when asked for ... "evidence" ... ideas, please ?

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Re: when asked for ... "evidence" ... ideas, please ?

Postby futerko » Tue Nov 13, 2012 10:19 am

joda wrote:…almost all people on this planet find exactly that things are empty rather displeasing and do a great deal of work to forget about it.

joda wrote:…a) why the realisation of emptiness should lead to the cessation fo dukkha and b) how exactly it would do so.


If you only ever think about learning to swim when you fall in the deep end and the rest of the time you avoid the water, then you get a certain result.

The same goes with our relationship to loss. It seems fairly certain on a physical level that the people and things that you love will come to an end at some point, so you can choose whether to make efforts to try to come to terms with that or not. Why fear the inevitable? Does it mean you enjoy something any less if you keep in mind the fact that it is finite?
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Re: when asked for ... "evidence" ... ideas, please ?

Postby Jesse » Tue Nov 13, 2012 11:23 am

Does it mean you enjoy something any less if you keep in mind the fact that it is finite?


It does if you dwell on it's finite-ness. Damn this icecream is good, but I'll be damned if I enjoy it because soon it will be gone.
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Re: when asked for ... "evidence" ... ideas, please ?

Postby futerko » Tue Nov 13, 2012 12:20 pm

ghost01 wrote:
Does it mean you enjoy something any less if you keep in mind the fact that it is finite?


It does if you dwell on it's finite-ness. Damn this icecream is good, but I'll be damned if I enjoy it because soon it will be gone.


Have you ever tried meditating on a tub of your favorite flavor, contemplating emptiness and practicing equanimity while it melts in the sun? :tongue:
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Re: when asked for ... "evidence" ... ideas, please ?

Postby duckfiasco » Tue Nov 13, 2012 7:18 pm

Hi, joda! Thanks for reading and replying :) I think this is all very interesting.

joda wrote:I had the opposite experience. In my case - as I see it now with a bit of distance - Buddhism was a form of self-escape. Then again I might have what Queequeg called "allergy against Buddha" hehe - when I was 19 i deactivated all feelings of love inside of me because the fact that things we love disappear forever. That broke me completely and I never recovered from it. I tried to jump into the middle of it through Buddhism after quite some years but it didnt really work and really seemed artificial.

That's really too bad :( I can see how that can happen, though. When I first dabbled in Buddhism as a teenager, I basically used it as an excuse not to be responsible for my own unskillful actions. If someone else got hurt, well that was their bad karma, or they were making it a problem, not me. I hope your second foray into Buddhism is more fruitful this time :namaste:

Of course it depends on the definition of emptiness. In Mahayana it seems many people see it as kind of a subject. Since I am more influenced by the old schools for me emptiness is merely an attribute of reality which means from a non-buddhist perspective that all things are changing. From that pov I am quite sure most people are aware of it.

I had the Mahayana sense in mind as well, and I still don't see how someone with a mind like a flame guttering in the wind can experience emptiness. There are lots of experiences people may call emptiness, such as pleasant torpor, apathy, conceptual no-self, etc. but none of them is quite the real thing. I'm ill-equipped to elaborate on the technical details, though.

Maybe the drawback of studying the historical development is that you see all those debates going on. Figuring out which was the true concept seems to have been rather central to the development of most schools and the historical Buddha himself seems to have gone through some lengths himself to show that all of the existing schools of thought were either nonsense or incomplete.

By "concepts" I meant something a little different. I was referring to your statement about negativity, which I interpreted to mean anger, sadness, jealousy, those kinds of things. We are extremely good at having those feelings then either diving headfirst into the storyline, acting out and causing harm, or giving ourselves a neurosis over having the feelings in the first place. In that sense, I meant that Buddhism, as far as I can tell, encourages you to work with them. Whenever one pops up unexpectedly, there's a space before the reaction or the drama builds up a full head of steam. That is where the many skillful means taught can come into play. And then you still use the vibrant energy of being pissed off, the dull torpor of being depressed, you use that energy for practice instead of wishing it would go away or turning it into more suffering.

This is part of why I would now call it self-escape because eventho those things are not as they seem, we ourselves are part of that. If you have a toothache for example it makes no sense to sit down and contemplate that the tooth is just an illusion. You go to your dentist and he starts drilling. Of course while he is drilling away it might relieve some people to look at it as not being real :tongue: - but its not unreal as the drill really creates a hole.

I think it's supposed to be the exact opposite of self-escape, though. Instead of wishing we weren't lustful, angry, sad, instead of wishing we didn't want to really punch our least favorite politician, we look closely at the feelings. That already takes some of the strength away instead of always avoiding and building up nightmares about it, or feeling only our rage exists and flying into a murderous fit. And then you have this tremendous energy of the klesha to work with.

I had a sort of silly example of that yesterday. I was in the middle of about 40 people doing zhinay. And of course my nose starts running, and badly. Drip out the nose bad. So I'm sitting there being a huge distraction in the perfectly silent hall, sniffling, rustling for tissues so I don't spew snot all over the meditation mat. My concentration is zero at this point, and likely that of the 8 people immediately around me, too. So I started thinking, "This is hard enough already damn it, how obnoxious, now my stupid nose is ruining everyone else's concentration, too." Then someone else started coughing, and I knew immediately how they felt, and the whole stupid drama turned into compassion for that person. I just dropped the storyline and was left with this feeling of momentum that could be redirected. And no amount of "the nose is a concept! the play of the mind!" would've changed the fact that it was embarrassing and frustrating. But that minor klesha was turned into something positive instead :)

In a more serious way, the same technique has helped ward off feelings of depression. Before I got into Buddhism at all, I was very badly depressed and suicidal. I still get vestiges of those tendencies sometimes. But with practice, finding that gap between "perfectly fine" and "ugh what the hell happened" has become more possible. And don't get me wrong, the klesha often still comes with some force, but instead of being a hindrance, I've sometimes been able to turn the depression into compassion for how I once was and therefore how many people still are right now. "Wow, this is what they're going through."

