Proofs for existence of God

presser_kun

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jaxree said:
Each time they refine their metaphor, they believe they actually understand God better. There's a lot of idolatry out there.

Not sure what you mean here. How do you understand God better, if not by refining your way of describing him and his relationship to you?

And that's where I get uncomfortable with the word "prove." Once you think you have "proved" God's existence, then its a short distance to becoming convinced that your image of God is the "true" God. Then you believe that everyone else's image of God is wrong. And the jump from there to flying planes into buildings isn't as far as you might think.

We agree on this, for sure.

peace,

press
 

jaxree

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presser_kun said:
Not sure what you mean here. How do you understand God better, if not by refining your way of describing him and his relationship to you?


Hey, I just figured out how this quote thing works! It's a breakthrough for me.

What I meant was this: One of the ways God has been defined in the Christian tradition is that he is a supreme being, infinite and ineffable. Based on that definition, I would argue that you can never understand God better. The chasm between a finite being and an infinite being is too great.

It's like the difference between buying one lottery ticket and 10 lottery tickets. If you buy one, then you have a 1-in-50 million chance of winning. If you buy 10, you have a 10-in-50 million chance of winning. Mathmatically, those odds are almost identical.

When you refine your metaphor, you aren't coming closer to understanding the true nature of God. By Christian tradition, he is a mystery that cannot be understood. Rather, you are simply examining your own faith.

In the end, you want a metaphor that makes sense to you. You want one that helps you connect with a transcendant reality. If the intellectual exercise of discussing God's attributes helps you, that's great. But in humility, you must always remember that those aren't really God's attributes. They are metaphors which help you make sense of something that cannot be understood.

So I'm not arguing that theological discussions are pointless. They can indeed be enriching to a religious person's spiritual quest. It just gets dodgy if people start thinking that they are talking about more than a metaphor, if they think they are talking about God's true nature. That's all I meant.
 

presser_kun

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jaxree said:
Hey, I just figured out how this quote thing works! It's a breakthrough for me.

^___^

What I meant was this: One of the ways God has been defined in the Christian tradition is that he is a supreme being, infinite and ineffable. Based on that definition, I would argue that you can never understand God better. The chasm between a finite being and an infinite being is too great.

Point taken.

It's like the difference between buying one lottery ticket and 10 lottery tickets. If you buy one, then you have a 1-in-50 million chance of winning. If you buy 10, you have a 10-in-50 million chance of winning. Mathmatically, those odds are almost identical.

True, but for the ticket holder, the difference between 1 and 10 is significant.

When you refine your metaphor, you aren't coming closer to understanding the true nature of God. By Christian tradition, he is a mystery that cannot be understood. Rather, you are simply examining your own faith.



In the end, you want a metaphor that makes sense to you. <snip>But . . . you must always remember that those aren't really God's attributes.

So I'm not arguing that theological discussions are pointless. They can indeed be enriching to a religious person's spiritual quest. It just gets dodgy if people start thinking that they are talking about more than a metaphor, if they think they are talking about God's true nature. That's all I meant.

I think we see things the same way, jaxree.

Do you know The Cloud of Unknowing? it's written by an anonymous 14th century English mystic, a handbook on prayer. The subtitle says:

A book of contemplation the which is called the
cloud of unknowing, in the which a soul is oned with God.​

The idea is that we can never know God, but should work to reach him. There's a line from the book I love that expresses your thought quite well:

Shall I, a gnat which dances in Thy ray,
Dare to be reverent.​

I think grappling with the proof/faith dicotomy is one way of reaching out to God, albeit in a fumbling, bumbling way.

peace,

press
 

Vajradhara

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Namaste Devadatta,

thank you for the post.

Devadatta said:
Well, here's where I find a kind of oddity if not lack in the tradition. The tradition asserts non-self ad nauseum - while being the most self-reliant practice imaginable.

clearly, this being would disagree with your formalization here.

whilst it is true enough that the Hinyana view seems to be geared in this manner, this is more of a matter of Upaya than anything else. the Bodhisattva ideal is found throughout the Buddhist canons, which clearly teach the difference in the various conceptions of self that were prominent during this cultural millieu.

My point is that the Abdhidhamma/dharma commitment to this sort of analysis leaves the true instrumentality of the self in sort of limbo.

what is the "true" instrumentality of the self?

I understand the soteriological reasoning here - we must deny any shred of concept of self to cling to - but the intent is not to deny self, which is listed among the wrong views, but to help effect a turning in the mind, to reorient the mind to the true state of affairs, as repeated in the Lankavatara. Now, we can scholastically list "self" under the heading of the skanda of mental formations - that may satisfy our fear of clinging - but it only takes us so far... But as you suggest somewhere above, this problem can lead us to all sorts of convolutions maybe better left to another thread. In the end, I don't think we disagree.

we may or may not. it doesn't really impact our discussion all that much either way, in my view.

Perhaps my difference is that I think that we needn't be too afraid of ideas like "process self" and "interbeing" and a greater emphasis on "interdependence" as ways of smuggling selfhood in through the back door.

seeing how pervasive the idea of an eternal self is colors my veiw. ideas which seem to support an "eternal" anything are ideas which, from a religious perspective, cannot find support in my view.

Every culture that has adopted Buddhism has brought in new perspectives and new gifts. My hunch is that Western Buddhism will bring in new and fruitful correctives to the self/non-self dichotomy.

"correctives"?

of course, there is no doubt that Buddha Dharma changes... it, too, is impermenant and empty of any self-nature.

metta,

~v
 

Devadatta

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Vajradhara said:
whilst it is true enough that the Hinyana view seems to be geared in this manner, this is more of a matter of Upaya than anything else. the Bodhisattva ideal is found throughout the Buddhist canons, which clearly teach the difference in the various conceptions of self that were prominent during this cultural millieu.

