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Some doubts i would like help with... - Dhamma Wheel

Some doubts i would like help with...

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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manas
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Some doubts i would like help with...

Postby manas » Wed May 30, 2012 3:18 am

I have long grappled with this issue, and I would welcome (especially) evidences from sutta or from those knowledgeable in Dhamma, or both. Basically, there are two issues I cannot resolve as yet, and they are a bit related. One is that the Universe / World is described as impersonal, yet moral at the same time. The Law of kamma operates to, seemingly, reward goodness and punish badness - which almost mimics the human concept of morality - and yet, there's no-one in charge of this system, we are told. It just operates automatically, yes? This is where Theistic Hindus have a ready explanation - God is moral and virtuous, and that is why the Universe is also founded upon such laws - a kind of 'cosmic training ground'. But, how do we explain the fact that the World has a moral sense, as it were?

The other doubt relates to the Buddha himself. The World seems hell-bent on enjoyment, it is immersed in craving. And yet, the World also produces an escape from itself - the Noble Eightfold Path, which we are told is fabricated from the five khandhas, from right here in this world, just as the Buddha comes from this same world, and not from 'outside'. So, are we to believe that the World has built within it a kind of 'escape hatch', despite it being inherently conditioned and ignorant?

Sorry about the difficulty of these issues, but I would like to resolve these doubts, and put them to rest, so I can just get on with things.

Thanks for reading.

_/I\_
Then the Blessed One, picking up a tiny bit of dust with the tip of his fingernail, said to the monk, "There isn't even this much form...feeling...
perception...fabrications...consciousness that is constant, lasting, eternal, not subject to change, that will stay just as it is as long as eternity."

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retrofuturist
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Re: Some doubts i would like help with...

Postby retrofuturist » Wed May 30, 2012 3:25 am

"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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manas
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Re: Some doubts i would like help with...

Postby manas » Wed May 30, 2012 3:33 am

Thanks retro,

and I think I will have to read and re-read that sutta a few times, and contemplate it's meaning over time. Hopefully real comprehension will sink in at some stage.

manas

_/I\_
Then the Blessed One, picking up a tiny bit of dust with the tip of his fingernail, said to the monk, "There isn't even this much form...feeling...
perception...fabrications...consciousness that is constant, lasting, eternal, not subject to change, that will stay just as it is as long as eternity."

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hanzze_
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Re: Some doubts i would like help with...

Postby hanzze_ » Wed May 30, 2012 4:43 am

Manas,

A very sort essay which might be useful:

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Goofaholix
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Re: Some doubts i would like help with...

Postby Goofaholix » Wed May 30, 2012 5:13 am


hermitwin
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Re: Some doubts i would like help with...

Postby hermitwin » Wed May 30, 2012 5:51 am

you may wish to note that arahants do not suffer mentally.
they still have physical pains but they are peaceful mentally.
simply bcos they have understood and awaken from this dream.
when you are in a nightmare, you suffer terribly.
but when you wake up, you are relieved, it was just a dream.

Reductor
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Re: Some doubts i would like help with...

Postby Reductor » Wed May 30, 2012 5:53 am

Good-day manas.

I've been thinking over your questions, and I'd like to share my thoughts about the second one.

Specially, both right and wrong knowledge are conditioned. The conditioned nature of knowledge is both the trap and the release -- if there wasn't conditioning, then there could be neither freedom nor bondage. The difference rests in how well they predict the results of our endeavours. The wrong kind is largely imposed on us by the world we live in, and has very little predictive value, instead setting us up for disappointment when the result we were after fails to materialize; this failure then produces in us frustration. The fact that our efforts often turn out wrong fills us with fear whenever we undertake to accomplish something; avoiding the result we fear causes the mind to seek a sure solution, resulting in ceaseless mental agitation.

Fear of what might or might not be, frustration with what is, and prolonged mental agitation are hallmarks of suffering, don't you think?

Sadly, however, we sometimes get lucky even when our predictive tools are poor. For example, we pursue a person that we're attracted too, and lo-and-behold we attain them, make love and happiness, and live thinking that things will always work out as we want. Then, bam, things go awry and we're plunged again in frustration and fear and look for a way out, all the while thinking our faulty tools are sufficient for the job because they seemed to have given good results before. This occasional success further reinforces confidence in wrong knowledge.

