Stephen Batchelor - A Critique of "Buddhism Without Beliefs"

No holds barred discussion on the Buddhadharma. Argue about rebirth, karma, commentarial interpretations etc. Be nice to each other.

Re: A Critique of "Buddhism Without Beliefs"

Postby Dechen Norbu » Fri May 06, 2011 4:22 am

I would like to introduce a few thoughts about this issue that may explain why I think doubting rebirth of karma may be problematic for the practitioner.

I’m convinced it all comes down to the metaphysic assumptions we absorbed when growing up. Seems strange?
Let’s examine the following. What would be the most intuitive belief regarding the nature of mind? That it is physical or not physical? You would have to agree that the second is much more intuitive. Of course it’s also more intuitive the flatness of the Earth and that the sun moves around it. This doesn’t mean that the Earth is flat nor that the Sun revolves around it.

So, why do we doubt what we can clearly see? Education. We have been taught that the Earth is more or less round and it revolves around the Sun. These are facts.
Are we then to assume that mind being an emergent function of the brain is also a fact? No. Yet, it’s this belief that is passed as a scientific fact or that we have good reasons to BELIEVE (this is hope) that one day it will become a fact. What is a fact is that according to many authors, it won’t.

So, the problem is that we are taking a metaphysical predilection as being a scientific fact. All known cases of emergent properties of natural phenomena, both the phenomena itself and its emergent properties, functions included, can be simultaneously seen using a single mode of observation. However, when we use instruments to observe neural events and all those electrochemical functions, we do not detect mental events. And when introspectively we observe mental events, we don’t detect the electrochemical reactions happening.

Neural correlates aren’t mental states. In fact, modern neuroscience has no idea on how the brain produces the “emergent property” of consciousness. However, their faith that one day such will be known, passes to the public as a certainty, not a hope, a belief built upon metaphysical assumptions.
So we are taught to believe that our mind is an emergent property of the brain and this hinders the possibility of accepting rebirth. But this is only difficult for those who have been, pardon for the word, intoxicated by the metaphysics of physicalism.
The fact is that we have a non physical dimension that we experience every single day, our consciousness. It has no mass, spin, charge, any physical property.

We intuitively assume that the death of the body may not mean the death of the mind, unless we have been exposed to scientific materialism ad convinced by it.This is the main problem, not only not accepting rebirth or karma. We start practicing Dharma while stuck in a metaphysical system of beliefs that actually is incompatible with it. In the same way that we only observe nature according to our method of questioning, the same will happen when we observe our mind. Stuck in Physicalism, it may happen that our practice is barren from the start. Thus the importance of having an open mind.

Scientifically, we don’t know the nature, origin or fate of consciousness. There’s a lot of intellectual sleights of hand when neuroscientists try to explain consciousness in term of neural correlates. If you still feel compelled to believe what they say regarding consciousness, search for the many logical flaws in their reasoning. They abound and are critical. See with what they come up to to solve the hard problem. Technical gibberish, filled with unsubstantiated claims, hope in the work of future scientists, that as far as we know haven't yet born. They ask you to take this on faith, but using the proper tone and language. You are being taken as fools. The fact is that for science, consciousness remains a huge mystery.

The actual theories of consciousness remind the epicycles used by medieval scholars to explain the movement of celestial bodies while trying to maintain the geocentric model. Their insistence upon it, when taken to the extreme, may lead to absurds like saying mental events or consciousness don't even exist. This was behaviorism at its best, in the 50's. But this position was so ridicule that even Skinner retracted such ideas later. There were a few years though, that most psychologists, especially in the USA, believed such nonsense! We thought it was gone, though. But with the arising of neurosciences, I fear we are once again walking towards a similar direction. Nowadays, the kind of experiences conducted in Psychology labs, apart the technological apparatus, remind me more and more of such dark days for the study of the mind (term nearly banned from any scientific discussion in those days). I even fear if Psychology doesn't shake off this neuroscientifc trend, there will come a day in which this branch of science may be seen as a minor curiosity, previous to the arising of the "all mighty neurosciences".