Well, I guess I would point out that in Mahayana iteration of non-self is replaced by iteration of emptiness, which as you know is merely the more thorough elaboration of the same core strategy. What I'm putting into question a little is the relative emphasis on this strategy, and the danger of a too-literal reading of it.



Vajradhara said:
what is the "true" instrumentality of the self?

Here I'm not trying to establish a metaphysical self, but only looking at it from a phenomenological point of view - which is probably too pretentious a way of putting it on my part - but I'm only pointing to the usefulness of certain descriptors. The aggregates are useful for the specific purposes for which they were designed, but not for what they weren't designed, that is as descriptors for the unique combinatory effect that accounts for distinctly different personalities. Along with the metaphysical soul, you won't find Shakespeare, Gandhi or Hitler in the aggregates. Yet these folks "exist" for all of that. But again, rather than continue here, I plan when I have a little more time to start a thread in the Buddhism forum for everyone to have a shot at.
 

Vajradhara

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Namaste Devadatta,

thank you for the post.

Devadatta said:
Speaking of tailoring a message to any audience, this is not the way the Buddha - from what I've read in the Pali Canon - would answer a question like this.

i've not claimed to be a Buddha, thus, i'm not really following your objection.

The Buddha was careful never to tell anyone who believed in a self in this sense that this self "dies"; that as you know is a wrong view. Wrong in several ways, but first of all wrong in sowing confusion and misconception.

actually, it would depend on the beliefs that they held concerning the nature of the self. as you know, a feature of Buddhas is that they are clarivoyant and know what the relative level of understanding of the being they are addressing is and they can speak in a manner which that being can directly understand.

thus, the answer that the Buddha would give is predicated on the being whom is asking the question.

What "self" are we talking about that "dies" here?

that is a very salient question. Presser seems to indicate that his belife is that his "self" is the sum of his total experience. what do you think your "self" is?

however... please understand.. that i did not assert the existence of a self that dies (no self means no self death), i was contrasting the explanation of the Christian view of the self dying with the idea of non-self in the Buddha Dharma.

I must be honest here, and I don't claim to be an enlightened master in any sense, but I think you've slipped past your expertise here.

perhaps. i am quite ignorant of many things and, of course, you are entitled to your view.

When there is a danger of misleading, I would suggest noble silence.

a fine suggestion to make and adhere to.

This is again what I see as being tangled up in mere words. The aim is not to make distinctions between traditions which use words like "eternal" or "non-eternal" or any other wrong view; but in effectively arriving at the reality that all these traditions point to.

that would certainly depend on the context of the discussion, don't you think? of course, using human language to denote aspects of reality is always somewhat problematic, however, we don't have any other means at our disposal at this time.

I'm not actually following this religious/philosophical distinction you're making here.

how can i clarify it for you?

As well, the Buddha taught no ontology.

i wholeheartedly disagree. more to the point, without a solid grasp of the Buddhist ontological view, it would seem to be quite difficult to come to an accurate understanding of the Buddha Dharma.

of course, you are free to hold this view.

Even the abhidhamma - which was not likely formulated by the Buddha in any case - is a phenomenological excercise, and certainly Nagarjuna established no position, let alone an ontology.

i'm not sure what works you've read from Arya Nagarjuna, however, have you read his The Jeweled Garland? in particular the pratitya-samutpada.

Look, I hope you can find it in your heart not to be offended by my rather stiff response above. I was speaking honestly and from the heart. But if you think I was off-base, don't hesitate to tell me so.

what is there to be offended by?

clearly, your view and my view on these matters is different. no worries there :)

heck.. there are Buddhists that don't believe in karma or rebirth, yet, Buddhists they remain. whilst i certainly don't agree with those rejections, i understand them and support them.

metta,

~v
 

Vajradhara

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Namaste Devadatta,

thank you for the post.

Devadatta said:
Well, I guess I would point out that in Mahayana iteration of non-self is replaced by iteration of emptiness, which as you know is merely the more thorough elaboration of the same core strategy. What I'm putting into question a little is the relative emphasis on this strategy, and the danger of a too-literal reading of it.

i disagree. sunyata has, from the beginning, been a part of the Buddha Dharma. it is true enough that, for most practiconers, the Sotapana and so forth, the teaching of sunyata focused on the individual being. however, this is, as well, a matter of Upaya and does not remove the teachings from the tradition.

it is quite a correct caution.. even the doctrine of "emptiness" and "no-self" when clung to, become obstacles.

this is, primarily, why the Buddha teaches using Buddha Dharmas and not normal dharmas.

ultimately, even the Buddha Dharmas must be let go for they are temporary expedient means.

Here I'm not trying to establish a metaphysical self, but only looking at it from a phenomenological point of view - which is probably too pretentious a way of putting it on my part - but I'm only pointing to the usefulness of certain descriptors.

on a relative level, descriptions are accurate enough. that does not mean, however, that what those words describe is actually real. for instance the old phrase " a barren womans daughter".


The aggregates are useful for the specific purposes for which they were designed, but not for what they weren't designed, that is as descriptors for the unique combinatory effect that accounts for distinctly different personalities.

for what purpose do you think that the concept of skanda is used?

