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PostPosted: Fri May 06, 2011 5:35 pm 
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Not sure about others experiences and I really dont give much thought to this but I had some pretty interesting experiences as a kid.
Looking back on them now they could easily be interpreted as past-life residuals of some kind.
Personally I have no doubt about rebirth. For me it has more to do with confidence in my teachers and the teachings and to be honest I find rebirth to be far more rational than a single-life theory.


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PostPosted: Fri May 06, 2011 5:54 pm 
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coldmountain wrote:

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:


Karma is not meant to explain earthquakes or sexual reproduction.

Science is fine for explaining outer dependent origination. Even though there are limits to how well it explains outer dependent origination.

But science does not explain inner dependent origination and that is the domain of Dharma.

N

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འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

How can you not practice the highest Dharma
at this time of obtaining a perfect human body?

-- Jetsun Dragpa Gyaltsen


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PostPosted: Fri May 06, 2011 5:55 pm 
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Huseng wrote:
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...?



Nope. But i was into science fiction and fantasy. Around 13 I became aware of Eastern Religion and at 16 had my first real exposure to it.

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འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

How can you not practice the highest Dharma
at this time of obtaining a perfect human body?

-- Jetsun Dragpa Gyaltsen


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PostPosted: Fri May 06, 2011 6:05 pm 
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coldmountain wrote:

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.


Yes, and in Tibetan medicine, for example, we recognize that brain is the conduit for sense organ cognition and have for a thousand years.

Quote:
This is strongly suggestive of identity between mind and brain, not only to a physicalist but to anyone who looks at that fact objectively.


No, it suggests that self-perception is dependent upon sense organ cognition and when those are disrupted at the brain or nerve level, the mind is disrupted since it functions in the brain as well as the rest of the body provide it has a conduit. There are more ways than one to skin this cat.



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At this point I do not see any form of dualism very convincing.


Me either. Matter and mind form an experiential continuum. Nāma and rūpa are inseparable.


Quote:
If reality itself is experiential (which it seems to be); then the brain might be considered a very complicated experiential structure.


A human brain coordinates human sense experience. But experience is not reducible to the brain. The psycho-somactice continuum is more complicated than that.

Quote:
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?

Have you heard of the principle of cognitive closure?

Quote:

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?


False objection. Human beings do not always take rebirth as human beings. Not only that, beings do not only take rebirth on this planet. There is no evolutionary drive in rebirth that necessitates evolving from a lower state to a higher state.

It is not necessarily "good karma" just to be reborn a human being.

N

_________________
http://www.atikosha.org
http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://www.bhaisajya.guru
http://www.sakyapa.net
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

How can you not practice the highest Dharma
at this time of obtaining a perfect human body?

-- Jetsun Dragpa Gyaltsen


Last edited by Malcolm on Fri May 06, 2011 7:03 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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PostPosted: Fri May 06, 2011 6:59 pm 
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coldmountain wrote:
Hi Dechen Norbu,

Quote:
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.

Hi coldmountain,

My pleasure. :smile:

Namdrol already commented the point you make in the way I was going to. Science has been very well succeeded exploring nature and giving us technology. I have no beef with science whatsoever and I kept close relations with academia till very recently.
My problem thus is not science, but again, the metaphysical assumptions behind it. Not all scientists hold them, in fact many don't even think about it. Science in the field has little or nothing to do with this, with the exception of a few branches more related to the study of consciousness. This branch is where these prejudices are harmful. In most of the rest, it doesn't matter that much actually. You get your job done without even thinking about philosophy.

The fact is that regarding consciousness, scientific progress has been less than satisfactory and I'm convinced this is due to a metaphysical belief in physicalism. We know a lot about the brain and it's functions, but as we mistake mind to be an emergent property of its functioning we have progressed very little.
If you notice, perhaps it can be said that both Physics and Biology had big revolutions in their history. Physics had two, the first with Newton and the second with Einstein and quantum mechanics. Biology had one, starting in Darwin and culminating, perhaps it can be said, with the HGP.
The study of consciousness still approaches its object with rudimentary physical concepts, dated from the XIX century and with a strong leaning towards its background metaphysical paradigm, materialism. There are many reasons for the actual state of affairs, and ill will may be the less important, but the fact is that the study of consciousness is still at an embryonic stage.

