I DO know that if people like myself took a much longer view of their lives, we might actually live in a kinder, gentler place.

--
\"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.\"

In the interest of (maybe) a new discussion...

by dhw, Monday, December 12, 2022, 14:08 (443 days ago) @ xeno6696

xeno: […] The common thread between Buddhist asceticism and well, all asceticism really is a rejection of the never-ending hamster wheel of wants and desires. Rejection isn't the right word though, because Buddhism's goal is to ideally have us be mentally present and not in the semi-conscious state that we tend to live in for most of our lives. The idea isn't to *reject* pleasures, but not to attach to them. Like, eat one chocolate, but not the entire box in a single sitting.

I don’t know why eating one chocolate constitutes full consciousness and hogging the whole box = semi-consciousness, or why the desire for one chocolate isn’t a desire, or why having wants and desires = semi-consciousness. You’re proposing that we should indulge our wants and desires in moderation, but that’s not what I understand by Ajahn Brahmali’s Buddhism, and in any case I don’t think it would cause much disagreement in non-Buddhist or secular Buddhist circles!

Next comes the discussion of “eternalists” versus “materialists”:

xeno: As suggested in the podcast, the Buddha proposed a "middle path" which says "It's not either/or, its both." I wish he went into more detail here.

I’m afraid this is a major problem, and Brahmali simply glosses it over. He goes on and on about rebirth being a (the?) central point. David and I are in total agreement on this. What/who are we when we are reborn – and what is reborn if there is no immaterial “soul”?

xeno: the key Buddhist observation […] is that when you observe your own thoughts, eventually you figure out that you're not in control of the majority of what's going on in that mind of yours. […] We don't even truly own our bodies... they are subject to aging and decay. Who you are as a person changes over time, so what we typically take of as a "self" is an illusion. […] So the first big thing we do as Buddhists, is to try and get in tune with our minds so that way we are always observing the process.

I don’t recall this being discussed in the podcast (maybe I nodded off?), but it’s nothing more than the question of whether or not we have free will. Did Gotama really teach you to remember that you act like a zombie though you think you’re an autonomous being? I don’t think my “self” is an illusion. I may not be in control of what makes me “me”, and I have changed and am still changing, but I’m fully aware of my personal characteristics, and I challenge the right of anyone to tell me these are “illusory”. If secular Buddhists dislike all this vagueness, I’m on their side, and Brahmali’s failure to address these problems makes me hostile to his calling their doubts “baloney”!

xeno: And I mean, if you're worried about what we give up, my percepts are 1) Don't kill 2.) Don't steal 3.) If I'm in a committed relationship don't break the rules 4.) Don't use intoxicants that lead to carelessness 5.) Don't speak unskillfully. (Other religions: 'don't lie' but Buddhists understand that there are moral or ethical times where lying is appropriate.) Core to the practice is Mudita (Other's joys), Metta (Loving kindness for all beings), and of course lots of meditation involving the deconstruction of our perceptions.

I think all of us would approve of your precepts and “core”, but I have no idea if these represent the teachings of the Buddha, especially since one of Brahmali’s key issues is monasticism, which “secular” Buddhists seem to have turned their backs on. How do you show your loving kindness and concern for other people’s joys if you shut yourself up in a monastery? And what happens to the human race if sexual desires have to be overcome? And once we have deconstructed our perceptions etc., what are we supposed to do with that knowledge? Be reborn as whatever, keep suffering and deluding ourselves, until eventually one of us realizes it just ain’t worth living life on Earth, so we’re better off lying permanently under it! As I suggested before, Nirvana = permanent death!

The rest of your post asks virtually the same questions as my own, and what I have written is just my response to the statements above. I sense that you reject Ajahn Brahmali’s dismissal of “secular” Buddhism as baloney. He seems to have dodged all the issues that you have difficulty with yourself! I’ll skip to your final remark:

xeno: Whether or not Rebirth is a relevant concept for me to consider in THIS life, I don't know, but I DO know that if people like myself took a much longer view of their lives, we might actually live in a kinder, gentler place.

I think that message would apply to most religions and to humanism as well, but I would put it slightly differently. If people like and unlike myself would take a less egotistical view of themselves and would treat others in the way they themselves would wish to be treated, we might all live in a kinder, gentler place.

Thank you again for giving us a new topic to discuss. I’ll be interested to hear what your monk has to say in response to your own questions, though I wonder if he is a “secular” Buddhist himself!

In the interest of (maybe) a new discussion...

by David Turell @, Monday, December 12, 2022, 16:58 (443 days ago) @ dhw

xeno: […] The common thread between Buddhist asceticism and well, all asceticism really is a rejection of the never-ending hamster wheel of wants and desires. Rejection isn't the right word though, because Buddhism's goal is to ideally have us be mentally present and not in the semi-conscious state that we tend to live in for most of our lives. The idea isn't to *reject* pleasures, but not to attach to them. Like, eat one chocolate, but not the entire box in a single sitting.

dhw: I don’t know why eating one chocolate constitutes full consciousness and hogging the whole box = semi-consciousness, or why the desire for one chocolate isn’t a desire, or why having wants and desires = semi-consciousness. You’re proposing that we should indulge our wants and desires in moderation, but that’s not what I understand by Ajahn Brahmali’s Buddhism, and in any case I don’t think it would cause much disagreement in non-Buddhist or secular Buddhist circles!

Next comes the discussion of “eternalists” versus “materialists”:

xeno: As suggested in the podcast, the Buddha proposed a "middle path" which says "It's not either/or, its both." I wish he went into more detail here.

dhw: I’m afraid this is a major problem, and Brahmali simply glosses it over. He goes on and on about rebirth being a (the?) central point. David and I are in total agreement on this. What/who are we when we are reborn – and what is reborn if there is no immaterial “soul”?

xeno: the key Buddhist observation […] is that when you observe your own thoughts, eventually you figure out that you're not in control of the majority of what's going on in that mind of yours. […] We don't even truly own our bodies... they are subject to aging and decay. Who you are as a person changes over time, so what we typically take of as a "self" is an illusion. […] So the first big thing we do as Buddhists, is to try and get in tune with our minds so that way we are always observing the process.

dhw: I don’t recall this being discussed in the podcast (maybe I nodded off?), but it’s nothing more than the question of whether or not we have free will. Did Gotama really teach you to remember that you act like a zombie though you think you’re an autonomous being? I don’t think my “self” is an illusion. I may not be in control of what makes me “me”, and I have changed and am still changing, but I’m fully aware of my personal characteristics, and I challenge the right of anyone to tell me these are “illusory”. If secular Buddhists dislike all this vagueness, I’m on their side, and Brahmali’s failure to address these problems makes me hostile to his calling their doubts “baloney”!

xeno: And I mean, if you're worried about what we give up, my percepts are 1) Don't kill 2.) Don't steal 3.) If I'm in a committed relationship don't break the rules 4.) Don't use intoxicants that lead to carelessness 5.) Don't speak unskillfully. (Other religions: 'don't lie' but Buddhists understand that there are moral or ethical times where lying is appropriate.) Core to the practice is Mudita (Other's joys), Metta (Loving kindness for all beings), and of course lots of meditation involving the deconstruction of our perceptions.

I think all of us would approve of your precepts and “core”, but I have no idea if these represent the teachings of the Buddha, especially since one of Brahmali’s key issues is monasticism, which “secular” Buddhists seem to have turned their backs on. How do you show your loving kindness and concern for other people’s joys if you shut yourself up in a monastery? And what happens to the human race if sexual desires have to be overcome? And once we have deconstructed our perceptions etc., what are we supposed to do with that knowledge? Be reborn as whatever, keep suffering and deluding ourselves, until eventually one of us realizes it just ain’t worth living life on Earth, so we’re better off lying permanently under it! As I suggested before, Nirvana = permanent death!

dhw: The rest of your post asks virtually the same questions as my own, and what I have written is just my response to the statements above. I sense that you reject Ajahn Brahmali’s dismissal of “secular” Buddhism as baloney. He seems to have dodged all the issues that you have difficulty with yourself! I’ll skip to your final remark:

xeno: Whether or not Rebirth is a relevant concept for me to consider in THIS life, I don't know, but I DO know that if people like myself took a much longer view of their lives, we might actually live in a kinder, gentler place.

dhw: I think that message would apply to most religions and to humanism as well, but I would put it slightly differently. If people like and unlike myself would take a less egotistical view of themselves and would treat others in the way they themselves would wish to be treated, we might all live in a kinder, gentler place.

Thank you again for giving us a new topic to discuss. I’ll be interested to hear what your monk has to say in response to your own questions, though I wonder if he is a “secular” Buddhist himself!

I'm happy just to follow along with dhw's insights. The parallel mine.

In the interest of (maybe) a new discussion...

by xeno6696 @, Sonoran Desert, Monday, December 12, 2022, 23:56 (443 days ago) @ dhw

I don’t know why eating one chocolate constitutes full consciousness and hogging the whole box = semi-consciousness, or why the desire for one chocolate isn’t a desire, or why having wants and desires = semi-consciousness. You’re proposing that we should indulge our wants and desires in moderation, but that’s not what I understand by Ajahn Brahmali’s Buddhism, and in any case I don’t think it would cause much disagreement in non-Buddhist or secular Buddhist circles!

So, I have 5 precepts. The next step up for a lay person such as myself is 8 precepts, and to be honest I should take that vow because I already keep them. (The additional 3 are: abstain from false speech, abstain from harsh speech, abstain from useless speech.) Monks (such as Brahmali) have 227 precepts. Monks also have a special social role in their countries of origin, and it isn't lost on me the irony that when we praise the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha, the chant for the Sangha is the longest. The veneration in Eastern traditions for their teachers is legendary and predates Buddhism. This isn't particularly controversial for me--Monasticism as far as the preservation of the Buddha's teachings *is* part of the package. It hasn't been until the mindfulness teachers here in the States where there has been a challenge of sorts to monastic authority--which is where some of his concern my lie.

I think this is really a sidebar though, so I'll address the meat of your comments in another post.

--
\"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.\"

In the interest of (maybe) a new discussion...

by xeno6696 @, Sonoran Desert, Tuesday, December 13, 2022, 00:03 (443 days ago) @ dhw

Next comes the discussion of “eternalists” versus “materialists”:

xeno: As suggested in the podcast, the Buddha proposed a "middle path" which says "It's not either/or, its both." I wish he went into more detail here.

I’m afraid this is a major problem, and Brahmali simply glosses it over. He goes on and on about rebirth being a (the?) central point. David and I are in total agreement on this. What/who are we when we are reborn – and what is reborn if there is no immaterial “soul”?

In trying to track this down for you (and for myself, frankly) I discovered this: https://suttacentral.net/sn12.61/en/sujato?layout=plain&reference=none&notes=as...
Different translation from what I have on my shelf but mostly the same idea. But at any rate, when you examine all of the processes of consciousness and cognition you determine that it is nothing but a cause and effect chain with no end. It’s better to think of your body as your “self” because the nature of human consciousness isn’t stable. Have you ever apologized to someone and said “I’m sorry, I wasn’t myself?” Well the Buddha points out that this is us *all* of the time. It would be better for us, any time we refer to “I” or “me” or “self” to add the modifier “at this moment” to better reflect the idea that the Buddha is getting at. The Buddha is aiming to demonstrate to us that our idea of the self as some unchanging phenomenon is what is false, which ties in with your comments a little further on.

I don’t recall this being discussed in the podcast (maybe I nodded off?), but it’s nothing more than the question of whether or not we have free will. Did Gotama really teach you to remember that you act like a zombie though you think you’re an autonomous being?

More or less yes, and modern pyschology actually agrees with his observation. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/your-brain-work/201011/new-study-shows-humans-a...

It’s not that we’re non-autonomous zombies, but that we’re essentially dreaming while awake. One goal of Buddhist meditation is to decrease the amount of time we spend in that sleepwalking state. For me—catching myself in thoughts feels 100% like waking up from a dream.

I don’t think my “self” is an illusion.
I may not be in control of what makes me “me”, and I have changed and am still changing, but I’m fully aware of my personal characteristics, and I challenge the right of anyone to tell me these are “illusory”.

I would challenge that you would have to be in a mental state where your mind was stilled to the point where the only thing present would be your ability to observe—in order to understand what the Buddha means by “true self,” as opposed to “illusory self.” I would argue that during the 50% of my own waking hours that are spent not doing anything in particular—I’m not being myself. I would argue (based on my understanding of Buddhist psychology) that we’re only “ourselves” when we’re fully engaged in self-aware, intentional action.

You could charge maybe that I'm playing with definitions here but if its one teaching that I have internalized and appreciated from Buddhism it's that intentional action isn't as bad as our puritan forefathers and their theology of "The path to hell is paved with good intentions" wants us to believe. And yes, there's not necessarily anything special here that I have that a dedicated Humanist couldn't have studying default mode/flow state psychology, however I was never able to connect with humanism in any meaningful way.

--
\"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.\"

In the interest of (maybe) a new discussion...

by David Turell @, Monday, December 12, 2022, 16:51 (443 days ago) @ xeno6696

Buddhism

dhw: I have struggled through this podcast with increasing frustration.
[snipped for brevity] With my perhaps all too sceptical mind, I have always considered this to be the perfect state of death, so why bother with the long and apparently always painful sequence of lives spent suffering? > >


Matt: There's a few misconceptions in much of the first part, and my heart goes out to anyone experiencing some of the same consternation. Let me address the misconception part first however. The common thread between Buddhist asceticism and well, all asceticism really is a rejection of the never-ending hamster wheel of wants and desires. Rejection isn't the right word though, because Buddhism's goal is to ideally have us be mentally present and not in the semi-conscious state that we tend to live in for most of our lives. The idea isn't to *reject* pleasures, but not to attach to them. Like, eat one chocolate, but not the entire box in a single sitting.

In my understanding (which comes from Brahmali's own tradition) the four noble truths are an accurate diagnosis of the human condition: we impulsively seek pleasure and avoid pain, and at the root of pleasure seeking and pain avoidance is the ego. So it's important (and also problematic as we'll discuss later) that Buddhism rejects the idea of a permanent immutable soul. At the time of the Buddha you actually had Eternalists and Materialists, schools which should be quite familiar to us here in the west as we're dealing with our own long history between those two poles. As suggested in the podcast, the Buddha proposed a "middle path" which says "It's not either/or, its both." I wish he went into more detail here.

To summarize a bit tersely, the key Buddhist observation (and this is one I have made on my own) is that when you observe your own thoughts, eventually you figure out that you're not in control of the majority of what's going on in that mind of yours. So for the Buddha, it became clear that what we typically refer to as a "self" or in the west as we would call it, "a soul" is actually a confluence of our "observational function" (my term) as well as conditioning received by living life... family, friends, and society. We don't even truly own our bodies... they are subject to aging and decay. Who you are as a person changes over time, so what we typically take of as a "self" is an illusion. We are processes, not things. But we are processes who often incorrectly think about ourselves as things. So the first big thing we do as Buddhists, is to try and get in tune with our minds so that way we are always observing the process. And I mean, if you're worried about what we give up, my percepts are 1) Don't kill 2.) Don't steal 3.) If I'm in a committed relationship don't break the rules 4.) Don't use intoxicants that lead to carelessness 5.) Don't speak unskillfully. (Other religions: 'don't lie' but Buddhists understand that there are moral or ethical times where lying is appropriate.) Core to the practice is Mudita (Other's joys), Metta (Loving kindness for all beings), and of course lots of meditation involving the deconstruction of our perceptions. Buddhist psychology has been making alot of inroads in western medicine, I'll leave it at that.


I think this answer would make my teacher happy and hopefully answers most of your irritation with Brahmali especially about the monastic parts of life. I have arguments with him on that but far afield from this conversation I think. (Buddhist inside football)


So... where I have considered myself a "secular Buddhist" is precisely because there's an aspect of Buddhism that talks about things such as a "Mind-made body," where supposedly if you meditate deep enough you can create a doppelganger of yourself and send it out on missions in the world. I would like to have seen Brahmali respond to THAT one. However the rebirth question is one that up until now I've felt I can do just fine without--I'm still very much the "I'll believe it when I see it" kind of guy and a critical aspect that remains to be explained... actually I'll call my monk tomorrow and ask him--I'm perfectly fine with all my ideas of self being mostly illusory. We should all believe we're part of a bigger picture. But how can we reject the idea of some sort of a permanent "soul" when there's something that somehow enters the mind-universe upon death, punishes itself, and then seeks out a new body... how exactly does that work? Isn't the mind that sheds this body still a discrete being? It certainly sounds like a self.

After having listened to the podcast a couple times, where Brahmali has heartburn is in the (mostly western) authors that are for example excluding the idea of rebirth wholesale and then calling it Buddhism. The more materialist leanings of the secularists decide not to even confront the issue, which is intellectually dishonest, IMHO.

He's not wrong. That's NOT what the Buddha taught. Whether or not Rebirth is a relevant concept for me to consider in THIS life, I don't know, but I DO know that if people like myself took a much longer view of their lives, we might actually live in a kinder, gentler place.

Seeing this from your personal level make it more understandable. I have question. Does your teacher act as a psychologist in a sense?

In the interest of (maybe) a new discussion...

by xeno6696 @, Sonoran Desert, Tuesday, December 13, 2022, 00:09 (443 days ago) @ David Turell

Seeing this from your personal level make it more understandable. I have question. Does your teacher act as a psychologist in a sense?

Yeah, self-help psychologist wouldn't be a terrible way to describe that. By learning more about how we process thoughts etc. we gain a deeper appreciation for how we interact with everyone.

Inflect towards kindness, remove the ego, rinse, repeat.

--
\"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.\"

The Conversation Continues...

by xeno6696 @, Sonoran Desert, Tuesday, December 13, 2022, 04:57 (442 days ago) @ xeno6696

Ajahn Brahm, (Brahmali's teacher) goes directly into what he calls "proof" of reincarnation:

https://www.podbean.com/ew/pb-qdqh8-1337429

Nothing controversial here--he's not calling anything baloney, but his background makes this interesting. Before he became a monk he completed a degree in Theoretical Physics. So he's rather well-equipped to handle western science.

I have the same uncomfortable feeling I had reading Sabom's book. Many of these stories are personal which make them harder to criticize. However, you guys are about the only people that I'd feel fine talking about these kinds of stories as literally everyone else I know would think I'm looney for even listening to them!

--
\"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.\"

The Conversation Continues...

by dhw, Tuesday, December 13, 2022, 09:13 (442 days ago) @ xeno6696

Xeno: Ajahn Brahm, (Brahmali's teacher) goes directly into what he calls "proof" of reincarnation:
https://www.podbean.com/ew/pb-qdqh8-1337429

Xeno: you guys are about the only people that I'd feel fine talking about these kinds of stories as literally everyone else I know would think I'm looney for even listening to them!

I’m delighted that you want to discuss these things with us, but please, no more podcasts. I can’t speak for David, but although short articles are fine, time is a problem. Your Brahms and Brahmalis may disapprove, but I love my work and many other things in my life (including fascinating discussions like this), but I have to prioritize. If a podcast deals with a particular issue like reincarnation, please summarize its answers to the questions David and I have asked, or give us a relevant quote. If the podcast is about people’s experiences (maybe of déjà vu?) perhaps a single example will do.

Reincarnation

dhw: I’m afraid this is a major problem, and Brahmali simply glosses it over. He goes on and on about rebirth being a (the?) central point. David and I are in total agreement on this. What/who are we when we are reborn – and what is reborn if there is no immaterial “soul”?

Xeno: In trying to track this down for you (and for myself, frankly) I discovered this:
https://suttacentral.net/sn12.61/en/sujato?layout=plain&reference=none&notes=as...

The article does not tell us anything about what is reborn or what/who we become. But the following certainly requires comment:

QUOTES: Choices are a condition for consciousness. … That is how this entire mass of suffering originates. When ignorance fades away and ceases with nothing left over, choices cease. When choices cease, consciousness ceases. … That is how this entire mass of suffering ceases.’
Seeing this, a learned noble disciple grows disillusioned with form, feeling, perception, choices, and consciousness. Being disillusioned, desire fades away. When desire fades away they’re freed. When they’re freed, they know they’re freed.
They understand: ‘Rebirth is ended, the spiritual journey has been completed, what had to be done has been done, there is no return to any state of existence.’”

The first premise is that choice causes nothing but suffering. I’m sorry, but this is so vague that I find it absurd. It's the sheer variety of opportunities open to us that can bring us joy. I like a menu in a restaurant, I like to choose the films I watch, the make of car I’m going to buy, the place where I’m going to spend my holidays. I prefer democracy to totalitarian dictatorship. I prefer Beethoven to Bach. Of course suffering ceases when consciousness ceases. So does joy. The message here is simple: life is hell, and you will end your suffering by being dead. My message to the writer is “Get a life!”

Happiness

QUOTES: It turns out that just under half the time, 46.9% to be exact, people are doing what's called 'mind wandering'. They are not focused on the outside world or the task at hand, they are looking into their own thoughts. Unfortunately, the study of 2,250 people proposes, most of this activity doesn't make us feel happy.

The study was designed to find out what kind of activities people did throughout a day, and which made them happiest. Mindwandering was just one of 22 possible activities people could list.

So in the first quote, mindwandering makes most people unhappy, but in the second quote mindwandering is one of 22 activities that make people happy.

QUOTE: Researchers found that people were at their happiest when making love, exercising, or engaging in conversation. They were least happy when resting, working, or using a home computer.

Making love won’t work unless you have sexual desire, but according to the first article you quoted, “when desire fades away they’re freed”, and according to Ajahn Brahmali, the original teachings required the elimination of all desires (which taken to its logical conclusion would lead to the end of the human race – a great solution to our problems).

Xeno: I would argue that during the 50% of my own waking hours that are spent not doing anything in particular—I’m not being myself. I would argue (based on my understanding of Buddhist psychology) that we’re only “ourselves” when we’re fully engaged in self-aware, intentional action.

