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

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

Postby joda » Fri Nov 16, 2012 8:33 am

Queequeg wrote: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.


Sorry I am not a very social person so maybe my communication is not very good. I also tend to write here after I fell out of bed, that might also add to the confusion :zzz:

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.


I have never heard of this type of razor before. Looks like I have to expand my reading again :reading: . As I will also write to PadmavonSambha later I was not trying to be aggressive here, nor imply that what I said is what you believe, I merely took your wording and extracted what it implies. I'm not a friend of this whole expedient means scheme, for me its a rather useless concept that creates more problems than it solves.

What I did was explain a shorthand within a particular Buddhist vernacular that you apparently do not understand.


I am actually unsure if I do. Which was kind of my point - if you are using a kind of wording which is so specific to a certain interpretation (of interpretation of interp...) then it becomes inaccessible. I would probably think that what you tried to say is that the body of dharmas is always empty and therefore is "shows" us all the time the true nature of those dharmas. Maybe its really just personal preference but just like with the gummybears and rainbows I think that its just overly straining the use of symbols that are not really needed, as you need to explain what it means anyways therefore just inserting an extra step.

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.


I share that view. But I wouldnt connect the developments in cancer research for eampel with the developments of Buddhist philosophy. One is scientific the other is exegetical. Also there is no real advances honestly - at least from my pov 95 percent of the Mahayana is just constant rewording of the same stuff with sometimes rather cryptic outcomes. But thats another matter.

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:


Hehe I think so too. I dont criticize your personal view anyways. I have written about this to PadmavonSambha, I will post that later probably.
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Re: when asked for ... "evidence" ... ideas, please ?

Postby Queequeg » Fri Nov 16, 2012 8:31 pm

joda wrote:Sorry I am not a very social person so maybe my communication is not very good. I also tend to write here after I fell out of bed, that might also add to the confusion :zzz:


No worries - we're just "talking" :)

I have never heard of this type of razor before.


According to the collective wisdom of Wikipedia - "It is a principle stating that among competing hypotheses, the one that makes the fewest assumptions should be selected."

I'm not a friend of this whole expedient means scheme, for me its a rather useless concept that creates more problems than it solves.


But, you employ expedient means all the time - the very fact that you use language to frame how you conceptualize the world around you and communicate your views. Everything IS expedients - nothing actually is what it purports to be. And this tends to point to the overall issue we have here. You are taking at face value assertions about awakening and happiness described in Buddhist literature and teachings, without acknowledging that by its own terms - these assertions fail to capture what they purport to describe. MMK analysis is not just a word game - it has far reaching implications to every aspect of our existential situation - including whether we are happy or not happy or not not happy.

if you are using a kind of wording which is so specific to a certain interpretation (of interpretation of interp...) then it becomes inaccessible.


I don't speak Arabic. As a consequence, there is a whole world of human interactions, meanings, experiences, possibilities that is inaccessible to me. That does not in any way affect all of these possibilities that are inaccessible to me. They still are, as much as anything can be.

Perry Farrell sang:

Wish I knew everyone's nickname,
all their slang and all their sayings.
Every way to show affection,
How to dress to fit the occasion...

Until we can download knowledge a la The Matrix, there's only one way to find access (assuming its desired) and that's to study and practice. Buddhism is in many respects an idiosyncratic language. Look, if I talk about dharmas, or Dharmas, at least among people at Dharma Wheel - they will understand the distinction between those two words. Outside of this Buddhist fellowship - the average person likely won't know anything about it beyond Lost or the significance of capitalizing the term. There's inaccessability right there.

I would probably think that what you tried to say is that the body of dharmas is always empty and therefore is "shows" us all the time the true nature of those dharmas.


Mmm. Yes. No. Sort of. Maybe. Not entirely. And more than that.

Maybe its really just personal preference but just like with the gummybears and rainbows I think that its just overly straining the use of symbols that are not really needed, as you need to explain what it means anyways therefore just inserting an extra step.


我慢 is a term used with great frequency among Japanese speakers. It translates as "endurance" "tolerance" "patience" - but that does not capture the full meaning of that word. Its full implications derive from the myriad experiences where the word is used - a mother telling their child "Endure!" when getting antsy; a person "enduring" a long, monotonous lecture... etc. The meaning is given richness by all the ways it is used, such that it is impossible to say that there is an easy translation into English that captures its full meaning. This does not mean that the fuller meaning of the term is categorically inaccessible to a non-Japanese speaker. A person who learns Japanese, and then goes and submerges into Japanese society, however, will in time come to grasp its full meaning and cultural significance.