What were the main factors that triggered the revolutions in other branches of science? Observation. Galileo used a telescope and Darwin observed the species. I'm being a little simplistic here, but I just want to make a point.
Let's use the example of Galileo. Galileo instead of looking to the correlates of the movement of celestial bodies, a la astrology trend of the time, looked at them directly. Based on the biases held by most intellectuals at his time, there were people who refused to look through his telescope, saying that if what they find wasn't the expected phenomena such would be due to defects of the lenses. Theory determined what you would see, not actual observation. Sometimes this happens even in modern science when some anomalous data is immediately set aside, because theory didn't support it.

Buddhists have spent 2500 years looking at the mind. Looking really carefully. They devised and used techniques for performing such task already present at their time. And then they came up with an interpretation of what they had observed. These experts of the mind have been agreeing in many points along hundreds of years. There are divergences, as to be expected when people have different theoretical approaches and use slightly different methods to study the same phenomena. Some techniques are better while others don't allow such deepness. Some chose a way to explain while others prefer different routes to help their disciples. There are many reasons for the diversity of Buddhist schools, some simply sociological.

Recently we have assisted to the reduction of Buddhadharma to trendy slogans, like just sitting and all that and one wonders how much one will achieve by doing such a simple thing, but the truth is that there is extensive literature explaining how to meditate, what obstacles are to be expected, how to overcome them, how not to take a transient experience for the ultimate goal of meditation, and so on. Following these methods, one comes by himself to agree with what one first learns theoretically.

So one would think,"OK, so I'll keep my beliefs until proven wrong". As I've said earlier, the problem is that the questions we make influence the answers we get. As Heinsenberg stated, we observe nature exposed to our method of questioning. The same is valid for the mind. Imagine I believe in a God. When I go for contemplation, if I find myself in a state of bliss, I may think "this is God" and end my path right there. All I'll do afterwards is trying to replicate this experience and dwell in it. However, if my theory is deeper, I'll have to cut through such experience and move along, gaining even deeper insight.

I hope I was clear in making my point.

Best wishes. :smile:


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PostPosted: Fri May 06, 2011 7:17 pm 
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There's a funny story that I'll tell here to illustrate the importance of keeping an open mind and having a solid theoretical background even before starting to practice meditation.

I met this guy from Argentina, deep into the psychedelic scene, who was absolutely convinced he had gained enlightenment while listening to trance music under the influence of psychedelic substances. His conception of enlightenment was quite simple and had more to do with getting euphoric and dazed, thus not suffering, than anything else.

Now, he was completely convinced he was enlightened. Unmovable about it. It was impossible to argue with him since he thought he had "The Experience". I think he was just tripping. :crazy:

This is a clear example of how delusion makes us go AWOL and why we shouldn't trust the blind to lead the blind. Materialist scientists, concerning the nature of consciousness, are no different than this guy. Just a different sort of blindness, that's all. They speculate that consciousness is an emergent property of the brain. I think they are just tripping. :crazy:
:smile:


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PostPosted: Fri May 06, 2011 7:40 pm 
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Dechen Norbu wrote:
There's a funny story that I'll tell here to illustrate the importance of keeping an open mind and having a solid theoretical background even before starting to practice meditation.

I met this guy from Argentina, deep into the psychedelic scene, who was absolutely convinced he had gained enlightenment while listening to trance music under the influence of psychedelic substances. His conception of enlightenment was quite simple and had more to do with getting euphoric and dazed, thus not suffering, than anything else.

Now, he was completely convinced he was enlightened. Unmovable about it. It was impossible to argue with him since he thought he had "The Experience". I think he was just tripping. :crazy:

This is a clear example of how delusion makes us go AWOL and why we shouldn't trust the blind to lead the blind. Materialist scientists, concerning the nature of consciousness, are no different than this guy. Just a different sort of blindness, that's all. They speculate that consciousness is an emergent property of the brain. I think they are just tripping. :crazy:
:smile:


The truth is that mind and matter are emergent properties of one another.

