are 'atheists' taking over buddhism?

Discussion in 'Eastern Religions and Philosophies' started by _Z_, May 27, 2007.

  1. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    ~*-,._.,-*~'`^`'~*-,._.,-*~'`^`'~*-,._.,-*~'`^`'~*-,._.,-*~'`^`'~*-,._.,-*~

    Mind,

    Forgive me for using Mahayana spellings like Nirvana instead of Nibbana.

    Do you you see Enlightenment and Nirvana as the same thing? (I do not.)

    Hey, Vajradhara, do you see a difference between Enlightenment and Nirvana?
     
  2. MindFreak666

    MindFreak666 New Member

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    hi Nick, No I dont believe they are the same. As I said enlightenment, or awakening, is the initial experience and nirvana is the state that one is in after the experience.
     
  3. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    ~*-,._.,-*~'`^`'~*-,._.,-*~'`^`'~*-,._.,-*~'`^`'~*-,._.,-*~'`^`'~*-,._.,-*~

    Mind,

    Is there a Theravdan equivalent for a Bodhisattva, a person who achieves Enlightenment, yet forsakes Nirvana in order to stay here in the physical world and help people?
     
  4. MindFreak666

    MindFreak666 New Member

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    Well in the theravadan scriptures, the word bodhisattva is used quite often to describe someone who is on the path, searching for "bodhi". It does not talk about putting off final nibbana to help others but because not everyone will put off nibbana to help others perhaps the teachings in the pali canon are just meant for getting everyone to reach "awakening" without worrying what they will do after. Im not that familiar with the Mahayana scriptures you'll have to excuse me.
     
  5. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    Mind,

    Oh, OK. A Bodhisattva in Mahayana is just like I said, a person who forsakes Nirvana in order to stay here in the physical world and help people. It is a key teaching in Mahayana. It is common in some traditions within Mahayana for members to take what is called the Bodhisattva Vow.

    As long as there is suffering
    As long as there are sentient beings in the 6 realms
    May I never attain Enlightenment
    And never cross over into Nirvana

    By the way, they seem to view Enlightenment as just the first moment of awakening, and Nirvana as a continuing state thereafter, just as you do.

    It has been said the Bodhisattva Vow is one of the key differences between Theravada and Mahayana.
     
  6. MindFreak666

    MindFreak666 New Member

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    Yes I am familiar with the vows, and some of the basic differences between the two, I just havent studied the scriptures as much as I have the theravadan scriptures.
     
  7. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Namaste Nick,

    thank you for the post

    which is good since Buddha Dharma is not monotheistic. there are other options there.. polytheism and henotheism to name a few and given the lucidity of the other teachings one would tend to think that if Buddha Shakyamuni were intent on teaching the worship of beings, he would have done so.

    however, it would be strange to simply leave the subject of a Creator Deity out of the discussion as that was the culture millieu into which he arose. more tellingly, however, is that his critiques of the myth of a Creator God are philosophical rejections directed to the philosophical Vedanta traditions that had arisen at that time.



    i'm saying that the Suttas are not silent about this subject in the manner in which is it oft portrayed.

    within the cultural millieu in which Buddha Shakyamuni arose, deities were part of everyday life.. not some far in the future afterlife state.. deities were involved with humans, to varying degrees, on an daily basis so i think that the view that deities are only in the afterlife is an artifact from non-Buddhist philosophical traditions.

    i'm unaware of a single Buddhist text which supports the idea of a single Creator Deity from which all things issue forth.


    not even a little bit. in point of fact, you will never find the term "enlightenment" in the Buddhist Tipitaka as it simply isn't present.

    in any event, when Buddhism was introduced to the West it was during the period of Western history called "The Enlightenment" period which placed an emphasis on scientific rationality. in order to make it more palatable to the rationalistic beings of that time, the word 'enlightenment' got stuck to it and there it is.

    interestingly, the term Enlightenment has two distinct meanings in English:

    Enlightenment (or brightening) broadly means the acquisition of new wisdom or understanding enabling clarity of perception. However, the English word covers two concepts which can be quite distinct: religious or spiritual enlightenment (German: Erleuchtung) and secular or intellectual enlightenment (German: Aufklärung). This can cause confusion, since those who claim intellectual enlightenment often reject spiritual concepts altogether.