Its the same thing with Buddhist teachings - you can probably formulate them into pithy little statements, but I don't think that any one statement would capture the full implications of a teaching as understood by a longtime Buddhist practitioner. It would be naive to assume that because someone picks up a sutra and reads it through, or listens to one lecture, that they could be said to understand Buddhism. Ask any longtime practitioner here on this board and see if their understanding of the Four Noble Truths now is the same as it was when they first heard it. Was their understanding the same after one year of practice? Five years? Ten years? 70 years? All the different ways to express the teaching, in my view, are not just wasted variations - each is a slightly different perspective leading to a fuller explanation of the term or concept. Its the Jazz man's riff on an old standard - who knew that "Favorite Things" could swing until John Coltrane unpacked that possibility and showed it to us? Who knew that nirvana and samsara are two takes on a single matter until the Mahayana masters showed us?

I think you tend toward an excessive trust in being able to locate some essence - a bias toward some essential - and this lies at the heart of the tendencies people in this thread are pointing out in certain modes of thought - here, a mode of thought where you have happened to show up as a surrogate representative. It colors and underlies your assertion that "enlightenment is unproveable" etc. The problem is, the standards you are applying are problematic from a Buddhist perspective to begin with, so how could anything that Buddhism asserts meet the criteria? The Buddhist says, it's an empty standard - what could possibly measure up to it? You could leave it at that and just say - its inaccessible to me (at this time), but rather than abiding by neutrality, you compound the problem by asserting - its inaccessible (to me) and therefore false/untrue/insubstantial/unprovable. The thing is, people in this thread have been showing you the proofs - they just don't meet your standards. That's fine - but then to make further unfounded, unsupported assertions - simply that you have not explored all the possibilities, and more, a priori dismissed exploring possibilities by asserting that even if one explores them and finds their proof, it would be nothing more than a delusion... Do you see this trap you've set for yourself?

Anyway, I don't mind if you criticize my views - I'm comfortable with them and if I see a compelling reason to change them, I will. I am critiquing your statements - but its nothing personal - I hope that's understood. I think its possible to discuss personal views without getting personal about it - be civil and it will be so. I think this discussion has been so throughout - no need to apologize or explain anything. :smile:
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Re: when asked for ... "evidence" ... ideas, please ?

Postby joda » Sun Nov 18, 2012 10:16 am

PadmaVonSamba wrote:
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.
(...)
--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.


I find the merely psychological interpretation of dukkha rather silly, since only a small amount of mental suffering does really arise due to not perceiving transitoriness - most problems that we face in our lives are based on different and / or way more complex issues.
If on the one hand side for example my house burns down I am not shocked because I expeced it to last forever but because of the problems arising due to that loss. On the other hand side, knowing that things are in fact not eternal is common-sense and does not have much to do with specific Buddhist understanding - and it does not conclude in the possibility of permanent cessation, since first there is no established causal relation and second since then all sorts of people would randomly become enlightened. When you think about this with a bit of distance the idea of the cessation of suffering being achievable by the realisation of emptiness seems to rather irradiate a small aspect of Gautamas psychological state back then than on a problem that really is esential to the f.e. materialist mindset.

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.


What I find a bit weird is that from your POV (with you I mean the Buddhist) you could present evidence. Make a study, get people in there, let them meditate in the correct Buddhist way of meditation, let them reach arahanthood, make psychological tests and brainscans. If the three poisons are gone, there you have a clear indication there is truth to all of this and you will suddenly be surrounded by scientists, maybe get the Nobel price... and champagne, and women and caviar :tongue:

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?


Well from inside Buddhism the idea of Buddhahood isnt too illogical.
From outside the box though thinking about Buddhahood is a step which cant be taken if enlightenment is unestablished.

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.
.


Ive read that in later literature but its not really logical. If you have Prajna active then you either dont have Avidya active or Avidya gets seen with Prajna. So if Prajna would be the nature of the mind then it would be active all the time and therefore you would always be enlightened. But if its not there then its not the nature of the mind and the queston would arise from where it suddenly comes from. More of a rhetorical remark.
In any case this presupposes that you both want to wipe your mirror all-day long and from the perspective of only relieving the psychological dukkha this seems like rather overdoing it. And if you want to wipe once and for all then we are at the beginning again not being able to show how to reach that moment of direct perception.