_________________
http://www.atikosha.org
http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://www.bhaisajya.guru
http://www.sakyapa.net
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

How can you not practice the highest Dharma
at this time of obtaining a perfect human body?

-- Jetsun Dragpa Gyaltsen


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PostPosted: Fri May 06, 2011 8:31 pm 
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Lazy_eye wrote:
Question came up as I was browsing the thread...

Let's say you had a friend who is coming from a secular and rationalistic background, with all the conceptual limits this entails, but who has seized on Buddhism as a possible spiritual path. Let's say you know with some certainty that this person is only capable of the following:

-- Batchelor's "agnostic Buddhism"
-- Zen Lite
-- Some other form of non-supernatural Buddhism
-- Secular humanism (perhaps with meditation or yoga as a complement)
-- Nihilism

What would be the best option here, and why? (Given that none of them are ideal). Again, this person can only choose from the above; at this point, the "religious" elements in Buddhism are too big a leap. Human birth is rare and your friend has encountered the dharma, even if in an incomplete form. He or she might not encounter it again for many eons.


I started off being very, very much an anti-religious physicalist. A real Dawkins type, although I've always had a fascination with the weird and Fortean. I now am a very conservative practitioner of Tibetan Buddhism.

In my opinion, Batchelor doing something that I did - reinterpreting what the Buddha's teachings as if he had a secret materialist agenda that those stupid Indians so many centuries ago would never have understood (regardless of the fact there were materialists and atheists in those days). My opinion of my old views is that this is a much more insidious thing that basically re-writes thing rather than simply agreeing to disagree which has all kinds of hidden assumptions of superiority that aren't as warranted as some take them to be.

What eventually turned me into what I am now is study and practice. I have no memories of a past life, but meditation experiences have most definitely stopped me being capable of simple physicalism.

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Look at the unfathomable spinelessness of man: all the means he's been given to stay alert he uses, in the end, to ornament his sleep. – Rene Daumal


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PostPosted: Fri May 06, 2011 8:35 pm 
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Here's an article I've not seen posted written by Alan Wallace, directly addressing Stephen Batchelor: http://www.mandalamagazine.org/archives ... d-atheist/

Stephen responded with this: http://www.mandalamagazine.org/archives ... n-wallace/

With the topic of whether the mind and materialism, I find this video of Ringu Tulku Rinpoche an excellent way to look at things:

http://www.mefeedia.com/watch/31903832

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Look at the unfathomable spinelessness of man: all the means he's been given to stay alert he uses, in the end, to ornament his sleep. – Rene Daumal


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PostPosted: Fri May 06, 2011 11:35 pm 
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Hi Namdrol,

Quote:
A human brain coordinates human sense experience. But experience is not reducible to the brain. The psycho-somactice continuum is more complicated than that.


I think it may be fruitful to focus on this to get an understanding of where you're coming from. It seems to me as though you are reifying the concept of "physical" and setting it against the "experiential", and then arguing that since one concept cannot be reduced to the other, they must be ontologically different. This seems to be misplaced concreteness. There may be more to the brain (and reality) than can be objectively described, but what justifies the leap to say that mind and brain, or mind and matter, must be different things?

Saying that something is "just physical" supposes that someone actually know what the word "physical" means. Materialism in this respect is entirely circular: things are made of matter, and matter is made of matter...it doesn't actually say anything ontologically interesting. Why can't the brain be an experiential structure? Why must the "experience" be abstracted from the so-called "physical", and then posited that by some means it interacts with the physical like a "conduit". "Matter" and "mind" are just words. But if something can be said to exist, I expect there to be some kind of marks of existing, something that distinguishes it from nonexistence. What are those marks in the case of "higher realms"?

Quote:
False objection. Human beings do not always take rebirth as human beings. Not only that, beings do not only take rebirth on this planet. There is no evolutionary drive in rebirth that necessitates evolving from a lower state to a higher state.

It is not necessarily "good karma" just to be reborn a human being.


I'm not aware of any other habitable planets, much less how anybody could get there. In either case, rebirth happens to conform to purely biological laws of population growth?