Along with the metaphysical soul, you won't find Shakespeare, Gandhi or Hitler in the aggregates. Yet these folks "exist" for all of that.

in what way do these beings exist?

do they exist in any more substantial way than the Chesire Cat from Alice in Wonderland?

metta,

~v
 

Devadatta

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Vajradhara said:
i disagree. sunyata has, from the beginning, been a part of the Buddha Dharma. it is true enough that, for most practiconers, the Sotapana and so forth, the teaching of sunyata focused on the individual being. however, this is, as well, a matter of Upaya and does not remove the teachings from the tradition.



Disagree? Why, I do not accept your disagreement!



Seriously, I may just have poorly expressed myself on this, because I don't think I'm really saying anything different here. I agree it's possible to find the roots of all apparently later formulations in the fundamental suttas. But I believe it's recognized that the early abhidhamma analysis of reality, (which is often styled a kind of "realism") arrives at a basis in dhammas that are thought of as having independent existence, including the unconditioned dhamma of nibbana. On the other hand, later schools like Madyamika hold that no dharma exists from its own side, but only interdependently, up to and including nirvana.



Now, whether the Buddha literally preached prajnaparamita, along with the Lotus on Vulture Peak, among other Mahayana sutras, or that it was rather a case of later elaborations on the original discourses, surely we're looking at a shift in emphasis if not in doctrine.



But perhaps I'm missing the point of your objection.



Vajradhara said:
on a relative level, descriptions are accurate enough. that does not mean, however, that what those words describe is actually real. for instance the old phrase " a barren womans daughter".



The relative IS the absolute, or at least that's a common reading of Nagarjuna which, with the proper precautions, seems about right.



Vajradhara said:
for what purpose do you think that the concept of skanda is used?



"I teach suffering, and its ending." You know the parable of the raft; you've alluded to the saying about the abandoning of all dharmas, even the best, in the end. Are you putting me through a Buddhist catechism here? :p ;) Evidently the aggregates are pragmatic formulations made for the practical use of loosening our instinctual clinging to this or that aspect of existence. As well, they serve to demonstrate the fundamental nature of that existence, which is interdependence. My point is that we shouldn't mistake these traditional working categories as the last word in the phenomenological analysis of the mind. They are tools to get a job done. The Buddha referred to his dharma as "a handful of leaves". I'd say we have to use our own judgement & experience to explore the rest of the forest, and avoid a too-strict adherence to original formulations. Yes, it's incumbent on us to respect what tradition says. But the forest is infinite, and our explorations can benefit from contributions from all traditions.







Vajradhara said:
in what way do these beings exist?
Vajradhara said:
do they exist in any more substantial way than the Chesire Cat from Alice in Wonderland?




Okay, the short answer is my pragmatic mantra: what makes a difference is a difference. If visualization of the Chesire Cat has any effects in the world or on human behaviour, there you have a measure of its existence. Either/or is the trap that Nagarjuna and other interesting folk in other traditions are offering an escape from. Of course it takes some patience to observe things as they arrive and depart, each in its own unique mode of existence, while suspending judgement.



But again, I'm a little harried at the moment, but I would like to explain myself at a little greater length, when I have a chance. You may still "disagree" but at least you may have a clearer view of what I'm about here.



Cheers.

 

presser_kun

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Wow. You both (Vajradhara and Devatta) are so very far advanced compared to me. I hope to understand enough about Buddhism to discourse with you one day.

My comment here, though I'm sure it must be a simple one, is this:

Vaj said:

i was contrasting the explanation of the Christian view of the self dying with the idea of non-self in the Buddha Dharma.​

Buddhism maintains that there is no self? Why, then do we perceive a self within us?

Thanks in advance for a word of clarification.

peace,

press

p.s. who does believe that the sum total of his experiences are what makes up his "self." What else could there be to my "self"?
 

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presser_kun said:
Wow. You both (Vajradhara and Devatta) are so very far advanced compared to me. I hope to understand enough about Buddhism to discourse with you one day.

I won't speak for Vajra, but me you vastly over-estimate.
Cheers,
Devadatta, Certified Fool
 

Vajradhara

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i am but a bug, knowing nothing.

any benefit a being derives from reading my words is due to their own good karma ripening.

i should like to respond more thoroughly to the posts thus far... however, i won't have the chance to do so until later today or, perhaps, tomorrow.

thanks for your patience.

metta,

~v
 

Amelialee

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Impressive...impressive..I'm glad I got into the forum like that because I definitely have something to say.

As I understand, folks here speak about whether God exists or not.Buut - it doesn't seem that everybody clearly realizes where to go first to find proofs. Christians who believe in the Bible and who live according to It know that the Bible contains all that people are supposed to know and God never revealed to people more than He wanted - as we see in the Bible that not every event was written by scribes. In the very beginning, the verse - "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth". Surely the heavens and the earth are the BIGGEST proofs for existence of God. Our huge earth, the whole beautiful nature, animals, all living beings show the amazing hand of our Creator. Isn't that wonderful?
Why scientists fail in proving God's existence scientifically? Because they don't know where to look for the truth. They dig deeper, they try to prove what they cannot prove by any means creating all kinds of theories,etc. Evolution theory..it's a big mistake in the human history. Many people forget that spiritual things exist on this planet. And they have to mean a lot to us. Faith - spiritual faith that comes from one's heart, NOT from one's mind - because there is no physical faith - was given to us by God. Not everyone has this kind of faith, only those who devote their hearts to God and truly believe that God is alive - He is God of all gods indeed - He keeps everything in His hands - it's His planet, not ours - People decided to go their own way, that means they rebelled against God - as a result: sin - that's what separates people from God, that's why they seek for the most truth and still remain with lots of questions. That's why people don't have faith that comes from heart, faith that can give a true understanding of existence of God. I want to underline, people have faith in mind, but no faith in heart. Is that a problem? Of course, it is.
I think people should start to work spiritually in their hearts. That should be on the first place. That's the key to find a real God's existence and persue even more than that. I got it on my own experience and am really happy about that.
:)
 

Vajradhara

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Namaste Amelialee,

thank you for the post and welcome to the forum. enjoy your stay.