"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".


I was not intending to say that Queequeg believes that himself, just that what he said clearly implies those things. This whole idea - which I think is to a certain part also found in Zen - that the form-world somehow tries to lead us to enlightenment is a crazy distortion that makes zero sense. Unless of course you have some panpsychic interpretation, which is not evident tho in what te Buddha supposedly said, nor in any of the texts Ive read.

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?


Its that thing which existed before I blacked up.
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Re: when asked for ... "evidence" ... ideas, please ?

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Sun Nov 18, 2012 3:36 pm

joda wrote:
I find the merely psychological interpretation of dukkha rather silly, since only a small amount of mental suffering does really arise due to not perceiving transitoriness - most problems that we face in our lives are based on different and / or way more complex issues.

If you translate "dukkha" to refer only to states of perceivable mental anguish, then you are right. That would be silly. But Dukkha does not mean simply this. Dukkha refers to the constant state of unsatisfactoriness generated by the mind, even on a very subtle level. For example, you and I both feel compelled to engage is this discussion because of dukkha. On some level, I want to prove that I am right (whatever the motives...selfish or altruistic , it doesn't matter). If one of us doesn't understand the viewpoint of the other, there is a compelling desire to correct that. Of course, we are both enjoying this, so we are not suffering mental anguish over it (I hope) although such a result is obviously possible, as is seen from posts in which the writers get really hostile toward one another.

joda wrote: If on the one hand side for example my house burns down I am not shocked because I expected it to last forever but because of the problems arising due to that loss. On the other hand side, knowing that things are in fact not eternal is common-sense


Or, both. But, if you follow the chain of effect here, break down each component as look at why the various losses matter, ultimately they are the same thing. Maybe all of your legal documents were burned up and now it is going to be a major headache to get a new birth certificate, passport, copy of the deed to the property and so forth. maybe the car was destroyed and you have to get a new car but maybe it wasn't covered by the fire insurance so you have to come up with money to buy a car.

So then, you have to look at why that situation manifests as suffering, and here it is not so obvious. The deed to the house may not be permanent, but on a subtle level, believing that the deed would always be there and not get burned up is a case of subtle mental reliance on some notion of permanence. In other words, the day before your house burned down, a lot of your peace of mind was built on the belief that your house would still be there tomorrow. Compare this with the state of mind of a person who is constantly worrying, who cannot sleep at night because he or she wakes up every hour to make sure the house is not on fire.

So, you are saying
"... knowing that things are in fact not eternal ...does not conclude in the possibility of permanent cessation..."
and
"...since first there is no established causal relation and second since then all sorts of people would randomly become enlightened..."

(I had to break that up to understand it better)

An Intellectual understanding that "nothing lasts forever" does not make a person a Buddha.
Yeah, that's true.
Then point is that we base our own peace of mind on the permanence of apparent phenomena, even at a very subtle level.
Dukkha arises because we think our peace of mind, based on clinging to impermanent conditions, is permanent.
When we lose our peace of mind, that is Dukkha.



joda wrote:What I find a bit weird is that from your POV (with you I mean the Buddhist) you could present evidence. Make a study, get people in there, let them meditate in the correct Buddhist way of meditation, let them reach arahanthood, make psychological tests and brainscans. If the three poisons are gone, there you have a clear indication there is truth to all of this and you will suddenly be surrounded by scientists, maybe get the Nobel price... and champagne, and women and caviar :tongue:

You mean, if Buddhists can prove scientifically the dharma has enormous benefit, why aren't we doing that?
Some people are doing that, as you say, brain scans and so forth. But, you know, in the popular mind, buddhism falls under the category of religion. Right there, that's a conceptual roadblock.

But I think the biggest reason why that isn't happening is because what the dharma addresses is not so clear cut. It is one thing to measure chemical changes in the brain due to "sitting meditation", and another thing to try to measure why a person, sitting on a damned pillow for three hours, doing absolutely nothing but watching the air go in and out of his nose, experiences those brain waves as boredom, and why all sorts of distracting thoughts come up and so forth.


joda wrote: If you have Prajna active then you either dont have Avidya active or Avidya gets seen with Prajna. So if Prajna would be the nature of the mind then it would be active all the time and therefore you would always be enlightened. But if its not there then its not the nature of the mind and the question would arise from where it suddenly comes from. More of a rhetorical remark.