So that was my point about concepts and their unreality, mainly. Even on a relative level, we often act like this or that only has one interpretation, one thing to do with it. Well, lojong for example will tell you nope, take your poison and make it into a virtue. And it is possible. I hope that wasn't too much of a tangent. :buddha2: :heart:
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Re: when asked for ... "evidence" ... ideas, please ?

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Tue Nov 13, 2012 9:46 pm

duckfiasco wrote:I was in the middle of about 40 people doing zhinay. And of course my nose starts running, and badly. Drip out the nose bad. So I'm sitting there being a huge distraction in the perfectly silent hall, sniffling, rustling for tissues so I don't spew snot all over the meditation mat.


To the contrary, it doesn't sound as though you were distracted at all.
Its sounds as though you had perfect, one-pointed awareness.
The problem was that you were attached to doing breathing meditation
and so, you didn't recognize it as
runny-nose meditation.
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Re: when asked for ... "evidence" ... ideas, please ?

Postby Queequeg » Tue Nov 13, 2012 10:16 pm

joda wrote:
Yea I thought that much, since you implied you see Buddha as a form of metaphysical entity. I dont think I've read the Lotus sutra myself tho; when I dont mix it up its like the Avatamsaka rather filled with gummybears falling from the sky and rainbows shooting out of peoples ears - I prefered texts like the Samdhinirmocana where they just throw infos at you :tongue: .


I'm not sure what you mean by "metaphysical entity". You mean like God? That's silly.

Some people who read the Lotus Sutra seem to have ideas along those lines, but I don't. I read this stuff as metaphor - truths dressed in mythological language - for a practical reason. The scales implied by these "truths" are so vast and beyond our ordinary experience, that mythological language is the only thing that can come close to capturing it in a narrative form. Maybe science fiction - if the Buddha taught Mahayana today he might be a science fiction writer or movie maker... (Anyone seen Cloud Atlas? WOW.) How do you explain the duration of timelessness? How do you even begin to explain the scale of space? How do you begin to explain the impossibility of really understanding the full implications of something as simple as your fingernail? As a comparison - look at maths dealing with infinities and infinities of infinities - the implications of these areas of math are so freaking far out. Beyond that, look at irrational numbers, or non-repeating decimals - or repeating decimals. Other than some shorthand arbitrary story that you tell yourself to stand in as meaning (a mythology if you will), how can you really understand any of these things? Sometimes, only gummybears and rainbows can even begin to capture this stuff. Its like when you try to explain something really complex and difficult to a child - "Mommy, why did those men blow up the World Trade Center?" "Because they're terrorists, honey." Oh, wait... that was the story for full grown adults... Anyway, I think you can appreciate my point.

"Buddha constantly revealing the True Aspect", is a shorthand way to talk about the nature of objects in the moment to moment subject-object experience that much of Buddhist psychology and practice is concerned with. When we look out through our eyes, as you know, there is a complex chain of events giving rise to what amounts to consciousness. The objects, phenomenal as well as noumenal, are what they are - True Aspect - everything to know about them is constantly being "shown". They "want" to be seen, in that they are self-evident and not hiding anything. In some Buddhist discourses, Buddha is not just some guy who lived in India, but a mythologized conceptualization of reality drawing emphasis on certain aspects of this reality that are conducive to the development of proper subjective knowledge.

Missionary work is rather typical for religious people tho and says nothing about the truth of the religious ideas.


I'm not quite buying the distinctions you make to put "religion" in some category unrelated to any other means that humans have used to develop meaning. I'm also not buying the apparent implication that the Missionary M.O. is exclusive to religious types.

There have been "sciences" that are just as outlandish as any system of thought that could be categorized as "religion". Phrenology, for instance. Or Alchemy. If we take a survey, we will quickly find many "scientific" ideas that have been tossed onto the garbage heap - and what is more - there were people who promoted many of those discarded ideas with the zealotry of Jesus throwing the money changers out of the temple.

I would think of it this way - I already gave the example of a physicist giving a presentation on research. Is a teacher who teaches a student how to read doing Missionary work? My sister is an early childhood specialist and she is very enthusiastic about teaching reading to children at ages younger than is commonly assumed is grade or age appropriate. Does that make her a Missionary? In a sense, she is doing advocating and pushing for the implementation of ideas she was taught at one of the most progressive and well respected teaching graduate schools in the US. I wouldn't call her a missionary in the strict sense - but what she does is different by a matter of degrees - not kind - from someone who teaches Madhyamika.

Incidentally, I think someone with a strong grounding in Buddhist theory would understand very well many problems associated with making observations in physics experiments, as well as the weirdness, because much of Buddhist theory and practice is concerned with observation and the strange things that happen at the extremes.

For people doing really high level science - "facts" get very elastic - to the point that concept is rather useless. What you get with an experiment is a repeatably observable phenomena, not really a "fact". You get to common ground with high level Buddhism. Some may disagree.