    Enlightenment (concept - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)



    what do you not agree with? that there are teachings which beings do not accept as "authentic" teachings of the Buddha because they deal with topics such as rebirth? If so, i would point you to a book called "Buddhsim without Beliefs" and several other popular books written by Western rationalist Buddhists.

    Buddha Dharma does *not* teach physical rebirth.
    oh i quite agree there.

    that rebirth isn't a correct teaching, for instance. that karma means 'you reap what you so' and so forth.

    not in the least.

    yes.

    metta,

    ~v
     
  8. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Namaste Francis,

    thank you for the post.

    indeed.

    no value in worshipping or praying to beings that are in, essentially, the same condition as we.

    as for not mentioning such things, there are several Suttas which relate the Buddhas views regarding deities and his interaction with them, here's an excerpt from the DN 11, the Kevatta Sutta:

    "Once, Kevatta, this train of thought arose in the awareness of a certain monk in this very community of monks: 'Where do these four great elements — the earth property, the liquid property, the fire property, and the wind property — cease without remainder?'


    Then he attained to such a state of concentration that the way leading to the gods appeared in his centered mind. So he approached the gods of the retinue of the Four Great Kings and, on arrival, asked them, 'Friends, where do these four great elements — the earth property, the liquid property, the fire property, and the wind property — cease without remainder?'

    "When this was said, the gods of the retinue of the Four Great Kings said to the monk, 'We also don't know where the four great elements... cease without remainder. But there are the Four Great Kings who are higher and more sublime than we. They should know where the four great elements... cease without remainder.'

    "So the monk approached the Four Great Kings and, on arrival, asked them, 'Friends, where do these four great elements... cease without remainder?'
    "When this was said, the Four Great Kings said to the monk, 'We also don't know where the four great elements... cease without remainder. But there are the gods of the Thirty-three who are higher and more sublime than we. They should know...'

    "So the monk approached the gods of the Thirty-three and, on arrival, asked them, 'Friends, where do these four great elements... cease without remainder?'

    "When this was said, the gods of the Thirty-three said to the monk, 'We also don't know where the four great elements... cease without remainder. But there is Sakka, the ruler of the gods, who is higher and more sublime than we. He should know... '

    "So the monk approached Sakka, the ruler of the gods, and, on arrival, asked him, 'Friend, where do these four great elements... cease without remainder?'
    "When this was said, Sakka, the ruler of the gods, said to the monk, 'I also don't know where the four great elements... cease without remainder. But there are the Yama gods who are higher and more sublime than I. They should know...'

    which concludes with:

    "Then — just as a strong man might extend his flexed arm or flex his extended arm — the monk disappeared from the Brahma world and immediately appeared in front of me. Having bowed down to me, he sat to one side. As he was sitting there he said to me, 'Lord, where do these four great elements — the earth property, the liquid property, the fire property, and the wind property — cease without remainder?'

    ....

    "'Your question should not be phrased in this way: Where do these four great elements — the earth property, the liquid property, the fire property, and the wind property — cease without remainder? Instead, it should be phrased like this:
    Where do water, earth, fire, & wind
    have no footing?
    Where are long & short,
    coarse & fine,
    fair & foul,
    name & form
    brought to an end?
    "'And the answer to that is:
    Consciousness without feature, without end,
    luminous all around:
    Here water, earth, fire, & wind
    have no footing.
    Here long & short
    coarse & fine
    fair & foul
    name & form
    are all brought to an end.
    With the cessation of [the activity of] consciousness
    each is here brought to an end.'"

    DN 11: Kevatta (Kevaddha) Sutta

    metta,

    ~v
     
  9. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Re: ~*-,._.,-*~'`^`'~*-,._.,-*~'`^`'~*-,._.,-*~'`^`'~*-,._.,-*~'`^`'~*-,._.,-*~

    Namaste Nick,

    thank you for the post.

    yes. one is the equillivent experience of arriving whilst the other is the equillivent experience of dwelling.

    metta,

    ~v
     
  10. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Re: ~*-,._.,-*~'`^`'~*-,._.,-*~'`^`'~*-,._.,-*~'`^`'~*-,._.,-*~'`^`'~*-,._.,-*~

    Namaste Nick,

    thank you for the post.

    the Theavedan tradition contains the teachings of the Bodhisattva and there is no equillivent of this being. in the Theravedan Suttas, Buddha Shakyamuni describes his past arising as a Bodhisattva.

    metta,

    ~v
     
  11. Snoopy

    Snoopy Active Member

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    Interesting stuff!