Amelialee said:
As I understand, folks here speak about whether God exists or not.Buut - it doesn't seem that everybody clearly realizes where to go first to find proofs.

proof, as has been mentioned, is a property of alcohol and formal systems, such as logic and maths. what most beings are actually seeking is evidence, which is a different thing than proofs.

Surely the heavens and the earth are the BIGGEST proofs for existence of God.

what does this mean? "surely"? this is, it would seem, an appeal to incredulity.

Our huge earth,

is actually quite tiny and small in a galactic sort of way.

Why scientists fail in proving God's existence scientifically? Because they don't know where to look for the truth.

nah.. mostly God cannot be tested, measured and experimented with, thus, there is no foundation for the scientific method to postulate such an entity. in point of fact, science and religion are rather complementary to each other... one of them is seeking the "how" and the other is seeking the "why".
the only conflict is the mind of individual beings.

They dig deeper, they try to prove what they cannot prove by any means creating all kinds of theories,etc. Evolution theory..it's a big mistake in the human history.

i suspect that you are not understanding how science uses the word "theory" all science deals with are theories... the Theory of Gravity, for instance.. Germ Theory, et al. it is a common enough misconception.

as Dr. Gould explaines:
In the American vernacular, "theory" often means "imperfect fact"—part of a hierarchy of confidence running downhill from fact to theory to hypothesis to guess. Thus creationists can (and do) argue: evolution is "only" a theory, and intense debate now rages about many aspects of the theory. If evolution is less than a fact, and scientists can't even make up their minds about the theory, then what confidence can we have in it? Indeed, President Reagan echoed this argument before an evangelical group in Dallas when he said (in what I devoutly hope was campaign rhetoric): "Well, it is a theory. It is a scientific theory only, and it has in recent years been challenged in the world of science—that is, not believed in the scientific community to be as infallible as it once was."

Well, evolution is a theory. It is also a fact. And facts and theories are different things, not rungs in a hierarchy of increasing certainty. Facts are the world's data. Theories are structures of ideas that explain and interpret facts. Facts do not go away when scientists debate rival theories to explain them. Einstein's theory of gravitation replaced Newton's, but apples did not suspend themselves in mid-air, pending the outcome. And humans evolved from apelike ancestors whether they did so by Darwin's proposed mechanism or by some other, yet to be discovered.

Moreover, "fact" does not mean "absolute certainty." The final proofs of logic and mathematics flow deductively from stated premises and achieve certainty only because they are not about the empirical world. Evolutionists make no claim for perpetual truth, though creationists often do (and then attack us for a style of argument that they themselves favor). In science, "fact" can only mean "confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional assent." I suppose that apples might start to rise tomorrow, but the possibility does not merit equal time in physics classrooms.

http://www.stephenjaygould.org/library/gould_fact-and-theory.html

Many people forget that spiritual things exist on this planet.

and science leaves that to religion to answer and respond to. of course, individual beings can have any combination of views, depending on their own capacity and so forth.

And they have to mean a lot to us. Faith - spiritual faith that comes from one's heart, NOT from one's mind - because there is no physical faith - was given to us by God.

did you know that your heart cannot think? your heart cannot actually have faith since your heart is not sentient. though you feel the experience of faith opening the heart chakra, it is not, in fact, the heart that has faith, it is the mind wherein faith resides.


metta,

~v
 

Vajradhara

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Namaste Devadatta,

thank you for the post.

Devadatta said:
Disagree? Why, I do not accept your disagreement!


it really isn't a matter of your acceptance or denial. the teachings are what they are and this concept is fully articulated in the Pali canon. i usually don't like to quote scripture and all of that, since it is my view that doing so often detracts from the conversation. however, should you desire to verify that Sunyata is a foundational teaching of Buddha Dharma, i can provide the Sutta support for you to do so.

Seriously, I may just have poorly expressed myself on this, because I don't think I'm really saying anything different here.


perhaps... but you expressed yourself rather clearly... at least it appears clear :)

I agree it's possible to find the roots of all apparently later formulations in the fundamental suttas.


fair enough :)

But I believe it's recognized that the early abhidhamma analysis of reality, (which is often styled a kind of "realism") arrives at a basis in dhammas that are thought of as having independent existence, including the unconditioned dhamma of nibbana. On the other hand, later schools like Madyamika hold that no dharma exists from its own side, but only interdependently, up to and including nirvana.


this is one of the main reasons why it is important to understand which philosophical school a particular Buddhist lineage upholds. we've started a bit of a discussion here: http://www.comparative-religion.com/forum/showthread.php?t=719

if you'd like to join it.

Now, whether the Buddha literally preached prajnaparamita, along with the Lotus on Vulture Peak, among other Mahayana sutras, or that it was rather a case of later elaborations on the original discourses, surely we're looking at a shift in emphasis if not in doctrine.


it would seem, to me at least, that this shift in emphasis is due to the Sangha. in particular, as beings become Arhants their practice shifts. nevertheless, this is a rather fine point and discussion which isn't really appropos to this thread, in my view.

But perhaps I'm missing the point of your objection.


re-reading the dialog, i would suppose that i'm objecting to the implication that the teaching of sunyata did not include "no self" prior to the arising of the Mahayana.


The relative IS the absolute, or at least that's a common reading of Nagarjuna which, with the proper precautions, seems about right.


i would whole-heartedly disagree with this view. Arya Nagarjunas oft quoted teaching is that "samsara and nirvana are one and the same." however, Nirvana/Nibbana is not The Absolute.