Yes, I am aware of that. What I mean is that from what I've found (or rather not found) in the years I went thru sutras and shastras is an actual indication of a) why the realisation of emptiness should lead to the cessation fo dukkha and b) how exactly it would do so. It seems to be kind of a naive anticipation found in all religions, that if you just believe in Jesus, or get your foreskin cut off, or meditate, that this will magically lead you to some sort of salvatory state, in this case enlightenment. But there is no evidence for the existence of enlightenment, nor a firm theoretical basis on how to achieve it. And if you argue time, I would expect people to have found such after 2500 years.
Thats what I mean by the discrepancy between facts and what I called hope-principle.



I think part of the problem you have is this:

I interpreted suffering in that case as primarily the "physical" form of dukkha in the sense of a further rebirth as one of the six classes of beings or as the stress of continous rebirth of mental states of affliction and associated sensual imprints of reactive karmic nature.


You are describing cyclic existence - samsara. Dukkha is something that occurs within samsara - it is a quality of unenlightened experience. Although the concepts mutually relate, they are not interchangeable.

Buddhism does not promise some ecstatic salvation a la St. Teresa http://schoolworkhelper.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/Ecstasy-of-Saint-Teresa.jpg
(Notice the countenance of enlightened beings in Buddhism are represented very differently.)

Does its enlightenment bring happiness? Probably not in the form you're looking for - But the Buddha also never made such promises to you. He just said he'd show you the way to neutralize dukkha, and that actually, the search for happiness as you seem to be seeking is recipe for yet more dukkha.

What I understand about Buddhism - all views are distortion. But, at the same time, they are inescapable. (here I am going off into a Lotus Buddhism tangent that others may not agree with.)


Inescapable?


Sure. But this is a simplification of some subtle analysis. If you are interested, see Brook Ziporyn's excellent study of Tientai monk Zhili in "Good and/or/as Evil" or his work on his Neo-Tiantai Philosophy in "Being and Ambiguity".
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Re: when asked for ... "evidence" ... ideas, please ?

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Tue Nov 13, 2012 10:39 pm


Yes, I am aware of that. What I mean is that from what I've found (or rather not found) in the years I went thru sutras and shastras is an actual indication of a) why the realisation of emptiness should lead to the cessation fo dukkha and b) how exactly it would do so. It seems to be kind of a naive anticipation found in all religions, that if you just believe in Jesus, or get your foreskin cut off, or meditate, that this will magically lead you to some sort of salvatory state, in this case enlightenment. But there is no evidence for the existence of enlightenment, nor a firm theoretical basis on how to achieve it. And if you argue time, I would expect people to have found such after 2500 years.
Thats what I mean by the discrepancy between facts and what I called hope-principle.



Buddha doesn't talk about enlightenment.
Buddha talks about the perfect cessation of suffering.
Furthermore, "emptiness" is not a state of realization.
It's not like all of a sudden everything goes blank or turns into light or whatever.
Emptiness (sunyata) describes the true nature of apparent phenomena,
meaning that appearances have no intrinsic reality or finite point of self-existence.
Rather, all arisings are conditional. Events bring conditions together and then after awhile those conditions separate.
Dukkha is the experience of dissatisfaction which results from the experience of phenomena as having intrinsic reality.
The perfect cessation of suffering (dukkha) occurs when the emptiness of phenomena
is not only intellectually grasped, but directly perceived.
That is how realization of sunyata (emptiness) leads to the cessation of dukkha (suffering).

It is not a matter of naive anticipation.
You can test this out any time quite easily and see for yourself the truth in it.
.
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Re: when asked for ... "evidence" ... ideas, please ?

Postby greentara » Tue Nov 13, 2012 10:52 pm

'For those who fail to head 'common sense' and are reluctant to embrace the overt security of society with its subtle conventions, there is the dilemma as to what they should do without compromising this inner urge that asks inconvenient questions. It is not so much a rational decision as a compulsion. Like the salmon trying desperately to find its way home. We sometimes meet these awkward people in our lives and it is interesting to observe the many ways in which their craving for certainty, evolves. They may see a desirable yet distant object and embark on a pilgrimage. They may give in to the lure of danger like racing cars or climbing mountains,* or develop a hobby that satisfies their appetite for solitude where they can think their private thoughts without hindrance'
Can you explain why the Salmon tries to desperately find its way home? Some people are also desperados trying to home in and find the source. There can be no evidence for the urgency to do so.
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Re: when asked for ... "evidence" ... ideas, please ?

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Wed Nov 14, 2012 12:12 am

greentara wrote:'For those who fail to head 'common sense' and are reluctant to embrace the overt security of society with its subtle conventions, there is the dilemma as to what they should do without compromising this inner urge that asks inconvenient questions. It is not so much a rational decision as a compulsion. Like the salmon trying desperately to find its way home.


so, asking inconvenient questions is their path home?
what's wrong with that?
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Re: when asked for ... "evidence" ... ideas, please ?

Postby futerko » Wed Nov 14, 2012 6:47 am

greentara wrote:'For those who fail to head 'common sense' and are reluctant to embrace the overt security of society with its subtle conventions, there is the dilemma as to what they should do without compromising this inner urge that asks inconvenient questions. It is not so much a rational decision as a compulsion. Like the salmon trying desperately to find its way home. We sometimes meet these awkward people in our lives and it is interesting to observe the many ways in which their craving for certainty, evolves. They may see a desirable yet distant object and embark on a pilgrimage. They may give in to the lure of danger like racing cars or climbing mountains,* or develop a hobby that satisfies their appetite for solitude where they can think their private thoughts without hindrance'
Can you explain why the Salmon tries to desperately find its way home? Some people are also desperados trying to home in and find the source. There can be no evidence for the urgency to do so.