    Being somewhat interested in the dharma I’m currently half way through a book called Gem in the Lotus: The Seeding of Indian Civilisation by Abraham Eraly. It details Indian development in its religious, cultural and social traditions spanning the very earliest centuries of the Indus civilisation through to 3 BCE and the reign of King Asoka, thus covering the periods before, during and after the life of the Buddha. Apart from it being triffically interesting, this thread made me think of a consistent theme of the book. That is, the great works of this civilisation (specifically the Vedas, Brahmanas and Upanishads) appear, at least from this book, to be internally inconsistent and, since they span such a long time, to change in quite fundamental ways over time (e.g. the status of gods, the nature of the universe etc). As one might expect with such ancient texts they are also very confusing even to the “experts” who often interpret them to mean quite different things. A couple of short quotes (picked out quite quickly) hopefully provides just a flavour of what I mean:

    “Not all the Vedic sages were happy with the disorderly, polytheistic promiscuity of the Vedic pantheon, and there are in the Rig-veda occasional expressions of monotheism, even of pantheistic monism, such as would be expounded in the Upanishads a few centuries later.”

    “The Upanishads are like a lush but wild and untended grove, marked by great profusion but not much harmony. They are exploratory works, so there are considerable divergences in the expositions of different Upanishads, divergences even within a single Upanishad.”

    Add to this the fact that many of the texts, like the Buddha’s words, were not recorded until centuries later and, I think it reminds me to take all supposed “facts” gleaned from ye olde texts (whether the suttas, the Vedas or the Bible) to be taken with a goodly pinch of salt! The world that the Buddha lived in is a world that can only be pieced together very tentatively. I hope this appears vaguely relevant to the thread in general, at least that was my intention! Perhaps more of a general observation....

    s.
     
  12. _Z_

    _Z_ from far far away

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    nick hi

    no actually i consider them to be essentially the same > nirvana = bliss and hence the experience, infinity = the actual, the nature. like a human is energy and self, nirvana would be infinity and bliss. i see it as the primary nature of all things - in its incomparative form, you see people usually think of infinity as something bigger than big y’know, whereas i see it as sizeless and dimensionless, the place between all opposites and the essence of the egyptian ma’at [balance].

    so perhaps rather than being a ‘place’ it is placeless?

    really? that is a difficult one, i know that when one goes into the void we still feel like who we are, and that place is undifferentiated. perhaps it is in a sense womb like with the essence of all beings hidden therein. hmm but this discription is of the druidic crone impersonified - like a female version of brahman. thus i would think that nirvana is perhaps one on from there - as like the divine centre [caugant], although hindus would probably dissagree, as brahman state is like nirvana - i think?
    The way I see it, in Nirvana, all separateness is removed, and I become you
    or we become ‘the you’, as in we never really existed to begin with, what we think of as the ‘you’ is the same thing from different perspectives. hmm nah i don’t buy that i see it more hand in glove, what occurs in this world is the glove and what we truly are is the hand, there is always a spark or essence of individuality - such is the paradox of it all, by this i mean that true and absolute oneness cannot be arrived at because there is everythingness and hence things, thus perfection and statelessness never occur and the two contrasting essences of existence i.e. the transient and the still are within each other.

    vaj, hello
    can you point me to the texts where buddha refuted the creator - i would love to know so i can get my head around the whole thing :confused::). for me i can connect nirvana and god the creator by alluding them to the infinite. you see things are manifest all the time, creation is universal and goes beyond linear time the universe itself is born and reborn as we are, it seams to me that with rebirth there is creation [to begin the cycle] and re-creation to renew. i think of this like the pheonix, the ‘soul’ [you] goes through the hall of eternal flame where nothing can pass and all is ‘destroyed’, then as the essence is eternal it is renewed - reborn like the phoenix from the flames. the universe is imo the same it has to terminate and become nothing that it may become again, otherwise we get an infinity paradox [where you cannot have endless finites, as no matter how many there are they remain the same compared to the infinite].
    so in short there are ‘gods’ which are like us, then there is ‘god’ which is an entirely different [beyond infinite] entity altogether and one worth praying to - this doesnt have to be a cap-in-hand thing. it can be a very deep connection with the ultimate being from where we and all things arise.

    oh, would it be to much to ask for a short description of the difference between rebirth and reincarnation? :)

    thanks all - i have read all replies, very interesting!
     