I'm sad, now.
:lol:
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Re: A Critique of "Buddhism Without Beliefs"

Postby coldmountain » Fri May 06, 2011 4:23 am

Hi Huseng,

Your use of the word "fundamentalism" is unjustified when directed at what I'm speaking about. I understand your fear and disgust with some religions in the world today, but understand that Buddhism still has actual core teachings which for most have to be accepted as legitimate without having actually verified their validity. The verification of their validity does come eventually when one has suitable abilities to verify them. Buddhism says you actually can verify the validity of the teaching on rebirth and recollect past lives, but this comes through years of yogic training. At the present moment you might not be able to do it, but you need to develop the mental machinery to do it. Until such time there is nothing wrong with deferring to a valid testimony of the Buddha.


I'll ask you the same question, then, to gain and understanding of where you're coming from. Is this based on actual experience - experience that you know is not mistaken (i.e. based on not acknowledging the complexity of the brain).

Stop accusing me of essentialism. It is getting old. I am pointing out a fact that is accepted by the academic community. I am an academic in ivory towers.


Is it also the academic consensus that we are living in the "degenerate age" and other such teleological beliefs?

Peace,
Mike
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Re: A Critique of "Buddhism Without Beliefs"

Postby coldmountain » Fri May 06, 2011 4:32 am

Dechen Norbu wrote:I would like to introduce a few thoughts about this issue that may explain why I think doubting rebirth of karma may be problematic for the practitioner.

I’m convinced it all comes down to the metaphysic assumptions we absorbed when growing up. Seems strange?
Let’s examine the following. What would be the most intuitive belief regarding the nature of mind? That it is physical or not physical? You would have to agree that the second is much more intuitive. Of course it’s also more intuitive the flatness of the Earth and that the sun moves around it. This doesn’t mean that the Earth is flat nor that the Sun revolves around it.

So, why do we doubt what we can clearly see? Education. We have been taught that the Earth is more or less round and it revolves around the Sun. These are facts.
Are we then to assume that mind being an emergent function of the brain is also a fact? No. Yet, it’s this belief that is passed as a scientific fact or that we have good reasons to BELIEVE (this is hope) that one day it will become a fact. What is a fact is that according to many authors, it won’t.

So, the problem is that we are taking a metaphysical predilection as being a scientific fact. All known cases of emergent properties of natural phenomena, both the phenomena itself and its emergent properties, functions included, can be simultaneously seen using a single mode of observation. However, when we use instruments to observe neural events and all those electrochemical functions, we do not detect mental events. And when introspectively we observe mental events, we don’t detect the electrochemical reactions happening.

Neural correlates aren’t mental states. In fact, modern neuroscience has no idea on how the brain produces the “emergent property” of consciousness. However, their faith that one day such will be known, passes to the public as a certainty, not a hope, a belief built upon metaphysical assumptions.
So we are taught to believe that our mind is an emergent property of the brain and this hinders the possibility of accepting rebirth. But this is only difficult for those who have been, pardon for the word, intoxicated by the metaphysics of physicalism.
The fact is that we have a non physical dimension that we experience every single day, our consciousness. It has no mass, spin, charge, any physical property.

We intuitively assume that the death of the body may not mean the death of the mind, unless we have been exposed to scientific materialism ad convinced by it.This is the main problem, not only not accepting rebirth or karma. We start practicing Dharma while stuck in a metaphysical system of beliefs that actually is incompatible with it. In the same way that we only observe nature according to our method of questioning, the same will happen when we observe our mind. Stuck in Physicalism, it may happen that our practice is barren from the start. Thus the importance of having an open mind.