Very much so. You reach a point when all those "mistakes" you made are seen as the necessary obstacles on the path which got you here, and suddenly it all slots into place and all doubts fall away. You realise that you willed everything that way whether you knew it at the time or not, and the "evidence" becomes proved retroactively.
we cannot get rid of God because we still believe in grammar - Nietzsche
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Re: when asked for ... "evidence" ... ideas, please ?

Postby joda » Wed Nov 14, 2012 8:29 am

padmavomsambha wrote:Buddha doesn't talk about enlightenment.
Buddha talks about the perfect cessation of suffering.


Enlightenment is another word for the destruction of the three poisons, nirodha of the 5 khandas and connected with that the cessation of dukkha in the form of the arising of post-mortem sequences of citta-cetasika-rupa combinations, and its called enlightenment because the veil of ignorance is lifted...
I am aware of all of that. But there is no evidence that such a permanent cessation is possible, thats what Im saying. Of course you can suppress the poisons, you can also suppress dukkha interpreted as a merely psychological state and probably you can also do that with more or less constant concentration on the non-arising true nature etc. But thats not what the texts state as the goal of practice.

The perfect cessation of suffering (dukkha) occurs when the emptiness of phenomena
is not only intellectually grasped, but directly perceived.


When I see something like this what I perceive is the funny sight of a biological entity that through their eyes perceived certain light-waves, interpreted them as text, remembered them, unreasonably accepted them, then at a later time writes them down again using a keyboard and now basically the same information is transmitted to me and presented as a fact, eventho its just a thesis lacking explanation. Its as if I would read an old book that states something, there is no PadmavonSambha in there - you know what I'm saying?

That is how realization of sunyata (emptiness) leads to the cessation of dukkha (suffering).
It is not a matter of naive anticipation.


I hope my weird explanation shows that there really is no explanation there beyond your belief. And therefore its an anticipation, because the actual events leading to such a realisation and its reality are not known. Even if you study Abhidharma there is but a very small amount of information what happens before enlightenment. I could write it down here, but it makes no difference.

You can test this out any time quite easily and see for yourself the truth in it.


But I cant, since I cant have perfect cessation of suffering at any time.
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Re: when asked for ... "evidence" ... ideas, please ?

Postby joda » Wed Nov 14, 2012 8:57 am

duckfiasco wrote:Hi, joda! Thanks for reading and replying :) I think this is all very interesting.


Im actually feeling a bit bad about it, I dont want to cause too much stir :stirthepot:

I had the Mahayana sense in mind as well, and I still don't see how someone with a mind like a flame guttering in the wind can experience emptiness. There are lots of experiences people may call emptiness, such as pleasant torpor, apathy, conceptual no-self, etc. but none of them is quite the real thing. I'm ill-equipped to elaborate on the technical details, though.


Pleasant torpor :jumping:
But yes sure, from Buddhist pov those are not real - it was you tho who brought the idea to this thread, that materialists can reach a sort of emptiness experience when seeing things as they are described by our physicists etc today. Thats what I think, too and thats why I said - maybe ambivalently - that the world might become a bit better if people would realise that while on the other hand side knowing that most people either dont want or think they dont need such knowledge.

By "concepts" I meant something a little different. I was referring to your statement about negativity, which I interpreted to mean anger, sadness, jealousy, those kinds of things. We are extremely good at having those feelings then either diving headfirst into the storyline, acting out and causing harm, or giving ourselves a neurosis over having the feelings in the first place. In that sense, I meant that Buddhism, as far as I can tell, encourages you to work with them. Whenever one pops up unexpectedly, there's a space before the reaction or the drama builds up a full head of steam. That is where the many skillful means taught can come into play. And then you still use the vibrant energy of being pissed off, the dull torpor of being depressed, you use that energy for practice instead of wishing it would go away or turning it into more suffering.


Ah i see. Yea that can be done, eventho just to a certain degree. For example I am migraine patient. So the doc gave me this stuff called Metoprolol which is a form of anti-emetic. So i took this stuff and one day later I had tremendous depression, like a kind of tiredness of life that I only remember from many years ago when I tried to kill myself. Of course I also had suicidal thoughts of quite a serious degree, it was like suicide would really be the logical thing to do. So I did the crazy thing and tested it a few more times and came to the conclusion thats its actually that anti-emetic that causes it. In any case if a feeling reaches a certain intensity I think you cant work with it anymore. If youre so emotionally tired that you loose all emotional connection to all objects or also if for example you have a panic attack or if you are superduper angry there is no way you can use that anymore. So like you say if you have the capacity to see the problem when its building up you can work with it, or realize its useless, dumb, whatever. But I wouldnt call that expedient means, I would simply call that self-control or being able to work with ones psychological states.

I think it's supposed to be the exact opposite of self-escape, though. Instead of wishing we weren't lustful, angry, sad, instead of wishing we didn't want to really punch our least favorite politician, we look closely at the feelings. That already takes some of the strength away instead of always avoiding and building up nightmares about it, or feeling only our rage exists and flying into a murderous fit. And then you have this tremendous energy of the klesha to work with.


This is important, yes. Someoen I know for example has this big problem with anxiety, being so scared he could do something wrong at work that he gets all sorts of problems, dizzyness, vertigo, headaches etc. I also think that if he would see that stuff build up quickly enough he should be able to work with it in a better way - so actually say frak off to those feelings hehe. But then again this story goes for over 10 years now and its known that anxiety for example can also be a form of diversion from a deeper problem. So I'd say only looking aint enough, you also need to think hard about it and realyl build up intention to solve it.