The Buddha Shakyamuni explains Nirvana in this manner:

'But, Venerable Gotama [the Brahman, Aggivessana Vacchagotta, is addressing the Buddha], the monk whose mind is thus released: Where does he reappear?'

'"Reappear," Vaccha, doesn't apply.'


'In that case, Venerable Gotama, he does not reappear.'

'"Does not reappear," Vaccha, doesn't apply.'

'...both does & does not reappear.' Vaccha, doesn't apply.'

'...neither does nor does not reappear.’ Vaccha, doesn't apply.'...

'At this point, Venerable Gotama, I am befuddled; at this point, confused. The modicum of clarity coming to me from your earlier conversation is now obscured.'

'Of course you're befuddled, Vaccha. Of course you're confused. Deep, Vaccha, is this phenomenon, hard to see, hard to realize, tranquil, refined, beyond the scope of conjecture, subtle, to-be-experienced by the wise. For those with other views, other practices, other satisfactions, other aims, other teachers, it is difficult to know. That being the case, I will now put some questions to you. Answer as you see fit. What do you think, Vaccha: If a fire were burning in front of you, would you know that, "This fire is burning in front of me"?'

'...yes...'

'And suppose someone were to ask you, Vaccha, "This fire burning in front of you, dependent on what is it burning?" Thus asked, how would you reply?'

'...I would reply, "This fire burning in front of me is burning dependent on grass & timber as its sustenance."'

'If the fire burning in front of you were to go out, would you know that "This fire burning in front of me has gone out"?'

'...yes...'

'And suppose someone were to ask you, "This fire that has gone out in front of you, in which direction from here has it gone? East? West? North? Or south?" Thus asked, how would you reply?'

'That doesn't apply, Venerable Gotama. Any fire burning dependent on a sustenance of grass & timber, being unnourished -- from having consumed that sustenance and not being offered any other -- is classified simply as "out" (nibbuto).'

'Even so, Vaccha, any physical form by which one describing the Tathagata would describe him: That the Tathagata has abandoned, its root destroyed, like an uprooted palm tree, deprived of the conditions of existence, not destined for future arising. Freed from the classification of form, Vaccha, the Tathagata is deep, boundless, hard-to-fathom, like the sea. "Reappears" doesn't apply. "Does not reappear" doesn't apply. "Both does & does not reappear" doesn't apply. "Neither reappears nor does not reappear" doesn't apply.

'Any feeling... Any perception... Any mental process...

'Any act of consciousness by which one describing the Tathagata would describe him: That the Tathagata has abandoned... Freed from the classification of consciousness, Vaccha, the Tathagata is deep, boundless, hard-to-fathom, like the sea.'

this is not, however, how the Buddha Shakyamuni engages beings with regards to the Absolute.

suffice it to say that, for the majority of beings, Nirvana/Nibbana is postulated as the 'destination'. once a being has entered extinction, there is something else, if it can be called that in any meaningful sense.

"I teach suffering, and its ending." You know the parable of the raft; you've alluded to the saying about the abandoning of all dharmas, even the best, in the end. Are you putting me through a Buddhist catechism here?


me? :eek:

the difficult part is that some beings feel as if they should abandon the various Dharmas well prior to reaching the Other Shore. they are not likely to make progress on this path without utlizing, to the full extent, the tools that have been provided.

as the famous Zen saying goes... when you first start the practice, mountains are mountains. after some attainment, mountains are not mountains and when a being has full attainment, mountains are mountains once again.

however... it is a vital step, in my view, to go through the second phase of this in an experential manner, if not, the first view and the concluding view may seem to be one and the same, when they are qualitively different.

Evidently the aggregates are pragmatic formulations made for the practical use of loosening our instinctual clinging to this or that aspect of existence. As well, they serve to demonstrate the fundamental nature of that existence, which is interdependence. My point is that we shouldn't mistake these traditional working categories as the last word in the phenomenological analysis of the mind. They are tools to get a job done.


i agree with what you are saying here.

i suppose that my point is, essentially, that whilst these tools must be put down at the correct time, we must use these tools before we can put them down.

i've read a text wherein the arising of each moment of consciousness is broken into 99 discrete elements... these are Buddhists with some time on their hands!

The Buddha referred to his dharma as "a handful of leaves". I'd say we have to use our own judgement & experience to explore the rest of the forest, and avoid a too-strict adherence to original formulations.


according to Buddha Shakyamuni, once we have verified a teaching for ourselves that it is condusive to the welbeing of all, we should put it into practice. as well, he instructs, we should verify our understanding of the teachings with the "wise". he explains this in the Kalama Sutta. who, precisely, are the "wise" in this case?

association with "admirable friends" is considered to be half of the holy life in Buddha dharma. "admirable friends" are, amongst other things, described as thus:

"And through this line of reasoning one may know how admirable friendship, admirable companionship, admirable camaraderie is actually the whole of the holy life: It is in dependence on me as an admirable friend that beings subject to birth have gained release from birth, that beings subject to aging have gained release from aging, that beings subject to death have gained release from death, that beings subject to sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair have gained release from sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair. It is through this line of reasoning that one may know how admirable friendship, admirable companionship, admirable camaraderie is actually the whole of the holy life."

http://accesstoinsight.org/canon/sutta/samyutta/sn45-002.html

Yes, it's incumbent on us to respect what tradition says. But the forest is infinite, and our explorations can benefit from contributions from all traditions.

to a certain extent i agree. however, the Buddha Dharma is unique in this world system and, as such, the other traditions found in this world system can only help in some ways and hinder in others.

i don't advocate an Orthodox, Protestant or Messianic view of the Buddha Dharma to any being. however, it is my feeling that without understanding, correctly, the Orthodox view, ones foundation in the Protestant or Messianic view will not be very firm.