Doing what? Thinking what? Do you believe that whatever thoughts you have when your mind wanders are not YOUR thoughts, characteristic of your individual identity? The above article is devoted to happiness. Are you unhappy when your mind wanders? Maybe you think damaging and confusing thoughts that make you unhappy. Then that’s part of your miserable self. When I’m washing the dishes, I often sing made-up songs. I’m cheerful. Sorry, but I didn’t know I was suffering, and frankly I think it's typical me! But of course, if I wander off because of a problem or I’m worried about a particular matter, my thoughts will not be happy. They are still my problems and my thoughts.

Back to the first article: apparently you will only be completely happy when you are dead. Sorry again, but I much prefer the approach to life which entails doing what makes you happy and at the same time doing whatever you can to make other people happy. I know you agree, but do you think Gotama would have disapproved? Do Ajahn Brahmali and your monk disapprove?

The Conversation Continues...

by David Turell @, Tuesday, December 13, 2022, 16:01 (442 days ago) @ dhw

Xeno: you guys are about the only people that I'd feel fine talking about these kinds of stories as literally everyone else I know would think I'm looney for even listening to them!

dhw: I’m delighted that you want to discuss these things with us, but please, no more podcasts. I can’t speak for David, ... but I have to prioritize. If a podcast deals with a particular issue like reincarnation, please summarize its answers to the questions David and I have asked, or give us a relevant quote. If the podcast is about people’s experiences (maybe of déjà vu?) perhaps a single example will do.

Reincarnation

dhw: I’m afraid this is a major problem, and Brahmali simply glosses it over. He goes on and on about rebirth being a (the?) central point. David and I are in total agreement on this. What/who are we when we are reborn – and what is reborn if there is no immaterial “soul”?

Xeno: In trying to track this down for you (and for myself, frankly) I discovered this:
https://suttacentral.net/sn12.61/en/sujato?layout=plain&reference=none&notes=as...

dhw: The article does not tell us anything about what is reborn or what/who we become. But the following certainly requires comment:

QUOTES: Choices are a condition for consciousness. … That is how this entire mass of suffering originates. When ignorance fades away and ceases with nothing left over, choices cease. When choices cease, consciousness ceases. … That is how this entire mass of suffering ceases.’
Seeing this, a learned noble disciple grows disillusioned with form, feeling, perception, choices, and consciousness. Being disillusioned, desire fades away. When desire fades away they’re freed. When they’re freed, they know they’re freed.
They understand: ‘Rebirth is ended, the spiritual journey has been completed, what had to be done has been done, there is no return to any state of existence.’”

dhw: The first premise is that choice causes nothing but suffering. I’m sorry, but this is so vague that I find it absurd. It's the sheer variety of opportunities open to us that can bring us joy. I like a menu in a restaurant, I like to choose the films I watch, the make of car I’m going to buy, the place where I’m going to spend my holidays. I prefer democracy to totalitarian dictatorship. I prefer Beethoven to Bach. Of course suffering ceases when consciousness ceases. So does joy. The message here is simple: life is hell, and you will end your suffering by being dead. My message to the writer is “Get a life!”

Happiness

QUOTES: It turns out that just under half the time, 46.9% to be exact, people are doing what's called 'mind wandering'. They are not focused on the outside world or the task at hand, they are looking into their own thoughts. Unfortunately, the study of 2,250 people proposes, most of this activity doesn't make us feel happy.

The study was designed to find out what kind of activities people did throughout a day, and which made them happiest. Mindwandering was just one of 22 possible activities people could list.

So in the first quote, mindwandering makes most people unhappy, but in the second quote mindwandering is one of 22 activities that make people happy.

QUOTE: Researchers found that people were at their happiest when making love, exercising, or engaging in conversation. They were least happy when resting, working, or using a home computer.

Making love won’t work unless you have sexual desire, but according to the first article you quoted, “when desire fades away they’re freed”, and according to Ajahn Brahmali, the original teachings required the elimination of all desires (which taken to its logical conclusion would lead to the end of the human race – a great solution to our problems).

Xeno: I would argue that during the 50% of my own waking hours that are spent not doing anything in particular—I’m not being myself. I would argue (based on my understanding of Buddhist psychology) that we’re only “ourselves” when we’re fully engaged in self-aware, intentional action.

dhw: Doing what? Thinking what? Do you believe that whatever thoughts you have when your mind wanders are not YOUR thoughts, characteristic of your individual identity? The above article is devoted to happiness. Are you unhappy when your mind wanders? Maybe you think damaging and confusing thoughts that make you unhappy. Then that’s part of your miserable self. When I’m washing the dishes, I often sing made-up songs. I’m cheerful. Sorry, but I didn’t know I was suffering, and frankly I think it's typical me! But of course, if I wander off because of a problem or I’m worried about a particular matter, my thoughts will not be happy. They are still my problems and my thoughts.

Back to the first article: apparently you will only be completely happy when you are dead. Sorry again, but I much prefer the approach to life which entails doing what makes you happy and at the same time doing whatever you can to make other people happy. I know you agree, but do you think Gotama would have disapproved? Do Ajahn Brahmali and your monk disapprove?

Thanks for this. I've had a happy life, no suffering. Bad moments, yes. Forward looking even with not much time left.

My Experience with Buddhism Pt 1

by xeno6696 @, Sonoran Desert, Tuesday, December 13, 2022, 16:18 (442 days ago) @ dhw

I think what you have with that single teaching I shared earlier has a similar danger to other religious texts--out of context it's easy to railroad it into any form you want. And we humans tend to be negative. Maybe it would be good in this case to get an idea for a practice I do daily:

"This is what should be done
By one who is skilled in goodness,
And who knows the path of peace:
Let them be able and upright,
Straightforward and gentle in speech,
Humble and not conceited,
Contented and easily satisfied,
Unburdened with duties and frugal in their ways.
Peaceful and calm and wise and skillful,
Not proud or demanding in nature.
Let them not do the slightest thing
That the wise would later reprove.
Wishing: In gladness and in safety,
May all beings be at ease.
Whatever living beings there may be;
Whether they are weak or strong, omitting none,
The great or the mighty, medium, short or small,
The seen and the unseen,
Those living near and far away,
Those born and to-be-born —
May all beings be at ease!

Let none deceive another,
Or despise any being in any state.
Let none through anger or ill-will
Wish harm upon another.
Even as a mother protects with her life
Her child, her only child,
So with a boundless heart
Should one cherish all living beings;
Radiating kindness over the entire world:
Spreading upwards to the skies,
And downwards to the depths;
Outwards and unbounded,
Freed from hatred and ill-will.
Whether standing or walking, seated or lying down
Free from drowsiness,
One should sustain this recollection.
This is said to be the sublime abiding.
By not holding to fixed views,
The pure-hearted one, having clarity of vision,
Being freed from all sense desires,
Is not born again into this world."

Just to level set, this is centered on my personal views here, I'm not meaning to project to anyone else here. This is chanted followed by a meditation where we start with ourselves radiating a warm feeling of loving kindness, and then expand that out in greater circles to beam that feeling out in all directions.

Why engage daily in a practice designed to have us create the feeling of loving kindness--the same sort of love and compassion that a mother has for her child--and deliberately engage with everyone in the world with this feeling of love and compassion sitting in the background? One of the reasons I chose to throw my lot in with the Buddhists, is because after about a year of engaging with this practice daily, my wife even said she noticed major changes. Notably with my mother--that's complicated but the short version is that there was abuse involved and I was 100% fine with writing her out of my life. But it hit me in other places too.

--
\"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.\"

My Experience with Buddhism Pt 1

by David Turell @, Tuesday, December 13, 2022, 16:54 (442 days ago) @ xeno6696

Matt: I think what you have with that single teaching I shared earlier has a similar danger to other religious texts--out of context it's easy to railroad it into any form you want. And we humans tend to be negative. Maybe it would be good in this case to get an idea for a practice I do daily:

"This is what should be done
By one who is skilled in goodness,
And who knows the path of peace:
Let them be able and upright,
Straightforward and gentle in speech,
Humble and not conceited,
Contented and easily satisfied,
Unburdened with duties and frugal in their ways.
Peaceful and calm and wise and skillful,
Not proud or demanding in nature.
Let them not do the slightest thing
That the wise would later reprove.
Wishing: In gladness and in safety,
May all beings be at ease.
Whatever living beings there may be;
Whether they are weak or strong, omitting none,
The great or the mighty, medium, short or small,
The seen and the unseen,
Those living near and far away,
Those born and to-be-born —
May all beings be at ease!

Let none deceive another,
Or despise any being in any state.
Let none through anger or ill-will
Wish harm upon another.
Even as a mother protects with her life
Her child, her only child,
So with a boundless heart
Should one cherish all living beings;
Radiating kindness over the entire world:
Spreading upwards to the skies,
And downwards to the depths;
Outwards and unbounded,
Freed from hatred and ill-will.
Whether standing or walking, seated or lying down
Free from drowsiness,
One should sustain this recollection.
This is said to be the sublime abiding.
By not holding to fixed views,
The pure-hearted one, having clarity of vision,
Being freed from all sense desires,
Is not born again into this world."

Just to level set, this is centered on my personal views here, I'm not meaning to project to anyone else here. This is chanted followed by a meditation where we start with ourselves radiating a warm feeling of loving kindness, and then expand that out in greater circles to beam that feeling out in all directions.

Why engage daily in a practice designed to have us create the feeling of loving kindness--the same sort of love and compassion that a mother has for her child--and deliberately engage with everyone in the world with this feeling of love and compassion sitting in the background? One of the reasons I chose to throw my lot in with the Buddhists, is because after about a year of engaging with this practice daily, my wife even said she noticed major changes. Notably with my mother--that's complicated but the short version is that there was abuse involved and I was 100% fine with writing her out of my life. But it hit me in other places too.

An abusive parent is a terrible load to bear. Has Buddhism returned you to her? I realize this is very personal.

My Experience with Buddhism Pt 1

by xeno6696 @, Sonoran Desert, Tuesday, December 13, 2022, 18:46 (442 days ago) @ David Turell

An abusive parent is a terrible load to bear. Has Buddhism returned you to her? I realize this is very personal.

Complicated but we've shared enough through the years to give you a real answer. =-)

So the practice outlined above coupled with other related meditation practice helped me to unwind mental knots that I didn't know I had. Forgiveness and compassion meditations were particularly powerful. I didn't think that people could *fundamentally* change until my wife pointed out the following behaviors:

1.) I no longer dodge her phone calls
2.) I rarely get into arguments with her anymore
3.) I even went so far at one point last year to intervene in a dispute she was having with a contractor

It's important to note that as far back as 2005 I gave my wife's phone number to my mom as the only point of contact knowing she would never call my wife unless there was an emergency.

Part of the reason is that the practices helped me figure out that abuse whether its physical or mental are the product of cycles. There was a Tonglen meditation I participated in around fall 2020 where I had a shocking discovery that people rarely are sociopaths and don't inflict suffering on other people out of malice... back to my mom while she was adamant that she didn't physically abuse me (as I later found out that she and the rest of her generation were abused by a raging alcoholic father) she did however mentally torment me. To understand that, I knew at the age of three that I was the product of a rape (how many toddlers know what rape is?) and when I was a teenager she would say things like "you're just like your father," which probably isn't the best choice of words for the depressive yet arrogant person I was at the time.

This has all allowed me to approach my mom as someone who is hurting themselves and while I won't lie and say that we're close like we were in 1989 it speaks volumes that I'm at this point.

--
\"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.\"

My Experience with Buddhism Pt 1

by David Turell @, Wednesday, December 14, 2022, 02:26 (441 days ago) @ xeno6696

An abusive parent is a terrible load to bear. Has Buddhism returned you to her? I realize this is very personal.


Complicated but we've shared enough through the years to give you a real answer. =-)

Matt: So the practice outlined above coupled with other related meditation practice helped me to unwind mental knots that I didn't know I had. Forgiveness and compassion meditations were particularly powerful. I didn't think that people could *fundamentally* change until my wife pointed out the following behaviors:

1.) I no longer dodge her phone calls
2.) I rarely get into arguments with her anymore
3.) I even went so far at one point last year to intervene in a dispute she was having with a contractor

It's important to note that as far back as 2005 I gave my wife's phone number to my mom as the only point of contact knowing she would never call my wife unless there was an emergency.

Part of the reason is that the practices helped me figure out that abuse whether its physical or mental are the product of cycles. There was a Tonglen meditation I participated in around fall 2020 where I had a shocking discovery that people rarely are sociopaths and don't inflict suffering on other people out of malice... back to my mom while she was adamant that she didn't physically abuse me (as I later found out that she and the rest of her generation were abused by a raging alcoholic father) she did however mentally torment me. To understand that, I knew at the age of three that I was the product of a rape (how many toddlers know what rape is?) and when I was a teenager she would say things like "you're just like your father," which probably isn't the best choice of words for the depressive yet arrogant person I was at the time.

This has all allowed me to approach my mom as someone who is hurting themselves and while I won't lie and say that we're close like we were in 1989 it speaks volumes that I'm at this point.

Thank you again for these revelations about yourself. Who told you about the rape? I assume your mother as an early method of reducing your self-worth, as not the result of a loving family arrangement.

My Experience with Buddhism Pt 1

by xeno6696 @, Sonoran Desert, Wednesday, December 14, 2022, 03:42 (441 days ago) @ David Turell

Thank you again for these revelations about yourself. Who told you about the rape? I assume your mother as an early method of reducing your self-worth, as not the result of a loving family arrangement.

My mom did. She was an EMT and so to top all that off she was very much the kind of person where "we shouldn't hide the real world from our children," so when I was 6 I was the only child viewing Trauma slides when my mom went for her yearly continuing education. It was odd now that I think about it that nobody attempted to intervene, but I mean, it was North Dakota ROFL.

I didn't view it as abnormal until I started seeing the reactions (as an adult) of people who I told that to.

My teenage years were the most brutal. When I was 18 one of my best friends committed suicide and (this should tell you how deep my skepticism runs) I ran over to Drew's house because I didn't believe it... but yeah, the look on his dad's face literally said it all. I was numb all the way back home, and when I broke the news to my mom when I walked in the door the first words out of her mouth was "I told you to go over there yesterday!"

The teenage years I still feel eroded any sort of normal "love" reaction that I *should* have--and simply don't. 2-3 years ago as a joke my wife bought me an audio book "How to live with a narcissistic mother," and after I got done with that book, it hit me like a ton of bricks--in a good way. For the first time I had as accurate of a description of my childhood as I'd ever had... My case is weird because there's normally several different roles in a Narcissistic family and because I was the only family member I literally played all roles. The Golden Child who was also the Black Sheep.

--
\"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.\"

My Experience with Buddhism Pt 1

by David Turell @, Wednesday, December 14, 2022, 05:01 (441 days ago) @ xeno6696

DAVID: Thank you again for these revelations about yourself. Who told you about the rape? I assume your mother as an early method of reducing your self-worth, as not the result of a loving family arrangement.


Matt: My mom did. She was an EMT and so to top all that off she was very much the kind of person where "we shouldn't hide the real world from our children," so when I was 6 I was the only child viewing Trauma slides when my mom went for her yearly continuing education. It was odd now that I think about it that nobody attempted to intervene, but I mean, it was North Dakota ROFL.

Not really a laughing matter. I'm getting the picture of no father or a very ineffective one.


Matt: I didn't view it as abnormal until I started seeing the reactions (as an adult) of people who I told that to.

As a kid you couldn't know what is normal


Matt: My teenage years were the most brutal. When I was 18 one of my best friends committed suicide and (this should tell you how deep my skepticism runs) I ran over to Drew's house because I didn't believe it... but yeah, the look on his dad's face literally said it all. I was numb all the way back home, and when I broke the news to my mom when I walked in the door the first words out of her mouth was "I told you to go over there yesterday!"

Great. You always did it the wrong way.


Matt: The teenage years I still feel eroded any sort of normal "love" reaction that I *should* have--and simply don't. 2-3 years ago as a joke my wife bought me an audio book "How to live with a narcissistic mother," and after I got done with that book, it hit me like a ton of bricks--in a good way. For the first time I had as accurate of a description of my childhood as I'd ever had... My case is weird because there's normally several different roles in a Narcissistic family and because I was the only family member I literally played all roles. The Golden Child who was also the Black Sheep.

I couldn't have analyzed it any better.

My Experience with Buddhism Pt 1

by xeno6696 @, Sonoran Desert, Thursday, December 15, 2022, 03:39 (440 days ago) @ David Turell

Not really a laughing matter. I'm getting the picture of no father or a very ineffective one.

Gallows humor of a sort. Think of your ER docs. (I worked ER for 4yrs as a pharmacy tech, I fit in well with the old docs.) But yeah, only child, single mom.

Matt: I didn't view it as abnormal until I started seeing the reactions (as an adult) of people who I told that to.


As a kid you couldn't know what is normal


Great. You always did it the wrong way.

But then when I chose to stop doing homework and just fail out, my mom refused to blame me, only the teachers. I mean I get it, public school teachers get a bad rap but in my case it was totally undeserved. Like I said, the dynamic could flip on a dime. The only thing to be certain of and is a key to understanding my mom, is that whatever threatens her ego is the enemy. So if I threatened it, I was the black sheep. If someone threatened me, she took it as a personal offense against her. Trying to analyze those threads just isn't worth it, but it was impossible to navigate at the time. That's why I ultimately started shutting down at school.


Matt: The teenage years I still feel eroded any sort of normal "love" reaction that I *should* have--and simply don't. 2-3 years ago as a joke my wife bought me an audio book "How to live with a narcissistic mother," and after I got done with that book, it hit me like a ton of bricks--in a good way. For the first time I had as accurate of a description of my childhood as I'd ever had... My case is weird because there's normally several different roles in a Narcissistic family and because I was the only family member I literally played all roles. The Golden Child who was also the Black Sheep.


I couldn't have analyzed it any better.

I wanted to add--just to be clear--the "psychologist" approach of my teacher... he actually doesn't know about any of this history. This all came from me using the teachings and actually a mentor I had in a Buddha-based recovery program. (I wasn't going to do AA.)

Actually, on that note, I also didn't know that I did something that old head recovery folks thought was insane. I had actually been studying Buddhism since 2003. I probably mentioned that here a few times. But in 2017 I finally decided to practice the meditation part.

When I finally quit drinking in 2020, keep in mind--I averaged north of 750ml/day with a habit that had grown over 8yrs I did it cold turkey. My hospital experience taught me that if my vitals tanked I could titrate. In the pharmacy we kept liquor for precisely when the doctors would order it for that reason. The Buddha's meditation focuses on learning that all aspects of the mind, good, bad, neutral--has beginning, middle, end. I was afraid of the cravings. Literally it was like a hunger that would radiate numbness and I feared it would get worse. But over that first 24hrs, I slept fine. I was pre stage-IV hypertension (whatever 142/98 would be) a few months before I quit. So I watched it carefully on that first day. The meditation I used was the simple starting breath meditation: You focus on your breathing as the object, and anytime you "wake up" from being distracted, you bring it back to the breath. When negative feelings pop up, focus on them carefully, until they pass.

Nothing happened. They always passed. I was afraid of quitting but it was being afraid of a hallucination, really.

The next day, cravings still came at the usual times, but a little less powerful. That continued over a week.

By the time I hit a week, my BP had fully returned to normal.

But the meditation was my watchman. So at that point I began all the work that lead me to most of the story that I have already recounted here.

--
\"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.\"

My Experience with Buddhism Pt 1

by dhw, Thursday, December 15, 2022, 09:06 (440 days ago) @ xeno6696

David’s response to my last post has set an alarm bell tinklimg:

DAVID: I note dhw's personal comments, noting some new facts I hadn't known.

The personal comments were meant to shed light on what I thought were some of Matt’s own preoccupations: the negative or “nihilistic” side of Buddhism, with its emphasis on repeated suffering and the nebulousness both of rebirth and of the final state when Enlightenment has been achieved, the transience of joy, and the true nature of the “self”. This latest post delves deeper into the ramifications of Matt’s sufferings, and how he has dealt with them. Enlightening in itself, but if my personal comments were irrelevant, then I’m sorry and of course they should be ignored.

My Experience with Buddhism Pt 1

by David Turell @, Thursday, December 15, 2022, 16:13 (440 days ago) @ dhw

David’s response to my last post has set an alarm bell tinklimg:

DAVID: I note dhw's personal comments, noting some new facts I hadn't known.

dhw: The personal comments were meant to shed light on what I thought were some of Matt’s own preoccupations: the negative or “nihilistic” side of Buddhism, with its emphasis on repeated suffering and the nebulousness both of rebirth and of the final state when Enlightenment has been achieved, the transience of joy, and the true nature of the “self”. This latest post delves deeper into the ramifications of Matt’s sufferings, and how he has dealt with them. Enlightening in itself, but if my personal comments were irrelevant, then I’m sorry and of course they should be ignored.

Not ignored, but helpful in relating to each other.

My Experience with Buddhism Pt 1

by David Turell @, Thursday, December 15, 2022, 16:11 (440 days ago) @ xeno6696

Not really a laughing matter. I'm getting the picture of no father or a very ineffective one.


Gallows humor of a sort. Think of your ER docs. (I worked ER for 4yrs as a pharmacy tech, I fit in well with the old docs.) But yeah, only child, single mom.

Matt: I didn't view it as abnormal until I started seeing the reactions (as an adult) of people who I told that to.


As a kid you couldn't know what is normal


Great. You always did it the wrong way.


M att: But then when I chose to stop doing homework and just fail out, my mom refused to blame me, only the teachers. I mean I get it, public school teachers get a bad rap but in my case it was totally undeserved. Like I said, the dynamic could flip on a dime. The only thing to be certain of and is a key to understanding my mom, is that whatever threatens her ego is the enemy. So if I threatened it, I was the black sheep. If someone threatened me, she took it as a personal offense against her. Trying to analyze those threads just isn't worth it, but it was impossible to navigate at the time. That's why I ultimately started shutting down at school.