That is a very good point.
If one regards Prajna (wisdom) and Avidya (ignorance) as intrinsically opposite,
then that is a very logical conundrum.
If you don't mind, I will try to offer my understanding of this in a subsequent post.
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Re: when asked for ... "evidence" ... ideas, please ?

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Sun Nov 18, 2012 4:01 pm

joda wrote: If you have Prajna active then you either dont have Avidya active or Avidya gets seen with Prajna. So if Prajna would be the nature of the mind then it would be active all the time and therefore you would always be enlightened. But if its not there then its not the nature of the mind and the question would arise from where it suddenly comes from. More of a rhetorical remark.


You have been referring to Pali sources
and so my take on things might be out of context.
If your position is that enlightenment and ignorance, or nirvana and samsara
are opposites.
But there is another understanding, in which Your question is somewhat like asking
Why isn't an acorn already an oak tree
or why isn't an egg already a chicken.
In this case, they are not intrinsically different
nor are they exactly the same
so the answer has little or nothing to do with their apparent characteristics
which after all, have to intrinsic reality to begin with.

I want to refer to some writings by Chandrakirti
which might at least offer you another perspective on this question
but I have to go look them up.
.
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Re: when asked for ... "evidence" ... ideas, please ?

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Sun Nov 18, 2012 6:38 pm

made a correction:

"...which after all, have to intrinsic reality to begin with."
should have been:
"...which after all, have no intrinsic reality to begin with.
.
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Last edited by PadmaVonSamba on Sun Nov 18, 2012 6:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: when asked for ... "evidence" ... ideas, please ?

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Sun Nov 18, 2012 6:39 pm

joda wrote: If you have Prajna active then you either dont have Avidya active or Avidya gets seen with Prajna. So if Prajna would be the nature of the mind then it would be active all the time and therefore you would always be enlightened. But if its not there then its not the nature of the mind and the question would arise from where it suddenly comes from. More of a rhetorical remark.


You have been referring to Pali sources
and so my take on things might be out of context.
If your position is that enlightenment and ignorance, or nirvana and samsara
are opposites.
But there is another understanding, in which Your question is somewhat like asking
Why isn't an acorn already an oak tree
or why isn't an egg already a chicken.
In this case, they are not intrinsically different
nor are they exactly the same
so the answer has little or nothing to do with their apparent characteristics
which after all, have no intrinsic reality to begin with.

I want to refer to some writings by Chandrakirti
which might at least offer you another perspective on this question
but I have to go look them up.
.
.
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Re: when asked for ... "evidence" ... ideas, please ?

Postby songhill » Mon Nov 19, 2012 12:59 am

If we viewed the world from a Planck length (1.616199 × 10-35 meters) we would not have any discernible evidence for our scientific observations. It would be like a digital cloud of no-thingness—a grand superposition. There would be no galaxies or even an earth. And certainly no humans. In this regard, the evidence of the physical sciences is relative. Fundamentally, it doesn't actually exist. The only thing that exists is absolute MInd. In the words of Max Planck: Dieser Geist ist der Urgrund aller Materie.
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Re: when asked for ... "evidence" ... ideas, please ?

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Mon Nov 19, 2012 1:23 am

I think that perhaps there may be some misunderstanding about the nature of wisdom (prajna) and ignorance (avidya).
Actually, Prajna is always functioning, but not seeing that is Avidya.

It's like standing next to an elephant but looking in the opposite direction.
The elephant is already there. It's not the elephant's problem that you are distracted.
But as soon as you turn your head, you will see it.

Sometimes it is a very gradual process.
Suppose you are hiking through the woods, heading toward a destination, perhaps a lake or something.
However, you do not realize that you are walking in circles.
That is total ignorance.
After an hour or so, you notice that you are walking past a large rock that you already passed a while back.
So, suddenly you realize that you are lost.
Before that moment, you were lost, and didn't know it.
Now you are still lost, but at least you know it.
So, there is both, some ignorance and some wisdom.
You take out your map and compass and look at them.
You can determine from your map and compass where you are, and where you need to go.
So, now you are no longer lost.
Ignorance is gone, full wisdom is realized,
and you need only to reach your destination.
But the point is, you had the map and compass with you all the time.
So, this is how it is with "Buddha nature" and ignorance.
They aren't like two opposing magnetic forces.