I had a sort of silly example of that yesterday. I was in the middle of about 40 people doing zhinay. And of course my nose starts running, and badly. Drip out the nose bad. So I'm sitting there being a huge distraction in the perfectly silent hall, sniffling, rustling for tissues so I don't spew snot all over the meditation mat. My concentration is zero at this point, and likely that of the 8 people immediately around me, too. So I started thinking, "This is hard enough already damn it, how obnoxious, now my stupid nose is ruining everyone else's concentration, too." Then someone else started coughing, and I knew immediately how they felt, and the whole stupid drama turned into compassion for that person. I just dropped the storyline and was left with this feeling of momentum that could be redirected. And no amount of "the nose is a concept! the play of the mind!" would've changed the fact that it was embarrassing and frustrating. But that minor klesha was turned into something positive instead :)


Hehe. Its kind of funny tho that this meditation situation which is supposed to lead to the cessation of self-perception is so connected with the need to get some specific personal situation out of it, isnt it.

So that was my point about concepts and their unreality, mainly. Even on a relative level, we often act like this or that only has one interpretation, one thing to do with it. Well, lojong for example will tell you nope, take your poison and make it into a virtue. And it is possible. I hope that wasn't too much of a tangent. :buddha2: :heart:


Yea, I didnt understand emotions as concepts. Emotions for me in a Buddhist context I would always call "mental factors".
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Re: when asked for ... "evidence" ... ideas, please ?

Postby Sara H » Wed Nov 14, 2012 9:24 am

steveb1 wrote:A good friend likes to tease me about the lack of evidence for "God", by which he means not only the sky father of the Abrahamic faiths, but any transcendental, non-material factor, state, entity, archetype or "Being". This would include Mahayanist claims of bodhisattvas, Jodo Shinshu claims about Amida Buddha/Other power, and just about any other claim regarding experiencing or knowing something real in our subjective selves and through subjective states.

I responded with something I read in Ken Wilber, namely that the knowledge-acquisition process is the same in spirituality as it is in science or any other quest for knowledge. Mainly, it consists of three steps:

1. Perform the Injunction: If you want to know "X", then do "Y". If you want to know if Jupiter has moons, look through a telescope, the specialized lens that reveals physical information; if you want to know about Buddha Nature or the Formless or Amida's reality, look through the specified lens (meditation, contemplation, deep listening to the scriptures, etc.) which reveals spiritual information.

2. Perform the experiment: look through the telescope, do the meditiations. Take notes.

3. Share your conclusions with a community of those who have adequately performed steps 1. and 2. - in other words, "peer review"

My friend says that viewing Jupiter's moons through a telescope is genuine evidence because it consists of sensually shared and observed data about objects "out there" that can be verified by plain sight. He says that meditation's data are not real evidence because they do not point to an observable "out there", but merely to a subjective, albeit possibly repeatable, personal experience.

There the debate stands. I had thought that knowledge-acquisition IS a form of evidence, if the three steps are correctly carried out. Why is it evidence when a physical lens reveals moons, but not evidence when following the same three steps reveals spiritual things? If three people look through a telescope and agree that they are seeing moons, and three people perform a particular meditation and agree that they have had (say) a satori, why are not both groups equally "evidence-finders"?

Is knowledge-acquisition only evidential if the knowledge acquired is about the material world? And if that's the case, what to make of Buddhism's empirical methods and means of testing its "data" ? Certainly the acquisition of new data about the ego/non-ego, samsara, bodhicitta, the place/function of the practitioner's mind, anatta, etc., must be considered a form of knowledge acquisition, which involves "evidence" in some meaningful sense. Otherwise, why Shakyamuni's constant injunctions to experiment, to not take his teaching on faith or to treat it like a dogma; why his triumphant claim of finding the Unborn, the Unconditioned? Is not the attainment of spiritual knowledge or "gnosis" an attainment of authentic knowledge-acquisition ?


Yes, that's pretty much it. : )

Good Job.

: )

In Gassho,

Sara H
"Life is full of suffering. AND Life is full of the Eternal
IT IS OUR CHOICE
We can stand in our shadow, and wallow in the darkness,
OR
We can turn around.
It is OUR choice." -Rev. Basil

" ...out of fear, even the good harm one another. " -Rev. Dazui MacPhillamy
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Re: when asked for ... "evidence" ... ideas, please ?

Postby Sara H » Wed Nov 14, 2012 9:28 am

Jikan wrote:
steveb1 wrote:There the debate stands. I had thought that knowledge-acquisition IS a form of evidence, if the three steps are correctly carried out. Why is it evidence when a physical lens reveals moons, but not evidence when following the same three steps reveals spiritual things? If three people look through a telescope and agree that they are seeing moons, and three people perform a particular meditation and agree that they have had (say) a satori, why are not both groups equally "evidence-finders"?


Because we don't find "things" in meditation: no archetypes, no Being, no eye ear nose tongue body or mind. Satori isn't a thing. Buddha-nature isn't a thing.

Curiously, when we look through a telescope and find a blotch of light we identify as a moon of Jupiter, we don't find a "thing" there either in the last analysis.

Wilber's three steps are interesting in this instance, but I'm wondering if Wilber's overall approach may be misleading, in that he identifies sunyata (emptiness) with Meister Eckhardt's description of God, with the Hegelian world-spirit, and so on (this is in Sex, Ecology, and Spirituality). If you look at Wilber's descriptions of his own meditations (One Taste), you can see he is finding something which he calls Spirit. He finds what he seeks, in other words. That's fine for his style of practice, but we do it differently in the Buddhist world.