Shutting down no surprise, when it is all about her.


Matt: The teenage years I still feel eroded any sort of normal "love" reaction that I *should* have--and simply don't. 2-3 years ago as a joke my wife bought me an audio book "How to live with a narcissistic mother," and after I got done with that book, it hit me like a ton of bricks--in a good way. For the first time I had as accurate of a description of my childhood as I'd ever had... My case is weird because there's normally several different roles in a Narcissistic family and because I was the only family member I literally played all roles. The Golden Child who was also the Black Sheep.


DAvid: I couldn't have analyzed it any better.


Matt: I wanted to add--just to be clear--the "psychologist" approach of my teacher... he actually doesn't know about any of this history. This all came from me using the teachings and actually a mentor I had in a Buddha-based recovery program. (I wasn't going to do AA.)

Actually, on that note, I also didn't know that I did something that old head recovery folks thought was insane. I had actually been studying Buddhism since 2003. I probably mentioned that here a few times. But in 2017 I finally decided to practice the meditation part.

When I finally quit drinking in 2020, keep in mind--I averaged north of 750ml/day with a habit that had grown over 8yrs I did it cold turkey. My hospital experience taught me that if my vitals tanked I could titrate. In the pharmacy we kept liquor for precisely when the doctors would order it for that reason. The Buddha's meditation focuses on learning that all aspects of the mind, good, bad, neutral--has beginning, middle, end. I was afraid of the cravings. Literally it was like a hunger that would radiate numbness and I feared it would get worse. But over that first 24hrs, I slept fine. I was pre stage-IV hypertension (whatever 142/98 would be) a few months before I quit. So I watched it carefully on that first day. The meditation I used was the simple starting breath meditation: You focus on your breathing as the object, and anytime you "wake up" from being distracted, you bring it back to the breath. When negative feelings pop up, focus on them carefully, until they pass.

Nothing happened. They always passed. I was afraid of quitting but it was being afraid of a hallucination, really.

The next day, cravings still came at the usual times, but a little less powerful. That continued over a week.

By the time I hit a week, my BP had fully returned to normal.

But the meditation was my watchman. So at that point I began all the work that lead me to most of the story that I have already recounted here.

I appreciate your confidenced in us.

My Experience with Buddhism Pt 1

by dhw, Wednesday, December 14, 2022, 13:45 (441 days ago) @ xeno6696

Where to begin? Owing to the time gap between our countries, I woke up this morning to find an intensely moving personal story, accompanied by texts full of wisdom and compassion (accompanied by equally wise and compassionate comments from David) which create a totally different perspective from the one that we were discussing only yesterday. So I’ll begin by thanking you for all these insights into your own background and into those aspects of Buddhism that have been so helpful to you and may well help others who read your life story. There is nothing in these latest exchanges that I would dream of opposing. You began with a list of precepts:

"This is what should be done
By one who is skilled in goodness,
And who knows the path of peace:
Let them be able and upright,
Straightforward and gentle in speech,
Humble and not conceited etc.
"

If these were the Buddha’s teachings, there can be no controversy. David has, I think, rightly identified your embrace of Buddhism as a kind of therapy – and the very fact that it’s based on fundamental truths creates a solid base for you and indeed all of us to build on.

I’d like to add a personal note here. In my teens, I went through a religious crisis, and was initially deeply attracted to Buddhism, not least because it by-passed religion and “God”, and focused on the gentler, humanitarian aspects of life. It was only when I read about reincarnation and the prolongation of suffering as punishment for the bad things done in a previous life that I switched off. The crisis did not last long. By the time I reached my 20s, I'd realized that no religion or philosophy could answer my questions, and I settled for agnosticism. This brought what you would call a kind of contentment. I’m still fascinated by it all, and hurl myself into discussions, but they don't affect my attitude towards life, myself or other people, and I'm not suffering! I can’t say your story has brought me joy, but it has enriched me in an entirely positive way. It reaches out to all of us, regardless of temperamanent,situation, problems, solutions, beliefs and philosophies.

This leads me to points raised in your latest posts:

Xeno: I had no idea that the idea of Buddhism being about an uncaring nihilism was so pervasive. If the Buddha could weep at the loss of a mother's only child, and he was the most accomplished teacher of his age, then how can Buddhism be a death cult that suggests that the only escape for suffering is death?

The podcast could hardly have given us a worse start. Ajahn Brahmali focuses almost exclusively on the aspects of Buddhism that turned me away: rebirth, suffering, “freedom” from cravings - the “nihilism” - and neither you nor he can explain what is reborn, or what form of existence is more conducive to freedom from suffering, cravings etc. than permanent death. I love the tale of the grieving mother and the Buddha’s compassion and philosophy, but his consoling words are that everyone in the community has lost someone to death. He didn’t say to her, “Your son will be reborn, and his suffering will continue rebirth after rebirth until all his cravings and selfish actions will have ceased.”

Xeno: [...] Food and many of the things of daily life, provide small sparks of joy, but none of that provides a lasting contentment.

Yes, all things in this world are transient. Hence the cry “carpe diem!” I would rather enjoy each transient moment -and help others to do the same - than be miserable, and you're right, you can only do that if deep down your “self” has achieved an inner peace. This means acceptance of transience. Suffering may come from circumstances outside our control, and we can’t know how we will react to negative experiences. We may then discover aspects of ourselves that we didn’t know about – but they are still our own “selves”. My wife's death was one such event, but I've learned to live with it and still enjoy many transient moments. I was devastated when my elder son was diagnosed with an incurable cancer(though he's responding well to treatment at the moment), and I don’t know how I'll be able to endure the consequences if he dies before me. But we both know that we must accept transience. He makes the most of every moment, and so do I. If Buddhism helps you to accept your past and enjoy your present, then great. But don’t listen to podcasts like Ajahn Brahmali’s!

Xeno: I don't understand myself to be anything more than the confluence of consciousness and conditioning that was born 40 odd years ago, and if things go the way I figure they will, will eventually support daisies. I won't get to take any of those thoughts with me. So they're not *me*, in an ultimate sense.

They were you. But the current confluence of consciousness and conditioning may change, and so your “self” may change, but it will still be your "self". Gotama may also have changed before he became his wise and compassionate “self”.

My Experience with Buddhism Pt 1

by David Turell @, Wednesday, December 14, 2022, 14:53 (441 days ago) @ dhw

Where to begin? Owing to the time gap between our countries, I woke up this morning to find an intensely moving personal story, accompanied by texts full of wisdom and compassion (accompanied by equally wise and compassionate comments from David) which create a totally different perspective from the one that we were discussing only yesterday. So I’ll begin by thanking you for all these insights into your own background and into those aspects of Buddhism that have been so helpful to you and may well help others who read your life story. There is nothing in these latest exchanges that I would dream of opposing. You began with a list of precepts:

"This is what should be done
By one who is skilled in goodness,
And who knows the path of peace:
Let them be able and upright,
Straightforward and gentle in speech,
Humble and not conceited etc.
"

dhw: If these were the Buddha’s teachings, there can be no controversy. David has, I think, rightly identified your embrace of Buddhism as a kind of therapy – and the very fact that it’s based on fundamental truths creates a solid base for you and indeed all of us to build on.

dhw: I’d like to add a personal note here. In my teens, I went through a religious crisis, and was initially deeply attracted to Buddhism, not least because it by-passed religion and “God”, and focused on the gentler, humanitarian aspects of life. It was only when I read about reincarnation and the prolongation of suffering as punishment for the bad things done in a previous life that I switched off. The crisis did not last long. By the time I reached my 20s, I'd realized that no religion or philosophy could answer my questions, and I settled for agnosticism. This brought what you would call a kind of contentment. I’m still fascinated by it all, and hurl myself into discussions, but they don't affect my attitude towards life, myself or other people, and I'm not suffering! I can’t say your story has brought me joy, but it has enriched me in an entirely positive way. It reaches out to all of us, regardless of temperamanent,situation, problems, solutions, beliefs and philosophies.

This leads me to points raised in your latest posts:

Xeno: I had no idea that the idea of Buddhism being about an uncaring nihilism was so pervasive. If the Buddha could weep at the loss of a mother's only child, and he was the most accomplished teacher of his age, then how can Buddhism be a death cult that suggests that the only escape for suffering is death?

dhw: The podcast could hardly have given us a worse start. Ajahn Brahmali focuses almost exclusively on the aspects of Buddhism that turned me away: rebirth, suffering, “freedom” from cravings - the “nihilism” - and neither you nor he can explain what is reborn, or what form of existence is more conducive to freedom from suffering, cravings etc. than permanent death. I love the tale of the grieving mother and the Buddha’s compassion and philosophy, but his consoling words are that everyone in the community has lost someone to death. He didn’t say to her, “Your son will be reborn, and his suffering will continue rebirth after rebirth until all his cravings and selfish actions will have ceased.”

Xeno: [...] Food and many of the things of daily life, provide small sparks of joy, but none of that provides a lasting contentment.

dhw: Yes, all things in this world are transient. Hence the cry “carpe diem!” I would rather enjoy each transient moment -and help others to do the same - than be miserable, and you're right, you can only do that if deep down your “self” has achieved an inner peace. This means acceptance of transience. Suffering may come from circumstances outside our control, and we can’t know how we will react to negative experiences. We may then discover aspects of ourselves that we didn’t know about – but they are still our own “selves”. My wife's death was one such event, but I've learned to live with it and still enjoy many transient moments. I was devastated when my elder son was diagnosed with an incurable cancer(though he's responding well to treatment at the moment), and I don’t know how I'll be able to endure the consequences if he dies before me. But we both know that we must accept transience. He makes the most of every moment, and so do I. If Buddhism helps you to accept your past and enjoy your present, then great. But don’t listen to podcasts like Ajahn Brahmali’s!

Xeno: I don't understand myself to be anything more than the confluence of consciousness and conditioning that was born 40 odd years ago, and if things go the way I figure they will, will eventually support daisies. I won't get to take any of those thoughts with me. So they're not *me*, in an ultimate sense.

dhw: They were you. But the current confluence of consciousness and conditioning may change, and so your “self” may change, but it will still be your "self". Gotama may also have changed before he became his wise and compassionate “self”.

I note dhw's personal comments, noting some new facts I hadn't known

My Experience with Buddhism Pt 1

by xeno6696 @, Sonoran Desert, Thursday, December 15, 2022, 14:59 (440 days ago) @ dhw

This is a full plate my friend! I think I've lived such an otherwise normal life I still feel a bit awkward that anything about it would be terribly inspiring, lol. I've long sensed camaraderie with your take on things. The other reason I quit orbiting this site is because I realized after a bit "why am I defending being sceptical?" Human nature seems to send folks down to fill in all gaps with explanations. Maybe some things just don't have explanations? I'd developed a sort of "If all you're doing is arguing about existence, aren't you missing out on something immediately around you within your existence?" The ending song of Life of Brian has always held a great deal of significance.

I was devastated when my elder son was diagnosed with an incurable cancer(though he's responding well to treatment at the moment), and I don’t know how I'll be able to endure the consequences if he dies before me. But we both know that we must accept transience. He makes the most of every moment, and so do I. If Buddhism helps you to accept your past and enjoy your present, then great. But don’t listen to podcasts like Ajahn Brahmali’s!

This is a full plate, friend, and I send you virtual hugs from Tucson. I recently had what I could best describe as a "vision" or "waking dream." I met my wife at a Deftones concert just 25yrs and a few days ago. In the vision I was in an attic with a sort of golden glow. I was flipping through one of my old CD books, and found the CD released a couple weeks before that concert. I felt a pang, because she was no longer in my life in this vision. I put the CD on, and as the first song spun up, I began to weep. Then the CD started skipping, because of course CDs don't last forever either. When I came to I was crying in real life.

There's a stoic practice that I believe in but haven't practiced lately, where you imagine losing your loved ones. The reason they did this was to account for the fact that we take those around us for granted... the stoics didn't want us doing that, so you try to imagine their loss to create these kinds of feelings. This enables a fresh kindness. I *do* kind of understand what you're going through. I send you hugs from tucson, dhw!


It's funny that you say that last bit about Brahmali, that one is the only teaching that comes off as brash, I'm currently going through a workshop where he brings you to the life and times of the Buddha in the hope to gain what kind of truly different system he discovered compared to his contemporaries, the Jains, the Ajivakas, and then the orthodox Hinduism at the time. (Hinduism hadn't developed as a system yet, the caste system was evolving but hadn't been codified yet.) The idea here is to place the Buddha's words in the time and places where they brought rupture to traditional Indian life. I'm still offput by that interview I shared, but he's a great source of knowledge about this time period.

Xeno: I don't understand myself to be anything more than the confluence of consciousness and conditioning that was born 40 odd years ago, and if things go the way I figure they will, will eventually support daisies. I won't get to take any of those thoughts with me. So they're not *me*, in an ultimate sense.

They were you. But the current confluence of consciousness and conditioning may change, and so your “self” may change, but it will still be your "self". Gotama may also have changed before he became his wise and compassionate “self”.

I appreciate your conception of the self, I just don't share it! I've meditated enough at this point to have a strong grasp on my mind and I think I share the ancient Hindu desire to find the stable piece of footing: my thoughts are in *my* head but I don't identify with them as my "self." If you've ever had a vision of causing someone harm and you're like "no I'm not like that" that's how I am with everything now. My thoughts don't define me, my actions do that. Or to put another way, I don't experience my thoughts as part of my identity as a person. IF I defined myself by my thoughts, then I'd be a very crazy person indeed. My thoughts are typically a raging flood and I can go from exquisite kindness one moment to terrible cruelty in the blink of an eye. I can choose not to be defined by that great mass of contradictions, and that's just what I'll do! =-)

--
\"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.\"

My Experience with Buddhism Pt 1

by David Turell @, Thursday, December 15, 2022, 16:27 (440 days ago) @ xeno6696

M att: This is a full plate my friend! I think I've lived such an otherwise normal life I still feel a bit awkward that anything about it would be terribly inspiring, lol. I've long sensed camaraderie with your take on things. The other reason I quit orbiting this site is because I realized after a bit "why am I defending being sceptical?" Human nature seems to send folks down to fill in all gaps with explanations. Maybe some things just don't have explanations? I'd developed a sort of "If all you're doing is arguing about existence, aren't you missing out on something immediately around you within your existence?" The ending song of Life of Brian has always held a great deal of significance. >

dhw: I was devastated when my elder son was diagnosed with an incurable cancer(though he's responding well to treatment at the moment), and I don’t know how I'll be able to endure the consequences if he dies before me. But we both know that we must accept transience. He makes the most of every moment, and so do I. If Buddhism helps you to accept your past and enjoy your present, then great. But don’t listen to podcasts like Ajahn Brahmali’s!

I should bring up the loss of my son in 2006, at age 45. Still miss him and our shared love of baseball. Stopped following the Astros for eleven years but could finally return.> >


Matt: This is a full plate, friend, and I send you virtual hugs from Tucson. I recently had what I could best describe as a "vision" or "waking dream." I met my wife at a Deftones concert just 25yrs and a few days ago. In the vision I was in an attic with a sort of golden glow. I was flipping through one of my old CD books, and found the CD released a couple weeks before that concert. I felt a pang, because she was no longer in my life in this vision. I put the CD on, and as the first song spun up, I began to weep. Then the CD started skipping, because of course CDs don't last forever either. When I came to I was crying in real life.

There's a stoic practice that I believe in but haven't practiced lately, where you imagine losing your loved ones. The reason they did this was to account for the fact that we take those around us for granted... the stoics didn't want us doing that, so you try to imagine their loss to create these kinds of feelings. This enables a fresh kindness. I *do* kind of understand what you're going through. I send you hugs from tucson, dhw! >

It's funny that you say that last bit about Brahmali, that one is the only teaching that comes off as brash, I'm currently going through a workshop where he brings you to the life and times of the Buddha in the hope to gain what kind of truly different system he discovered compared to his contemporaries, the Jains, the Ajivakas, and then the orthodox Hinduism at the time. (Hinduism hadn't developed as a system yet, the caste system was evolving but hadn't been codified yet.) The idea here is to place the Buddha's words in the time and places where they brought rupture to traditional Indian life. I'm still offput by that interview I shared, but he's a great source of knowledge about this time period.

Xeno: I don't understand myself to be anything more than the confluence of consciousness and conditioning that was born 40 odd years ago, and if things go the way I figure they will, will eventually support daisies. I won't get to take any of those thoughts with me. So they're not *me*, in an ultimate sense.

They were you. But the current confluence of consciousness and conditioning may change, and so your “self” may change, but it will still be your "self". Gotama may also have changed before he became his wise and compassionate “self”.


I appreciate your conception of the self, I just don't share it! I've meditated enough at this point to have a strong grasp on my mind and I think I share the ancient Hindu desire to find the stable piece of footing: my thoughts are in *my* head but I don't identify with them as my "self." If you've ever had a vision of causing someone harm and you're like "no I'm not like that" that's how I am with everything now. My thoughts don't define me, my actions do that. Or to put another way, I don't experience my thoughts as part of my identity as a person. IF I defined myself by my thoughts, then I'd be a very crazy person indeed. My thoughts are typically a raging flood and I can go from exquisite kindness one moment to terrible cruelty in the blink of an eye. I can choose not to be defined by that great mass of contradictions, and that's just what I'll do! =-)

A great educational thought. I am the person I project to others and that is myself. But the raging stream of thought goes on in all of us. That is an internal 'self'.

My Experience with Buddhism Pt 1

by dhw, Friday, December 16, 2022, 08:24 (439 days ago) @ xeno6696

Xeno: […] I think I've lived such an otherwise normal life I still feel a bit awkward that anything about it would be terribly inspiring, lol. I've long sensed camaraderie with your take on things.

Thank you. I sense the same “camaraderie”! I don’t know what you regard as “normal”, but I also sense you’ve had more than your fair share of suffering. What on Earth (literally) did you do during your past lives? Seriously, I admire anyone who battles to overcome their demons, and I wonder if sometimes you’re too hard on yourself, since it must be your real “self” that’s trying to find balance. You said your wife has noticed the change in you, and if I try to imagine her feelings, I get a very moving picture of her love being rewarded. I’d like to put my arms round you both and pronounce an agnostic’s blessing on your marriage! (See your “vision” below.)

xeno: The other reason I quit orbiting this site is because I realized after a bit "why am I defending being sceptical?" Human nature seems to send folks down to fill in all gaps with explanations. Maybe some things just don't have explanations? […]

That’s the essence of agnosticism, but it spurs me on to make the most of the only life we know. The mysteries are part of the fascination – hence this website – but if I was struggling to stay alive, or to fight demons, then of course my priorities would be different.

(Thank you for your virtual hug and sympathy with regards to my elder son’s illness. I appreciate that.)

Xeno: I recently had what I could best describe as a "vision" or "waking dream." I met my wife at a Deftones concert just 25yrs and a few days ago. In the vision I […] found the CD released a couple weeks before that concert. I felt a pang, because she was no longer in my life in this vision. I put the CD on, and as the first song spun up, I began to weep. Then the CD started skipping, because of course CDs don't last forever either. When I came to I was crying in real life.

This is very moving. I wonder if your subconscious was telling you to go and give your wife a hug. I hope you did!

Xeno: There's a stoic practice […] where you imagine losing your loved ones. The reason they did this was to account for the fact that we take those around us for granted...

It’s not just our loved ones. Everything we’ve got used to is taken for granted, and so we “miss out” on the joy of it – until we lose it! Your stoics should tell you to imagine winter without heating, daily life without water/food/transport, sickness without medicine etc. Millions are in that situation, and we should take heed of that perspective in any struggle to achieve balance.

Xeno: I don't understand myself to be anything more than the confluence of consciousness and conditioning that was born 40 odd years ago, and if things go the way I figure they will, will eventually support daisies. I won't get to take any of those thoughts with me. So they're not *me*, in an ultimate sense.

dhw: They were you. But the current confluence of consciousness and conditioning may change, and so your “self” may change, but it will still be your "self". Gotama may also have changed before he became his wise and compassionate “self”.

Xeno: I appreciate your conception of the self, I just don't share it! […] my thoughts are in *my* head but I don't identify with them as my "self." If you've ever had a vision of causing someone harm and you're like "no I'm not like that" that's how I am with everything now. My thoughts don't define me, my actions do that. […] My thoughts are typically a raging flood and I can go from exquisite kindness one moment to terrible cruelty in the blink of an eye. I can choose not to be defined by that great mass of contradictions, and that's just what I'll do!

DAVID: A great educational thought. I am the person I project to others and that is myself. But the raging stream of thought goes on in all of us. That is an internal 'self'.

I agree about the internal “self”, but not the external one, although I’m sure it’s true of David and I’d like to think it’s true of me. But the world is full of people who project a false self to others: the good neighbour who beats his wife, the charming conman, the paedophile priest, the corrupt politician…I think Matt has gone to deeper levels than I did, and I agree that although the contradictory thoughts are part of us, they do not define us. His last sentence is perhaps the key: what defines us is the choices we make from the contradictions. I presume, Matt, that you choose to implement the exquisitely kind thoughts and repress the cruel ones. WHY you make those choices is open to question, but whatever the influences, the choices define who you are in your own eyes as well as in those of others. Sounds good to me.