Okay, the short answer is my pragmatic mantra: what makes a difference is a difference. If visualization of the Chesire Cat has any effects in the world or on human behaviour, there you have a measure of its existence.


fair enough.

But again, I'm a little harried at the moment, but I would like to explain myself at a little greater length, when I have a chance. You may still "disagree" but at least you may have a clearer view of what I'm about here.



Cheers.

please do so :) this forum is about communication and sharing our various views of our religious traditions. we do not have to agree to have a productive conversation, in my view.

take your time as well... this thread will be here for the duration, i suspect :)

metta,

~v
 

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Namaste press,

thank you for the post and the kind words.
presser_kun said:
My comment here, though I'm sure it must be a simple one, is this:


Vaj said:



i was contrasting the explanation of the Christian view of the self dying with the idea of non-self in the Buddha Dharma.​



Buddhism maintains that there is no self? Why, then do we perceive a self within us?

Thanks in advance for a word of clarification.

that is a great question. why is there a perception of some sort of seperate "i"? the experience of an experiencer apart from the experience, as it were.

generally speaking, the Buddha Dharma takes two views in it's explanations... explanations for non-Buddhists and explanations for Buddhists. the main difference in these two is the skillful means by which Buddha Shakyamuni explained things.

that being said... simplistically, the reason that there is this sense of a seperate "i" is due to a fundamental ignorance, an inability to recognize (if you will) the reality of suchness, as is. this is a special sort of ignorance in Buddha Dharma, not really a lack of knowledge, rather, a lack of experience is what is really being intimated. these sorts of things become a bit more clear, in my view, when we have a chance to read the Sanskrit or Pali canons.

our minds tend to think (without training otherwise) in a subject/object dichotomy.. our very language is tied to this same dichotomy, for what it is worth. Buddhism can get very detailed in its explanation of psychological phemonena, as such, i shant do so here.

along with this fundamental ignorance concerning the nature of reality and our subject/object thinking style, the other primary factor in feeling a sense of 'self' is the ego.

we could probably say something like this:

a sense of self is an imputation of the ego onto a reality which does not operate in a subject/object manner leading to an ignorance of the nature of reality.

of course.. there is nothing like summing up 2,500 years of psychological work in one sentence :)

metta,

~v
 

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Vajradhara said:
it really isn't a matter of your acceptance or denial. the teachings are what they are and this concept is fully articulated in the Pali canon. i usually don't like to quote scripture and all of that, since it is my view that doing so often detracts from the conversation. however, should you desire to verify that Sunyata is a foundational teaching of Buddha Dharma, i can provide the Sutta support for you to do so.

I was only trying to be funny - and apparently failing! No, disagreement is not an issue. I'm aware of the suttas you refer to here - at least the versions in the the Majjhiima, which is on my shelf. There's a certain amount of dance involved when we generalize from the same textual base, but following a different slant on things, rooted in our slightly different mentalities.


Vajradhara said:
this is one of the main reasons why it is important to understand which philosophical school a particular Buddhist lineage upholds. we've started a bit of a discussion here:
Vajradhara said:


I have noticed this thread before, and have read various accounts over the years of their development, for example, in Conze. At the moment at least other than the broad distinction between the early abhidhamma on the one hand and the mind-only and Madhaymika on the other hand I'm not much concerned with this history.

Vajradhara said:
it would seem, to me at least, that this shift in emphasis is due to the Sangha. in particular, as beings become Arhants their practice shifts. nevertheless, this is a rather fine point and discussion which isn't really appropos to this thread, in my view.

Yes, the non-historical nature of the Mahayana sutras was not much to the point. That was only a speculative gambit on my part exploring just how traditional a view you were taking on the compiling of the canon.

Vajradhara said:
re-reading the dialog, i would suppose that i'm objecting to the implication that the teaching of sunyata did not include "no self" prior to the arising of the Mahayana.

Ah, so there in fact was a clarity problem, either in the writing or the reading. My point was the exact opposite: the non-self had by far a deeper pedigree at least in terms of editorial space in the Pali Canon than did sunnata, which was the great motif of the Mahayana. Incidently, for me the distinction between Theravada and Mahayana is not fundamentally about the bodhisattava ideal, as is mentioned so often, but about a development from the abc's of escape from suffering to an exploration and textual elaboration of the meaning of enlightenment itself.

Vajradhara said:
i would whole-heartedly disagree with this view. Arya Nagarjunas oft quoted teaching is that "samsara and nirvana are one and the same." however, Nirvana/Nibbana is not The Absolute.

Agreed.

Vajradhara said:
i suppose that my point is, essentially, that whilst these tools must be put down at the correct time, we must use these tools before we can put them down.

Agreed.

Vajradhara said:
to a certain extent i agree. however, the Buddha Dharma is unique in this world system and, as such, the other traditions found in this world system can only help in some ways and hinder in others.

I'd only add this: my sense that the other great traditions taken in their totality point to the same reality, i.e., that the right individuals can get "there" in these other traditions. At the same time, I agree with the basic Buddhist position that all metaphysics, all our tendencies to reify experience form a hindrance to be overcome. I guess I would revert back to your previous point about being able to pick up the right tools at the right time. The right people, with the right preparation, can use these traditions. Why would they do so, from a Buddhist point of view? Simply because they may be traditions they were raised with and are accessible to them. The Dalai Lama goes almost this far, as you proably know, but as a Buddhist he may stop short of affirming the possibility of full and perfect enlightenment within a non-Buddhist tradition. That, as I undersand it, is the traditional Buddhist position.