Peace.


Last edited by coldmountain on Fri May 06, 2011 11:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri May 06, 2011 11:36 pm 
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Quote:
I was trained in the Lin-chi (Rinzai) school of Zen, whose founder was the 9th century monk Lin-chi I-hsuan, perhaps best known for his admonition: “If you meet the Buddha, kill him!” Were you to read the Record of Lin-chi, I suspect you might find the writings of Batchelor rather timid and orthodox by comparison.


Rinzai's shocking statements are for seasoned monks who revere the Buddha and have devoted their entire lives to the Buddha's Way. Today, he probably would have said "If you meet the Buddha, bow your head and revere him!" to some of these Western "Zen" types that propagate this type of idiocy.

Anyway, back to the topic! :smile:


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PostPosted: Sat May 07, 2011 2:32 am 
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common misconception....
"if you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him!!" is not meant to be taken literally...it simply means that you will only find the Buddha within...if you see a Buddha in your mind, cut the delusion down...the Buddha is within

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"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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PostPosted: Sat May 07, 2011 2:33 am 
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Fa Dao wrote:
common misconception....
"if you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him!!" is not meant to be taken literally...it simply means that you will only find the Buddha within...if you see a Buddha in your mind, cut the delusion down...the Buddha is within



It's actually a reference to the Angulimala story.

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འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

How can you not practice the highest Dharma
at this time of obtaining a perfect human body?

-- Jetsun Dragpa Gyaltsen


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PostPosted: Sat May 07, 2011 3:26 am 
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Namdrol wrote:
Dechen Norbu wrote:
There's a funny story that I'll tell here to illustrate the importance of keeping an open mind and having a solid theoretical background even before starting to practice meditation.

I met this guy from Argentina, deep into the psychedelic scene, who was absolutely convinced he had gained enlightenment while listening to trance music under the influence of psychedelic substances. His conception of enlightenment was quite simple and had more to do with getting euphoric and dazed, thus not suffering, than anything else.

Now, he was completely convinced he was enlightened. Unmovable about it. It was impossible to argue with him since he thought he had "The Experience". I think he was just tripping. :crazy:

This is a clear example of how delusion makes us go AWOL and why we shouldn't trust the blind to lead the blind. Materialist scientists, concerning the nature of consciousness, are no different than this guy. Just a different sort of blindness, that's all. They speculate that consciousness is an emergent property of the brain. I think they are just tripping. :crazy:
:smile:


The truth is that mind and matter are emergent properties of one another.

Yes, that's how I came to understand it. But it was a damn confusing perspective and I've struggled with it quite a bit.
Usually I don't bring this view to these debates because people get like :shock: and at that moment they stop reading me. If they have problems accepting a softer approach, imagine me saying that! I don't have your skills to defend my position later. :lol:
But it's as you say Namdrol-la.


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PostPosted: Sat May 07, 2011 4:59 am 
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Dechen Norbu wrote:
coldmountain wrote:
Hi Dechen Norbu,

Quote:
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.

Hi coldmountain,

My pleasure. :smile:

Namdrol already commented the point you make in the way I was going to. Science has been very well succeeded exploring nature and giving us technology. I have no beef with science whatsoever and I kept close relations with academia till very recently.
My problem thus is not science, but again, the metaphysical assumptions behind it. Not all scientists hold them, in fact many don't even think about it. Science in the field has little or nothing to do with this, with the exception of a few branches more related to the study of consciousness. This branch is where these prejudices are harmful. In most of the rest, it doesn't matter that much actually. You get your job done without even thinking about philosophy.

The fact is that regarding consciousness, scientific progress has been less than satisfactory and I'm convinced this is due to a metaphysical belief in physicalism. We know a lot about the brain and it's functions, but as we mistake mind to be an emergent property of its functioning we have progressed very little.
If you notice, perhaps it can be said that both Physics and Biology had big revolutions in their history. Physics had two, the first with Newton and the second with Einstein and quantum mechanics. Biology had one, starting in Darwin and culminating, perhaps it can be said, with the HGP.
The study of consciousness still approaches its object with rudimentary physical concepts, dated from the XIX century and with a strong leaning towards its background metaphysical paradigm, materialism. There are many reasons for the actual state of affairs, and ill will may be the less important, but the fact is that the study of consciousness is still at an embryonic stage.