My Experience with Buddhism Pt 1

by David Turell @, Friday, December 16, 2022, 15:57 (439 days ago) @ dhw

Xeno: […] I think I've lived such an otherwise normal life I still feel a bit awkward that anything about it would be terribly inspiring, lol. I've long sensed camaraderie with your take on things.

dhw: Thank you. I sense the same “camaraderie”! I don’t know what you regard as “normal”, but I also sense you’ve had more than your fair share of suffering. What on Earth (literally) did you do during your past lives? Seriously, I admire anyone who battles to overcome their demons, and I wonder if sometimes you’re too hard on yourself, since it must be your real “self” that’s trying to find balance. You said your wife has noticed the change in you, and if I try to imagine her feelings, I get a very moving picture of her love being rewarded. I’d like to put my arms round you both and pronounce an agnostic’s blessing on your marriage! (See your “vision” below.)

xeno: The other reason I quit orbiting this site is because I realized after a bit "why am I defending being sceptical?" Human nature seems to send folks down to fill in all gaps with explanations. Maybe some things just don't have explanations? […]

dhw: That’s the essence of agnosticism, but it spurs me on to make the most of the only life we know. The mysteries are part of the fascination – hence this website – but if I was struggling to stay alive, or to fight demons, then of course my priorities would be different.

(Thank you for your virtual hug and sympathy with regards to my elder son’s illness. I appreciate that.)

Xeno: I recently had what I could best describe as a "vision" or "waking dream." I met my wife at a Deftones concert just 25yrs and a few days ago. In the vision I […] found the CD released a couple weeks before that concert. I felt a pang, because she was no longer in my life in this vision. I put the CD on, and as the first song spun up, I began to weep. Then the CD started skipping, because of course CDs don't last forever either. When I came to I was crying in real life.

dhw: This is very moving. I wonder if your subconscious was telling you to go and give your wife a hug. I hope you did!

Xeno: There's a stoic practice […] where you imagine losing your loved ones. The reason they did this was to account for the fact that we take those around us for granted...

dhw: It’s not just our loved ones. Everything we’ve got used to is taken for granted, and so we “miss out” on the joy of it – until we lose it! Your stoics should tell you to imagine winter without heating, daily life without water/food/transport, sickness without medicine etc. Millions are in that situation, and we should take heed of that perspective in any struggle to achieve balance.

Xeno: I don't understand myself to be anything more than the confluence of consciousness and conditioning that was born 40 odd years ago, and if things go the way I figure they will, will eventually support daisies. I won't get to take any of those thoughts with me. So they're not *me*, in an ultimate sense.

dhw: They were you. But the current confluence of consciousness and conditioning may change, and so your “self” may change, but it will still be your "self". Gotama may also have changed before he became his wise and compassionate “self”.

Xeno: I appreciate your conception of the self, I just don't share it! […] my thoughts are in *my* head but I don't identify with them as my "self." If you've ever had a vision of causing someone harm and you're like "no I'm not like that" that's how I am with everything now. My thoughts don't define me, my actions do that. […] My thoughts are typically a raging flood and I can go from exquisite kindness one moment to terrible cruelty in the blink of an eye. I can choose not to be defined by that great mass of contradictions, and that's just what I'll do!

DAVID: A great educational thought. I am the person I project to others and that is myself. But the raging stream of thought goes on in all of us. That is an internal 'self.'

dhw: I agree about the internal “self”, but not the external one, although I’m sure it’s true of David and I’d like to think it’s true of me. But the world is full of people who project a false self to others: the good neighbour who beats his wife, the charming conman, the paedophile priest, the corrupt politician…I think Matt has gone to deeper levels than I did, and I agree that although the contradictory thoughts are part of us, they do not define us. His last sentence is perhaps the key: what defines us is the choices we make from the contradictions. I presume, Matt, that you choose to implement the exquisitely kind thoughts and repress the cruel ones. WHY you make those choices is open to question, but whatever the influences, the choices define who you are in your own eyes as well as in those of others. Sounds good to me.

The childhood Matt describes evokes a lasting anger in an adult, who must learn to control it by recognizing its source and reasons to change from the biting anger in order to move forward. Matt did that in his own way, beautifully.

My Experience with Buddhism Pt 1

by xeno6696 @, Sonoran Desert, Friday, December 16, 2022, 16:26 (439 days ago) @ David Turell

The childhood Matt describes evokes a lasting anger in an adult, who must learn to control it by recognizing its source and reasons to change from the biting anger in order to move forward. Matt did that in his own way, beautifully.

One of the things in this process that softened the hard stances I had taken vs religion in the past was recognizing the importance about connecting with an ancient tradition. There *is* something moving about being a part of an institution with 2500yrs of consecutive history.

And yeah David, you hit it on the head--if the exterior matched the interior I would certainly look worse for wear ROFL. Anger generally leads towards destruction if you don't channel it.

dhw: Yes its true that people can put on a mask, but you can't do THAT and live authentically. To the extent that internal peace is possible, thinking one way and constantly doing another is oppression. While I'm painting with broad strokes here, the closer one can get to having their internal state match their external state, the extent to which thought and deed are synonymous is an ideal that one should strive for. (I hesitate to push too broadly here because what does the "Golden Rule mean to a Masochist?)

Later today or tomorrow I'll start sketching what I think the Buddhists mean in regards to rebirth. My monk is attending to two funerals so he's apologized but he'll get back to me. I do think I've unlocked the logic at least, we'll see what he thinks later.

--
\"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.\"

My Experience with Buddhism Pt 1

by David Turell @, Friday, December 16, 2022, 20:03 (439 days ago) @ xeno6696

Matt: The childhood Matt describes evokes a lasting anger in an adult, who must learn to control it by recognizing its source and reasons to change from the biting anger in order to move forward. Matt did that in his own way, beautifully.


One of the things in this process that softened the hard stances I had taken vs religion in the past was recognizing the importance about connecting with an ancient tradition. There *is* something moving about being a part of an institution with 2500yrs of consecutive history.

And yeah David, you hit it on the head--if the exterior matched the interior I would certainly look worse for wear ROFL. Anger generally leads towards destruction if you don't channel it.

Thank you for keeping us old guys up on the internet slang.


dhw: Yes its true that people can put on a mask, but you can't do THAT and live authentically. To the extent that internal peace is possible, thinking one way and constantly doing another is oppression. While I'm painting with broad strokes here, the closer one can get to having their internal state match their external state, the extent to which thought and deed are synonymous is an ideal that one should strive for. (I hesitate to push too broadly here because what does the "Golden Rule mean to a Masochist?)

Mattt: Later today or tomorrow I'll start sketching what I think the Buddhists mean in regards to rebirth. My monk is attending to two funerals so he's apologized but he'll get back to me. I do think I've unlocked the logic at least, we'll see what he thinks later.

Looking forward to it.

My Experience with Buddhism Pt 1

by dhw, Saturday, December 17, 2022, 10:08 (438 days ago) @ xeno6696

DAVID: The childhood Matt describes evokes a lasting anger in an adult, who must learn to control it by recognizing its source and reasons to change from the biting anger in order to move forward. Matt did that in his own way, beautifully.

Xeno: And yeah David, you hit it on the head--if the exterior matched the interior I would certainly look worse for wear ROFL. Anger generally leads towards destruction if you don't channel it.

This is what I meant by your choices defining who you are in your own eyes as well as in those of others.

dhw: (clarification: this is xeno responding to dhw:) Yes its true that people can put on a mask, but you can't do THAT and live authentically.

It would help if you could briefly quote what you are referring to. In reply to David’s comment that the person he projects to others is himself, I pointed out that very often the person projected to others is NOT necessarily the true self (e.g. a conman). I’m not sure what you mean by “authentically”. The conman’s concealment of his authentic self is his means of being his authentic self: i.e. a selfish bastard who couldn’t care less about the feelings of others. (The “Golden Rule”- see below - has no place in his authentic “self”!)

Xeno: To the extent that internal peace is possible, thinking one way and constantly doing another is oppression. While I'm painting with broad strokes here, the closer one can get to having their internal state match their external state, the extent to which thought and deed are synonymous is an ideal that one should strive for. (I hesitate to push too broadly here because what does the "Golden Rule mean to a Masochist?)

The strokes are TOO broad for me. Yes, we should strive for the “golden rule” (do as you would be done by), but that involves contact with other people. Maybe the Buddhist support for monastic life recognizes this, and recommends shutting yourself off from other people so that you have no occasion to think internal thoughts ( “cravings”) which must be suppressed by external actions. If you yourself had lived your life in solitary confinement, I should imagine 99% of the subjects you were angry about would never have had to enter your mind. (The 1% would have been: “Dammit, why am I cooped up in here?”) Social intercourse requires constantly monitoring and controlling one’s thoughts. You see a beautiful girl, just your type, and you’d like to kiss her. Not an unnatural “bad” thought, is it? But you choose not to kiss her, because that would be immoral and could quite rightly land you in big trouble. What’s the ideal you’re striving for in trying to match internal thought with external deed? To eliminate such thoughts? Then off you must go to solitary confinement. There are thousands of situations in which we have thoughts which must be rejected if we are to do as we would be done by. For me, the ideal is to implement the rule by making the appropriate choice, not by shutting yourself off from choice.

Xeno: Just wanted to bring in a quick note, I did indeed promptly go hug my wife, who typically has more in common with the great Saguaro, so it would have been comical for outsiders to see her surprise! =-)

Delighted to hear it. I had to look up “Saguaro”: a tree-like cactus. Hmmm...not sure she’d like that – and not sure you should hug her after all. Could be painful!

My Experience with Buddhism Pt 1

by David Turell @, Saturday, December 17, 2022, 17:00 (438 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: The childhood Matt describes evokes a lasting anger in an adult, who must learn to control it by recognizing its source and reasons to change from the biting anger in order to move forward. Matt did that in his own way, beautifully.

Xeno: And yeah David, you hit it on the head--if the exterior matched the interior I would certainly look worse for wear ROFL. Anger generally leads towards destruction if you don't channel it.

dhw: This is what I meant by your choices defining who you are in your own eyes as well as in those of others.

dhw: (clarification: this is xeno responding to dhw:) Yes its true that people can put on a mask, but you can't do THAT and live authentically.

dhw: It would help if you could briefly quote what you are referring to. In reply to David’s comment that the person he projects to others is himself, I pointed out that very often the person projected to others is NOT necessarily the true self (e.g. a conman). I’m not sure what you mean by “authentically”. The conman’s concealment of his authentic self is his means of being his authentic self: i.e. a selfish bastard who couldn’t care less about the feelings of others. (The “Golden Rule”- see below - has no place in his authentic “self”!)

Xeno: To the extent that internal peace is possible, thinking one way and constantly doing another is oppression. While I'm painting with broad strokes here, the closer one can get to having their internal state match their external state, the extent to which thought and deed are synonymous is an ideal that one should strive for. (I hesitate to push too broadly here because what does the "Golden Rule mean to a Masochist?)

dhw: The strokes are TOO broad for me. Yes, we should strive for the “golden rule” (do as you would be done by), but that involves contact with other people. Maybe the Buddhist support for monastic life recognizes this, and recommends shutting yourself off from other people so that you have no occasion to think internal thoughts ( “cravings”) which must be suppressed by external actions. If you yourself had lived your life in solitary confinement, I should imagine 99% of the subjects you were angry about would never have had to enter your mind. (The 1% would have been: “Dammit, why am I cooped up in here?”) Social intercourse requires constantly monitoring and controlling one’s thoughts. You see a beautiful girl, just your type, and you’d like to kiss her. Not an unnatural “bad” thought, is it? But you choose not to kiss her, because that would be immoral and could quite rightly land you in big trouble. What’s the ideal you’re striving for in trying to match internal thought with external deed? To eliminate such thoughts? Then off you must go to solitary confinement. There are thousands of situations in which we have thoughts which must be rejected if we are to do as we would be done by. For me, the ideal is to implement the rule by making the appropriate choice, not by shutting yourself off from choice.

Xeno: Just wanted to bring in a quick note, I did indeed promptly go hug my wife, who typically has more in common with the great Saguaro, so it would have been comical for outsiders to see her surprise! =-)

dhw: Delighted to hear it. I had to look up “Saguaro”: a tree-like cactus. Hmmm...not sure she’d like that – and not sure you should hug her after all. Could be painful!

I wish you could come and tour our country. The Saguaro National Park is in Arizona

Saguaro National Monumenthttps://duckduckgo.com/?q=Saguaro+National+Monument&t=crhs&ia=web

See the photos.

My Experience with Buddhism Pt 1

by xeno6696 @, Sonoran Desert, Saturday, December 17, 2022, 20:23 (438 days ago) @ dhw

I’m not sure what you mean by “authentically”. The conman’s concealment of his authentic self is his means of being his authentic self: i.e. a selfish bastard who couldn’t care less about the feelings of others. (The “Golden Rule”- see below - has no place in his authentic “self”!)

So barring some sort of severe pathology (psychotics or sociopaths) the great tendency for most human beings is that the act of keeping secrets an/or continuously lying to people exacts cognitive costs that aren't necessarily recognized by the people doing it. There's quite a good book I read last year called "how emotions are made," and while there are debatable aspects of every psychological model, it absolutely makes sense. The primary function of our brain in this model is to conserve energy. To the extent that we engage in actions that cause us to spend energy, it leaves us in a more depleted state. In a less clinical form, someone who is trying to keep a big secret from someone else has to expend more cognitive energy keeping their stories straight, especially if we include the body's stress response which has a feedback effect of sapping more energy. This is why in professional spywork, the basic idea is to keep your lies close to the truth. This is why sociopaths make excellent spies and conmen, actually.

So to correct a bit what I was referring to, I would walk back the idea that it's the persona that we project: we shouldn't be *projecting* anything. We should just *be.* The people spending all this energy to "project" are in a sense, cons themselves even if their aims and intention are banal or benevolent. A Buddhist comparison I would make is that the monks in my school are required to keep 227 precepts to my 5. However keeping those 227 precepts is actually quite easy if you *always* incline to kindness and peace. (You'll keep the precepts without having to think about them.)

The strokes are TOO broad for me. Yes, we should strive for the “golden rule” (do as you would be done by), but that involves contact with other people. Maybe the Buddhist support for monastic life recognizes this, and recommends shutting yourself off from other people so that you have no occasion to think internal thoughts ( “cravings”) which must be suppressed by external actions. If you yourself had lived your life in solitary confinement, I should imagine 99% of the subjects you were angry about would never have had to enter your mind. (The 1% would have been: “Dammit, why am I cooped up in here?”) Social intercourse requires constantly monitoring and controlling one’s thoughts. You see a beautiful girl, just your type, and you’d like to kiss her. Not an unnatural “bad” thought, is it? But you choose not to kiss her, because that would be immoral and could quite rightly land you in big trouble. What’s the ideal you’re striving for in trying to match internal thought with external deed? To eliminate such thoughts? Then off you must go to solitary confinement. There are thousands of situations in which we have thoughts which must be rejected if we are to do as we would be done by. For me, the ideal is to implement the rule by making the appropriate choice, not by shutting yourself off from choice.

So you raise an excellent observation, and you hit the nail on the head with the purpose of the monastic life: By removing yourself from the world you necessarily isolate yourself from contact with things that would otherwise challenge you. If your meals are donated by the public, and you have a tent and robe given to you by the community, you never need to touch money, for example. (Theravadan monks are expressly forbidden to touch money, and this is what caused the initial major split within Buddhism roughly 100yrs after his death.)

I would say that myself I have long recognized that more choice is rarely superior to limited choice. In my music, I rekindled my studio after mothballing it for 17yrs, and I can flat out say that having more choices of synthesizers and effects is vastly harmful to my output. I used to be able to punch out a song, beginning to end, in a day. Now--I've been working on the same song since early October. And the primary culprit is that I have too many damn choices of things to use. Part of me wants to sell everything down to maybe 3 synths tops and then write from there.

Here's an article from your neck of the woods: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/oct/21/choice-stressing-us-out-dating-par...

Choice being negative--this is uncontroversial for me.

Xeno: Just wanted to bring in a quick note, I did indeed promptly go hug my wife, who typically has more in common with the great Saguaro, so it would have been comical for outsiders to see her surprise! =-)

Delighted to hear it. I had to look up “Saguaro”: a tree-like cactus. Hmmm...not sure she’d like that – and not sure you should hug her after all. Could be painful!

I married into a Scottish family where those tempers... I thought they were just stories! =-) My wife's nickname within the family growing up was "bear."

--
\"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.\"

My Experience with Buddhism Pt 1

by David Turell @, Sunday, December 18, 2022, 00:07 (438 days ago) @ xeno6696

Matt: I’m not sure what you mean by “authentically”. The conman’s concealment of his authentic self is his means of being his authentic self: i.e. a selfish bastard who couldn’t care less about the feelings of others. (The “Golden Rule”- see below - has no place in his authentic “self”!)


dhw: So barring some sort of severe pathology (psychotics or sociopaths) the great tendency for most human beings is that the act of keeping secrets an/or continuously lying to people exacts cognitive costs that aren't necessarily recognized by the people doing it. There's quite a good book I read last year called "how emotions are made," and while there are debatable aspects of every psychological model, it absolutely makes sense. The primary function of our brain in this model is to conserve energy. To the extent that we engage in actions that cause us to spend energy, it leaves us in a more depleted state. In a less clinical form, someone who is trying to keep a big secret from someone else has to expend more cognitive energy keeping their stories straight, especially if we include the body's stress response which has a feedback effect of sapping more energy. This is why in professional spywork, the basic idea is to keep your lies close to the truth. This is why sociopaths make excellent spies and conmen, actually.

Matt: So to correct a bit what I was referring to, I would walk back the idea that it's the persona that we project: we shouldn't be *projecting* anything. We should just *be.* The people spending all this energy to "project" are in a sense, cons themselves even if their aims and intention are banal or benevolent. A Buddhist comparison I would make is that the monks in my school are required to keep 227 precepts to my 5. However keeping those 227 precepts is actually quite easy if you *always* incline to kindness and peace. (You'll keep the precepts without having to think about them.) >

dhw: The strokes are TOO broad for me. Yes, we should strive for the “golden rule” (do as you would be done by), but that involves contact with other people. Maybe the Buddhist support for monastic life recognizes this, and recommends shutting yourself off from other people so that you have no occasion to think internal thoughts ( “cravings”) which must be suppressed by external actions. If you yourself had lived your life in solitary confinement, I should imagine 99% of the subjects you were angry about would never have had to enter your mind. (The 1% would have been: “Dammit, why am I cooped up in here?”) ... What’s the ideal you’re striving for in trying to match internal thought with external deed? To eliminate such thoughts? Then off you must go to solitary confinement. There are thousands of situations in which we have thoughts which must be rejected if we are to do as we would be done by. For me, the ideal is to implement the rule by making the appropriate choice, not by shutting yourself off from choice.


Matt:So you raise an excellent observation, and you hit the nail on the head with the purpose of the monastic life: By removing yourself from the world you necessarily isolate yourself from contact with things that would otherwise challenge you. If your meals are donated by the public, and you have a tent and robe given to you by the community, you never need to touch money, for example. (Theravadan monks are expressly forbidden to touch money, and this is what caused the initial major split within Buddhism roughly 100yrs after his death.)

I would say that myself I have long recognized that more choice is rarely superior to limited choice. In my music, I rekindled my studio after mothballing it for 17yrs, and I can flat out say that having more choices of synthesizers and effects is vastly harmful to my output. I used to be able to punch out a song, beginning to end, in a day. Now--I've been working on the same song since early October. And the primary culprit is that I have too many damn choices of things to use. Part of me wants to sell everything down to maybe 3 synths tops and then write from there.

Here's an article from your neck of the woods: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/oct/21/choice-stressing-us-out-dating-par...

Choice being negative--this is uncontroversial for me.

I must admit being amazed at the point of the discussion in the article. Don't people have brains to study and make reasonable choices among younger generations? Reasonable analysis and chose. The pension plan discussion fell into part of what I did early on with our clinic.
Great plan developed from good advice, so good I even flew to the pan handle to help a friend with his clinic's plan going with my advisor. Too much choice shows individual weakness in one's boundaries of desire.

Xeno: Just wanted to bring in a quick note, I did indeed promptly go hug my wife, who typically has more in common with the great Saguaro, so it would have been comical for outsiders to see her surprise! =-)

dhw: Delighted to hear it. I had to look up “Saguaro”: a tree-like cactus. Hmmm...not sure she’d like that – and not sure you should hug her after all. Could be painful!


Matt: I married into a Scottish family where those tempers... I thought they were just stories! =-) My wife's nickname within the family growing up was "bear."

At least not porcupine!!

My Experience with Buddhism Pt 1

by dhw, Sunday, December 18, 2022, 13:48 (437 days ago) @ xeno6696

I am editing xeno’s comments in order to clarify arguments.

Xeno: So to correct a bit what I was referring to, I would walk back the idea that it's the persona that we project: we shouldn't be *projecting* anything. We should just *be.* […] A Buddhist comparison I would make is that the monks in my school are required to keep 227 precepts to my 5. However keeping those 227 precepts is actually quite easy if you *always* incline to kindness and peace. (You'll keep the precepts without having to think about them.)

This is a misunderstanding. David wrote: “I am the person I project to others and that is myself.” I pointed out that many people project persons who are NOT themselves. It makes no difference whether the person you project is fake or real (“real” means the person you really are), what you project is what other people see. And of course the ideal is that the real inner person should be perfect, and will therefore project a real and perfect outer person!

dhw: For me, the ideal is to implement the rule by making the appropriate choice, not by shutting yourself off from choice.

Xeno: So you raise an excellent observation, and you hit the nail on the head with the purpose of the monastic life: By removing yourself from the world you necessarily isolate yourself from contact with things that would otherwise challenge you. I would say that myself I have long recognized that more choice is rarely superior to limited choice. In my music, I rekindled my studio after mothballing it for 17yrs, and I can flat out say that having more choices of synthesizers and effects is vastly harmful to my output. […] Here's an article from your neck of the woods:
https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/oct/21/choice-stressing-us-out-dating-par...

Choice being negative--this is uncontroversial for me.

The “rule” I was referring to above (now bolded) is the “Golden Rule” you mentioned as the ideal (do as you would be done by). This concerns one’s behaviour towards others, and has nothing to do with choice of consumer goods or the number of synthesizers you should own. I really don’t think you will be “punished” in your next life for choosing the wrong pension plan or buying the wrong tomato ketchup.