Speak for yourself Jikan. ; )

I've found a lot of things in meditation.

Some of them very interesting. *smiles big grins*

In Gassho,

Sara H
"Life is full of suffering. AND Life is full of the Eternal
IT IS OUR CHOICE
We can stand in our shadow, and wallow in the darkness,
OR
We can turn around.
It is OUR choice." -Rev. Basil

" ...out of fear, even the good harm one another. " -Rev. Dazui MacPhillamy
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Re: when asked for ... "evidence" ... ideas, please ?

Postby joda » Wed Nov 14, 2012 9:31 am

Queequeg wrote:I'm not sure what you mean by "metaphysical entity". You mean like God? That's silly.


Well you said Buddha would all times want to help beings reach enlightenment. That does imply Buddha is a conscious entity which has intention which has a body and which interacts with the world. In other words, your Buddha is a god.

Some people who read the Lotus Sutra seem to have ideas along those lines, but I don't. I read this stuff as metaphor - truths dressed in mythological language - for a practical reason. The scales implied by these "truths" are so vast and beyond our ordinary experience, that mythological language is the only thing that can come close to capturing it in a narrative form.


Never looked at it that way.

"Buddha constantly revealing the True Aspect", is a shorthand way to talk about the nature of objects in the moment to moment subject-object experience that much of Buddhist psychology and practice is concerned with. When we look out through our eyes, as you know, there is a complex chain of events giving rise to what amounts to consciousness. The objects, phenomenal as well as noumenal, are what they are - True Aspect - everything to know about them is constantly being "shown". They "want" to be seen, in that they are self-evident and not hiding anything. In some Buddhist discourses, Buddha is not just some guy who lived in India, but a mythologized conceptualization of reality drawing emphasis on certain aspects of this reality that are conducive to the development of proper subjective knowledge.


Does the fact that you have to explain this to me not tell you that saying it in this way is not the best way to go about it?

I'm not quite buying the distinctions you make to put "religion" in some category unrelated to any other means that humans have used to develop meaning. I'm also not buying the apparent implication that the Missionary M.O. is exclusive to religious types.


Well I come from an originally Christian background, So the idea of mission is for me directly linked with religious activity. I wouldnt know which kind of missionary work a medicine student or a security-analyst does for example.

There have been "sciences" that are just as outlandish as any system of thought that could be categorized as "religion". Phrenology, for instance. Or Alchemy. If we take a survey, we will quickly find many "scientific" ideas that have been tossed onto the garbage heap - and what is more - there were people who promoted many of those discarded ideas with the zealotry of Jesus throwing the money changers out of the temple.


Yes but what defined those "sciences" that makes you use quotation marks and speak aout them in past tense?
That they were not actually scientific and that they have been discarded.

I would think of it this way - I already gave the example of a physicist giving a presentation on research. Is a teacher who teaches a student how to read doing Missionary work? My sister is an early childhood specialist and she is very enthusiastic about teaching reading to children at ages younger than is commonly assumed is grade or age appropriate. Does that make her a Missionary? In a sense, she is doing advocating and pushing for the implementation of ideas she was taught at one of the most progressive and well respected teaching graduate schools in the US. I wouldn't call her a missionary in the strict sense - but what she does is different by a matter of degrees - not kind - from someone who teaches Madhyamika.


Im quite astounded that you even have to ask such a question, since there is a very basic difference.
If you give knowledge to people it is called teaching.
If you give beliefs to people its called proselityzigingngnasfg or however its called :toilet:
Now the difference between your language teacher and the Madhyamaka student is maybe a bit more subtle, as the Madhyamaka student will learn Madhyama from an academic perspective. He will know for example that Nagarjuna exploited the imperfection of language to convince his dharma patron that the Prajnaparamitasutras and the Nikayas dont contradict each other, which is again a form of knowledge based on studies. He will not necessarily believe that Madhyamaka is a school (which I for example dont see any evidence of) nor that Madhyamaka is some sort of description of the true nature of phenomena, nor that this will somehow aid in a quest for enlightenment. In the moment though that he forgets that it was a system of thought created by a certain person in connection with certain concrete problems and in which he would go around town and telling people that they need to read the MMK for example because it shows the true nature of reality, he would become a missionary. And again due to the reason that the necessity for such knowledge is not a fact.

I think part of the problem you have is this:

I interpreted suffering in that case as primarily the "physical" form of dukkha in the sense of a further rebirth as one of the six classes of beings or as the stress of continous rebirth of mental states of affliction and associated sensual imprints of reactive karmic nature.


You are describing cyclic existence - samsara. Dukkha is something that occurs within samsara - it is a quality of unenlightened experience. Although the concepts mutually relate, they are not interchangeable.

Buddhism does not promise some ecstatic salvation a la St. Teresa http://schoolworkhelper.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/Ecstasy-of-Saint-Teresa.jpg
(Notice the countenance of enlightened beings in Buddhism are represented very differently.)


Nah. I am aware of that the Buddha was once asked if there is no emotion in Nirvana then why is it called happiness and he simply answered - its happiness because nothing is felt. So surely I am not going to become enlightened and have a face like that woman, as if I just had the orgasm of my life :tongue:
What Im saying over and over - also in a bit of an attempt to keep at least a bit ontopic ;) - is that there is no indication or proof that this state can be reached at all or exists. Thats all Im repeating.