Vajradhara said:
i don't advocate an Orthodox, Protestant or Messianic view of the Buddha Dharma to any being. however, it is my feeling that without understanding, correctly, the Orthodox view, ones foundation in the Protestant or Messianic view will not be very firm.

I would feel bady if I thought I've pushed you into being a defender of the faith. Take a look at the thread I've started in the Buddhism forum to understand the way I prefer to cognize these things. I'm impatient with docrinal formulations - even ones I agree with - a loose canon and a born heretic - hence my namesake. You'll recall of course that while Devadatta was a villain in the Pali Canon, the Lotus tells us that he once taught the Buddha everything he knew - probably by providing all the bad examples!

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Vajradhara said:
i would whole-heartedly disagree with this view. Arya Nagarjunas oft quoted teaching is that "samsara and nirvana are one and the same." however, Nirvana/Nibbana is not The Absolute.

In my last reply I put agreed to this, but I misread what you're were saying, so I've gone back to check your previous post. The original distinction you made was between "relative" and "actually real", so nirvana was not directly in play at that juncture. Of course, I probably shouldn't have employed the word "absolute" which is even more slippery than most words. I should perhaps have used the word "ultimate". The ultimate nature of all dharmas is emptiness; the conventional nature of all dharmas is dependent origination, or interdependence. "Conventional" and "ultimate", "emptiness" and "dependent origination" are in the end identical. Now, in the Mahayana, nirvana is also spoken of as synonymous with emptiness - the Lotus says that all dharmas from the beginning are ever of the nature of nirvana - and so this is how I suppose you slid from "actually real" to "nirvana".

So I think the misunderstanding flowed from these too errors - your premature equivalence of "actually real" and "nirvana", and my use of the word "absolute". In fact, "absolute" should probably be left out of Buddhist discussions altogether, as it's much more appropriate to substantialist philosophies than to buddhadharma.


Vajradhara said:
i don't advocate an Orthodox, Protestant or Messianic view of the Buddha Dharma to any being. however, it is my feeling that without understanding, correctly, the Orthodox view, ones foundation in the Protestant or Messianic view will not be very firm.

This kind of slid past me the first time. What do you mean by Orthodox, Protestant and Messianic as applied to Buddhism?

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Namaste Devadatta,

thank you for the post.


Devadatta said:
I was only trying to be funny - and apparently failing! No, disagreement is not an issue. I'm aware of the suttas you refer to here - at least the versions in the the Majjhiima, which is on my shelf.


humor can be hard to detect across the internet, i've discovered :) perhaps we need more emoticons here?

There's a certain amount of dance involved when we generalize from the same textual base, but following a different slant on things, rooted in our slightly different mentalities.

to an extent, i agree with this view. i don't suppose that i would term it a "dance" which has the connotation of "dancing around the issue" which usually means that people are not being honest or forthright in their responses. i gather that this is not your use of the term in this instance.

I have noticed this thread before, and have read various accounts over the years of their development, for example, in Conze.


totally outside the scope of our conversation, however, i've found Conzes' translations to be somewhat influenced by his own understanding of the practice outside of the traditional understandings. nevertheless, this is just a bias of mine, i suspect.

Yes, the non-historical nature of the Mahayana sutras was not much to the point. That was only a speculative gambit on my part exploring just how traditional a view you were taking on the compiling of the canon.

i generally hold to a traditional view, by which i mean a Hinyana view of the basis of the praxis, in my discussions with beings. even though i practice in the Mahayana, it is part of the teachings in my particular school that before one can actually practice the Mahayana, one needs to have a certain amount of understanding and realization in the Hinyana, wether in this arising or a previous one.

Ah, so there in fact was a clarity problem, either in the writing or the reading.


probably the reading!

My point was the exact opposite: the non-self had by far a deeper pedigree at least in terms of editorial space in the Pali Canon than did sunnata, which was the great motif of the Mahayana. Incidently, for me the distinction between Theravada and Mahayana is not fundamentally about the bodhisattava ideal, as is mentioned so often, but about a development from the abc's of escape from suffering to an exploration and textual elaboration of the meaning of enlightenment itself.

my understanding between the Hinyana and Mahayana is pinned to the changes to the Vinya, in particular, the minor rules which were to be relaxed after Buddha Shakyamunis paranirvana.

i've elaborated a bit more on my view, such that it is, in the "Buddhist response to Dr. Naik" thread, should you be interested in taking a peek :)

I'd only add this: my sense that the other great traditions taken in their totality point to the same reality, i.e., that the right individuals can get "there" in these other traditions. At the same time, I agree with the basic Buddhist position that all metaphysics, all our tendencies to reify experience form a hindrance to be overcome. I guess I would revert back to your previous point about being able to pick up the right tools at the right time. The right people, with the right preparation, can use these traditions. Why would they do so, from a Buddhist point of view? Simply because they may be traditions they were raised with and are accessible to them. The Dalai Lama goes almost this far, as you proably know, but as a Buddhist he may stop short of affirming the possibility of full and perfect enlightenment within a non-Buddhist tradition. That, as I undersand it, is the traditional Buddhist position.


indeed. from a technical point of view, religious traditions that espouse a valid moral and ethical path are considered to be Spiritual Refuges. however, in the traditional sense, Buddhism is the Final Spiritual Refuge.

traditionally speaking, the ability to practice the Dharma is dependent on ones capacities. beings are unique in their capacities, as such, some beings cannot practice the Buddha Dharma, even though they may desire to do so.

i suspect that, in the final analysis, there are two operative views in this regard. and, it would appear, that we have those two views :)

I would feel bady if I thought I've pushed you into being a defender of the faith. Take a look at the thread I've started in the Buddhism forum to understand the way I prefer to cognize these things. I'm impatient with docrinal formulations - even ones I agree with - a loose canon and a born heretic - hence my namesake. You'll recall of course that while Devadatta was a villain in the Pali Canon, the Lotus tells us that he once taught the Buddha everything he knew - probably by providing all the bad examples!