  13. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    Vajradhara, you said,
    "...if Buddha Shakyamuni were intent on teaching the worship of beings, he would have done so."

    --> I think a lot of what Gautama taught was in reaction to the negative things he saw in Hinduism all around him. (Gautama was born in India.) In Hinduism, if you need money, you pray to one of the gods. If you want to go to college, you pray to one of the gods. I think a lot of what Gautama taught was against this. (I think you agreew with me on this one....)
    "...it would be strange to simply leave the subject of a Creator Deity out of the discussion as that was the culture millieu into which he arose."

    --> It seems he did it intentionally.
    "...i'm saying that the Suttas are not silent about this subject in the manner in which is it oft portrayed."

    --> Feel free to give quotes.
    "...the view that deities are only in the afterlife is an artifact from non-Buddhist philosophical traditions."

    --> Do you see us interacting with deities here in the physical world?
    "I thought Buddhism was a religion of enlightenment. --> not even a little bit."

    --> What do you call the event that happened under the Bodhi Tree?
    "what do you not agree with?"

    --> Perhaps I didn't understand what you wrote. I believe that Buddhism teaches physical rebirth, even though millions of Buddhists disagree with me.
    "Buddha Dharma does *not* teach physical rebirth."

    --> OK, now I see where you are coming from.
    "... rebirth isn't a correct teaching, for instance. that karma means 'you reap what you so' and so forth."

    --> I quess we will just agree to disagree on this one. The idea of physical rebirth fits into my belief system quite nicely.
    "This is what Arundale was trying to describe, and his description makes sense to me. Does it make sense to you? --> not in the least."

    --> What, then, do you see as our condition, once we finally leave the physical world behind forever?
    "have you read the Buddhas words on this topic? --> Do you mean Buddha's descriptions of Nirvana? --> yes."
    --> I have read the Theosophical versions of what he is supposed to have said.
     
  14. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    Vajradhara, we discussed:
    "Enlightenment and Nirvana? --> one is the equillivent experience of arriving whilst the other is the equillivent experience of dwelling."
    --> Thanks for sharing that. I see the two as quite different. I see Nirvana as a "place," while most Buddhists see it as more of a change of how we perceive this world, or perhaps a change of attitude.
    "the Theavedan tradition contains the teachings of the Bodhisattva and there is no equillivent of this being. in the Theravedan Suttas, Buddha Shakyamuni describes his past arising as a Bodhisattva."
    --> You lost me on this one. How can there be no teaching called Bodhisattva, yet Gautama had previously been a Bodhisattva?
     
  15. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    Snoopy, you mentioned the gem in the lotus, which is a common Hindu (and Buddhist?) concept. I wanted to share one thing. According to my belief system, the gem in the lotus is exactly the same thing as what Christians are referring to, when they say "The Father and I are one." This shows a deep commonality between the two religions that most people are not aware of.
    "...it reminds me to take all supposed “facts” gleaned from ye olde texts (whether the suttas, the Vedas or the Bible) to be taken with a goodly pinch of salt!"
    --> I agree. All religions (and the scriptures they come from) tend to get changed over the centuries. The creeping in of dogmatic thinking (and scripture-changing) over the centuries is something we need to anticipate and expect.
     
  16. Francis king

    Francis king New Member

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    but surely these four kings were simply the elements themselves, the personification of wind, water, air, earth, etc..?

    regardless, yes, there are plenty of sutras that mention the gods, of course, but these are not classed as definitive sutras- they do not deal with the four seals, they do not expound vinaya, they supposedly have little merit, in an intellectual buddhist sense, as they tell u little of buddhism...

    if in India Buddha is speaking to Brahma, and in China he is speaking with the seven heavenly kings, or in Japan he is speaking to the four kings, can we not see that, much as occurred in Catholicism with the creation of saints this is nothing more than evidence of how Buddhism spread and attempted to sublimate the older deities into the buddhist pantheon? "Even your old Gods bow to the new God", et cetera...