My Experience with Buddhism Pt 1

by David Turell @, Sunday, December 18, 2022, 16:12 (437 days ago) @ dhw

I am editing xeno’s comments in order to clarify arguments.

Xeno: So to correct a bit what I was referring to, I would walk back the idea that it's the persona that we project: we shouldn't be *projecting* anything. We should just *be.* […] A Buddhist comparison I would make is that the monks in my school are required to keep 227 precepts to my 5. However keeping those 227 precepts is actually quite easy if you *always* incline to kindness and peace. (You'll keep the precepts without having to think about them.)

dhw: This is a misunderstanding. David wrote: “I am the person I project to others and that is myself.” I pointed out that many people project persons who are NOT themselves. It makes no difference whether the person you project is fake or real (“real” means the person you really are), what you project is what other people see. And of course the ideal is that the real inner person should be perfect, and will therefore project a real and perfect outer person!

dhw: For me, the ideal is to implement the rule by making the appropriate choice, not by shutting yourself off from choice.

Xeno: So you raise an excellent observation, and you hit the nail on the head with the purpose of the monastic life: By removing yourself from the world you necessarily isolate yourself from contact with things that would otherwise challenge you. I would say that myself I have long recognized that more choice is rarely superior to limited choice. In my music, I rekindled my studio after mothballing it for 17yrs, and I can flat out say that having more choices of synthesizers and effects is vastly harmful to my output. […] Here's an article from your neck of the woods:
https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/oct/21/choice-stressing-us-out-dating-par...

Choice being negative--this is uncontroversial for me.

dhw: The “rule” I was referring to above (now bolded) is the “Golden Rule” you mentioned as the ideal (do as you would be done by). This concerns one’s behaviour towards others, and has nothing to do with choice of consumer goods or the number of synthesizers you should own. I really don’t think you will be “punished” in your next life for choosing the wrong pension plan or buying the wrong tomato ketchup.

I've made my point previously

My Experience with Buddhism Pt 1

by xeno6696 @, Sonoran Desert, Saturday, December 17, 2022, 05:27 (438 days ago) @ dhw

Just wanted to bring in a quick note, I did indeed promptly go hug my wife, who typically has more in common with the great Saguaro, so it would have been comical for outsiders to see her surprise! =-)

--
\"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.\"

My Experience with Buddhism Pt 1

by David Turell @, Saturday, December 17, 2022, 15:50 (438 days ago) @ xeno6696

Matt: Just wanted to bring in a quick note, I did indeed promptly go hug my wife, who typically has more in common with the great Saguaro, so it would have been comical for outsiders to see her surprise! =-)

Prickly?

My Experience with Buddhism Pt. 2

by xeno6696 @, Sonoran Desert, Tuesday, December 13, 2022, 16:19 (442 days ago) @ dhw

So the teaching you're taking issue with earlier *must* be taken alongside this (and other) daily practice(s). In my view, there is absolutely no way that the teaching you worried about can lead to the sort of nihilism that you're reading into it when several of the bedrock teachings stem from this metta sutta. Whatever we incline our minds towards--is where our minds go. We can't *control* our mind, but we can dig ruts into the road to help guide us where we want to go. I read that teaching in this way: an untrained person will always be at the whims of wherever their mind is blowing. Like a monkey travelling from vine to vine, their mind flies and they damage themselves and others. Anger is the best study for this: it takes alot of training and effort to handle anger in ways that won't cause us to lash out at other people. Because we wish to inflect ourselves on a path towards a kinder place, having that thought in the back of our minds we will more skillfully keep anger at bay, and transform its energies into constructive rather than destructive change. I think it's important to refer back to the ancient Greeks and Romans who believed emotions were thrown upon us by the Gods themselves. We realize that emotions are internal to us now, but we shouldn't throw away their insight that emotions don't typically come on command: That's why their explanations moved to external causes: Why do I experience Anger even when I don't want to be angry? The Stoics--a group I have a feeling you'll view as dour as well--developed many techniques to handle anger.

Buddhism altered how I view happiness: Happiness is contentment. And let me add to that: What if we could learn to be content with less? Consumerism is the obvious choice here to make a point. No matter how many things I buy, happiness isn't in accumulation despite what our marketing agents want us to believe. This I didn't need to be taught, but the Buddha's teaching on craving for sense desires perfectly aligns with a disenchantment I learned ages ago towards fashion trends. To this day I have a wardrobe that doesn't extend beyond about 20 shirts and maybe half that of pants and I replace things only when they wear out. I have two pairs of shoes and one pair of hiking boots. One pair of sandals. I have a tendency to buy too many books and have plenty that I will probably never read before I die. (Here I've done better--I've taken to using the library and am trying to pare down that collection to something much more manageable. I've bought two in the last year.)

Books and music provide temporary bursts of joy but the teachings help me to realize that joy like all things has a beginning, middle, and end. Okay, this is all stuff I've talked about with other Buddhists and my monk friend, and nobody once has said that any of this is contrary to the path. Food and many of the things of daily life, provide small sparks of joy, but none of that provides a lasting contentment. Due to these practices, what I would describe as large swaths of just neutral feeling that was punctuated by small sparks of joy through food, music, conversation etc. has been replaced with a sort of warm glow of contentment--I've learned how to be happy when not doing anything in particular. I've even used the meditation techniques to stop an 8yr long 750ml+/day drinking habit. Addiction is in my view, just the same pattern of pleasure seeking we all share--only turned towards substances that have harmful effects. At any rate, me building a book collection I'll never read is little different than a drinking habit. They're both attempting to satisfy cravings, and both lead to bad consequences--buying books I'll never read when I know full well I already have books I haven't read is more mundane but illustrative: I'm out of control. (My mom is a hoarder, and I try to keep that in mind.)

Now your monastics will practice to become disenchanted with everything but that feeling of pervasive contentment. That's really the only difference between the monks and us "normies." None of this quite gets at the point that started this thread, but you seemed to have such a negative and dour view on Buddhism that I felt it necessary to give you a little flavor as to what it means for me. To answer your question, yeah these thoughts pop in "my" head, but I don't understand myself to be anything more than the confluence of consciousness and conditioning that was born 40odd years ago, and if things go the way I figure they will, will eventually support daisies. I won't get to take any of those thoughts with me. So they're not *me*, in an ultimate sense. The hardcore Buddhists--they clearly think I'll carry on somehow, and I'm still researching and waiting on my monk to call me back to try and give us both better answers.

--
\"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.\"

My Experience with Buddhism Pt. 3

by xeno6696 @, Sonoran Desert, Tuesday, December 13, 2022, 16:24 (442 days ago) @ xeno6696

As a third leg here, the Stoics would say that bad emotions are caused by not getting what you want and not accepting the fact that you can't get everything that you want: Very probably, you have unrealistic goals.

Instead of trying to win a tennis match--something you simply DO NOT have full control over, modify your goal to play your best. That way, your expectations more closely match reality.


Buddhism for me is THAT ethic on steroids.

--
\"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.\"

My Experience with Buddhism Pt. 3

by David Turell @, Tuesday, December 13, 2022, 17:02 (442 days ago) @ xeno6696

Matt: As a third leg here, the Stoics would say that bad emotions are caused by not getting what you want and not accepting the fact that you can't get everything that you want: Very probably, you have unrealistic goals.

Instead of trying to win a tennis match--something you simply DO NOT have full control over, modify your goal to play your best. That way, your expectations more closely match reality.


Buddhism for me is THAT ethic on steroids.

That is a greatt approach to life.

My Experience with Buddhism Pt. 2

by David Turell @, Tuesday, December 13, 2022, 17:00 (442 days ago) @ xeno6696

So the teaching you're taking issue with earlier *must* be taken alongside this (and other) daily practice(s). In my view, there is absolutely no way that the teaching you worried about can lead to the sort of nihilism that you're reading into it when several of the bedrock teachings stem from this metta sutta. Whatever we incline our minds towards--is where our minds go. We can't *control* our mind, but we can dig ruts into the road to help guide us where we want to go. I read that teaching in this way: an untrained person will always be at the whims of wherever their mind is blowing. Like a monkey travelling from vine to vine, their mind flies and they damage themselves and others. Anger is the best study for this: it takes alot of training and effort to handle anger in ways that won't cause us to lash out at other people. Because we wish to inflect ourselves on a path towards a kinder place, having that thought in the back of our minds we will more skillfully keep anger at bay, and transform its energies into constructive rather than destructive change. I think it's important to refer back to the ancient Greeks and Romans who believed emotions were thrown upon us by the Gods themselves. We realize that emotions are internal to us now, but we shouldn't throw away their insight that emotions don't typically come on command: That's why their explanations moved to external causes: Why do I experience Anger even when I don't want to be angry? The Stoics--a group I have a feeling you'll view as dour as well--developed many techniques to handle anger.

Buddhism altered how I view happiness: Happiness is contentment. And let me add to that: What if we could learn to be content with less? Consumerism is the obvious choice here to make a point. No matter how many things I buy, happiness isn't in accumulation despite what our marketing agents want us to believe. This I didn't need to be taught, but the Buddha's teaching on craving for sense desires perfectly aligns with a disenchantment I learned ages ago towards fashion trends. To this day I have a wardrobe that doesn't extend beyond about 20 shirts and maybe half that of pants and I replace things only when they wear out. I have two pairs of shoes and one pair of hiking boots. One pair of sandals. I have a tendency to buy too many books and have plenty that I will probably never read before I die. (Here I've done better--I've taken to using the library and am trying to pare down that collection to something much more manageable. I've bought two in the last year.)

Books and music provide temporary bursts of joy but the teachings help me to realize that joy like all things has a beginning, middle, and end. Okay, this is all stuff I've talked about with other Buddhists and my monk friend, and nobody once has said that any of this is contrary to the path. Food and many of the things of daily life, provide small sparks of joy, but none of that provides a lasting contentment. Due to these practices, what I would describe as large swaths of just neutral feeling that was punctuated by small sparks of joy through food, music, conversation etc. has been replaced with a sort of warm glow of contentment--I've learned how to be happy when not doing anything in particular. I've even used the meditation techniques to stop an 8yr long 750ml+/day drinking habit. Addiction is in my view, just the same pattern of pleasure seeking we all share--only turned towards substances that have harmful effects. At any rate, me building a book collection I'll never read is little different than a drinking habit. They're both attempting to satisfy cravings, and both lead to bad consequences--buying books I'll never read when I know full well I already have books I haven't read is more mundane but illustrative: I'm out of control. (My mom is a hoarder, and I try to keep that in mind.)

Now your monastics will practice to become disenchanted with everything but that feeling of pervasive contentment. That's really the only difference between the monks and us "normies." None of this quite gets at the point that started this thread, but you seemed to have such a negative and dour view on Buddhism that I felt it necessary to give you a little flavor as to what it means for me. To answer your question, yeah these thoughts pop in "my" head, but I don't understand myself to be anything more than the confluence of consciousness and conditioning that was born 40odd years ago, and if things go the way I figure they will, will eventually support daisies. I won't get to take any of those thoughts with me. So they're not *me*, in an ultimate sense. The hardcore Buddhists--they clearly think I'll carry on somehow, and I'm still researching and waiting on my monk to call me back to try and give us both better answers.

It seems you are using this as catharsis and Mom, the hoarder, is always sitting there in the background with her severe psychological illness.

My Experience with Buddhism Pt 4

by xeno6696 @, Sonoran Desert, Tuesday, December 13, 2022, 21:25 (442 days ago) @ dhw

One last bit, as the characterization of Buddhism as a sort of misanthropic death cult is stronger than I realized.

There's a very famous Sutta, the "Kisa Gotami" Sutta where a woman comes to the Buddha with the body of her only son. She was so distraught that the villagers believed her to be fully mad.

She lays the body of her young son at the Buddha's feet and asks the Buddha to bring him back to life. The Buddha tells her, "We can do this, but only if you find a white mustard seed from a home that has never lost someone.

She then goes through the entire village on her hunt. By the time she has investigated the last house in the village, she realizes that death touches everyone.

She comes back to the Buddha, still saddened, and when the Buddha asks her how her search went, she kneels and weeps: "I understand now that death comeas for everyone." The Buddha gives her some small teaching, and then hugs her, both weeping.

I had no idea that the idea of Buddhism being about an uncaring nihilism was so pervasive. If the Buddha could weep at the loss of a mother's only child, and he was the most accomplished teacher of his age, then how can Buddhism be a death cult that suggests that the only escape for suffering is death?

I'm still waiting for my monk friend to call me back, but I believe I have a tentative answer to the reincarnation question. I will wait until the dust settles on these small points however. My apologies for taking up this much of your time!

--
\"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.\"

My Experience with Buddhism Pt 4

by David Turell @, Wednesday, December 14, 2022, 02:36 (441 days ago) @ xeno6696

Matt: One last bit, as the characterization of Buddhism as a sort of misanthropic death cult is stronger than I realized.

There's a very famous Sutta, the "Kisa Gotami" Sutta where a woman comes to the Buddha with the body of her only son. She was so distraught that the villagers believed her to be fully mad.

She lays the body of her young son at the Buddha's feet and asks the Buddha to bring him back to life. The Buddha tells her, "We can do this, but only if you find a white mustard seed from a home that has never lost someone.

She then goes through the entire village on her hunt. By the time she has investigated the last house in the village, she realizes that death touches everyone.

She comes back to the Buddha, still saddened, and when the Buddha asks her how her search went, she kneels and weeps: "I understand now that death comeas for everyone." The Buddha gives her some small teaching, and then hugs her, both weeping.

I had no idea that the idea of Buddhism being about an uncaring nihilism was so pervasive. If the Buddha could weep at the loss of a mother's only child, and he was the most accomplished teacher of his age, then how can Buddhism be a death cult that suggests that the only escape for suffering is death?

I'm still waiting for my monk friend to call me back, but I believe I have a tentative answer to the reincarnation question. I will wait until the dust settles on these small points however. My apologies for taking up this much of your time!

I'm thrilled you have confided in us, allowing us such trust. Please continue with your teaching and comments about your self struggles.

The Conversation Continues...

by David Turell @, Tuesday, December 13, 2022, 15:46 (442 days ago) @ xeno6696

Ajahn Brahm, (Brahmali's teacher) goes directly into what he calls "proof" of reincarnation:

https://www.podbean.com/ew/pb-qdqh8-1337429

Matt:Nothing controversial here--he's not calling anything baloney, but his background makes this interesting. Before he became a monk he completed a degree in Theoretical Physics. So he's rather well-equipped to handle western science.

I have the same uncomfortable feeling I had reading Sabom's book. Many of these stories are personal which make them harder to criticize. However, you guys are about the only people that I'd feel fine talking about these kinds of stories as literally everyone else I know would think I'm looney for even listening to them!

I didn't feel strange with Sabom. I found it fascinating.

The Conversation Continues...

by xeno6696 @, Sonoran Desert, Tuesday, December 13, 2022, 18:55 (442 days ago) @ David Turell

Ajahn Brahm, (Brahmali's teacher) goes directly into what he calls "proof" of reincarnation:

https://www.podbean.com/ew/pb-qdqh8-1337429

Matt:Nothing controversial here--he's not calling anything baloney, but his background makes this interesting. Before he became a monk he completed a degree in Theoretical Physics. So he's rather well-equipped to handle western science.

I have the same uncomfortable feeling I had reading Sabom's book. Many of these stories are personal which make them harder to criticize. However, you guys are about the only people that I'd feel fine talking about these kinds of stories as literally everyone else I know would think I'm looney for even listening to them!


I didn't feel strange with Sabom. I found it fascinating.

Well, you weren't a materialist. (Or at least you weren't as of the time where you suggested I read his book!)

Where Buddhism offers some answers down this path, supposedly there are meditations we can do that allow us to have these experiences (even veridical OBE) that at least on paper, offer a 2500yr old answer to these questions. I'm almost done with Brahm's podcast but his argument is fairly squishy. However he's right to point out that rebirth was a Greek answer and I know from my own research that rebirth was even a belief within early Christianity as well as Kabbalah.

Actually I plan on writing a book titled "Where did our Mind go?" which is an exploration attempting to locate precisely when "The West" stopped treating the mind as one of the senses I mean short answer is probably the Scottish Enlightenment and David Hume, but it was taken for granted by the Greeks.

--
\"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.\"

The Conversation Continues...

by David Turell @, Wednesday, December 14, 2022, 02:31 (441 days ago) @ xeno6696

Ajahn Brahm, (Brahmali's teacher) goes directly into what he calls "proof" of reincarnation:

https://www.podbean.com/ew/pb-qdqh8-1337429

Matt: Nothing controversial here--he's not calling anything baloney, but his background makes this interesting. Before he became a monk he completed a degree in Theoretical Physics. So he's rather well-equipped to handle western science.

I have the same uncomfortable feeling I had reading Sabom's book. Many of these stories are personal which make them harder to criticize. However, you guys are about the only people that I'd feel fine talking about these kinds of stories as literally everyone else I know would think I'm looney for even listening to them!


DAVID: I didn't feel strange with Sabom. I found it fascinating.


Well, you weren't a materialist. (Or at least you weren't as of the time where you suggested I read his book!)

I'm far from a materialist.


Where Buddhism offers some answers down this path, supposedly there are meditations we can do that allow us to have these experiences (even veridical OBE) that at least on paper, offer a 2500yr old answer to these questions. I'm almost done with Brahm's podcast but his argument is fairly squishy. However he's right to point out that rebirth was a Greek answer and I know from my own research that rebirth was even a belief within early Christianity as well as Kabbalah.

Actually I plan on writing a book titled "Where did our Mind go?" which is an exploration attempting to locate precisely when "The West" stopped treating the mind as one of the senses I mean short answer is probably the Scottish Enlightenment and David Hume, but it was taken for granted by the Greeks.

That is a great point. The mind is one of our senses.

The Conversation Continues...

by xeno6696 @, Sonoran Desert, Wednesday, December 14, 2022, 04:01 (441 days ago) @ David Turell

Actually I plan on writing a book titled "Where did our Mind go?" which is an exploration attempting to locate precisely when "The West" stopped treating the mind as one of the senses I mean short answer is probably the Scottish Enlightenment and David Hume, but it was taken for granted by the Greeks.


That is a great point. The mind is one of our senses.

The inspiration from that book came directly from Ajahn Brahm. About a year ago I listened to a seminar where he pointed that fact out: The Greeks and the Buddha both had access to some very similar ideas about the world, and Aristotle explicitly talked about the mind as a sense object. There's a really good tiny lecture book called "Aristotle's Divine Intellect" that goes into a bit more detail on this topic. At any rate, we lose something important in the west by not treating the mind as a sense. How else can you try and think about the process of imagination or worldbuilding without exploring the fact that we can use our mind to feed inputs to the five senses? Reading a novel is mind-to-mind communication, sensory experience from person to person. If an author can make you smell and taste the air of a place then we have to consider the mind as a sense object that can feed all the others.

--
\"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.\"

The Conversation Continues...

by David Turell @, Wednesday, December 14, 2022, 05:12 (441 days ago) @ xeno6696

M att: Actually I plan on writing a book titled "Where did our Mind go?" which is an exploration attempting to locate precisely when "The West" stopped treating the mind as one of the senses I mean short answer is probably the Scottish Enlightenment and David Hume, but it was taken for granted by the Greeks.


That is a great point. The mind is one of our senses.


The inspiration from that book came directly from Ajahn Brahm. About a year ago I listened to a seminar where he pointed that fact out: The Greeks and the Buddha both had access to some very similar ideas about the world, and Aristotle explicitly talked about the mind as a sense object. There's a really good tiny lecture book called "Aristotle's Divine Intellect" that goes into a bit more detail on this topic. At any rate, we lose something important in the west by not treating the mind as a sense. How else can you try and think about the process of imagination or worldbuilding without exploring the fact that we can use our mind to feed inputs to the five senses? Reading a novel is mind-to-mind communication, sensory experience from person to person. If an author can make you smell and taste the air of a place then we have to consider the mind as a sense object that can feed all the others.

From what you have told us, the teachings you have studied have finally given you a path to sorting out the reasons for your personal reactions and ego defense mechanisms. Your teacher is your therapist, an anser for a question I raised earlier. I appreciate having you point out to me the use of the mind as a sense organ. Without question.

Rebirth Attempt 1

by xeno6696 @, Sonoran Desert, Saturday, December 17, 2022, 22:16 (438 days ago) @ xeno6696

In the interest of at least offering the Buddhist take on rebirth, what follows is what I've been able to piece together.

Before I get terribly far, I think its best to begin with the two modes of thought in ancient India that predominated at the time of the Buddha.

Before I do this however, I'm waiting for the last book in my Nikaya collection to arrive. The very first Sutta in the entire Pali canon is a teaching the Buddha gave that was refuting Eternalism and Nihilist Materialism.

My 2c before I dig into the primary sutta designed to tackle these subjects is that the Buddha will contradict the eternalist view (the self or soul is eternal) by demonstrating that there is no aspect of our identity that isn't transient. Rebirth was already an automatic given in Indian discourse--Hence why in the Gotami Sutta the Buddha didn't offer the teaching on rebirth because part of the scope of THAT story was that she came to the Buddha distraught and mad. She came from a rich family and there's no way Brahmins didn't already know about rebirth.

If you were a deer in a prior life, and then a rich lady, and then a poor male beggar as a part of your story, there is nothing eternal about your "self" or your identity, because every incarnation is different. I think that to refute the nihilist materialists he would point to some of the same evidences of Rebirth that Ajahn Brahm gave in that other podcast I shared. (his teachings don't elevate to 'proof' in my view, but I think that's between him and I.) At any rate, Veridical NDEs certainly existed and would have been taken for granted as evidence of rebirth or at least a "detachable mind."