Scientifically, we don’t know the nature, origin or fate of consciousness. There’s a lot of intellectual sleights of hand when neuroscientists try to explain consciousness in term of neural correlates. If you still feel compelled to believe what they say regarding consciousness, search for the many logical flaws in their reasoning. They abound and are critical. See with what they come up to to solve the hard problem. Technical gibberish, filled with unsubstantiated claims, hope in the work of future scientists, that as far as we know haven't yet born. They ask you to take this on faith, but using the proper tone and language. You are being taken as fools. The fact is that for science, consciousness remains a huge mystery.

The actual theories of consciousness remind the epicycles used by medieval scholars to explain the movement of celestial bodies while trying to maintain the geocentric model. Their insistence upon it, when taken to the extreme, may lead to absurds like saying mental events or consciousness don't even exist. This was behaviorism at its best, in the 50's. But this position was so ridicule that even Skinner retracted such ideas later. There were a few years though, that most psychologists, especially in the USA, believed such nonsense! We thought it was gone, though. But with the arising of neurosciences, I fear we are once again walking towards a similar direction. Nowadays, the kind of experiences conducted in Psychology labs, apart the technological apparatus, remind me more and more of such dark days for the study of the mind (term nearly banned from any scientific discussion in those days). I even fear if Psychology doesn't shake off this neuroscientifc trend, there will come a day in which this branch of science may be seen as a minor curiosity, previous to the arising of the "all mighty neurosciences".

I'm sad, now.
:lol:


Hello Dechen Norbu,

I definitely see where you're coming from; it took me a while to see that the "emergent" theory of consciousness is something of a sleight of hand. The problem for me is that substance dualism also has its problems, in that it provides no explanation for why so-called "mind" interacts with so-called "matter." It has driven me to this point at least, where I see reality as being composed of sets of experiences, or that the universe is experiential in some sense (panpsychism or pan-experientialism). But the fact is the mind and brain by all observation are inextricably linked -- what happens to the brain happens to the mind and vice versa -- even if there is more to the brain (and indeed, to reality) than what can be objectively described, it is still pretty far from arriving at rebirth. Perhaps I still haven't gotten far enough from physicalism.

Peace,
Mike
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Re: A Critique of "Buddhism Without Beliefs"

Postby Dechen Norbu » Fri May 06, 2011 4:37 am

couldmountain, hi!

When asking Namdrol if he knows such things by experience, you remind me an old guy who lived in my mother's village. It happens that this fellow didn't believe mankind had landed on the moon.
Once I told him that to understand how that was possible he had to know physics, engineering and all that. Or then, trusting in the experts who said it.
He asked me, have you gone there yourself? :lol:

Meditation masters are experts of the mind. In the scientific community we only have experts of the brain. The problem is that you seem under the impression that they are the same. Now, you can rely in the experts of the brain, who seem to know very little about the mind, or try to learn something from the experts of the mind.

An ethnocentric approach, by this I mean the impossibility that other civilizations made any discoveries of real value to our understanding, is unwise. Nevertheless it's rather common.
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Re: A Critique of "Buddhism Without Beliefs"

Postby Dechen Norbu » Fri May 06, 2011 4:39 am

coldmountain wrote:Hello Dechen Norbu,

I definitely see where you're coming from; it took me a while to see that the "emergent" theory of consciousness is something of a sleight of hand. The problem for me is that substance dualism also has its problems, in that it provides no explanation for why so-called "mind" interacts with so-called "matter." It has driven me to this point at least, where I see reality as being composed of sets of experiences, or that the universe is experiential in some sense (panpsychism or pan-experientialism). But the fact is the mind and brain by all observation are inextricably linked -- what happens to the brain happens to the mind and vice versa -- even if there is more to the brain (and indeed, to reality) than what can be objectively described, it is still pretty far from arriving at rebirth. Perhaps I still haven't gotten far enough from physicalism.