It sounds like the point you are getting at is this:
"Well, if Buddha nature is free from ignorance, and it is everyone's true nature,
And Buddha nature sees through ignorance, then how can there be any ignorance at all?

It reminds me of the problem of the bottle of "universal solvent"... the liquid that no container can hold.
How can wisdom be contained by ignorance?

It's true that Wisdom cuts through ignorance
and, as I said before, theoretically, anyone can do it.
But here the issue gets down to very practical issues.
Wisdom doesn't cut through ignorance on its own,
because "wisdom" or "prajna" isn't something that exists on its own.
It's like a knife. You actually have to pick it up and use it or it won't cut, regardless of how sharp it is.
Wisdom isn't really blocked by ignorance.
Ignorance ignores wisdom.
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Re: when asked for ... "evidence" ... ideas, please ?

Postby viniketa » Mon Nov 19, 2012 4:42 am

If they can sever like and dislike, along with greed, anger, and delusion, regardless of their difference in nature, they will all accomplish the Buddha Path.. ~ Sutra of Complete Enlightenment
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Re: when asked for ... "evidence" ... ideas, please ?

Postby joda » Sun Nov 25, 2012 10:15 am

:hi:

PadmaVonSamba wrote:If you translate "dukkha" to refer only to states of perceivable mental anguish, then you are right. That would be silly. But Dukkha does not mean simply this. Dukkha refers to the constant state of unsatisfactoriness generated by the mind, even on a very subtle level. For example, you and I both feel compelled to engage is this discussion because of dukkha. On some level, I want to prove that I am right (whatever the motives...selfish or altruistic , it doesn't matter). If one of us doesn't understand the viewpoint of the other, there is a compelling desire to correct that. Of course, we are both enjoying this, so we are not suffering mental anguish over it (I hope) although such a result is obviously possible, as is seen from posts in which the writers get really hostile toward one another.


Hmm I'm not sure if dukkha does encompass this kind of thing. In this case you are abstracting dukkha to all needs, but that looks like steamroller tactics again if the result is changing your perception to a needless state. This is quite offtopic but when I think about the result of this practice I find the outcome to be rather unhealthy in respect to what we call a healthy psyche. It surely cant be an acceptable goal to eliminate all traces of subtle wanting - sinc ethis would not only eradicate all fear etc but also all that makes you happy, since happiness is build on this, too.

Or, both. But, if you follow the chain of effect here, break down each component as look at why the various losses matter, ultimately they are the same thing. Maybe all of your legal documents were burned up and now it is going to be a major headache to get a new birth certificate, passport, copy of the deed to the property and so forth. maybe the car was destroyed and you have to get a new car but maybe it wasn't covered by the fire insurance so you have to come up with money to buy a car.

So then, you have to look at why that situation manifests as suffering, and here it is not so obvious. The deed to the house may not be permanent, but on a subtle level, believing that the deed would always be there and not get burned up is a case of subtle mental reliance on some notion of permanence. In other words, the day before your house burned down, a lot of your peace of mind was built on the belief that your house would still be there tomorrow. Compare this with the state of mind of a person who is constantly worrying, who cannot sleep at night because he or she wakes up every hour to make sure the house is not on fire.


The difference in my interpretation is that from the perspective of the Buddha it is not merely the holding fast to those things that creates dukkha but the appearance of those things as well. In other words that I had a body and a house in the first place is dukkha. It also is only this that can explain why someone would want to spend 2 years of his life in average meditating, hoping to eradicate things that are from the outside standpoint simply human factors - to get out of the circle of rebirth; then it doesnt matter if you end up zombified or die of not eating, like the arhats are said to when not in a sangha.

So, you are saying
"... knowing that things are in fact not eternal ...does not conclude in the possibility of permanent cessation..."
and
"...since first there is no established causal relation and second since then all sorts of people would randomly become enlightened..."

(I had to break that up to understand it better)

An Intellectual understanding that "nothing lasts forever" does not make a person a Buddha.
Yeah, that's true.
Then point is that we base our own peace of mind on the permanence of apparent phenomena, even at a very subtle level.
Dukkha arises because we think our peace of mind, based on clinging to impermanent conditions, is permanent.
When we lose our peace of mind, that is Dukkha.