What were the main factors that triggered the revolutions in other branches of science? Observation. Galileo used a telescope and Darwin observed the species. I'm being a little simplistic here, but I just want to make a point.
Let's use the example of Galileo. Galileo instead of looking to the correlates of the movement of celestial bodies, a la astrology trend of the time, looked at them directly. Based on the biases held by most intellectuals at his time, there were people who refused to look through his telescope, saying that if what they find wasn't the expected phenomena such would be due to defects of the lenses. Theory determined what you would see, not actual observation. Sometimes this happens even in modern science when some anomalous data is immediately set aside, because theory didn't support it.

Buddhists have spent 2500 years looking at the mind. Looking really carefully. They devised and used techniques for performing such task already present at their time. And then they came up with an interpretation of what they had observed. These experts of the mind have been agreeing in many points along hundreds of years. There are divergences, as to be expected when people have different theoretical approaches and use slightly different methods to study the same phenomena. Some techniques are better while others don't allow such deepness. Some chose a way to explain while others prefer different routes to help their disciples. There are many reasons for the diversity of Buddhist schools, some simply sociological.

Recently we have assisted to the reduction of Buddhadharma to trendy slogans, like just sitting and all that and one wonders how much one will achieve by doing such a simple thing, but the truth is that there is extensive literature explaining how to meditate, what obstacles are to be expected, how to overcome them, how not to take a transient experience for the ultimate goal of meditation, and so on. Following these methods, one comes by himself to agree with what one first learns theoretically.

So one would think,"OK, so I'll keep my beliefs until proven wrong". As I've said earlier, the problem is that the questions we make influence the answers we get. As Heinsenberg stated, we observe nature exposed to our method of questioning. The same is valid for the mind. Imagine I believe in a God. When I go for contemplation, if I find myself in a state of bliss, I may think "this is God" and end my path right there. All I'll do afterwards is trying to replicate this experience and dwell in it. However, if my theory is deeper, I'll have to cut through such experience and move along, gaining even deeper insight.

I hope I was clear in making my point.

Best wishes. :smile:


Hello Dechen Norbu,

Thanks for your thoughts. I agree that the typical assumptions at the base of the modern Western worldview can be damaging. I think the fundamental problem is that Westerners approach reality as “object,” and expect it always to be an object, with all the metaphysical presuppositions that go into the idea of “object.”

Nevertheless, there is an equal danger in not being objective enough, and the West has made its important contribution to the history of humanity in this respect. People are prone to project their expectations upon their experience, as you note. Having an unidentifiable, out-of-place memory, for instance, may just be assumed to be a past life because it fits with one’s expectations, when that assumption need not be made. People are also prone to believe everything their ideology or spiritual teachers say wholesale, as if they are not of human origin, and cling to a very sectarian viewpoint. But even the Buddha said to not accept teachings just because he said them, but only if they agree with experience and reason (do you think the Buddha would turn someone away from the sangha just because he is not convinced of a specific theory?) For instance, it makes sense that, just as the Christian church did, Buddhist culture eventually came up with absolutely horrific ideas of hell regions with punishments well beyond what any unbiased person can consider reasonable. Does this represent enlightened teachings, or are they scare tactics meant to keep people faithful to that society’s official religion? What about buying blessings by donating to the temple? Is that a good use of the doctrine of karma? What about the ethical implications of karma when taken too literally - it completely drains any concern for social justice. Why help the poor, the sick and abused when that's their karma? What about the outmoded cosmologies which can only be accepted as symbolic today? What about the exclusion of women from monastic practice in traditional Buddhism? Are these too to be accepted as justified beliefs and expressions of enlightened wisdom, much less actually desirable to believe? What a way to burden masses of people based on very slim evidence, based on interpretations of the private experiences of just a select few.

