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Bases for Skillful Action? - Page 3 - Dhamma Wheel

Bases for Skillful Action?

Buddhist ethical conduct including the Five Precepts (Pañcasikkhāpada), and Eightfold Ethical Conduct (Aṭṭhasīla).
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Dan74
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Re: Bases for Skillful Action?

Postby Dan74 » Wed Dec 21, 2011 4:09 am

Regarding the first cause, just two quick points:

1. I don't see where above you show that an infinite chain of causes back in time is impossible. Why does there have to be a first?

2. Physicists are quite comfortable with the Big Bang originating by itself. Causation only operates within time, but prior to the Big Bang, there is no time, hence no prior to the Big Bang. I am not a physicist, but as a mathematician, I see a fallacy of applying the our usual logic to a situation where it is inapplicable.

For centuries the greatest minds have attempted to prove the existence of God and failed. I don't think the Church maintains that God is a logical necessity. It is not a subjective necessity either - I certainly see many people living exemplary lives without a theistic belief. But if it makes sense to you, then it makes sense. There are also many people living exemplary lives with theistic beliefs.
_/|\_

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contemplans
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Re: Bases for Skillful Action?

Postby contemplans » Wed Dec 21, 2011 2:43 pm


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Re: Bases for Skillful Action?

Postby Khalil Bodhi » Wed Dec 21, 2011 2:45 pm

Contemplans,

Well, unsurprisingly, your response to my question was unsatisfying and didn't really address the question of praxis. The argumentation and eel-wriggling here really doesn't have much on the fruits of the Dhamma-vinaya of the Lord buddha. I wish you happiness with whatever path you choose and will now bow out. Mettaya!
To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one's mind — this is the teaching of the Buddhas.
-Dhp. 183

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DarwidHalim
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Re: Bases for Skillful Action?

Postby DarwidHalim » Wed Dec 21, 2011 3:51 pm

I am not here nor there.
I am not right nor wrong.
I do not exist neither non-exist.
I am not I nor non-I.
I am not in samsara nor nirvana.
To All Buddhas, I bow down for the teaching of emptiness. Thank You!

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Re: Bases for Skillful Action?

Postby contemplans » Wed Dec 21, 2011 4:12 pm


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Re: Bases for Skillful Action?

Postby santa100 » Wed Dec 21, 2011 5:54 pm


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Re: Bases for Skillful Action?

Postby Prasadachitta » Wed Dec 21, 2011 7:25 pm

"Beautifully taught is the Lord's Dhamma, immediately apparent, timeless, of the nature of a personal invitation, progressive, to be attained by the wise, each for himself." Anguttara Nikaya V.332

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contemplans
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Re: Bases for Skillful Action?

Postby contemplans » Wed Dec 21, 2011 7:39 pm

Prasadachitta , I appreciate your candor. What I don't understand is why the Buddhist path is a noble truth then, if it is applicable to each person with no reference to all people. Every religion worthy of mention says that the absolutes are applicable to each person uniquely. But the Buddha did say that over your particular application, there are these universals which govern the pariculars -- karma, rebirth, dukkha as undesireable, etc. Nibbana is universal in that it is the goal of all beings. Karma is universal in that all beings get to the goal through skillful karma and go away from it through unskillful karma. Dukkha is bad because beings universally desire lasting happiness. The Buddha takes the universals and sets out a universal path, which we take and apply to our particulars. At least this is what it should be, it seems.
Last edited by contemplans on Wed Dec 21, 2011 7:44 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Bases for Skillful Action?

Postby daverupa » Wed Dec 21, 2011 7:43 pm


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Re: Bases for Skillful Action?

Postby contemplans » Wed Dec 21, 2011 8:16 pm


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Re: Bases for Skillful Action?

Postby daverupa » Wed Dec 21, 2011 9:04 pm


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Re: Bases for Skillful Action?

Postby David N. Snyder » Wed Dec 21, 2011 10:01 pm

Image




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Dan74
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Re: Bases for Skillful Action?

Postby Dan74 » Wed Dec 21, 2011 11:03 pm

_/|\_

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Re: Bases for Skillful Action?

Postby danieLion » Thu Dec 22, 2011 1:34 am


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Re: Bases for Skillful Action?

Postby danieLion » Thu Dec 22, 2011 1:44 am

Last edited by danieLion on Thu Dec 22, 2011 4:16 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Bases for Skillful Action?

Postby Prasadachitta » Thu Dec 22, 2011 2:09 am

Last edited by Prasadachitta on Thu Dec 22, 2011 2:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"Beautifully taught is the Lord's Dhamma, immediately apparent, timeless, of the nature of a personal invitation, progressive, to be attained by the wise, each for himself." Anguttara Nikaya V.332

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Sam Vara
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Re: Bases for Skillful Action?

Postby Sam Vara » Thu Dec 22, 2011 11:36 am

contemplans

Many thanks for raising these issues in what is turning into quite an exchange. I for one would like to express my thanks and appreciation towards you; it has certainly given me a lot to think about, even if some of the detail escapes me.