Well the point here was that your capacity to train yourself to reduce your mental anguish as a result of wrong perception does show that its possible to reduce it, but it doesnt show that its possible to have a moment, where it suddenly stops alltogether and forever. Also if you really want such a stop, even knowing it might be a pathological thing, then you need to know how to activate this "mechanism".

You mean, if Buddhists can prove scientifically the dharma has enormous benefit, why aren't we doing that?
Some people are doing that, as you say, brain scans and so forth. But, you know, in the popular mind, buddhism falls under the category of religion. Right there, that's a conceptual roadblock.


Well youre inverting cause and effect here. It falls under the category of religion because it doesnt produce any evidence to base its claims for thousands of years already - among other reasons maybe, but I think thats the main one. And this could be solved for example through such a study. Or some other study with monks walking on water or whatever is needed :soapbox: .

But I think the biggest reason why that isn't happening is because what the dharma addresses is not so clear cut. It is one thing to measure chemical changes in the brain due to "sitting meditation", and another thing to try to measure why a person, sitting on a damned pillow for three hours, doing absolutely nothing but watching the air go in and out of his nose, experiences those brain waves as boredom, and why all sorts of distracting thoughts come up and so forth.


Well it seems you are always gliding past my point. :alien: Let me say it again, the reason why I pointed to such a possibility is only due to there being no proof for the existence of enlightenment. The example has been given in this thread, too afaik - as evidence even. But for the question of enlightenment its absolutely insignificant if there are brainchanges in people who meditate. If you want to show evidence that enlightenment even exists analyzing the brains of arhats seems to be the only feasible way. From outside the box its obvious why people dont do that: cause they cant. Whats not so obvious and what kind of fascinates me is that (and the reason why) noone draws the conclusion out of this.

You have been referring to Pali sources
and so my take on things might be out of context.
If your position is that enlightenment and ignorance, or nirvana and samsara
are opposites.
But there is another understanding, in which Your question is somewhat like asking
Why isn't an acorn already an oak tree
or why isn't an egg already a chicken.
In this case, they are not intrinsically different
nor are they exactly the same
so the answer has little or nothing to do with their apparent characteristics
which after all, have to intrinsic reality to begin with.

I want to refer to some writings by Chandrakirti
which might at least offer you another perspective on this question
but I have to go look them up.


I usually refer to old scriptures because they make more sense and are clearer than the new ones. Especially Sarvastivada, interestingly. I have to admit that I never found this idea of samsara and nirvana to be nondual to be very appealing and have forgotten the argumentation behind it. As far as I remember the texts dont say that, but what they do say is that the mind is originally pure and that it can cause both Nirvana and Samsara. This is not a later notion tho but was well known in the beginning. The purity of the mind simply refers to its capability (or central function) to perceive tho. Another argument was I think that the dharmakaya is originally unborn and therefore all dharmas are beyond bondage? This also is not a new analysis and was also known before. Its kind of a blurry explanation tho because we are talking about Nirvana and Samsara in terms of activity / existence of certain dharmas in the cittasantana. So if there are certain dharmas there its called Samsara and if theyre not there its called Nirvana with residue etc.

I think that perhaps there may be some misunderstanding about the nature of wisdom (prajna) and ignorance (avidya).
Actually, Prajna is always functioning, but not seeing that is Avidya.

It's like standing next to an elephant but looking in the opposite direction.
The elephant is already there. It's not the elephant's problem that you are distracted.
But as soon as you turn your head, you will see it.


Hmmm I think the problem is here that we not only speak of different prajnas but you also are speaking of different prajnas. Panna for me is a sobhana-cetasika included as a nonuniversal dhamma in the Theravada ABhidharma while you are referring to Prajna as being a universal dharma, which is based on Sarvastivada Abidharma. The problem seems to be that you dont accept Prajna as being both pure and impure, right and wrong, as Sarvastivadins do. So you create this contradiction of a pure Prajna being hidden somewhere (where exactly?) and which clearly conflicts with Avidya.