Enter into this the occasional accurate observation. If enough are made, even unintentionally over lifetimes, for instance, then a being comes away wondering if their assumptions are actually right or not. They then only need to pursue their doubt with observation and soon they'll see that they've been operating from wrong assumptions. With that realization they cease to operate from those wrong assumptions, which the world conditioned them to accept, and instead operate from the accurate observations. With that change they no longer experience fear, frustration or mental agitation.

Now, I cannot vouche for the complete accuracy of this post, nor for the clarity of its expression, but I hope that it was useful.

EDIT: some grammar and slight changes to wording for clarity's sake. Also removed a speculative statement about the universe. Whoops.

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manas
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Re: Some doubts i would like help with...

Postby manas » Wed May 30, 2012 7:10 am

In order of appearance,

hanzze - yes, thank you, that essay was useful.

Goofaholix - just to clarify, I didn't mean to imply that there is or was a designer...I just find it amazing and baffling, but no I don't assume a 'designer' any more, because if there were, he she or it would have a heck of a lot of explaining to do - for starters, why the people claiming to represent him/her seem to have disputed with each other, often to the point of killing each other, for millenia :|

hermitwin - I'm certainly looking forward to waking up from dreaming. Seems to be taking a while, but put into the context of previous wanderings throughout unlimited births in Samsara, maybe we are waking up real fast, relative to the amount of lifetimes spent even more asleep than we might be now...

Reductor - I appreciate your thoughts on this. Maybe there is a bit of attrition over the countless lifetimes of wandering, whereby a being might actually get tired of the usual outcomes, and try a different approach. One would hope, anyway.

I have a bit of :reading: to do now, got sent a few other links too...thx again everyone, and a wish - *May we all, at the very least, enter the Stream that leads inexorably toward Nibbana, in this lifetime*

metta :anjali:
Then the Blessed One, picking up a tiny bit of dust with the tip of his fingernail, said to the monk, "There isn't even this much form...feeling...
perception...fabrications...consciousness that is constant, lasting, eternal, not subject to change, that will stay just as it is as long as eternity."

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LonesomeYogurt
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Re: Some doubts i would like help with...

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Wed May 30, 2012 7:51 pm

I'm having trouble trying to articulate my thoughts on your first question, but here it goes:

Remember first of all that kamma is volitional action, not the results. The results of kamma are the fruits of kamma, or Vipāka. It's a small note but it helps to be clear.

Because we live in a creatorless universe, there is no overarching intrinsic, deontological essence of moral worth to an action. There is no universal good or bad declared by a God or Supreme Being. There is only cause and effect; some actions have results that generate generosity, compassion, and wisdom while other actions have results that generate greed, hatred, and delusion; the former are the roots of all joy and the latter are the roots of all suffering. Murder is wrong because as an action it generates mindstates that lead to suffering. That result, whether mental or physical, is the fruit of the kamma, or volition, that led to the action. If an action (kamma) did not lead to an unwholesome (i.e suffering-generating) result then the action could not be an unwholesome action.

To use philosophy language, A iff B, or: An action is wholesome (moral) if, and only if, its result is a wholesome (moral) result. So asking "Why are the fruits of wholesome kamma also wholesome?" is a little like asking "Why are all bachelors single?" in that the moral nature of an action can be defined by its result, in the same way that someone's status as a bachelor is dependent on their being single. You can't say, "This action was moral but the result was unwholesome" any more than you can say, "This person is a bachelor but he is married."

In Buddhism, wholesome behavior is that which leads to the end of suffering. If its result is unwholesome, then by definition the action could not have been wholesome because it did not lead to the end of suffering. When viewed this way, the universe does not seem moral but instead just logical; wholesome action = wholesome result.

I hope this helps! It's just my view of the matter, I hope I have not made any errors. Please do correct me if I am wrong.
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta


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Goofaholix
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Re: Some doubts i would like help with...