There is something I would call a "store" consciousness that sometimes gets interpreted as "stream" consciousness, but it is not a *mind*. For a mind to exist, there has to be a body, and its important to note that Hinduism didn't develop an idea of a God without a body. (They could project their minds places, sure, but all Hindu Gods had bodies.) So the Judeo-Christian idea of the ineffable or inscrutable doesn't make much sense to Hindu/Buddhist peoples. And in fact, all of the Hindu people I've met are inquisitive about how a "nothing" could be a "something." The Buddha would point out that Gods had lifetimes and could die. Therefore, they were not eternal either.

So upon death, the unenlightened seed consciousness is driven forward to a new body either on this plane of existence, or in one of the hell or heavenly realms based on the levels of purification conducted in that life. Standard Hindu Cosmology would posit that the whole mind transfers, Buddhism says "nope," just the 'store consciousness.' The desire to be reborn is enough to cause the store consciousness to enter a new being. The store consciousness holds only the memories of past lives. This allows the Buddha to explain how those who reach very high meditative states can "recall past lives."

That's my attempt, pre-teacher evaluation.

--
\"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.\"

Rebirth Attempt 1

by David Turell @, Sunday, December 18, 2022, 00:13 (438 days ago) @ xeno6696

Matt: In the interest of at least offering the Buddhist take on rebirth, what follows is what I've been able to piece together.

Before I get terribly far, I think its best to begin with the two modes of thought in ancient India that predominated at the time of the Buddha.

Before I do this however, I'm waiting for the last book in my Nikaya collection to arrive. The very first Sutta in the entire Pali canon is a teaching the Buddha gave that was refuting Eternalism and Nihilist Materialism.

My 2c before I dig into the primary sutta designed to tackle these subjects is that the Buddha will contradict the eternalist view (the self or soul is eternal) by demonstrating that there is no aspect of our identity that isn't transient. Rebirth was already an automatic given in Indian discourse--Hence why in the Gotami Sutta the Buddha didn't offer the teaching on rebirth because part of the scope of THAT story was that she came to the Buddha distraught and mad. She came from a rich family and there's no way Brahmins didn't already know about rebirth.

If you were a deer in a prior life, and then a rich lady, and then a poor male beggar as a part of your story, there is nothing eternal about your "self" or your identity, because every incarnation is different. I think that to refute the nihilist materialists he would point to some of the same evidences of Rebirth that Ajahn Brahm gave in that other podcast I shared. (his teachings don't elevate to 'proof' in my view, but I think that's between him and I.) At any rate, Veridical NDEs certainly existed and would have been taken for granted as evidence of rebirth or at least a "detachable mind."

There is something I would call a "store" consciousness that sometimes gets interpreted as "stream" consciousness, but it is not a *mind*. For a mind to exist, there has to be a body, and its important to note that Hinduism didn't develop an idea of a God without a body. (They could project their minds places, sure, but all Hindu Gods had bodies.) So the Judeo-Christian idea of the ineffable or inscrutable doesn't make much sense to Hindu/Buddhist peoples. And in fact, all of the Hindu people I've met are inquisitive about how a "nothing" could be a "something." The Buddha would point out that Gods had lifetimes and could die. Therefore, they were not eternal either.

So upon death, the unenlightened seed consciousness is driven forward to a new body either on this plane of existence, or in one of the hell or heavenly realms based on the levels of purification conducted in that life. Standard Hindu Cosmology would posit that the whole mind transfers, Buddhism says "nope," just the 'store consciousness.' The desire to be reborn is enough to cause the store consciousness to enter a new being. The store consciousness holds only the memories of past lives. This allows the Buddha to explain how those who reach very high meditative states can "recall past lives."

That's my attempt, pre-teacher evaluation.

Thank you for the lesson.

Rebirth Attempt 1

by dhw, Sunday, December 18, 2022, 14:06 (437 days ago) @ xeno6696

Again I am editing for the sake of clarity.

Xeno: the Buddha will contradict the eternalist view (the self or soul is eternal) by demonstrating that there is no aspect of our identity that isn't transient. […] If you were a deer in a prior life, and then a rich lady, and then a poor male beggar as a part of your story, there is nothing eternal about your "self" or your identity, because every incarnation is different.

If our current identity is transient, and our former identities were transient, what exactly is the point of having had former identities? The one I am lumbered with now is the one that has to get rid of its “cravings”, and if in my next life I can’t even remember the mess I made of my previous life, I might just as well not have led it. But see later for the astonishing and seemingly pointless revelation I shall one day be granted. Meanwhile, a personal question: have you yourself ever been aware of any of your past lives?

Xeno: There is something I would call a "store" consciousness that sometimes gets interpreted as "stream" consciousness, but it is not a *mind*. […] So upon death, the unenlightened seed consciousness is driven forward to a new body either on this plane of existence, or in one of the hell or heavenly realms based on the levels of purification conducted in that life.

It’s not a mind or a soul, it’s immaterial, and in most cases it does NOT store memories of past lives. You might as well call it a something. Now we have hell or heavenly realms, which I can only assume means that you have entered your new life with different degrees of misery which you can’t remember, so you haven’t a clue why you’re suffering, except when you know the causes that have occurred in this life. I’ll change the pronoun: I am now a miserable selfish bastard. What makes me want to be a happy, philanthropic angel? Here is the rather strange answer:

Xeno: The desire to be reborn is enough to cause the store consciousness to enter a new being. The store consciousness holds only the memories of past lives. This allows the Buddha to explain how those who reach very high meditative states can "recall past lives."

What desires to be reborn if the body is dead, and “I” haven’t got a mind or a soul. What has this immaterial store of past memories which I shan’t be able to remember got to do with anything? Is it my previous life’s dying wish to be reborn? What will happen to me if I don’t believe in rebirth and therefore don’t desire to be reborn? (Answer coming up in a moment.) What is the point of recalling past lives once I’ve purified myself of all the cravings I can’t remember I had in my previous lives? Just to tell myself what a fine fellow I’ve become? Ugh, that doesn’t sound like the enlightened selfless fellow I’m supposed to be now. And finally, now that I’ve achieved Enlightenment, but I am only transient and there is no such thing as eternal life, what possible future can I have other than eternal death – the same as the me who never asked to be reborn in the first place?

I hope these questions won’t make you angry, and they are not meant to deter you from the highly beneficial path you are on. It’s perfectly clear that there are certain aspects of Buddhism that would do all of us good to embrace, as is also the case with other religions (though I’m not sure that Buddhism should be classified as a religion). I just kick against certain forms of dogma which for me distract from the essence of the “Golden Rule”. And I strongly suspect that you do too. I don’t think you started this fascinating discussion with a view to proselytising. But I have very limited knowledge of the subject (indeed, of most subjects), and perhaps you or your teacher will enlighten me. Meanwhile, I’d like to join David in thanking you for bringing us into your personal life and also opening new doors for us. This in itself is a heartwarming experience.

Rebirth Attempt 1

by David Turell @, Sunday, December 18, 2022, 16:18 (437 days ago) @ dhw

Again I am editing for the sake of clarity.

Xeno: the Buddha will contradict the eternalist view (the self or soul is eternal) by demonstrating that there is no aspect of our identity that isn't transient. […] If you were a deer in a prior life, and then a rich lady, and then a poor male beggar as a part of your story, there is nothing eternal about your "self" or your identity, because every incarnation is different.

dhw: If our current identity is transient, and our former identities were transient, what exactly is the point of having had former identities? The one I am lumbered with now is the one that has to get rid of its “cravings”, and if in my next life I can’t even remember the mess I made of my previous life, I might just as well not have led it. But see later for the astonishing and seemingly pointless revelation I shall one day be granted. Meanwhile, a personal question: have you yourself ever been aware of any of your past lives?

Xeno: There is something I would call a "store" consciousness that sometimes gets interpreted as "stream" consciousness, but it is not a *mind*. […] So upon death, the unenlightened seed consciousness is driven forward to a new body either on this plane of existence, or in one of the hell or heavenly realms based on the levels of purification conducted in that life.

dhw: It’s not a mind or a soul, it’s immaterial, and in most cases it does NOT store memories of past lives. You might as well call it a something. Now we have hell or heavenly realms, which I can only assume means that you have entered your new life with different degrees of misery which you can’t remember, so you haven’t a clue why you’re suffering, except when you know the causes that have occurred in this life. I’ll change the pronoun: I am now a miserable selfish bastard. What makes me want to be a happy, philanthropic angel? Here is the rather strange answer:

Xeno: The desire to be reborn is enough to cause the store consciousness to enter a new being. The store consciousness holds only the memories of past lives. This allows the Buddha to explain how those who reach very high meditative states can "recall past lives."

dhw: What desires to be reborn if the body is dead, and “I” haven’t got a mind or a soul. What has this immaterial store of past memories which I shan’t be able to remember got to do with anything? Is it my previous life’s dying wish to be reborn? What will happen to me if I don’t believe in rebirth and therefore don’t desire to be reborn? (Answer coming up in a moment.) What is the point of recalling past lives once I’ve purified myself of all the cravings I can’t remember I had in my previous lives? Just to tell myself what a fine fellow I’ve become? Ugh, that doesn’t sound like the enlightened selfless fellow I’m supposed to be now. And finally, now that I’ve achieved Enlightenment, but I am only transient and there is no such thing as eternal life, what possible future can I have other than eternal death – the same as the me who never asked to be reborn in the first place?

I hope these questions won’t make you angry, and they are not meant to deter you from the highly beneficial path you are on. It’s perfectly clear that there are certain aspects of Buddhism that would do all of us good to embrace, as is also the case with other religions (though I’m not sure that Buddhism should be classified as a religion). I just kick against certain forms of dogma which for me distract from the essence of the “Golden Rule”. And I strongly suspect that you do too. I don’t think you started this fascinating discussion with a view to proselytising. But I have very limited knowledge of the subject (indeed, of most subjects), and perhaps you or your teacher will enlighten me. Meanwhile, I’d like to join David in thanking you for bringing us into your personal life and also opening new doors for us. This in itself is a heartwarming experience.

Agreed. I'm following and trying/hoping to learn

Rebirth Attempt 1

by xeno6696 @, Sonoran Desert, Monday, December 19, 2022, 20:09 (436 days ago) @ dhw

Again I am editing for the sake of clarity.

If our current identity is transient, and our former identities were transient, what exactly is the point of having had former identities? The one I am lumbered with now is the one that has to get rid of its “cravings”, and if in my next life I can’t even remember the mess I made of my previous life, I might just as well not have led it. But see later for the astonishing and seemingly pointless revelation I shall one day be granted. Meanwhile, a personal question: have you yourself ever been aware of any of your past lives?

These are great questions. I'll start with where I'm at: I'm trying to understand these bits of Eastern philosophy. I would still categorize myself as a materialist who acknowledges that there are gaps. I'm no closer to believing in Rebirth at the moment than I am in Christ's resurrection. I certainly think that if I'm contrasting the Buddhist approach against other explanations, it has fewer gaps, but it still has a problem relating to epistemology. As a western materialist trying to tackle this issue, my Buddhist friends haven't provided much evidence outside of hearsay. Ajahn Brahm's argument rests on three assertions, disappointing since he used to be a physicist. They are:

1.) There's lots of evidence for rebirth, people just don't like it.
2.) Anecdote. (He shares a story that leaves me dubious but its so personal to the particular family involved that trying to doubt it makes me look and feel like a monster.
3.) Wouldn't it be a beautiful idea if it were true.

I think it's important to note that even in the podcast I shared, towards the end even Brahmali shifts into an "if it were true" mode of speaking, which suggests that at least in Brahmali's case, he might not fully believe in it himself. (FWIW The Dali Llama has said there's good reasons to doubt it, and he's supposed to be the 14th reincarnation of a Buddhist teacher!) If I could talk to Brahm, I'd ask if the standard of evidence he's using to accept rebirth would fly in a physics department!

So with that bit of background, my answer to your first question is that the Buddha is dealing with his own empirical observations based upon the collected evidence of Indian society. "What's the point" of all those lives was the central question for the ancient Hindus, and much of their religion was trying to deal with that question. The radical departure for the Buddha is that "What's the point" is a flawed question, because it is unknowable. According to the explorations relevant to that time period, his teaching about rebirth here is only in explaining that the cycle of rebirth *was not* eternal, and neither were the Gods as they were stuck in the same web as the rest of us. It is notable in Buddhist teachings that Gods came to the Buddha for answers, never the other way around.

This leads me to your more personal question: Nope. Nothing in my experience that would lead me to believe in rebirth. And if I ever break into those higher meditations, I'd still suffer the doubt that I made it up somehow, like how my imagination does all sorts of fun things.

It’s not a mind or a soul, it’s immaterial, and in most cases it does NOT store memories of past lives. You might as well call it a something. Now we have hell or heavenly realms, which I can only assume means that you have entered your new life with different degrees of misery which you can’t remember, so you haven’t a clue why you’re suffering, except when you know the causes that have occurred in this life. I’ll change the pronoun: I am now a miserable selfish bastard. What makes me want to be a happy, philanthropic angel? Here is the rather strange answer:

So the way I'm understanding it, it does indeed store memories of past lives. It just isn't a fully functioning *mind*.

--
\"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.\"

Rebirth Attempt 1

by David Turell @, Monday, December 19, 2022, 22:43 (436 days ago) @ xeno6696

Again I am editing for the sake of clarity.

dhw: If our current identity is transient, and our former identities were transient, what exactly is the point of having had former identities? The one I am lumbered with now is the one that has to get rid of its “cravings”, and if in my next life I can’t even remember the mess I made of my previous life, I might just as well not have led it. But see later for the astonishing and seemingly pointless revelation I shall one day be granted. Meanwhile, a personal question: have you yourself ever been aware of any of your past lives?

Matt: > These are great questions. I'll start with where I'm at: I'm trying to understand these bits of Eastern philosophy. I would still categorize myself as a materialist who acknowledges that there are gaps. I'm no closer to believing in Rebirth at the moment than I am in Christ's resurrection. I certainly think that if I'm contrasting the Buddhist approach against other explanations, it has fewer gaps, but it still has a problem relating to epistemology. As a western materialist trying to tackle this issue, my Buddhist friends haven't provided much evidence outside of hearsay. Ajahn Brahm's argument rests on three assertions, disappointing since he used to be a physicist. They are:

1.) There's lots of evidence for rebirth, people just don't like it.
2.) Anecdote. (He shares a story that leaves me dubious but its so personal to the particular family involved that trying to doubt it makes me look and feel like a monster.
3.) Wouldn't it be a beautiful idea if it were true.

I think it's important to note that even in the podcast I shared, towards the end even Brahmali shifts into an "if it were true" mode of speaking, which suggests that at least in Brahmali's case, he might not fully believe in it himself. (FWIW The Dali Llama has said there's good reasons to doubt it, and he's supposed to be the 14th reincarnation of a Buddhist teacher!) If I could talk to Brahm, I'd ask if the standard of evidence he's using to accept rebirth would fly in a physics department!

So with that bit of background, my answer to your first question is that the Buddha is dealing with his own empirical observations based upon the collected evidence of Indian society. "What's the point" of all those lives was the central question for the ancient Hindus, and much of their religion was trying to deal with that question. The radical departure for the Buddha is that "What's the point" is a flawed question, because it is unknowable. According to the explorations relevant to that time period, his teaching about rebirth here is only in explaining that the cycle of rebirth *was not* eternal, and neither were the Gods as they were stuck in the same web as the rest of us. It is notable in Buddhist teachings that Gods came to the Buddha for answers, never the other way around.

This leads me to your more personal question: Nope. Nothing in my experience that would lead me to believe in rebirth. And if I ever break into those higher meditations, I'd still suffer the doubt that I made it up somehow, like how my imagination does all sorts of fun things.

It’s not a mind or a soul, it’s immaterial, and in most cases it does NOT store memories of past lives. You might as well call it a something. Now we have hell or heavenly realms, which I can only assume means that you have entered your new life with different degrees of misery which you can’t remember, so you haven’t a clue why you’re suffering, except when you know the causes that have occurred in this life. I’ll change the pronoun: I am now a miserable selfish bastard. What makes me want to be a happy, philanthropic angel? Here is the rather strange answer:


So the way I'm understanding it, it does indeed store memories of past lives. It just isn't a fully functioning *mind*.

I'm following along.

Errata to Attempt 1

by xeno6696 @, Sonoran Desert, Monday, December 19, 2022, 23:57 (436 days ago) @ xeno6696

A major correction. From the introduction of the Majjhima Nikaya:

"According to the Buddha's teaching, all beings except Arahants are subject to "renewal of being in the future" that is, to rebirth. Rebirth in the Buddhist conception, is not the transmigration of a self or soul but the continuation of a process, a flux of becoming in which successive lives are linked together by causal transmission of influence rather than by substantial identity."

I'll return to this later tonight or tomorrow.

--
\"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.\"

Errata to Attempt 1

by David Turell @, Tuesday, December 20, 2022, 02:36 (435 days ago) @ xeno6696

Matt: A major correction. From the introduction of the Majjhima Nikaya:

"According to the Buddha's teaching, all beings except Arahants are subject to "renewal of being in the future" that is, to rebirth. Rebirth in the Buddhist conception, is not the transmigration of a self or soul but the continuation of a process, a flux of becoming in which successive lives are linked together by causal transmission of influence rather than by substantial identity."

I'll return to this later tonight or tomorrow.

That implies there is no mental continuity, and one would not be conscious of the past life.

Rebirth Attempt 1

by xeno6696 @, Sonoran Desert, Monday, December 19, 2022, 20:10 (436 days ago) @ dhw
edited by xeno6696, Monday, December 19, 2022, 20:16

Xeno: The desire to be reborn is enough to cause the store consciousness to enter a new being. The store consciousness holds only the memories of past lives. This allows the Buddha to explain how those who reach very high meditative states can "recall past lives."

What desires to be reborn if the body is dead, and “I” haven’t got a mind or a soul. What has this immaterial store of past memories which I shan’t be able to remember got to do with anything? Is it my previous life’s dying wish to be reborn? What will happen to me if I don’t believe in rebirth and therefore don’t desire to be reborn? (Answer coming up in a moment.) What is the point of recalling past lives once I’ve purified myself of all the cravings I can’t remember I had in my previous lives? Just to tell myself what a fine fellow I’ve become? Ugh, that doesn’t sound like the enlightened selfless fellow I’m supposed to be now. And finally, now that I’ve achieved Enlightenment, but I am only transient and there is no such thing as eternal life, what possible future can I have other than eternal death – the same as the me who never asked to be reborn in the first place?

So it's the combination of intent and action (remember, "karma" literally translates as "action") that determines your next life. Your "desire" for future lives is created by your actions right now. I read something just last night that might help, I'll follow up with a quote later. I would characterize it this way. Anne Rice wrote a series of Vampire novels where she explores the theme of what it would really be like to be an ancient being. More or less, the vampires who reach the age of the methuselahs become so utterly bored of life that death becomes something desirable. You can only go to so many fancy soirees and watch so many loved ones die before everything in the world becomes devoid of life, and meaning itself becomes meaningless.

While the Buddha expressly argues against this kind of nihilism, it is similar to how I imagine him talking about the dispassion that gets created after having accrued many many lifetimes. This is in fact why the Buddha left the "Brahmavihara" practices--loving kindness, appreciative joy, etc. After all the core problem that Buddhism sets out to solve is "Why is there suffering?" And the sort of asceticism that leads you to hate existence is also NOT what he was aiming for. (Remember, 'middle path.') Your "final death" (parinibbana) will come whether you want it to or not--the Buddha on this particular path just teaches what you need to do in order to bring it about. Students who accomplish "Stream Entry" will reach Nibbana within 7 lifetimes.

As for the rest, you could only ask the question "I can’t remember I had in my previous lives? Just to tell myself what a fine fellow I’ve become?" until you've done the work of purifying your mind to the point where you could easily recall your past lives. This was something that other Hindu teachers taught, they just had different doctrines surrounding the eternal nature of that reality. But the sort of selfless nature you would have to have in order to get there means you wouldn't be asking that sort of question to begin with. (Not by any means a slight, its just very clear what sort of person you have to be to get here--by this point your doubts would supposedly vanish.)

I hope these questions won’t make you angry, and they are not meant to deter you from the highly beneficial path you are on. It’s perfectly clear that there are certain aspects of Buddhism that would do all of us good to embrace, as is also the case with other religions (though I’m not sure that Buddhism should be classified as a religion). I just kick against certain forms of dogma which for me distract from the essence of the “Golden Rule”. And I strongly suspect that you do too. I don’t think you started this fascinating discussion with a view to proselytising. But I have very limited knowledge of the subject (indeed, of most subjects), and perhaps you or your teacher will enlighten me. Meanwhile, I’d like to join David in thanking you for bringing us into your personal life and also opening new doors for us. This in itself is a heartwarming experience.


Not at all angry. You have many of the same questions I do, because we're both westerners who grew up under a much different paradigm. I'm not on any path towards Nibbana in this life, rest assured of that. Good food, family, and solid friends keep me plenty warm and occupied! Present company especially!

"Secular Buddhism" seems for me to be a more likely path I'd settle in. When religion starts getting too "religiony" or in dealing with things I can't epistemologically agree with, I'm just going to leave those parts be.

That said, the Buddha himself said "Use the teachings that work and discard those that don't." Well, while I'm not seeing the utility of Rebirth, and I'm fine at this point in my life to leave it there. That said, it never hurts to be challenged. Rebirth used to even be in Christianity, so its not like it's a totally alien idea in the West.

--
\"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.\"

Rebirth Attempt 1

by David Turell @, Monday, December 19, 2022, 22:52 (436 days ago) @ xeno6696

Xeno: The desire to be reborn is enough to cause the store consciousness to enter a new being. The store consciousness holds only the memories of past lives. This allows the Buddha to explain how those who reach very high meditative states can "recall past lives."