Sure. But this is a simplification of some subtle analysis. If you are interested, see Brook Ziporyn's excellent study of Tientai monk Zhili in "Good and/or/as Evil" or his work on his Neo-Tiantai Philosophy in "Being and Ambiguity".


I see. Maybe I will read it some day.
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Re: when asked for ... "evidence" ... ideas, please ?

Postby greentara » Wed Nov 14, 2012 1:00 pm

Evidence please......" Infinity and perfection do not admit of parts. If a finite
being is apart from Infinity, the perfection of Infinity is marred.
Thus your statement is a contradiction in terms."
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Re: when asked for ... "evidence" ... ideas, please ?

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Wed Nov 14, 2012 3:01 pm

joda wrote:
You can test this out any time quite easily and see for yourself the truth in it.

But I cant, since I cant have perfect cessation of suffering at any time.


While you cannot test out the perfect cessation of suffering,
what I was referring to, specifically, was that you can test out the theory that
once the realisation of emptiness is grasped, dukkha no longer arises,
because you essentially said (I tidied it up a bit):
"...I've not found an actual indication of why the realisation of emptiness should lead to the cessation of dukkha..."
so, that is what I was addressing.

But first, allow me to establish the premise that
dukkha arises from the mistaken view that
arising appearances have some finite reality to them, some "thingness" and thus some degree of permanence,
and it is our perpetual sense of dissatisfaction when the dissolution of those appearances occurs
...when people die, when shoes wear out, and so forth,
which is the essential experience of dukkha,
of some sort of constant, restless dissatisfaction in the mind.

--and so, let me give you an example.
Suppose you eat your fill at a big holiday meal (Thanksgiving, in the U.S.)or something like that.
If you think that as a result of having eaten your fill, that you will not get hungry again tomorrow or the next day, that you have somehow permanently solved the problem of ever having to eat again, that is a mistaken view, and you will experience suffering when you become hungry again...not because you will need to eat, but because you thought that the big meal you recently had was going to bring you permanent satisfaction, and it hasn't.

On the other hand, knowing full well that the meal and the experience of being full both arise as temporary events, and thus do not possess any substantial or permanent reality to them (in other words, grasping the "emptiness' of the meal) in another day or so, when you feel hungry again, you will not suffer as a result of that big dinner having come and gone. You will simply search for something new to eat. You may suffer from hunger if you don't get another meal, but it won't be suffering resulting from mistakenly believing that the banquet at which you feasted was going to provide you with the permanent end to hunger.

This is not only analogous to how the direct perception of the emptiness of phenomena prevents the arising of dukkha,
but is also a concrete example. This is, in real time so to speak, what it is about.

Now, if you are asking for evidence that a Buddha ever existed, meaning the legendary being who achieved the permanent cessation of suffering (nirvana) or that such a state of being is even possible, then there is certainly some truth to the claim that no direct evidence is presentable, and that one either believes it or doesn't.

However...

The belief in this theory of liberation is based on one very sound observation,
which is that all beings strive for the cessation of suffering,
and that when the particular conditions which result in a particular type of suffering are removed,
the suffering stops.
So, if you take your hand out of the fire, it stops burning.

Where the "belief" part, the unprovable part actually comes into play
is in the assertion that all beings possess the potential for buddhahood.
That is the "belief' part of Buddhism. It is the core belief which every buddhist holds.
But is it just a random unprovable?
Is it any more valid than believing in any other unprovable claim?
Is "attaining Buddhahood" any more reasonable that saying you will turn in to pixie and spend eternity riding unicorns?

Here, you have to go back to the Four Noble Truths, in which it is explained (or at least suggested)
that the cause of suffering is grasping to the appearances of things as somewhat permanent realities:
"me" and "that thing" that "me" "perceives".

We cling to "me" as having some kind of finite reality to it.
We cling to "that thing" as having some kind of finite reality to it.
We cling to "perception" as having some kind of finite reality to it.

and so, you can take these three appearances, look at actual examples in your everyday experiences where these appearances arise, and you can apply some understanding of "emptiness" to them to see if theses appearances have any substance to them, and you can see first hand, over and over again, the results turn out the same:
Neither "me' or "that thing" I "perceive" has any substantial, finite reality.
Thus, it can be deduced that grasping or clinging to these appearances
as having substantial reality to them is a type of confusion.
Confusion results in suffering,
when you eliminate the confusion
the suffering stops.
I mean, it's pretty straight forward.

So, from this analysis comes the premise that
one's original state of mind, or "true nature' or "original face before your were born" or whatever you call it,
the original nature of the mind of all beings IS free of confusion,
because whenever you remove confusion, you have clarity.
So, the problem in finding evidence may be in trying to prove a negative.
"enlightenment" isn't something you gain.
it is what is left over after the confusion which arises from grasping to appearances ceases.

it's like wiping the dirt off an old window.
When you wipe off the dirt,
the window was there all along.
when you make the glass completely clear,
you don't even see the window.
.
.
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Re: when asked for ... "evidence" ... ideas, please ?

Postby Queequeg » Wed Nov 14, 2012 4:13 pm

Joda,

I actually don't think anything you are opining is off topic. In many respects, you are standing in as a surrogate for the type of person the OP was looking for help in having a discussion/debate with.

I'm observing that you make a number of arguments, but tend to conflate them, such that the discussion gets a little confused.

joda wrote:In other words, your Buddha is a god.

Does the fact that you have to explain this to me not tell you that saying it in this way is not the best way to go about it?

Well I come from an originally Christian background, So the idea of mission is for me directly linked with religious activity. I wouldnt know which kind of missionary work a medicine student or a security-analyst does for example.