I have sometimes reflected on what religious people do when they encounter the truth-claims of other religions and traditions. This is a situation that now arises constantly, mainly due to the internet. It seems there are three broad responses. The first is fundamentalism: "We are right, and the others are not". The second is something like mysticism, along the lines of "On a higher level, we are all right, but we cannot see it yet". The third is a type of pragmatic anti-foundationalism, which denies the significance of truth-claims and objectivity within one's own tradition, and focuses on practice, on what works, on the "how" rather than the "what" or the "why". This is of course in line with the so-called "pragmatic turn" in western academic philosophy, and is best represented in Christian theology by the work of Don Cupitt. It is also, I think, one reason for the increasing popularity of Buddhism in the west. Within the Pali Canon and accepted commentaries there is a great deal of material which supports such a stance. It enables Buddhist practitioners to say, in effect, "I won't get involved in all that ontological wrangling about what is. I am merely following a path that I have found to work on a phenomenological or personal level".

You have received quite a lot of this type of response on this thread. For myself, I find quite a lot in the Buddha's teaching which is properly foundational. The Buddha does not merely prescribe what to do in accordance with dependent origination, he also appears to be saying what there is, independent of what we might do about it. I have already suggested

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .irel.html

and there are of course formulations of Mundane Right View such as

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

and statements about the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha such as

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .nypo.html

In addition, as you have already rightly pointed out, although the specific instantiations of dependent origination are (obviously!) contingent, the principle itself cannot be. Even if everything the Buddha said was in the form of "if p, then q", then it is the specific terms - the p and the q - which are contingent, rather than the principle itself. To argue otherwise is to fall into self-contradiction. How long, for example, does impermanence last for?

Where we part company, however, is in our responses to any idea of the absolute, or the unconditioned. Conceiving this way or that way about our (obviously mental) perception of the unconditioned seems to me to be part of our mental conditioning. Hence my recommendation of the Mulapariyaya Sutta:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

The practice of meditation leads me to question why this conception or that conception or indeed any conception is necessary. My mind wants to do it, maybe, but I know that it is not always a good idea to let my mind do what it wants.

So I would be interested to know why you feel one (Christian, Thomistic) conception is such that we are somehow compelled or even advised to accept it. I ask this not to set out my stall, or far less a linguistic trap, but in a mood of genuine curiosity to see if there is something I am missing.

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Re: Bases for Skillful Action?

Postby contemplans » Thu Dec 22, 2011 6:40 pm


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Re: Bases for Skillful Action?

Postby Prasadachitta » Thu Dec 22, 2011 8:40 pm

"Beautifully taught is the Lord's Dhamma, immediately apparent, timeless, of the nature of a personal invitation, progressive, to be attained by the wise, each for himself." Anguttara Nikaya V.332

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Sam Vara
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Re: Bases for Skillful Action?

Postby Sam Vara » Thu Dec 22, 2011 9:00 pm

contemplans

Many thanks for your response. Again, a great deal to read through here, which will cost me more time and thought in order to do it justice. But some preliminary remarks which might serve to highlight the differences in our positions.

You begin by saying that

"there are underlying assumptions which are never explained through reason, which we must go outside of the system to find."

The "must" bothers me a bit here. I have grown used to seeing the Buddha's goal and path as being essentially free from compulsion. If I find that I "must" do something, I examine the feeling carefully. This applies as much to the necessities of logic as the urgings of the body. In this case, I am perfectly OK about leaving uncovered assumptions as they are. I admit that "lasting happiness" might be what I am aiming for (although I tend to phrase it to myself and others in different terms) but I can't at the moment see how that is better understood or furthered as an aim by reference to

"our connection to Pure Being/Pure Happiness".

In fact, I don't really understand what this means. I can exist, and I can be happy, without any necessary connection to any other existence or happiness, concrete or abstracted. During meditation or on other fleeting occasions, I can experience myself as just being, or purely happy, but I don't think that this is what you mean, somehow.

" So inasmuch as we possess being, we desire happiness."

This bit seems to be particularly significant. I don't think of myself as "possessing being". I just am, and that contingently. Were I to possess being, there would have to be something to do the possessing, and that thing would need to possess being, and so on in an infinite regress. (I might see myself, like Spinozists, as a mode of being, but again I don't think this is what you are getting at). In fact, the Buddha's insistence that there is nothing that possesses its being seems particularly relevant here. My desires for happiness likewise do not seem to logically follow from my existence. They are multiple, and relatively short-lived, and keep arising and passing away. If there is such a thing as an underlying constant desire for happiness, I have never experienced it. It might be a relatively stable conception that I form about myself, based on some compulsion to philosophise. But every time I am happy, it passes away. And every time I start thinking about something else, even the mental conception passes away.

" From this flows a very consistent teaching of who we are, what we are to do, etc"

At the risk of sounding flippant, my response would be: "only if you let it!".

Your point about

"The truth may be that his path gets you to that reality as the ultimate via negativa -- strip away everything to attain everything"

might, with respect, misrepresent what many people who call themselves Buddhists are doing. It ignores the positive cultivation of good mental states and predispositions. In any case, there is the making of "Kamma that leads to the ending of Kamma", and few Buddhists I know consider this to be merely an apophatic exercise.

As for rebirth, I'm not sure what you mean when you say it is taken for granted. There has been a huge amount of discussion of this topic on this site alone, and few are the Buddhists who have accepted a "party line" without careful reflection. Phenomenological, naturalistic, three-life, one-life, agnostic, psychological, materialistic, and just plain denial - it's all there if you look for it! The fact that these are questions of faith which cannot be internally answered, as you put it, is correct for me at this time. It doesn't bother me. I can't answer many questions about the universe at all; my own digestion and the workings of my car are largely opaque to me. But the Dhamma offers the opportunity to reorientate oneself to the big questions, as much as it is about the answers to them.


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