Peace,
Mike

Yes, that's a problem. But ultimately both mind and brain have the same nature: emptiness.
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Re: A Critique of "Buddhism Without Beliefs"

Postby LastLegend » Fri May 06, 2011 4:44 am

coldmountain,

How far are you willing to go to answer your own question? You know sitting here and pondering about will not do it. Many philosophers in the past had done so, but the issue of Mind and matter still remains unsolved.
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Re: A Critique of "Buddhism Without Beliefs"

Postby Indrajala » Fri May 06, 2011 4:47 am

coldmountain wrote:I'll ask you the same question, then, to gain and understanding of where you're coming from. Is this based on actual experience - experience that you know is not mistaken (i.e. based on not acknowledging the complexity of the brain).


I know that through meditation one comes to be able to see and perceive things that were unavailable prior to yogic cultivation.



Is it also the academic consensus that we are living in the "degenerate age" and other such teleological beliefs?


That's an irrelevant question.

There is no academic consensus on such things. Generally speaking most people think we are in an age of progress and development.

That does not negate my earlier point that academics all recognize the fact that every single tradition in Buddhist history accepted karma and rebirth.


If you want some scientific studies on children who claim to remember past life memories look at the works of Stevenson and Tucker at the University of Virginia.

Look here:

http://www.medicine.virginia.edu/clinic ... -page#CORT

Quite often these children recollect fine details of events that occurred before they were conceived. They recollect names, places and details from a time before they were conceived. There are not just one or two cases, but thousands. This research is carried out by PhD academics who are incidentally also involved in psychiatry.

So, there really is evidence in the ordinary real world for rebirth. This tends to get ignored by the lot of scientists, though.
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Re: A Critique of "Buddhism Without Beliefs"

Postby Dechen Norbu » Fri May 06, 2011 4:50 am

Let me just say that I very much appreciate couldmountain's clear reasoning. His doubts are very legit and he expresses them with great clarity. We are debating one another, not versus each other, folks. :smile:
These doubts are very legit. What I don't like is how Batchelor choses to answer them. The doubts that coldmountain expresses are most natural when one grows in the West (or goes through college anywhere in the world) :smile:
I'd say having these doubts means one is thinking instead of simply accepting what one is told. I had all these doubts and more and it took me a long time to get where I am now in terms of what I accept and reject.
Respect 8-)
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Re: A Critique of "Buddhism Without Beliefs"

Postby Astus » Fri May 06, 2011 12:42 pm

The wind was flapping a temple flag, and two monks started an argument. One said the flag moved, the other said the wind moved; they argued back and forth but could not reach a conclusion.
The Sixth Patriarch said, "It is not the wind that moves, it is not the flag that moves; it is your mind that moves."
The two monks were awe-struck.


From one's personal point of view there is necessarily a mind that perceives and understands experienced phenomena. From an objective point of view everything has to be without subjective biases, in fact, what is objective can't possess any trace of mental signs. Thus subjective and objective are exclusive to each other. Therefore mind, as it is accessible only to the mind itself, can't be within the realm of objective phenomena. On the other hand, it is only mind that conceives of both subjective and objective, they are points of view made up "within" the mind. In one's actual experience both mental and material phenomena appear and display different attributes, from what comes that a keyboard doesn't call itself a keyboard but we call it that way, so matter is unaware and mind is aware. But there can be no duality within the realm of experience itself for we perceive matter without any problem. However, when we try to think about it in a roundabout way so that the perceived has to be without perception so when the perceiver is perceived it is also without perception, thus mind becomes matter. Still, believing there is a independent mind is another extreme. Both are based on substantialist self-views. None can serve as logical bases of rebirth. The Buddhist understanding, however, has rebirth as a logical consequence of the way things are.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

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This face, the face at birth."

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Re: A Critique of "Buddhism Without Beliefs"

Postby Malcolm » Fri May 06, 2011 1:20 pm

coldmountain wrote:My only question in response to this is, is this something you have verified in personal experience or is all this itself an expression of a belief?


To preface, everything involving one's mind is involves belief. The idea that one has "personal experience" of anything is a belief system. Mental experience is always a meditated second-order cognition. Sense cognitions are non-conceptual.

That being said, I have some unclear recollections of past lives. Those experiences where stronger during the time I spent in Central Tibet.