Of course, within the framework of the assumptions underlying these cultures, these may not represent any dishonesty on the part of anyone. Their perceptions of the world are united. But when confronted with other points of view and perceptions -- and more information - say, like scientific evidence -- it becomes quite questionable when people refuse to allow that to inform their views. Do we really suppose that Western science has added nothing new to the picture of reality? -- more on that in a sec.

As to the issue of mind, the problem as I see it is that it really only makes sense to speak of one reality, therefore I see no reason to place any clear differentiation between physical and mental. As far as I’m concerned, all physical events are mental events and vice-versa, with cognition being highly structured, yet experiential to the core. As I said to Namdrol, "physical" and "mental" are mere categories. The objective world of the brain cannot have any fundamental conflict with the subjective world of the mind, otherwise, how would they even relate to each other? By even thinking in these terms, we have created a dualistic rift in experience.

Buddhism may have explored reality very carefully in a contemplative and subjective way. But I think it is questionable to say the least to suggest that a complete picture of the mind can be had without knowing anything as to the structure of the brain and body in objective terms. Western scientific knowledge must have relevance and must inform Buddhist theory in some way, otherwise you might as well suppose that the world science describes is not our world. There is no empirical demarcation between the inner world and the outer world. Both science and Buddhism must be referring to the same world.

Now, it is in principle impossible to obtain a purely objectified picture of the world, because no such world exists. Reality is not some object that we can distance ourselves from. But we must be careful, lest we fall for any hocus pocus. Real, sufficient evidence must be presented in some form to justify any belief. The belief must add to, and in turn be supported by, the richness of information with which we interact with, and embody, the world.

I think modern science and Buddhism can inform each other, and science can really help to refine Buddhist ideas and help it flourish as a path that still makes a lot of relevant sense today. Everyone just has to get over the initial reactionary stage and start to digest what the other side has to say.

For instance, neuroscience strongly suggests that our memories, perceptions, etc. (our karma, you might say) are encoded in the brain, loss of information equals loss of memory, damage in structure equals damage in the mind. Rebirth/karma suggests that information gets transferred from one life to the next, apparently defying all that we know about thermodynamics, because such information transfer is not registered in any way at all, either entering or exiting the life, and that information (or energy) is clearly dissipated after death and becomes the energy of other beings. How does karma and rebirth fit into this picture? Does it? Inquiring minds, I'm sure (because I am one such mind), would like to have a satisfactory account for such a phenomenon if it exists. Now it could possibly be the case - perhaps even likely depending on how you see it - that consciousness can continue after death, because consciousness may not be any "thing" at all. If reality is "made of" experiences, then experience can continue in some sense - perhaps as the grass, the trees, and the wide earth. But I really have a problem with the loss of information/energy content that happens at death. Only a mind-matter dualism seems to overcome this problem, but I see too many problems with dualism.

Peace.


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PostPosted: Sat May 07, 2011 12:00 pm 
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coldmountain wrote:
But even the Buddha said to not accept teachings just because he said them, but only if they agree with experience and reason (do you think the Buddha would turn someone away from the sangha just because he is not convinced of a specific theory?) For instance, it makes sense that, just as the Christian church did, Buddhist culture eventually came up with absolutely horrific ideas of hell regions with punishments well beyond what any unbiased person can consider reasonable.


Buddha taught the hells. They are present even in the earliest Buddhist sutras.





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...What about buying blessings by donating to the temple? Is that a good use of the doctrine of karma? What about the ethical implications of karma when taken too literally - it completely drains any concern for social justice. Why help the poor, the sick and abused when that's their karma? What about the outmoded cosmologies which can only be accepted as symbolic today? What about the exclusion of women from monastic practice in traditional Buddhism? Are these too to be accepted as justified beliefs and expressions of enlightened wisdom, much less actually desirable to believe? What a way to burden masses of people based on very slim evidence, based on interpretations of the private experiences of just a select few.


Yes, what about these things? You have to discern what is culture and what is dharma for yourself. But when you do, make sure you are not excluding what the Buddha actually taught.

Cognition is not located in the brain.

At a certain point, these questions are useless. They are not helping you.