    St Patrick is a roman general, and moves to Scotland but becomes the patron saint of Ireland, Brahma becomes Avalokitesvara, Avalokitesvara becomes Quan Yin, etc etc...all religions do this, and we should not be too quick to assume that these texts are actually buddhist, in the strictest sense... what do they tell us of buddhist doctrine? very little, although they look nice, don't they...?

    Buddha wasn't from the priestly caste- his caste was ksatriya, the warriors and kings, so he wasn't a priest... warriors fought, protected the ppl, kept order, etc, their dharma wasn't to sit in the woods... sanniyasins and aranyakas sat in the woods, and so, perhaps he was a sanniyasin, a renunciant, maybe he was an aranyaka, a forest dweller? yes, although his forests were various lush parks given to him by rich folks, he still sat in the woods... just like the others who were doing the same... now, why did these folks take themselves off to the woods and seek out a guru to teach them?

    because they were looking for enlightenment and union with God...

    of course, there wasn't just the one kind of holy man, or one God to follow, but it is said that Buddha sat in the woods, and it also says that he performed tapas, austerities, generating the mental and physical fire, fasting, covering urself in ash, meditating for hours, and punishing the body, as this was traditional practises for the yogi...

    so, if there was no enlightenment to look for, why sit in the woods and live like a beggar? To me, its obvious that Buddha found this enlightenment, and yet what he had to say was different from what was spoken of by the other aranyakas, who, if we are to believe the brhad aranyaka upanisad, were appalled by the state of the current forms of religion and viewed most of its rituals as empty, showy things and it's gurus and priests as fakes... to retreat back to the woods to seek union with ur God, this was rebellious... u did not go to temple to worship the Gods, nor did u seek out a sadhu to bless u and maybe teach u vedanta, mantra, yantra, tantra, instead, u went off to do it by urself for urself...

    the upanisads I think are important to buddhists because they give u some insight into the cultural millieu of Buddha himself... and I am not the only one to think this... in The Principle Upanisads, edited by Radhakrishnan, 1953, published by george allen and unwin, the editor says...

    "the upanisads represent a great chapter in the history of the human spirit and have dominated Indian philosophy, religion and life for three thousand years... their thought by itself and though Buddhism influencedeven in ancient times the cultural life of other nations far beyond the boundaries of India..."

    so, I am not the only one to think Buddha may have been influenced by the upanisadic philosophies...

    the brhad aranyaka upanisad is a good place to start- one of the earliest upanisads and dated at approx 8BC, 300 or so years before the Buddha (aprox 5BC)...

    it deals with- the basic identity of the individual and universal self, philosophical justification of the teachings, certain modes of meditation and worship, the three stages of religious life, hearing the teachings, logical reflection, and contemplatative meditation...

    ...much as buddhism does, although the focus is different, much as I would expect it to be... this is I think why buddhism is viewed by some as unorthodox vedanta, because both forms are similiar...

    and of course, they would be, as they come from the same place...

    much like christianity and judaism are Islam are similiar...

    while I am a mystic type who believes in mahasiddhas and sunyata I do not believe that Buddha sat about talking to Brahma and I don't believe that Nagarjuna spoke to the serpent kings who lived under the sea... rather, I think these childish stories are either- deliberate fakes and a way to hide the old Gods in a new church to appease the peasants, or must be viewed as metaphors, allegories, a clumsy human attempt to describe something which is beyond the range of most of humanity...
     
  17. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    Z, you said,
    "...actually i consider them to be essentially the same...."

    --> That is a fascinating idea. I do not see them as the same. I see Nirvana as just another step between here and ... whatever is above Nirvana. Buddhism and Hinduism use the word Paranirvana (Parinirvana), which shows that even these two philosophies see something else after Nirvana.
    "yet not a loss of self-identity --> really? that is a difficult one...."

    --> It is a difficult concept to comprehend. I believe Nirvana means all sense of separateness disappears, there is no distinction between you and me, yet I am still aware of me, and you of you.
    "...as brahman state is like nirvana - i think?"

    --> I can only give you the Theosophical answer to your question. Brahman is completely different than Nirvana. According to Theosophy, Nirvana is only one more step up a ladder, while Brahma is the ultimate top of that ladder. No, that is wrong, Brahma is beyond any top of any ladder.
    "...i see it more hand in glove, what occurs in this world is the glove and what we truly are is the hand, there is always a spark or essence of individuality...."