What desires to be reborn if the body is dead, and “I” haven’t got a mind or a soul. What has this immaterial store of past memories which I shan’t be able to remember got to do with anything? Is it my previous life’s dying wish to be reborn? What will happen to me if I don’t believe in rebirth and therefore don’t desire to be reborn? (Answer coming up in a moment.) What is the point of recalling past lives once I’ve purified myself of all the cravings I can’t remember I had in my previous lives? Just to tell myself what a fine fellow I’ve become? Ugh, that doesn’t sound like the enlightened selfless fellow I’m supposed to be now. And finally, now that I’ve achieved Enlightenment, but I am only transient and there is no such thing as eternal life, what possible future can I have other than eternal death – the same as the me who never asked to be reborn in the first place?


So it's the combination of intent and action (remember, "karma" literally translates as "action") that determines your next life. Your "desire" for future lives is created by your actions right now. I read something just last night that might help, I'll follow up with a quote later. I would characterize it this way. Anne Rice wrote a series of Vampire novels where she explores the theme of what it would really be like to be an ancient being. More or less, the vampires who reach the age of the methuselahs become so utterly bored of life that death becomes something desirable. You can only go to so many fancy soirees and watch so many loved ones die before everything in the world becomes devoid of life, and meaning itself becomes meaningless.

While the Buddha expressly argues against this kind of nihilism, it is similar to how I imagine him talking about the dispassion that gets created after having accrued many many lifetimes. This is in fact why the Buddha left the "Brahmavihara" practices--loving kindness, appreciative joy, etc. After all the core problem that Buddhism sets out to solve is "Why is there suffering?" And the sort of asceticism that leads you to hate existence is also NOT what he was aiming for. (Remember, 'middle path.') Your "final death" (parinibbana) will come whether you want it to or not--the Buddha on this particular path just teaches what you need to do in order to bring it about. Students who accomplish "Stream Entry" will reach Nibbana within 7 lifetimes.

As for the rest, you could only ask the question "I can’t remember I had in my previous lives? Just to tell myself what a fine fellow I’ve become?" until you've done the work of purifying your mind to the point where you could easily recall your past lives. This was something that other Hindu teachers taught, they just had different doctrines surrounding the eternal nature of that reality. But the sort of selfless nature you would have to have in order to get there means you wouldn't be asking that sort of question to begin with. (Not by any means a slight, its just very clear what sort of person you have to be to get here--by this point your doubts would supposedly vanish.)

I hope these questions won’t make you angry, and they are not meant to deter you from the highly beneficial path you are on. It’s perfectly clear that there are certain aspects of Buddhism that would do all of us good to embrace, as is also the case with other religions (though I’m not sure that Buddhism should be classified as a religion). I just kick against certain forms of dogma which for me distract from the essence of the “Golden Rule”. And I strongly suspect that you do too. I don’t think you started this fascinating discussion with a view to proselytising. But I have very limited knowledge of the subject (indeed, of most subjects), and perhaps you or your teacher will enlighten me. Meanwhile, I’d like to join David in thanking you for bringing us into your personal life and also opening new doors for us. This in itself is a heartwarming experience.

Not at all angry. You have many of the same questions I do, because we're both westerners who grew up under a much different paradigm. I'm not on any path towards Nibbana in this life, rest assured of that. Good food, family, and solid friends keep me plenty warm and occupied! Present company especially!

"Secular Buddhism" seems for me to be a more likely path I'd settle in. When religion starts getting too "religiony" or in dealing with things I can't epistemologically agree with, I'm just going to leave those parts be.

That said, the Buddha himself said "Use the teachings that work and discard those that don't." Well, while I'm not seeing the utility of Rebirth, and I'm fine at this point in my life to leave it there. That said, it never hurts to be challenged. Rebirth used to even be in Christianity, so its not like it's a totally alien idea in the West.

My wife is a born-again Christian. But I don't think that is what you refer to, based on its definition.

Rebirth Attempt 1

by xeno6696 @, Sonoran Desert, Monday, December 19, 2022, 23:54 (436 days ago) @ David Turell

My wife is a born-again Christian. But I don't think that is what you refer to, based on its definition.

No not at all ROFL.

During the 2nd council of Nicaea, any and all mention of the concept of "rebirth" or "reincarnation" were ordered out of all texts--keep in mind it was the first council that codified the Bible in the form we (mostly) have it today.

It was around this time that the early church expunged the Gnostics as well, who ran a version of the religion that directly countered Papal authority. (It was more akin to Lutheranism in that regard.)

There are texts in the dead sea scrolls that suggest that reincarnation was a more prevalent view in the early church. Supposedly. (I haven't read dead sea scrolls though I own a translation.)

--
\"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.\"

Rebirth Attempt 1

by David Turell @, Tuesday, December 20, 2022, 02:33 (435 days ago) @ xeno6696

David: My wife is a born-again Christian. But I don't think that is what you refer to, based on its definition.


Matt: No not at all ROFL.

During the 2nd council of Nicaea, any and all mention of the concept of "rebirth" or "reincarnation" were ordered out of all texts--keep in mind it was the first council that codified the Bible in the form we (mostly) have it today.

It was around this time that the early church expunged the Gnostics as well, who ran a version of the religion that directly countered Papal authority. (It was more akin to Lutheranism in that regard.)

There are texts in the dead sea scrolls that suggest that reincarnation was a more prevalent view in the early church. Supposedly. (I haven't read dead sea scrolls though I own a translation.)

Thanks for the interesting Catholic history. Your scholarship constantly amazes me.

Rebirth Attempt 1

by xeno6696 @, Sonoran Desert, Tuesday, December 20, 2022, 15:40 (435 days ago) @ David Turell

David: My wife is a born-again Christian. But I don't think that is what you refer to, based on its definition.


Matt: No not at all ROFL.

During the 2nd council of Nicaea, any and all mention of the concept of "rebirth" or "reincarnation" were ordered out of all texts--keep in mind it was the first council that codified the Bible in the form we (mostly) have it today.

It was around this time that the early church expunged the Gnostics as well, who ran a version of the religion that directly countered Papal authority. (It was more akin to Lutheranism in that regard.)

There are texts in the dead sea scrolls that suggest that reincarnation was a more prevalent view in the early church. Supposedly. (I haven't read dead sea scrolls though I own a translation.)


Thanks for the interesting Catholic history. Your scholarship constantly amazes me.

Well, you'll need to amend your thinking. It was the Second council of Constantinople and not the second council of Nicaea! This also has the complication in that this was the Ecumenical council where Emperor Justinian played a heavy hand in shaping. I was correct however in that it was the same council that denounced the teachings of the Valentinians who were a gnostic sect that believed in rebirth, as well as a couple of other names I don't recall who were neoplatonists. (Plato believing that we sinned in some heavenly realm and then are forced to live many lives here on earth to gain the knowledge to return.)

--
\"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.\"

Rebirth Attempt 1

by David Turell @, Wednesday, December 21, 2022, 00:22 (435 days ago) @ xeno6696

David: My wife is a born-again Christian. But I don't think that is what you refer to, based on its definition.


Matt: No not at all ROFL.

During the 2nd council of Nicaea, any and all mention of the concept of "rebirth" or "reincarnation" were ordered out of all texts--keep in mind it was the first council that codified the Bible in the form we (mostly) have it today.

It was around this time that the early church expunged the Gnostics as well, who ran a version of the religion that directly countered Papal authority. (It was more akin to Lutheranism in that regard.)

There are texts in the dead sea scrolls that suggest that reincarnation was a more prevalent view in the early church. Supposedly. (I haven't read dead sea scrolls though I own a translation.)


DAVID: Thanks for the interesting Catholic history. Your scholarship constantly amazes me.


Matt: Well, you'll need to amend your thinking. It was the Second council of Constantinople and not the second council of Nicaea! This also has the complication in that this was the Ecumenical council where Emperor Justinian played a heavy hand in shaping. I was correct however in that it was the same council that denounced the teachings of the Valentinians who were a gnostic sect that believed in rebirth, as well as a couple of other names I don't recall who were neoplatonists. (Plato believing that we sinned in some heavenly realm and then are forced to live many lives here on earth to gain the knowledge to return.)

Still brilliant

Rebirth PART ONE

by dhw, Tuesday, December 20, 2022, 09:04 (435 days ago) @ xeno6696

PART ONE

dhw: If our current identity is transient, and our former identities were transient, what exactly is the point of having had former identities? The one I am lumbered with now is the one that has to get rid of its “cravings”, and if in my next life I can’t even remember the mess I made of my previous life, I might just as well not have led it.

It’s quite difficult now to develop the discussion, because it’s clear that you and I have exactly the same doubts! (You wrote: I'm no closer to believing in Rebirth at the moment than I am in Christ's resurrection.) I can only pick on certain points, so forgive me if I again edit the entries accordingly.


You quote the Buddha’s answer to the question what is the point of the past lives:
Xeno: "What's the point" of all those lives was the central question for the ancient Hindus, and much of their religion was trying to deal with that question. The radical departure for the Buddha is that "What's the point" is a flawed question, because it is unknowable.

I would say it’s not the question that’s flawed but the theory that gives rises to the question. You summed it all up earlier when you said it boiled down to epistemology. Beliefs are not knowledge, and if a combination of theories seems senseless to us, why should we believe it?

xeno: Ajahn Brahm's argument rests on three assertions, disappointing since he used to be a physicist. They are:
1.) There's lots of evidence for rebirth, people just don't like it.
2.) Anecdote. (He shares a story that leaves me dubious but its so personal to the particular family involved that trying to doubt it makes me look and feel like a monster.
3.) Wouldn't it be a beautiful idea if it were true.

3) is a big laugh. 1) and 2)remind me of NDEs, and if any of them provide evidence of some confirmable truth (like information the patient could not possibly have known during their temporary “death”), I will keep an open mind. There are many psychic experiences which we cannot explain.

XENO: (The Dali Llama has said there's good reasons to doubt it, and he's supposed to be the 14th reincarnation of a Buddhist teacher!)

This encourages me still more to drop the subject altogether, since there can be no answers to other questions relating to rebirth (the answers are "unknowable"). However, there are other points in your posts to comment on.

dhw: It’s not a mind or a soul, it’s immaterial, and in most cases it does NOT store memories of past lives.

Xeno: So the way I'm understanding it, it does indeed store memories of past lives. It just isn't a fully functioning *mind*.
And
Xeno: The store consciousness holds only the memories of past lives. This allows the Buddha to explain how those who reach very high meditative states can "recall past lives."

Dhw: But until you’ve reached a very high meditative state, you can’t remember a thing. So where does this mysterious “store consciousness” hang out during all the lives when we don’t even know we’ve got it? Another “unknowable”?

Xeno: "According to the Buddha's teaching, all beings except Arahants are subject to "renewal of being in the future" that is, to rebirth. Rebirth in the Buddhist conception, is not the transmigration of a self or soul but the continuation of a process, a flux of becoming in which successive lives are linked together by causal transmission of influence rather than by substantial identity."

DAVID: That implies there is no mental continuity, and one would not be conscious of the past life.

A crucial point! And unconsciousness of past life is confirmed above: you only remember past lives when you’ve reached a “very high meditative state”. (In passing, Matt,I'd like to echo David's admiration for your scholarship.)

DAVID: My wife is a born-again Christian. But I don't think that is what you refer to, based on its definition.

I’ve been chuckling ever since I read this, as I thought it was a great joke. (Your wife’s punishment for her past sins is to be born again as a Christian!) I think a sense of humour is one of the most crucial attributes for the attainment of balance in anyone’s character. I hope there’s evidence of the Buddha having a good laugh in between his thoughts on “suffering”.

Rebirth PART TWO

by dhw, Tuesday, December 20, 2022, 09:10 (435 days ago) @ dhw

PART TWO

Xeno: What desires to be reborn if the body is dead, and “I” haven’t got a mind or a soul. [...] it's the combination of intent and action (remember, "karma" literally translates as "action") that determines your next life. Your "desire" for future lives is created by your actions right now.

My desire has to come from my mind. When? Do I say to myself on my deathbed: “I wanner come again”? And WHO OR WHAT determines my next life? Is someone sitting up in Never-Never-Land watching my every move and then plonking my non-soul into some poor woman’s womb (or some poor animal’s)?

dhw: And finally, now that I’ve achieved Enlightenment, but I am only transient and there is no such thing as eternal life, what possible future can I have other than eternal death – the same as the me who never asked to be reborn in the first place?

Xeno: I read something just last night that might help […] More or less, the vampires who reach the age of the methuselahs become so utterly bored of life that death becomes something desirable. You can only go to so many fancy soirees and watch so many loved ones die before everything in the world becomes devoid of life, and meaning itself becomes meaningless.

You are confirming what I have just written. The ideal end seems to be eternal death, as apparently confirmed by this remark:

Xeno: Your "final death" (parinibbana) will come whether you want it to or not--the Buddha on this particular path just teaches what you need to do in order to bring it about.

Wonderful! How about suicide, leaving a note to say: “Do not resuscitate”? Sorry if this sounds flippant, but I think you find it all as bewildering as I do. I will add, though, that transience seems to be essential to all our earthly joys, and is also a consolation for all our earthly sufferings. Moral: carpe diem, so long as you don’t harm others but, preferably, help them to enjoy life as well.

Xeno: After all the core problem that Buddhism sets out to solve is "Why is there suffering?"

I wouldn’t have thought it was too difficult to compile a list of causes: disease and death, the cruelties of nature, the cruelties of our fellow humans, the inadequacy of our social systems...Monotheistic religions grapple with the same problem (theodicy – why did God create evil, which is pretty close to “suffering”)? I would like to think the “core problem” is “How can I lead a happy life?” And I’d suggest that one factor might be to forget about the miseries of an unknown past, and the dread of more miseries in an unknown future, and another is to heed all the negative precepts (don’t do this or that) but to focus as well on the positives (starting with the Golden Rule). You seem to have reached the same conclusion, as follows:

xeno: You have many of the same questions I do, because we're both westerners who grew up under a much different paradigm. I'm not on any path towards Nibbana in this life, rest assured of that. Good food, family, and solid friends keep me plenty warm and occupied! Present company especially!

Let’s shake hands!

Xeno: When religion starts getting too "religiony" or in dealing with things I can't epistemologically agree with, I'm just going to leave those parts be.

Another handshake!

Xeno: That said, the Buddha himself said "Use the teachings that work and discard those that don't."

Very wise of him.

Rebirth PART TWO

by David Turell @, Tuesday, December 20, 2022, 16:17 (435 days ago) @ dhw

PART TWO

Xeno: What desires to be reborn if the body is dead, and “I” haven’t got a mind or a soul. [...] it's the combination of intent and action (remember, "karma" literally translates as "action") that determines your next life. Your "desire" for future lives is created by your actions right now.

dhw: My desire has to come from my mind. When? Do I say to myself on my deathbed: “I wanner come again”? And WHO OR WHAT determines my next life? Is someone sitting up in Never-Never-Land watching my every move and then plonking my non-soul into some poor woman’s womb (or some poor animal’s)?

dhw: And finally, now that I’ve achieved Enlightenment, but I am only transient and there is no such thing as eternal life, what possible future can I have other than eternal death – the same as the me who never asked to be reborn in the first place?

Xeno: I read something just last night that might help […] More or less, the vampires who reach the age of the methuselahs become so utterly bored of life that death becomes something desirable. You can only go to so many fancy soirees and watch so many loved ones die before everything in the world becomes devoid of life, and meaning itself becomes meaningless.

dhw: You are confirming what I have just written. The ideal end seems to be eternal death, as apparently confirmed by this remark:

Xeno: Your "final death" (parinibbana) will come whether you want it to or not--the Buddha on this particular path just teaches what you need to do in order to bring it about.

dhw: Wonderful! How about suicide, leaving a note to say: “Do not resuscitate”? Sorry if this sounds flippant, but I think you find it all as bewildering as I do. I will add, though, that transience seems to be essential to all our earthly joys, and is also a consolation for all our earthly sufferings. Moral: carpe diem, so long as you don’t harm others but, preferably, help them to enjoy life as well.

Xeno: After all the core problem that Buddhism sets out to solve is "Why is there suffering?"

dhw: I wouldn’t have thought it was too difficult to compile a list of causes: disease and death, the cruelties of nature, the cruelties of our fellow humans, the inadequacy of our social systems...Monotheistic religions grapple with the same problem (theodicy – why did God create evil, which is pretty close to “suffering”)? I would like to think the “core problem” is “How can I lead a happy life?” And I’d suggest that one factor might be to forget about the miseries of an unknown past, and the dread of more miseries in an unknown future, and another is to heed all the negative precepts (don’t do this or that) but to focus as well on the positives (starting with the Golden Rule). You seem to have reached the same conclusion, as follows:

xeno: You have many of the same questions I do, because we're both westerners who grew up under a much different paradigm. I'm not on any path towards Nibbana in this life, rest assured of that. Good food, family, and solid friends keep me plenty warm and occupied! Present company especially!

dhw: Let’s shake hands!

Xeno: When religion starts getting too "religiony" or in dealing with things I can't epistemologically agree with, I'm just going to leave those parts be.

Another handshake!

Xeno: That said, the Buddha himself said "Use the teachings that work and discard those that don't."

dhw: Very wise of him.

Rebirth PART ONE

by David Turell @, Tuesday, December 20, 2022, 16:14 (435 days ago) @ dhw

PART ONE

dhw: If our current identity is transient, and our former identities were transient, what exactly is the point of having had former identities? The one I am lumbered with now is the one that has to get rid of its “cravings”, and if in my next life I can’t even remember the mess I made of my previous life, I might just as well not have led it.

It’s quite difficult now to develop the discussion, because it’s clear that you and I have exactly the same doubts! (You wrote: I'm no closer to believing in Rebirth at the moment than I am in Christ's resurrection.) I can only pick on certain points, so forgive me if I again edit the entries accordingly.


You quote the Buddha’s answer to the question what is the point of the past lives:
Xeno: "What's the point" of all those lives was the central question for the ancient Hindus, and much of their religion was trying to deal with that question. The radical departure for the Buddha is that "What's the point" is a flawed question, because it is unknowable.

I would say it’s not the question that’s flawed but the theory that gives rises to the question. You summed it all up earlier when you said it boiled down to epistemology. Beliefs are not knowledge, and if a combination of theories seems senseless to us, why should we believe it?

xeno: Ajahn Brahm's argument rests on three assertions, disappointing since he used to be a physicist. They are:
1.) There's lots of evidence for rebirth, people just don't like it.
2.) Anecdote. (He shares a story that leaves me dubious but its so personal to the particular family involved that trying to doubt it makes me look and feel like a monster.
3.) Wouldn't it be a beautiful idea if it were true.

dnw: 3) is a big laugh. 1) and 2)remind me of NDEs, and if any of them provide evidence of some confirmable truth (like information the patient could not possibly have known during their temporary “death”), I will keep an open mind. There are many psychic experiences which we cannot explain.

XENO: (The Dali Llama has said there's good reasons to doubt it, and he's supposed to be the 14th reincarnation of a Buddhist teacher!)

dhw: This encourages me still more to drop the subject altogether, since there can be no answers to other questions relating to rebirth (the answers are "unknowable"). However, there are other points in your posts to comment on.

dhw: It’s not a mind or a soul, it’s immaterial, and in most cases it does NOT store memories of past lives.

Xeno: So the way I'm understanding it, it does indeed store memories of past lives. It just isn't a fully functioning *mind*.
And
Xeno: The store consciousness holds only the memories of past lives. This allows the Buddha to explain how those who reach very high meditative states can "recall past lives."

Dhw: But until you’ve reached a very high meditative state, you can’t remember a thing. So where does this mysterious “store consciousness” hang out during all the lives when we don’t even know we’ve got it? Another “unknowable”?

Xeno: "According to the Buddha's teaching, all beings except Arahants are subject to "renewal of being in the future" that is, to rebirth. Rebirth in the Buddhist conception, is not the transmigration of a self or soul but the continuation of a process, a flux of becoming in which successive lives are linked together by causal transmission of influence rather than by substantial identity."

DAVID: That implies there is no mental continuity, and one would not be conscious of the past life.

dhw: A crucial point! And unconsciousness of past life is confirmed above: you only remember past lives when you’ve reached a “very high meditative state”. (In passing, Matt,I'd like to echo David's admiration for your scholarship.)

DAVID: My wife is a born-again Christian. But I don't think that is what you refer to, based on its definition.

dhw:v I’ve been chuckling ever since I read this, as I thought it was a great joke. (Your wife’s punishment for her past sins is to be born again as a Christian!) I think a sense of humour is one of the most crucial attributes for the attainment of balance in anyone’s character. I hope there’s evidence of the Buddha having a good laugh in between his thoughts on “suffering”.

Born again in Christ, no religious organization necessary in going forward

Rebirth PART ONE

by xeno6696 @, Sonoran Desert, Thursday, December 22, 2022, 03:59 (433 days ago) @ dhw

I intend on giving a more in-depth response here--family coming into town though and I was busy getting the bedroom prepared.

Parinibbana/parinirvana isn't death. The Buddha deliberately left undeclared what Nibbana was other than a fully unconditioned state. My Monk got stuck between Phoenix and Tucson with a flat tire and has promised to get back to me--I just linked him to the discussion here.

One of the books he's had us work through had this to say:

"He or she has completed the development of the noble path, has fully understood the true nature of existence, and has eradicated all the mind's bonds and fetters For the duration of life the arahant abides in unruffled peace, in the experiential realization of Nibbana, with a mind stainless and secure. Then, with the breakup of the body at the end of the life span, he or she reaches the end of the entire process of re-becoming. For the arant death is not the passageway to a new rebirth, as it is for all others, but the doorway to the unconditioned state itself, the Nibbana-element without residue of conditioned existence. This is the true cessation of sufferings to which the Buddha's Teaching points, the final termination of the beginningless round of birth and death."

So it's not an escape to a final death, but something incomprehensible.

Well there ya go, at least in my book this DOES make Buddhism more of a religion than a philosophy, though I suppose it's up to the individual precisely where to take it.

--
\"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.\"

Rebirth PART ONE

by dhw, Thursday, December 22, 2022, 09:35 (433 days ago) @ xeno6696

Xeno: I intend on giving a more in-depth response here--family coming into town though and I was busy getting the bedroom prepared.