N

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PostPosted: Sat May 07, 2011 2:21 pm 
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Namdrol wrote:
Yes, what about these things? You have to discern what is culture and what is dharma for yourself. But when you do, make sure you are not excluding what the Buddha actually taught.


It is not very simple to discern what the Buddha "actually" taught.

Quote:
Cognition is not located in the brain.

At a certain point, these questions are useless. They are not helping you.


Apparently that certain point is very easily crossed, and it appears to be where dialogue ends and religious faith picks up. As soon as I read "questions are useless" I know I have reached the end of the conversation.

Thanks for your input.
Peace.


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PostPosted: Sat May 07, 2011 2:34 pm 
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4 Noble Truths...leading you away from suffering of death and rebirth to endure your karma. From you should get an idea that anything that brings attachment to you is suffering...what is suffering? This you have to experience.

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NAM MO A DI DA PHAT (VIETNAMESE)
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―Listen! Those of you who devote yourselves to the Dharma
must not be afraid of losing your bodies and your lives―


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PostPosted: Sat May 07, 2011 2:53 pm 
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coldmountain wrote:
For instance, it makes sense that, just as the Christian church did, Buddhist culture eventually came up with absolutely horrific ideas of hell regions with punishments well beyond what any unbiased person can consider reasonable.


Unlike Christianity, though, Buddhism doesn't teach there is a loving God who cares about us individually yet is prepared to consign us to eternal suffering. That's what makes Christian doctrine seem so unreasonable.

In Buddhism, hell and heaven are logical extensions of the law of karma -- if our actions bring about our reality, than it follows that very pleasant and painful states of being must exist, reflective of extremely wholesome or unwholesome actions of body, speech and mind.

Indeed it would be hard to accept the Buddha's teachings on karma and not posit a state of extreme pleasure or pain. These mark the boundary points of the model.

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PostPosted: Sat May 07, 2011 4:15 pm 
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coldmountain wrote:
Namdrol wrote:
Yes, what about these things? You have to discern what is culture and what is dharma for yourself. But when you do, make sure you are not excluding what the Buddha actually taught.


It is not very simple to discern what the Buddha "actually" taught.

Quote:
Cognition is not located in the brain.

At a certain point, these questions are useless. They are not helping you.


Apparently that certain point is very easily crossed, and it appears to be where dialogue ends and religious faith picks up. As soon as I read "questions are useless" I know I have reached the end of the conversation.

Thanks for your input.
Peace.


It is very simple to discern what the Historical Buddha actually taught. It is in the Pali canon.

When I said these questions are useless, they are useless for getting closer to the meaning of liberation.

My point was that no one can answer these questions for you in a satisfactory way.

You are trying to reconcile an experiential phenomenology with reductionist science. It won't work. You are too caught up in matter. Matter is intelligent, this is obvious because your body is made of matter and you are also a thinking being. Human consciousness is a function of the whole complex of what we call human. The same goes for bats, and so on. Your cognitive limitations are imposed by the body you inhabit unless you cultivate samadhis. If you won't train in samadhi, there is no way you can ascertain the Buddha's teachings about such things as rebirth and karma. If you need someone else to sign of on the truth of your experience, you will never attain awakening. Of course we can engage in lengthy sociological analysis of karma and how it is used as a power structure to keep people in their place. No doubt those cloaked in the mantle of Buddhism have used this teaching to try and keep people in their place. However, karma is not fixed, and it can be changed. This is what I mean when I say these questions are not helping you. They have nothing to do with your experience as a practitioner. There is only one way that experience can be gained -- through cultivating practice.

Until you break through doubt, your meditation practice will never advance to insight and will remain at the level of shamatha. Shamtha is great, but until you cut through doubt, it will never advance to Vipashyāna. You will never remove your doubts about such things as rebirth and so on until you have personal experience of rebirth, memories of past lives you could not possibly invent.

Buddhadharma is deeper than science. Science only explains the surface of reality, it does not explain reality.

N

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http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://www.bhaisajya.guru
http://www.sakyapa.net
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

How can you not practice the highest Dharma
at this time of obtaining a perfect human body?

-- Jetsun Dragpa Gyaltsen


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