I think we mostly have a disagreement on semantics. On certain terms, I tend to have a more liberal, expansive reading than you. In others, you have a more expansive reading than me. These come down to differences in the way we draw distinctions on the world around us. These sorts of disagreements can be transcended by acknowledging each other's definitions - or not. Plenty of dispute, acrimony, even wars have happened because of semantics.

I don't think its fair for you to dismiss my explanation of "Buddha is always revealing True Aspect" along Occam's Razor type notion. What I did was explain a shorthand within a particular Buddhist vernacular that you apparently do not understand. We all have idiosyncratic vocabularies shared by varying numbers of fellows. There are some English venaculars that I can hardly understand. If I don't understand those vocabularies because I have never been exposed to them, does that mean its somehow a false language? A term may refer to something unfounded in reality, but that is a separate issue than whether I understand the meaning of a term. Again - two discrete issues.

Mission different from Advocacy by a Matter of Degrees, not Type

Louis Pasteur is famous for advancing germ theory, both as a researcher and advocate. We know that he undertook significant efforts to spread his understanding of germs and their relation to disease. For the time being, I assume that he did so out of an altruistic intention to save people from disease. He advocated for sterilizing and pasteurizing because he believed it was good for people. Pasteur's advocacy is different than a Christian's missionary work by a matter of degrees and subject matter only. Both are founded on a belief that the adoption of certain ideas and practices leads to a better life. The degree to which the underlying ideas may or may not accord with reality is different than the advocacy/mission activities undertaken in relation to them.

To illustrate, I'll continue with the Germ Theory theme. Prior to the development of the theory, people, based on their observations, believed that diseases developed because of various causes - bad karma, curses, spiritual defilement, bad associations. Over time, people used increasingly refined methods of observation to rule out some causes and identify others. If you look at advances in medical knowledge taking place now, ideas accepted as fact just a few years ago are being radically overturned with new discoveries, particularly with regard to genetics. Can you call the knowledge about cancer that was widely accepted just ten years ago quackery just because we know more about it now? There will be a time in the future when people look back on the treatment of cancer now the way we look back on surgery in the 19th century. The point is, we are always learning more about the material world.

If you give beliefs to people its called proselityzigingngnasfg or however its called :toilet:
Now the difference between your language teacher and the Madhyamaka student is maybe a bit more subtle, as the Madhyamaka student will learn Madhyama from an academic perspective. He will know for example that Nagarjuna exploited the imperfection of language to convince his dharma patron that the Prajnaparamitasutras and the Nikayas dont contradict each other, which is again a form of knowledge based on studies. He will not necessarily believe that Madhyamaka is a school (which I for example dont see any evidence of) nor that Madhyamaka is some sort of description of the true nature of phenomena, nor that this will somehow aid in a quest for enlightenment. In the moment though that he forgets that it was a system of thought created by a certain person in connection with certain concrete problems and in which he would go around town and telling people that they need to read the MMK for example because it shows the true nature of reality, he would become a missionary. And again due to the reason that the necessity for such knowledge is not a fact.


I actually agree with most of what you write. I still believe that Buddhist learning is beneficial, not because it leads to some state - I don't think I ever suggested that it did. I think you may confuse me with other posters in this thread. What I do believe is that Buddhism provides tools and methods for people to understand the world around them more accurately.I think that having more understanding is categorically better than not having understanding. I disagree with the application of terms and the conclusions you draw based on those distinctions - a tendency I'd imagine ripe for MMK analysis.

Or not. :smile:
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Re: when asked for ... "evidence" ... ideas, please ?

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Wed Nov 14, 2012 8:27 pm

joda wrote:
Well you said Buddha would all times want to help beings reach enlightenment. That does imply Buddha is a conscious entity which has intention which has a body and which interacts with the world. In other words, your Buddha is a god.


"conscious entity"
That's funny.
A lot of people do regard Buddhas in the same way that
Theists regard gods.
But much depends on one's understanding and point of view,
and whether someone is also holding onto some predefined concept they call 'god".

If you were to free your awareness of all limits of time and space,
of birth and death as we know it
through the realization that they were all fabrications of the mind to begin with,
then what would "conscious entity" mean?
.
.
.
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Re: when asked for ... "evidence" ... ideas, please ?

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Thu Nov 15, 2012 4:40 am

joda wrote: there is no indication or proof that this state can be reached at all or exists.

Since the causes of confusion are conditional and therefore impermanent,
it is logical to infer that when those causes expire, the confusion which results from them will also expire.

Since awareness is evident, based on (if nothing else) the simple fact that we are having this conversation,
it is logical to infer that some kind of awareness is taking place.

From that, it is logical to infer that some kind of awareness remains after the
temporary causes of confusion are exhausted.
Confusion is a temporary condition of awareness.

Even if this conversation is itself also a manifestation of confusion, a figment of the imagination,
a vivid dream brought on by fever...
Even if that were the case, there is still a basic awareness of it.

So we can assert that, whether confused or enlightened, awareness occurs.
You can't get around the fact of awareness
without contradicting yourself.

Once it is established that awareness occurs, it is only a matter of determining whether
the nature of that awareness is clarity or confusion.
Since we have already established that confusion is based on temporary conditions,
the nature of awareness can't be confusion.
So, it must be, ultimately, perfect clarity (Buddha).

If you assert that there is no indication or proof that this state (nirvana) can be reached at all or exists,
it can likewise be asserted that for the very same reasons,
there is no indication or proof that this conversation is even taking place.

.
.
.
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