Cheers.

Buddha Dharma does not, fortunately, rise or fall predicated on any particular verbalisations and so forth. so, i don't really feel like i'm "defending the faith" so to speak. i've taken the advice of different capacities to heart and thus, it is of little concern if a being engages the Dharma through any of the Three Vehicles or any combination thereof. my, individual, practice is actually a mix of practices from all Three Vehicles, though the bulk of them are from the Vajrayana view.

metta,

~v
 

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Devadatta said:
This kind of slid past me the first time. What do you mean by Orthodox, Protestant and Messianic as applied to Buddhism?

Cheers

Namaste Devadatta,

it can help for non-Buddhists with a Christian background to get a handle on some of the differences between the Three Vehicles, in my view.

actually, i saw this for the first time when i read a Thurman translation of a Vajrayana text and i, personally, found it very odd to hear. however, i do understand the utility of using terms that have an understood meaning... especially when it comes to distinctions within a singular religous paradigm.

i suppose that, if there is interest, i could post up something that elaborates a bit more on how these categories could be applied to Buddhist thought.. however, that seems like a rather academic exercise and not much of a conversational bit.

metta,

~v
 

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Vajradhara said:
totally outside the scope of our conversation, however, i've found Conzes' translations to be somewhat influenced by his own understanding of the practice outside of the traditional understandings. nevertheless, this is just a bias of mine, i suspect.

Well, no, I think what you're saying is less bias than a recognition that Conze properly speaking belongs to the "Asian Studies" strand of transmission, if I can coin that expression. He's a Western scholar by definition looking in from the outside. No one would dispute that Conze couldn't help but deviate to some degree from tradition. The question is how that tradition is defined and whether Conze's representations of it presented any serious problems. I think it's fair to say that your view of tradition is more delimited than mine, and hence you are more likely to take exception to his colourings than I would be. It's not bias but perspective.

Vajradhara said:
i generally hold to a traditional view, by which i mean a Hinyana view of the basis of the praxis, in my discussions with beings. even though i practice in the Mahayana, it is part of the teachings in my particular school that before one can actually practice the Mahayana, one needs to have a certain amount of understanding and realization in the Hinyana, wether in this arising or a previous one.

I would call that the traditional understanding altogether, which recognizes the fundamental nature of the discourses of the Nikayas or Agamas. The only difference being that some Theravadin practioners may question the authenticity or necessity of the later parts of the canon, while Mahayanists look to them for ultimate meanings and consider the earlier sutras provisional. Even a heretic like me recognizes that the early sutras are where you must grapple with the dharma before anything that follows makes any sense.

But it interests me that you use the term "Hinayana". It's a term as you know that's used polemically in some sutras, is not much in favour among Theravadins, and can mislead the uninitiated in the first approach to the canon. I'm guessing your use of the term follows from your readings in the Tibetan tradition. And this points to another condition of our differing perspectives, since I have read very little in that tradition or in the Vajrayana.


Vajradhara said:
my understanding between the Hinyana and Mahayana is pinned to the changes to the Vinya, in particular, the minor rules which were to be relaxed after Buddha Shakyamunis paranirvana.

Again, that is the traditional line of demarcation or point of divergence cited by all the histories. I was referring to later attempts to give a basic explanation for the obviously huge shift in style & emphasis between the Pali Canon and later Mahayana sutras. Leaving aside the official views, I was drawing on my own sense, from my own readings, of the patently contrasting impulses underlying the two classes of text. (I'll check out the Dr. Naik thread you mentioned.)

Vajradhara said:
. from a technical point of view, religious traditions that espouse a valid moral and ethical path are considered to be Spiritual Refuges. however, in the traditional sense, Buddhism is the Final Spiritual Refuge..
i suspect that, in the final analysis, there are two operative views in this regard. and, it would appear, that we have those two views

It's interesting. Here is where we meet the Buddhist "bottom line" as it were. One of my attractions to Buddhism is that it takes so long to get there, whereas in some other traditions one is put on notice from the getgo!

However, you've read in the Pali Canon no doubt what are essentially polemical dismissals of all those wrong view out there, beginning with the Brahmajala Sutta, and running through all those benighted Brahmans, Niganthas, Skeptics, etc. I think the refuting of the skeptic - in the Digha or Majjhima, I forget which - was a particularly blatant exercise in sophistry by whoever composed this sutta. My point is that the Buddhist tradition starts off with an excellent point about the danger and perhaps ultimate futility of all metaphysical assertions, but goes on to misrepesent and over-simplify in the usual ways the positions of its opponents. At this juncture in history this hardly seems sustainable. I mean take a peak into Meister Eckhart, Shankara, or the Kabbalah, and you might find much that's useless or a hindrance from your point of view, but to say that these gambits, that so much mirror Buddhist gambits, are incapable of leading to a similar state of enlightenment is simply not supportable, in my view. It's only support is a kind of faith-based belief in essence no different than "Jesus is the one and only son of God", or that "there is no God but God, and Muhammed is his final and most perfect prophet".

I know we've reached a point where I can speak freely and you won't misunderstand my motives.

Cheers.
 
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