Sometimes it is a very gradual process.
Suppose you are hiking through the woods, heading toward a destination, perhaps a lake or something.
However, you do not realize that you are walking in circles.
That is total ignorance.
After an hour or so, you notice that you are walking past a large rock that you already passed a while back.
So, suddenly you realize that you are lost.
Before that moment, you were lost, and didn't know it.
Now you are still lost, but at least you know it.
So, there is both, some ignorance and some wisdom.
You take out your map and compass and look at them.
You can determine from your map and compass where you are, and where you need to go.
So, now you are no longer lost.
Ignorance is gone, full wisdom is realized,
and you need only to reach your destination.
But the point is, you had the map and compass with you all the time.
So, this is how it is with "Buddha nature" and ignorance.
They aren't like two opposing magnetic forces.


Your story doesnt really help your point tho, as in your story ignorance was slowly replaced by knowledge. It was surely no tthe case that the person lost in the woods knew subconsciously all the time that he was wrong but this was only covered by his not-knowing.

It sounds like the point you are getting at is this:
"Well, if Buddha nature is free from ignorance, and it is everyone's true nature,
And Buddha nature sees through ignorance, then how can there be any ignorance at all?


Buddhanature for me was a psychological tool in a time where people found taht enlightenment was more or less unreachable and couldnt accept this fact. One shouldnt take the concept-matching practices of Mahayana authors too seriously imo. Of course you can take out any sort of psychic / mental situation, abstract it and then giv eit a nic ename, but I dont see the point.
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Re: when asked for ... "evidence" ... ideas, please ?

Postby deepbluehum » Sun Nov 25, 2012 4:22 pm

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 ?


Show them the Heart Sutra: "There is no Buddha..."
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Re: when asked for ... "evidence" ... ideas, please ?

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Mon Nov 26, 2012 1:05 am

joda wrote: It surely cant be an acceptable goal to eliminate all traces of subtle wanting

nobody said to get rid of wanting, whether subtle or obvious. The point is to let go of attachment to wanting, or thinking that the temporary things one wants will bring satisfaction.

.
.
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Original painting by P.Volker /used by permission.
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Re: when asked for ... "evidence" ... ideas, please ?

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Mon Nov 26, 2012 1:11 am

joda wrote:
Your story doesnt really help your point tho, as in your story ignorance was slowly replaced by knowledge. It was surely no tthe case that the person lost in the woods knew subconsciously all the time that he was wrong but this was only covered by his not-knowing.


No, the point is that he had a compass and map with him the whole time,
and they were already functioning. he just had to look at them to see this.
So, in fact, he did have everything he needed all along, but didn't realize it.
he didn't have to go out and find a map and compass or get one from someplace else.
The analogy is that the original state of awareness
is not something we have to go out and get from someplace else.

Sorry you missed that.
.
.
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Profile Picture: "The Foaming Monk"
The Chinese characters are Fo (buddha) and Ming (bright). The image is of a student of Buddhism, who, imagining himself to be a monk, and not understanding the true meaning of the words takes the sound of the words literally. Likewise, People on web forums sometime seem to be foaming at the mouth.
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Re: when asked for ... "evidence" ... ideas, please ?

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Mon Nov 26, 2012 1:13 am

joda wrote:
Buddhanature for me was a psychological tool in a time where people found that enlightenment was more or less unreachable and couldn't accept this fact.


When exactly was that?
When has "enlightenment" ever been unreachable?
.
.
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The Chinese characters are Fo (buddha) and Ming (bright). The image is of a student of Buddhism, who, imagining himself to be a monk, and not understanding the true meaning of the words takes the sound of the words literally. Likewise, People on web forums sometime seem to be foaming at the mouth.
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Re: when asked for ... "evidence" ... ideas, please ?

Postby JohnRammy » Mon Nov 26, 2012 3:18 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.



A person like this will LOVE Madhyamaka. :cheers:
Everything lacks the identity (atman) imputed by mere conceptual labels.
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Re: when asked for ... "evidence" ... ideas, please ?

Postby tattoogunman » Mon Nov 26, 2012 8:24 pm

JohnRammy wrote:
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.