I am certain that given sufficient time, and opportunity I could enhance those memories. But having memories of past lives is not the point of Dharma practice. But if you do sufficient practice, then you will verify the existence of dhyana realm devas too, and so on, as have many people who have spent time cultivating the jhanas in the Vipassana system. This is because cultivating dhyana affects one's sense organs and puts their experiential sphere in the form realms even though someone is physically located in the desire realm. I have a little of this experience as well. However, nothing that will stand up to so called "empirical" double blind studies. Recall of past lives cannot be scientifically tested for because it depends on developing certain meditative skills. But enough people have developed those skills and confirmed similar phenomena over the course of Buddhist history.

Of course, skeptics will dismiss such findings as narrative driven.

But beyond that, you have to recall that Buddha's insight into dependent origination was predicated on his recollection of his own past lives. This is an unalterable fact.
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Re: A Critique of "Buddhism Without Beliefs"

Postby Malcolm » Fri May 06, 2011 1:30 pm

coldmountain wrote:
I noted the complexity of the brain also for another reason: it challenges any naive realism. Someone who isn't aware of how complex the brain is might uncritically believe that some experience or some memory belongs to a past life or whatever. There's also the fact that all of our experiences seem to have neural correlates...



If course, mind and body are inseparable.

...which strongly suggests mutual identity between mind and brain.


Only to a physicalist. To a Tibetan Doctor is suggests that mind inhabits the brain as well as the rest of nervous system and has no fixed location within the body, moving about the body wherever there is a pathway.



As for rebirth, there are many questions as to how the process could actually take place. What is it that transfers from one life to the next?


The Vajrayāna answer for that is that the mind is inseparably wed to a function of matter called vāyu, wind. The alāyavijñāna, bound to the mahāprāṇavāyu tranfers through the bardo from one body to the next. That wind/mind is also impermanent in the sense that it is momentary.

How does one's mind transfers, when the brain undeniably has a lot to do with what is experienced in the mind?


As above it leaves the body mounted in a vāyu.

What testable evidence is there that there is such a transfer (you would expect information to pass from one life to the next, and information is measurable).


Impressions scored on the alāyavij̃nāna is the standard mechanism to account for karmic ripening. Memory is considered a form of karmic ripening since it is a mental sensation.

The questions seem to stack up with little explanatory power within the theory itself. How do moral choices (karma) impact which life one is reborn into?


They affect one's overall aesthetic inclinations in the bardo determining the place of one's next rebirth.

Is it limited to a choice of beings on earth?


No. The options for rebirth in the universe are infinite.

If so, how does the mechanism responsible for rebirth choose which life one is born into on earth? All life on earth is readily explained in evolutionary biological terms and does not need any such superfluity to explain how things work.


Rebirth and evolution are non-contradictory.

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Re: A Critique of "Buddhism Without Beliefs"

Postby Malcolm » Fri May 06, 2011 2:23 pm

coldmountain wrote:Perhaps I still haven't gotten far enough from physicalism.


Definitely.
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Re: A Critique of "Buddhism Without Beliefs"

Postby Lazy_eye » Fri May 06, 2011 2:32 pm

Loppon,

Just for clarification, what you explained above is a distinctively Vajrayana perspective, right? Is anything similar found in (sutric) Mahayana or Theravada?

My studies, such as they are, have mostly been in Ch'an and Theravada and I don't recall encountering a similar schema. In Theravada, as I understand it, consciousness re-arises along with the material aggregates -- there's no point at which it can be said to be separated from them, unless one is reborn into a "formless realm". Even those Theravada teachers who accept an intermediary or bardo-like state insist it involves some sort of subtle body.
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Re: A Critique of "Buddhism Without Beliefs"

Postby Malcolm » Fri May 06, 2011 2:37 pm

Lazy_eye wrote:Loppon,

Just for clarification, what you explained above is a distinctively Vajrayana perspective, right? Is anything similar found in (sutric) Mahayana or Theravada?