Postby Goofaholix » Wed May 30, 2012 8:37 pm

Last edited by Goofaholix on Wed May 30, 2012 9:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Cittasanto
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Re: Some doubts i would like help with...

Postby Cittasanto » Wed May 30, 2012 8:49 pm



He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.

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Dan74
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Re: Some doubts i would like help with...

Postby Dan74 » Thu May 31, 2012 3:45 am

Manas

to me, there is one issue underlying both of your questions, pleasure and consequences and escape from pleasure and consequences.

First, it is worthwhile pondering just this one thing - pleasure. How we approach it, how we think about it, feel about it. Clarity and awareness are always useful, aren't they?

Seeking pleasure is human, there is no denying it. Not even the greatest sage when faced with a choice of picking a ripe fruit or a bitter fruit from the branch will pick the bitter one. But being driven by pleasure, motivated by pleasure, that's where the problem lies. The Dhamma provides a greater motivation in the form of nibbana, of liberation.

Consequences of our actions are often seen in the here-and-now in the peace of mind, clarity, a sense of profound freedom and a happy pure heart. The full workings of kamma are imponderable, the Buddha said, and I take that advice to heart and don't think about it beyond my range.

As for pleasure and pleasure-seeking, for as long as we remain slaves to it, peace of mind, clarity, a happy pure heart and a sense of profound freedom remain out of reach because the they are incompatible with a pleasure seeking mentality. In this way humanity thirsts for the ultimate happiness and freedom which entails leaving behind seeking for coarse pleasure.

Or so it seems to me...
_/|\_

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Re: Some doubts i would like help with...

Postby ground » Thu May 31, 2012 3:54 am


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manas
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Re: Some doubts i would like help with...

Postby manas » Thu May 31, 2012 4:28 am

Cittasanto - yet another awesome sutta recommendation, thank you! Regarding your explanations, I will need to turn them over in my mind and contemplate them for a while, as I'm still a bit new to this subject matter.

Dan - ground - and everyone who replied earlier - thanks again. I think I have enough to go on with now, and if we could 'call it a day' on this topic now, that might be for the best.

manas

:anjali:
Then the Blessed One, picking up a tiny bit of dust with the tip of his fingernail, said to the monk, "There isn't even this much form...feeling...
perception...fabrications...consciousness that is constant, lasting, eternal, not subject to change, that will stay just as it is as long as eternity."

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Re: Some doubts i would like help with...

Postby Cittasanto » Thu May 31, 2012 6:23 am



He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.

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manas
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Re: Some doubts i would like help with...

Postby manas » Thu May 31, 2012 8:03 am

Then the Blessed One, picking up a tiny bit of dust with the tip of his fingernail, said to the monk, "There isn't even this much form...feeling...
perception...fabrications...consciousness that is constant, lasting, eternal, not subject to change, that will stay just as it is as long as eternity."

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Cittasanto
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Re: Some doubts i would like help with...

Postby Cittasanto » Thu May 31, 2012 1:58 pm



He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.

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Kusala
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Re: Some doubts i would like help with...

Postby Kusala » Sat Jun 02, 2012 7:36 pm

Image

"He, the Blessed One, is indeed the Noble Lord, the Perfectly Enlightened One;
He is impeccable in conduct and understanding, the Serene One, the Knower of the Worlds;
He trains perfectly those who wish to be trained; he is Teacher of gods and men; he is Awake and Holy. "

--------------------------------------------
"The Dhamma is well-expounded by the Blessed One,
Apparent here and now, timeless, encouraging investigation,
Leading to liberation, to be experienced individually by the wise. "

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manas
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Re: Some doubts i would like help with...

Postby manas » Sun Jun 10, 2012 7:37 pm

Then the Blessed One, picking up a tiny bit of dust with the tip of his fingernail, said to the monk, "There isn't even this much form...feeling...
perception...fabrications...consciousness that is constant, lasting, eternal, not subject to change, that will stay just as it is as long as eternity."

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Ben
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Re: Some doubts i would like help with...

Postby Ben » Sun Jun 10, 2012 11:36 pm

As per the request of the OP, this thread will now be closed.
kind regards,

Ben
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

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