A person like this will LOVE Madhyamaka. :cheers:


I sort of fall into that camp (and I'm not trying to derail this or take it off topic), but as evidenced by me being on this board, it's something that I'm looking at changing. What has drawn me to Buddhism is exactly what turns me off from mainstream religions. I don't believe in higher beings or that there is some all powerful being(s) that created everything. Buddhism attracted to me because, as I understand it (and I'm definitely a layman here), he was a regular guy who knew he had the same failings that everyone else did. He went searching for a way to better himself and found it. That didn't necessarily make him anything more than an "enlightened" man and teacher who sought to pass on his knowledge to others - I'm comfortable with that. As for proof that Siddhartha Gautama/Buddha existed, I've probably seen and read more material that backs up this person being a real life historical figure than certain others. Again, I'm comfortable with that as well. So I guess if someone asked me to prove he lived, I'd probably point them to all of the historic written records, statues, carvings, etc. - about as much proof there as some of the pharaohs and others I suppose.

I went to my local Mahayana temple this weekend for the first time and had a wonderful experience. I was able to talk to several of the people/monks there and they answered all of my questions and then some. Enough so that I'm going back this weekend and I'm continuing to delve deeper into this. I can't even come close to quoting the various citations you guys have been using in here, but I'm actively reading and I am beginning to practice meditating (thanks to some CD's I was given from the library at the temple). :tongue:
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Re: when asked for ... "evidence" ... ideas, please ?

Postby Nosta » Mon Nov 26, 2012 8:36 pm

Answering to steveb original post:

First, i didnt have time to read everything.
Second, she is correct in something: Jupiter is something we can all observe! And we must accept to some degree such kind of argument. Otherwise we should accept every silly idea outhere.
In the other hand, people deny things even if you put them in front of you. There is strong evidence that UFOs are real (unless you are seeing and reading the wrong documentarys or books), but even so, Science and people denys the existence of UFO. I will be arrogant enough and say that ufos are real in the same way a scientist would say that bigbang is real. And we have more evidence supporting ufos than supporting bigbang.
So, even if you had "proofs" about Amitabha, God, whatever, many people wouldnt believe in you.
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Re: when asked for ... "evidence" ... ideas, please ?

Postby dakini_boi » Mon Nov 26, 2012 9:02 pm

When having these kinds of discussions with non-Buddhists (especially materialists), it's usually better to keep your argument more weighted towards impermanence and emptiness, or you can get yourself into trouble. Impermanence is self-evident to any intelligent person, and emptiness can be proven logically. Furthermore, you cannot objectively prove mystical experience, nor can you prove Buddha nature. However, you can prove that defilements are removable. . . what comes after that must be discovered. If the conversation leads to an inspiration to discover that. . . then maybe this person has some merit. . . if not, then speaking of mystical things is pointless, unless you have the capacity to demonstrate something unquestionably miraculous.
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Re: when asked for ... "evidence" ... ideas, please ?

Postby joda » Tue Nov 27, 2012 8:13 am

nobody said to get rid of wanting, whether subtle or obvious. The point is to let go of attachment to wanting, or thinking that the temporary things one wants will bring satisfaction.


Wanting presupposes an object, which is something you dont perceive anymore when youre realized. Additionally an Arahant does neither have desire nor intention according to tradition. So this state that Mahayanis (probably just for that reason) want to push back as far as possible, actually consists of not wanting anything anymore.

PadmaVonSamba wrote:No, the point is that he had a compass and map with him the whole time,
and they were already functioning. he just had to look at them to see this.
So, in fact, he did have everything he needed all along, but didn't realize it.
he didn't have to go out and find a map and compass or get one from someplace else.
The analogy is that the original state of awareness
is not something we have to go out and get from someplace else.

Sorry you missed that.
.


I see. It still has the failure tho that everyone has Buddhanature but still needs to first beleive in Buddhism to become a Buddha. Doesnt make any sense. If you think that nonduality of emptiness-clarity is the Tathagatagarbha then the same problem exists - it causes everything, you might as well call it rape-nature. Doesnt sound so great tho, does it :tongue:

When exactly was that?


In the days the Mahayana formed in the minds of lay people and monks the Buddha turned from a ascetic into more and more of an superhuman being and with that his qualities and the quality of enlightenment got boosted, resulting in the people who were reading the sutras of becoming more and more convinced that enlightenment also was a superhuman thing, very hard to reach. So Tathagathagarbha was created to give them hope back that eventho enlightenment is a really great thing everyone can reach it, because everyone has Buddha-nature.
I forgot where I read this argument, I thought it was Williams but cant find it right now. Makes sense to me in any case.

When has "enlightenment" ever been unreachable?


Since there apparently is no Buddhist who knows how, it is now.
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