My studies, such as they are, have mostly been in Ch'an and Theravada and I don't recall encountering a similar schema. In Theravada, as I understand it, consciousness re-arises along with the material aggregates -- there's no point at which it can be said to be separated from them, unless one is reborn into a "formless realm". Even those Theravada teachers who accept an intermediary or bardo-like state insist it involves some sort of subtle body.



Yes, that subtle body is constituted from vāyu. In the bardo, one has all five aggregates -- one's rupaskandha is made of vāyu which also has the potentiality of the other four elements.

Sūtra does not provide an adequate account of the mechanism of rebirth.
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Re: A Critique of "Buddhism Without Beliefs"

Postby Fa Dao » Fri May 06, 2011 3:52 pm

How about from this angle....
we know that in the Teachings, karma and rebirth are inextricably linked. The brass tacks of karma are simple...for every cause, whether its thought, word or deed there is a seed planted in the alaya and eventually some kind of effect when the conditions are right for its "ripening". We can see this parallel in the field of modern psychology. We develop habits and then view our world though the colored lens of these habits. I mean, isnt that what we basically are on a samsaric level? a conglomeration of habit patterns? What we mistakenly think of as a "self"? Ok, so far so good. Now, we also know from physics that in one way or another every thought word and deed is a form of energy...whether its bioelectric, kinetic, whatever. We know that energy can be stored, right? How is that different from the Teachings saying that karmic seeds are planted in the alaya consciousness? To extend this a bit further we also know from physics that energy cannot be destroyed, only converted. All of those planted seeds of energy have to go somewhere when this body ceases to function, right? Wouldn't that be rebirth in some way or another? Anyways, enough rambling. Those ways of thinking are what helped me to see karma and rebirth. Hope it helps others.
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Re: A Critique of "Buddhism Without Beliefs"

Postby coldmountain » Fri May 06, 2011 4:06 pm

Hi Dechen Norbu,

Meditation masters are experts of the mind. In the scientific community we only have experts of the brain. The problem is that you seem under the impression that they are the same. Now, you can rely in the experts of the brain, who seem to know very little about the mind, or try to learn something from the experts of the mind.

An ethnocentric approach, by this I mean the impossibility that other civilizations made any discoveries of real value to our understanding, is unwise. Nevertheless it's rather common.


I do try to avoid ethnocentricism, but it is also important not to underestimate the force (and virtues) of scientific understanding. Whereas karma adds nothing to explaining earthquakes and sexual reproduction, it is Western knowledge that has explained them with demonstrable, verifiable, public means. If I dismissed that achievement I might be ethnocentric, so its important to walk a middle way, I think. :smile:

Thanks for your thoughtful comments btw.

Peace.
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Re: A Critique of "Buddhism Without Beliefs"

Postby coldmountain » Fri May 06, 2011 4:07 pm

Huseng,

I know that through meditation one comes to be able to see and perceive things that were unavailable prior to yogic cultivation.


Is rebirth a matter of commitment to a belief on your part or is it a matter of demonstrable reality?


That's an irrelevant question.

There is no academic consensus on such things. Generally speaking most people think we are in an age of progress and development.


And yet the teleological views inform your understanding of modernized expressions of Buddhism, excluding them from rightfully being called Buddhist. I don't think academia labels modernist Buddhism "adharma". Christianity has gone through many unprecedented changes as well, "unprecedented" doesn't mean "un-Christian" or "un-Buddhist". I don't think it's possible for any pre-scientific worldview to escape the force of modernity totally unscathed.
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Re: A Critique of "Buddhism Without Beliefs"

Postby coldmountain » Fri May 06, 2011 4:12 pm

Hi Namdrol,

To preface, everything involving one's mind is involves belief. The idea that one has "personal experience" of anything is a belief system. Mental experience is always a meditated second-order cognition. Sense cognitions are non-conceptual.

That being said, I have some unclear recollections of past lives. Those experiences where stronger during the time I spent in Central Tibet.