    --> I think we agree on this. The difference is individuality vs. non-separateness, which is a hard concept to get across.
    "...i can connect nirvana and god the creator by alluding them to the infinite."

    --> I just wanted to throw in one idea -- an Almighty God cannot be infinite. I believe this is what the Buddhists are saying.
    "...i think of this like the pheonix...."

    --> The phoenix has long been a symbol of reincarnation.
    "...otherwise we get an infinity paradox...."

    --> The finite mind cannot understand the infinite. When I try to do so, my brain gets all tied up in knots. This is why Buddhism de-emphazes what happened billions of years ago, de-emphasizes what will happen billions of years from now, and only concentrates on the here and now.
    "the difference between rebirth and reincarnation?"
    --> Buddhists do not believe in a soul, while Christians do. Buddhists says reincarnation refers to the rebirth of a soul, so they use the word rebirth, which refers to a soulless rebirth. (I believe in reincarnation, which automatically makes me neither a Christian nor a Buddhist.)
     
  18. Snoopy

    Snoopy Active Member

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    OK I promise this is my last quote from Gem in the Lotus:

    "The defining characteristic of the age was rationalism, not faith, and the greatest religious reformers of the age - Buddha, Mahavira and Gosala - were all rationalists, who ignored or rejected the concept of god and the authority of the Vedas."

    s.
     
  19. _Z_

    _Z_ from far far away

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    nick, hi and thanks for the reply
    why not? if we can belong to it in our ‘non-separateness’ we only have to take a logical step from we the singular but centralised to ‘god’ the singular and whole. in other words if you have us as indistinct [non-separate], then why not a universal version? for me it is all as simple as a point on a piece of paper, you have any given being or particle as ‘the point’, then you have infinity X the entire and whole being see as ‘the paper’.
    our minds are universal and hence belong to both the infinite and the finite. for me imagining the infinite is the same as imagining stillness and emptiness. perhaps this is just our different perceptions as i agree about being in the here and now, i just like that ‘now’ to be universal and all-encompassing.
    ha me too! i think there is a universal process to the acorn and the oak, whereby we are the seed which is the eternal [the atom self as i alluded to before] which can grow and change into any living thing over time. this is of course only a description, when we consider reincarnation for e.g. plankton and yeasts, then it is a very simple process more like rebirth. as for souls, well i feel that humanity obviously ‘existed’ before they became actual i.e. before apes evolved into them, everything has its eternal essence and universal nature [as described in my ‘the humanative’ thread]. thus the soul connects to its form as and when they are born and equally when the evolve.
    all i know is that the ‘you’ can exist outside of the human form astrally, so we apparenly do have extraneous 'bodies' or souls.

    strangely i think both rebirth and reincarnation are both true in a way.
     
  20. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    ~*-,._.,-*~'`^`'~*-,._.,-*~'`^`'~*-,._.,-*~'`^`'~*-,._.,-*~'`^`'~*-,._.,-*~

    Z, We discussed,
    "...an Almighty God cannot be infinite. --> why not?"

    --> This is a very complicated topic, but I will throw out a couple of ideas. First, please describe Almighty God for me. What attributes do you attribute to Him?
    "our minds are universal and hence belong to both the infinite and the finite."

    --> My mind is definitely limited by its finiteness.
    "...when we consider reincarnation for e.g. plankton and yeasts, then it is a very simple process more like rebirth."

    --> I agree, in the sense that plankton and yeasts have a "soul", but it is nothing like the human soul. Do you see plankton and yeasts as having a soul?
    "...as for souls, well i feel that humanity obviously ‘existed’ before they became actual i.e. before apes evolved into them...."

    --> Do you believe our souls existed before we started inhabiting physical bodies?
    "...all i know is that the ‘you’ can exist outside of the human form astrally, so we apparenly do have extraneous 'bodies' or souls."

    --> Do you see astral bodies as different than souls? (I certainly do.) Do you see the day when we no longer have physical bodies? What do you think happens to our astral bodies at that time?
    "...strangely i think both rebirth and reincarnation are both true in a way."
    --> If you referring to only humans, it only comes down to whether you believe in a soul or not. If you are referring to humans vs. bacteria, it really depends on what attributes you give to the soul of a bacteria.
     

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