Parinibbana/parinirvana isn't death. The Buddha deliberately left undeclared what Nibbana was other than a fully unconditioned state. My Monk got stuck between Phoenix and Tucson with a flat tire and has promised to get back to me--I just linked him to the discussion here.
One of the books he's had us work through had this to say:

"He or she has completed the development of the noble path, has fully understood the true nature of existence, and has eradicated all the mind's bonds and fetters For the duration of life the arahant abides in unruffled peace, in the experiential realization of Nibbana, with a mind stainless and secure. Then, with the breakup of the body at the end of the life span, he or she reaches the end of the entire process of re-becoming. For the arant death is not the passageway to a new rebirth, as it is for all others, but the doorway to the unconditioned state itself, the Nibbana-element without residue of conditioned existence. This is the true cessation of sufferings to which the Buddha's Teaching points, the final termination of the beginningless round of birth and death."

So it's not an escape to a final death, but something incomprehensible.

Well there ya go, at least in my book this DOES make Buddhism more of a religion than a philosophy, though I suppose it's up to the individual precisely where to take it.

Thanks for this. The flat tire seems to me like a symbol for all of the above, except that once you’ve fully understood the true nature of existence, whatever that may be (a process which seems to entail becoming oblivious to all the ”cravings” that make life such a pain and such a pleasure), you will live happily ever after until your body dies its final death. And then your non-soul – totally independent of the “conditioned existence” (i.e. life on Earth) – will be at “unruffled peace”. I can’t see where the “store consciousness” fits in, since that is full of all the miserable memories of your past lives and presumably all the nasty things you did before your sufferings ceased, and yet that seems to be the only thing that doesn’t die when the body dies. In fact, to be honest, I can’t see what state could be more unruffledly peaceful or more “fully unconditioned” than permanent death. You say the Buddha didn’t specify. I’m not surprised.

Rebirth PART ONE

by David Turell @, Thursday, December 22, 2022, 19:26 (433 days ago) @ dhw

Xeno: I intend on giving a more in-depth response here--family coming into town though and I was busy getting the bedroom prepared.

Parinibbana/parinirvana isn't death. The Buddha deliberately left undeclared what Nibbana was other than a fully unconditioned state. My Monk got stuck between Phoenix and Tucson with a flat tire and has promised to get back to me--I just linked him to the discussion here.
One of the books he's had us work through had this to say:

"He or she has completed the development of the noble path, has fully understood the true nature of existence, and has eradicated all the mind's bonds and fetters For the duration of life the arahant abides in unruffled peace, in the experiential realization of Nibbana, with a mind stainless and secure. Then, with the breakup of the body at the end of the life span, he or she reaches the end of the entire process of re-becoming. For the arant death is not the passageway to a new rebirth, as it is for all others, but the doorway to the unconditioned state itself, the Nibbana-element without residue of conditioned existence. This is the true cessation of sufferings to which the Buddha's Teaching points, the final termination of the beginningless round of birth and death."

So it's not an escape to a final death, but something incomprehensible.

Well there ya go, at least in my book this DOES make Buddhism more of a religion than a philosophy, though I suppose it's up to the individual precisely where to take it.

dhw: Thanks for this. The flat tire seems to me like a symbol for all of the above, except that once you’ve fully understood the true nature of existence, whatever that may be (a process which seems to entail becoming oblivious to all the ”cravings” that make life such a pain and such a pleasure), you will live happily ever after until your body dies its final death. And then your non-soul – totally independent of the “conditioned existence” (i.e. life on Earth) – will be at “unruffled peace”. I can’t see where the “store consciousness” fits in, since that is full of all the miserable memories of your past lives and presumably all the nasty things you did before your sufferings ceased, and yet that seems to be the only thing that doesn’t die when the body dies. In fact, to be honest, I can’t see what state could be more unruffledly peaceful or more “fully unconditioned” than permanent death. You say the Buddha didn’t specify. I’m not surprised.

Nor am I.

Rebirth PART ONE

by xeno6696 @, Sonoran Desert, Thursday, December 22, 2022, 23:26 (433 days ago) @ dhw

Well there ya go, at least in my book this DOES make Buddhism more of a religion than a philosophy, though I suppose it's up to the individual precisely where to take it.[/i]

Thanks for this. The flat tire seems to me like a symbol for all of the above, except that once you’ve fully understood the true nature of existence, whatever that may be (a process which seems to entail becoming oblivious to all the ”cravings” that make life such a pain and such a pleasure), you will live happily ever after until your body dies its final death. And then your non-soul – totally independent of the “conditioned existence” (i.e. life on Earth) – will be at “unruffled peace”. I can’t see where the “store consciousness” fits in, since that is full of all the miserable memories of your past lives and presumably all the nasty things you did before your sufferings ceased, and yet that seems to be the only thing that doesn’t die when the body dies. In fact, to be honest, I can’t see what state could be more unruffledly peaceful or more “fully unconditioned” than permanent death. You say the Buddha didn’t specify. I’m not surprised.

So in practice, what Buddhism is warning us against in regards to "cravings" are the issues involved with getting yourself wrapped up in them. Particularly, when we start to "identify" with them. Or in the case of addiction where the phenomenon is more black and white--where some sort of obsession develops. And I don't know where you get the idea that the goal is to be oblivious of cravings--when I turned towards (and not away from) alcohol cravings I wasn't supposed to "dismiss" them or "ignore them." I was to penetrate the events... to "roll with them" as it were. To understand them as transient phenomena; that they were "not self" and that they were a mental response. That they had a beginning, middle, and an end. To be "oblivious" would be more like "willful ignorance" and that's not something I think the Buddha taught at all. The fact is that most people "get caught up" in events and lack a layer of detachment or observation in what's going on. It's possible you've never had an unhealthy attachment to something and I'm talking Greek to you. But if you've ever had a moment where you've asked yourself "why am I doing this" and its a behavior you repeat frequently, the goal in Buddhism is to maintain that question for all things you do.

Probably, the best analogy for what it is--instead of "being oblivious" to cravings, is that you become a film critic for what's going on in your head. And some people *hate* film critics or engaging in that kind of thing--you might be one of them--but for me it actually enhances what's going on because I'm fully awake and aware of what's happening as its happening. A film critic that silences the critical commentary: Picture muting a Tennis match and just watching the match.

Now, the part of Buddhism that goes beyond being an internal film critic is the meditation. Meditation *necessarily* makes you less reactive. I absolutely don't get caught up in events like I used to--gone are violent swings of emotion. And other things slow down too. Acquisitiveness in general (both material and spiritual) decrease. Engaging in Metta meditation regularly built the space I needed to recognize my mom as a victim herself, though heaven help me for her unwavering tendency to try to damage.

So the decrease in cravings comes as a part of a regular and deepening meditation practice. And those practices include things like loving kindness and appreciative joy for others, compassion, and love for all beings great and small. To me, everything about the path is about dissolving the barriers we tend to erect between ourselves and other people. "Nibbana" to me, seems to represent a final dissolution where you more or less join into the greater body the universe. So it seems to me that in the literary sense, we melt the boundaries between ourselves and the rest of the universe and join it in an "ultimate" sense.

Honestly, it's the closest thing I've seen Buddhism have that orbits the same mystical cloud that St. John of the Cross or Theresa of Avila wrote about.

--
\"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.\"

Rebirth PART ONE

by dhw, Friday, December 23, 2022, 12:47 (432 days ago) @ xeno6696

dhw: The flat tire seems to me like a symbol for all of the above, except that once you’ve fully understood the true nature of existence, whatever that may be (a process which seems to entail becoming oblivious to all the ”cravings” that make life such a pain and such a pleasure), you will live happily ever after until your body dies its final death. And then your non-soul – totally independent of the “conditioned existence” (i.e. life on Earth) – will be at “unruffled peace”. I can’t see where the “store consciousness” fits in, since that is full of all the miserable memories of your past lives and presumably all the nasty things you did before your sufferings ceased, and yet that seems to be the only thing that doesn’t die when the body dies. In fact, to be honest, I can’t see what state could be more unruffledly peaceful or more “fully unconditioned” than permanent death. You say the Buddha didn’t specify. I’m not surprised.

XENO: So in practice, what Buddhism is warning us against in regards to "cravings" are the issues involved with getting yourself wrapped up in them. Particularly, when we start to "identify" with them. Or in the case of addiction where the phenomenon is more black and white--where some sort of obsession develops. And I don't know where you get the idea that the goal is to be oblivious of cravings--when I turned towards (and not away from) alcohol cravings I wasn't supposed to "dismiss" them or "ignore them."

I like this reply, and will happily withdraw my reference to being “oblivious”; this was based solely on the apparent advocacy of monastic life, which would shut the potential sinner away from the pains and pleasures of “cravings”. I think we’ve been talking at cross purposes, because we started off with Ajahn Brahm’s attack on secular Buddhism and his almost exclusive focus on the “dogma” – especially rebirth, which is ostensibly the subject of this thread. You have focused on a parenthesis in my post and then ignored the rest until your final comment. However, I think your approach is vastly more relevant to all our lives, and your own story brings out the positive sides of the philosophy, as opposed to what I feel is the negative and sometimes incomprehensible religious side. I’ll edit your comments now, in order to keep the discussion as focused as possible.

XENO: It's possible you've never had an unhealthy attachment to something and I'm talking Greek to you. […]

It’s not Greek to me, but I’ve never been addicted to anything harmful - ugh, except maybe chocolate and other “sweeties”, which I gave up overnight when I was told I was pre-diabetic! Basically, you are focusing on Buddhism as a form of psychotherapy and as a moral code which we should all aspire to. Hence the illuminating and for me very moving account of your own progress. First the therapy:

XENO: Meditation *necessarily* makes you less reactive. I absolutely don't get caught up in events like I used to--gone are violent swings of emotion. And other things slow down too. Acquisitiveness in general (both material and spiritual) decrease. Engaging in Metta meditation regularly built the space I needed to recognize my mom as a victim herself, though heaven help me for her unwavering tendency to try to damage.

And now the moral code:

XENO: So the decrease in cravings comes as a part of a regular and deepening meditation practice. And those practices include things like loving kindness and appreciative joy for others, compassion, and love for all beings great and small.

Summed up by the Golden Rule: do as you would be done by. I doubt if David as a panentheist Jew or his wife as a born again Christian, or a humanist atheist like Dawkins would object to this code. Of course religious fundamentalism can lead to the very opposite of these virtues, but most religious people I know obey the Golden Rule through faith in and prayer to their benevolent God. I’m all in favour of any thought system that produces the “right” result and helps people overcome their addictions and other mental health problems. It’s religious dogma that I find so off-putting. And I think you feel the same, despite your final comment:

XENO: To me, everything about the path is about dissolving the barriers we tend to erect between ourselves and other people. "Nibbana" to me, seems to represent a final dissolution where you more or less join into the greater body the universe. So it seems to me that in the literary sense, we melt the boundaries between ourselves and the rest of the universe and join it in an "ultimate" sense.

Only here do you touch on the mystic side which I find so confusing. Your decomposing body also joins the greater body of the universe. But you and Ajan Brahm keep referring to some kind of non-soul – it’s a “store consciousness” which will remember past lives. Apparently “nirvana” is Sanskrit and means “extinction, literally a blowing out…” You objected when I suggested that the ultimate aim seemed to be permanent and total death (= extinction), but I can still see no alternative if you reject the idea of a conscious soul.

Rebirth PART ONE

by David Turell @, Friday, December 23, 2022, 16:51 (432 days ago) @ dhw

dhw: The flat tire seems to me like a symbol for all of the above, except that once you’ve fully understood the true nature of existence, whatever that may be (a process which seems to entail becoming oblivious to all the ”cravings” that make life such a pain and such a pleasure), you will live happily ever after until your body dies its final death. And then your non-soul – totally independent of the “conditioned existence” (i.e. life on Earth) – will be at “unruffled peace”. I can’t see where the “store consciousness” fits in, since that is full of all the miserable memories of your past lives and presumably all the nasty things you did before your sufferings ceased, and yet that seems to be the only thing that doesn’t die when the body dies. In fact, to be honest, I can’t see what state could be more unruffledly peaceful or more “fully unconditioned” than permanent death. You say the Buddha didn’t specify. I’m not surprised.

XENO: So in practice, what Buddhism is warning us against in regards to "cravings" are the issues involved with getting yourself wrapped up in them. Particularly, when we start to "identify" with them. Or in the case of addiction where the phenomenon is more black and white--where some sort of obsession develops. And I don't know where you get the idea that the goal is to be oblivious of cravings--when I turned towards (and not away from) alcohol cravings I wasn't supposed to "dismiss" them or "ignore them."

dhw: I like this reply, and will happily withdraw my reference to being “oblivious”; this was based solely on the apparent advocacy of monastic life, which would shut the potential sinner away from the pains and pleasures of “cravings”. I think we’ve been talking at cross purposes, because we started off with Ajahn Brahm’s attack on secular Buddhism and his almost exclusive focus on the “dogma” – especially rebirth, which is ostensibly the subject of this thread. You have focused on a parenthesis in my post and then ignored the rest until your final comment. However, I think your approach is vastly more relevant to all our lives, and your own story brings out the positive sides of the philosophy, as opposed to what I feel is the negative and sometimes incomprehensible religious side. I’ll edit your comments now, in order to keep the discussion as focused as possible.

XENO: It's possible you've never had an unhealthy attachment to something and I'm talking Greek to you. […]

dhw: It’s not Greek to me, but I’ve never been addicted to anything harmful - ugh, except maybe chocolate and other “sweeties”, which I gave up overnight when I was told I was pre-diabetic! Basically, you are focusing on Buddhism as a form of psychotherapy and as a moral code which we should all aspire to. Hence the illuminating and for me very moving account of your own progress.

Very moving for me, also.

dhw: First the therapy:

XENO: Meditation *necessarily* makes you less reactive. I absolutely don't get caught up in events like I used to--gone are violent swings of emotion. And other things slow down too. Acquisitiveness in general (both material and spiritual) decrease. Engaging in Metta meditation regularly built the space I needed to recognize my mom as a victim herself, though heaven help me for her unwavering tendency to try to damage.

And now the moral code:

XENO: So the decrease in cravings comes as a part of a regular and deepening meditation practice. And those practices include things like loving kindness and appreciative joy for others, compassion, and love for all beings great and small.

dhw: Summed up by the Golden Rule: do as you would be done by. I doubt if David as a panentheist Jew or his wife as a born again Christian, or a humanist atheist like Dawkins would object to this code. Of course religious fundamentalism can lead to the very opposite of these virtues, but most religious people I know obey the Golden Rule through faith in and prayer to their benevolent God. I’m all in favour of any thought system that produces the “right” result and helps people overcome their addictions and other mental health problems. It’s religious dogma that I find so off-putting. And I think you feel the same, despite your final comment:

XENO: To me, everything about the path is about dissolving the barriers we tend to erect between ourselves and other people. "Nibbana" to me, seems to represent a final dissolution where you more or less join into the greater body the universe. So it seems to me that in the literary sense, we melt the boundaries between ourselves and the rest of the universe and join it in an "ultimate" sense.

dhw: Only here do you touch on the mystic side which I find so confusing. Your decomposing body also joins the greater body of the universe. But you and Ajan Brahm keep referring to some kind of non-soul – it’s a “store consciousness” which will remember past lives. Apparently “nirvana” is Sanskrit and means “extinction, literally a blowing out…” You objected when I suggested that the ultimate aim seemed to be permanent and total death (= extinction), but I can still see no alternative if you reject the idea of a conscious soul.

Rebirth PART ONE

by David Turell @, Friday, December 23, 2022, 15:58 (432 days ago) @ xeno6696

Well there ya go, at least in my book this DOES make Buddhism more of a religion than a philosophy, though I suppose it's up to the individual precisely where to take it.[/i]

Thanks for this. The flat tire seems to me like a symbol for all of the above, except that once you’ve fully understood the true nature of existence, whatever that may be (a process which seems to entail becoming oblivious to all the ”cravings” that make life such a pain and such a pleasure), you will live happily ever after until your body dies its final death. And then your non-soul – totally independent of the “conditioned existence” (i.e. life on Earth) – will be at “unruffled peace”. I can’t see where the “store consciousness” fits in, since that is full of all the miserable memories of your past lives and presumably all the nasty things you did before your sufferings ceased, and yet that seems to be the only thing that doesn’t die when the body dies. In fact, to be honest, I can’t see what state could be more unruffledly peaceful or more “fully unconditioned” than permanent death. You say the Buddha didn’t specify. I’m not surprised.


Matt: So in practice, what Buddhism is warning us against in regards to "cravings" are the issues involved with getting yourself wrapped up in them. Particularly, when we start to "identify" with them. Or in the case of addiction where the phenomenon is more black and white--where some sort of obsession develops. And I don't know where you get the idea that the goal is to be oblivious of cravings--when I turned towards (and not away from) alcohol cravings I wasn't supposed to "dismiss" them or "ignore them." I was to penetrate the events... to "roll with them" as it were. To understand them as transient phenomena; that they were "not self" and that they were a mental response. That they had a beginning, middle, and an end. To be "oblivious" would be more like "willful ignorance" and that's not something I think the Buddha taught at all. The fact is that most people "get caught up" in events and lack a layer of detachment or observation in what's going on. It's possible you've never had an unhealthy attachment to something and I'm talking Greek to you. But if you've ever had a moment where you've asked yourself "why am I doing this" and its a behavior you repeat frequently, the goal in Buddhism is to maintain that question for all things you do.

Probably, the best analogy for what it is--instead of "being oblivious" to cravings, is that you become a film critic for what's going on in your head. And some people *hate* film critics or engaging in that kind of thing--you might be one of them--but for me it actually enhances what's going on because I'm fully awake and aware of what's happening as its happening. A film critic that silences the critical commentary: Picture muting a Tennis match and just watching the match.

Now, the part of Buddhism that goes beyond being an internal film critic is the meditation. Meditation *necessarily* makes you less reactive. I absolutely don't get caught up in events like I used to--gone are violent swings of emotion. And other things slow down too. Acquisitiveness in general (both material and spiritual) decrease. Engaging in Metta meditation regularly built the space I needed to recognize my mom as a victim herself, though heaven help me for her unwavering tendency to try to damage.

So the decrease in cravings comes as a part of a regular and deepening meditation practice. And those practices include things like loving kindness and appreciative joy for others, compassion, and love for all beings great and small. To me, everything about the path is about dissolving the barriers we tend to erect between ourselves and other people. "Nibbana" to me, seems to represent a final dissolution where you more or less join into the greater body the universe. So it seems to me that in the literary sense, we melt the boundaries between ourselves and the rest of the universe and join it in an "ultimate" sense.

Honestly, it's the closest thing I've seen Buddhism have that orbits the same mystical cloud that St. John of the Cross or Theresa of Avila wrote about.

Recognizing your mom as a victim is a major step. The Buddhist approach to self-control is what I think happened to me from my parent's teachings.

Rebirth PART ONE

by David Turell @, Thursday, December 22, 2022, 18:57 (433 days ago) @ xeno6696

Matt: I intend on giving a more in-depth response here--family coming into town though and I was busy getting the bedroom prepared.

Parinibbana/parinirvana isn't death. The Buddha deliberately left undeclared what Nibbana was other than a fully unconditioned state. My Monk got stuck between Phoenix and Tucson with a flat tire and has promised to get back to me--I just linked him to the discussion here.

One of the books he's had us work through had this to say:

"He or she has completed the development of the noble path, has fully understood the true nature of existence, and has eradicated all the mind's bonds and fetters For the duration of life the arahant abides in unruffled peace, in the experiential realization of Nibbana, with a mind stainless and secure. Then, with the breakup of the body at the end of the life span, he or she reaches the end of the entire process of re-becoming. For the arant death is not the passageway to a new rebirth, as it is for all others, but the doorway to the unconditioned state itself, the Nibbana-element without residue of conditioned existence. This is the true cessation of sufferings to which the Buddha's Teaching points, the final termination of the beginningless round of birth and death."

So it's not an escape to a final death, but something incomprehensible.

Well there ya go, at least in my book this DOES make Buddhism more of a religion than a philosophy, though I suppose it's up to the individual precisely where to take it.

First of all, enjoy Christmas with family. We can keep. Us Jewish folk do not have heaven or hell. If there is an afterlife "God will care for us". Same incomprehensible result.

Rebirth PART ONE

by xeno6696 @, Sonoran Desert, Thursday, December 22, 2022, 23:31 (433 days ago) @ David Turell

So it's not an escape to a final death, but something incomprehensible.

Well there ya go, at least in my book this DOES make Buddhism more of a religion than a philosophy, though I suppose it's up to the individual precisely where to take it.


First of all, enjoy Christmas with family. We can keep. Us Jewish folk do not have heaven or hell. If there is an afterlife "God will care for us". Same incomprehensible result.

People still don't believe me when I tell them that Hell was a Christian invention. I mean, there IS a precursor in Zoroastrianism but usually I lose people before we even get that far.

Gehenna and Sheol, places where we go to purify according to some accounts. Hell was the first franchise business in the west. ;-)

--
\"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.\"

Rebirth PART ONE

by David Turell @, Friday, December 23, 2022, 16:01 (432 days ago) @ xeno6696

M att: So it's not an escape to a final death, but something incomprehensible.

Well there ya go, at least in my book this DOES make Buddhism more of a religion than a philosophy, though I suppose it's up to the individual precisely where to take it.


First of all, enjoy Christmas with family. We can keep. Us Jewish folk do not have heaven or hell. If there is an afterlife "God will care for us". Same incomprehensible result.


People still don't believe me when I tell them that Hell was a Christian invention. I mean, there IS a precursor in Zoroastrianism but usually I lose people before we even get that far.

Gehenna and Sheol, places where we go to purify according to some accounts. Hell was the first franchise business in the west. ;-)

I always thought the threat of Hell was created to control folks.

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