I am certain that given sufficient time, and opportunity I could enhance those memories. But having memories of past lives is not the point of Dharma practice. But if you do sufficient practice, then you will verify the existence of dhyana realm devas too, and so on, as have many people who have spent time cultivating the jhanas in the Vipassana system. This is because cultivating dhyana affects one's sense organs and puts their experiential sphere in the form realms even though someone is physically located in the desire realm. I have a little of this experience as well. However, nothing that will stand up to so called "empirical" double blind studies. Recall of past lives cannot be scientifically tested for because it depends on developing certain meditative skills. But enough people have developed those skills and confirmed similar phenomena over the course of Buddhist history.

Of course, skeptics will dismiss such findings as narrative driven.

But beyond that, you have to recall that Buddha's insight into dependent origination was predicated on his recollection of his own past lives. This is an unalterable fact.


I'm not sure anything can be called unalterable in this world. Thanks for your reply. A problem is that we can have false memories; the mind can create them through the power of suggestion or to fill in gaps, this is a well documented phenomenon, especially in young children. You seem to acknowledge that the evidence won't be convincing to those who have serious doubts about it, why is that? Shouldn't other realms show some measurable signs that they exist?

Only to a physicalist. To a Tibetan Doctor is suggests that mind inhabits the brain as well as the rest of nervous system and has no fixed location within the body, moving about the body wherever there is a pathway.


And yet when the spinal cord is severed we lose experience of the body - but the mind still works. It is only when the brain is damaged that the mind follows suite (or vice-versa). You can literally poke the brain to alter and generate different experiences. This is strongly suggestive of identity between mind and brain, not only to a physicalist but to anyone who looks at that fact objectively. I don't have a commitment to physicalism per se, to me it only suggests that experience must be structured in some way, and that what is structured must have some kind of demonstrable reality, otherwise it is meaningless to speak of its reality. "Matter" is only a word. But the problem with someone suggesting that one should believe in things without verification is that literally anything can be true. It would be dishonest for me to commit myself to a worldview without any evidence.

At this point I do not see any form of dualism very convincing. If reality itself is experiential (which it seems to be); then the brain might be considered a very complicated experiential structure. If so, then saying the mind exists independently of that structure is saying that what is structured is independent of the structure. It doesn’t make any sense to me. When you're talking about other realms, don't they have structure? If not, then in what sense can they exist; if so, then why aren't they objectively verifiable as such? Is structure itself a private reality?

Rebirth and evolution are non-contradictory.


Yet rebirth seems to play no role in actual, publically verifiable biological science. Evolution is based on the simpler evolving into the more complex, with humans representing the most complicated we know of. There are more humans now then there have ever been. It seems that human life operates according statistical and biological means and rebirth and karma have no observable role to play in that. For instance, think about how there are billions of more humans on earth now then there were in the Buddha’s time. Is that because of good karma that beings have accumulated? If so, why does it happen to coincide with purely statistical/biological reasons relating to reproduction rates/population growth?
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Re: A Critique of "Buddhism Without Beliefs"

Postby Indrajala » Fri May 06, 2011 5:15 pm

Namdrol wrote:That being said, I have some unclear recollections of past lives. Those experiences where stronger during the time I spent in Central Tibet.


Were you as a child attracted to Tibetan or perhaps Indian culture, languages, arts, etc...?
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Re: A Critique of "Buddhism Without Beliefs"

Postby Fa Dao » Fri May 06, 2011 5:33 pm

Question...
if blind faith is at one end of the spectrum would not over reliance on the intellect be at the other end? Could not both lead one away from the Path?
Sometimes the only way to really KNOW something is to practice it. Can one not just go on the hypothesis that karma and rebirth might [i]be true?[/i]
Basically taking neither a for or against approach until one can confirm or deny the Truth of it for oneself through practice?
"But if you know how to observe yourself, you will discover your real nature, the primordial state, the state of Guruyoga, and then all will become clear because you will have discovered everything"-Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche
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