Not my mother

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Not my mother

Postby Epistemes » Mon Oct 10, 2011 3:23 am

Right now I am watching Planet Earth on Discovery - and I don't Love these geese or dolphins or snorkacks or tree frogs. These animals weren't my mother or my wife. Saying they were my mother is just another control of religion to get us to act in some ethical manner towards all life when there is no empirical basis. I don't want to harm life but I don't want to not because I think some stinkbug might me my mother but because life is life and is short and precious for everything.
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Re: Not my mother

Postby LastLegend » Mon Oct 10, 2011 3:31 am

What is objective truth?
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Re: Not my mother

Postby Jikan » Mon Oct 10, 2011 1:19 pm

Epistemes wrote:Right now I am watching Planet Earth on Discovery - and I don't Love these geese or dolphins or snorkacks or tree frogs. These animals weren't my mother or my wife. Saying they were my mother is just another control of religion to get us to act in some ethical manner towards all life when there is no empirical basis. I don't want to harm life but I don't want to not because I think some stinkbug might me my mother but because life is life and is short and precious for everything.


The point of regarding all beings as though they have been your mothers (which is not the same as playing some kind of make-believe, duping yourself into believing they are your mom in this lifetime) is indeed to regard all beings as precious and equally worthy of your kind attention.

What is your objection?
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Re: Not my mother

Postby Karma Dondrup Tashi » Mon Oct 10, 2011 3:27 pm

Epistemes wrote:Right now I am watching Planet Earth on Discovery - and I don't Love these geese or dolphins or snorkacks or tree frogs. These animals weren't my mother or my wife. Saying they were my mother is just another control of religion to get us to act in some ethical manner towards all life when there is no empirical basis. I don't want to harm life but I don't want to not because I think some stinkbug might me my mother but because life is life and is short and precious for everything.


The idea of karma and literal rebirth is looming up in your mind like a wave.

Relax. Just relax. It's OK. Despite what everybody thinks loving-kindness is at the center of everything.

"It wouldn't be heaven without you, friend". That's the song of the Bodhisattvas. That's all that really matters.
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Re: Not my mother

Postby Acchantika » Mon Oct 10, 2011 3:38 pm

Epistemes wrote:These animals weren't my mother or my wife. Saying they were my mother is just another control of religion to get us to act in some ethical manner towards all life when there is no empirical basis.


It's a self-admitted psychological pretense. Don't take it too seriously. If it doesn't work for you, doesn't stand up to your reason, drop it immediately and try something else.

"Empirical" means knowledge gained from experience. Search your own experience for the boundary between self and other to see if it is justified.
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Re: Not my mother

Postby booker » Mon Oct 10, 2011 5:10 pm

Epistemes wrote:I don't want to harm life but I don't want to not because I think some stinkbug might me my mother but because life is life and is short and precious for everything.

Yeah and I guess just not killing if you don't have to is pretty ok :)

Also, in Buddhism you don't need to approach every teaching as a dogma. Treating them as guidelines works better. ;)
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Re: Not my mother

Postby Tilopa » Mon Oct 10, 2011 11:29 pm

Epistemes wrote:I don't Love these geese or dolphins or snorkacks or tree frogs. These animals weren't my mother or my wife.

How can you be so sure?
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Re: Not my mother

Postby DarwidHalim » Wed Oct 12, 2011 2:42 pm

Epistemes wrote:Right now I am watching Planet Earth on Discovery - and I don't Love these geese or dolphins or snorkacks or tree frogs. These animals weren't my mother or my wife. Saying they were my mother is just another control of religion to get us to act in some ethical manner towards all life when there is no empirical basis. I don't want to harm life but I don't want to not because I think some stinkbug might me my mother but because life is life and is short and precious for everything.


That geese or dolphins may not be your mother and may never be your mother. We need to understand the logic behind it. We need to think it in terms on possibility. Past life no beginning and our rebirths have been countless. In this way, the chance that that geese or dolphin are our mothers are getting higher and higher. When we think in this way, we will then realize that the chance that dolphin and geese are our mother can be certain. It is only certainty or possibility. It is not a matter of definite. Just extremely high possibility.

Can be yes, can be no at the end.
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: Not my mother

Postby tobes » Fri Oct 14, 2011 5:53 am

Epistemes wrote:Right now I am watching Planet Earth on Discovery - and I don't Love these geese or dolphins or snorkacks or tree frogs. These animals weren't my mother or my wife. Saying they were my mother is just another control of religion to get us to act in some ethical manner towards all life when there is no empirical basis. I don't want to harm life but I don't want to not because I think some stinkbug might me my mother but because life is life and is short and precious for everything.


You live up to your name beautifully.

I would say, that if your fidelity is to particular ways of knowing and you hold that ethics ought to follow from that knowledge: go for it!

I would also say, that if ethical claims do not hold on that basis: reject them!

Finally, I would say that in terms of epistemology, Buddhism is quite empiricist and has quite robust skeptical tendencies. So your mode of inquiry here and in other posts is very welcome.

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Re: Not my mother

Postby Kyosan » Fri Oct 14, 2011 8:11 am

Jikan wrote:
Epistemes wrote:Right now I am watching Planet Earth on Discovery - and I don't Love these geese or dolphins or snorkacks or tree frogs. These animals weren't my mother or my wife. Saying they were my mother is just another control of religion to get us to act in some ethical manner towards all life when there is no empirical basis. I don't want to harm life but I don't want to not because I think some stinkbug might me my mother but because life is life and is short and precious for everything.


The point of regarding all beings as though they have been your mothers (which is not the same as playing some kind of make-believe, duping yourself into believing they are your mom in this lifetime) is indeed to regard all beings as precious and equally worthy of your kind attention.

What is your objection?

:good:
Some people need to think of it this way and others don't. For those who do, it helps them be more compassionate. Expediency is important in Buddhism because Buddhism doesn't expect everyone to be perfect.

I wonder, does the scripture actually say that all other beings were our mothers or does it say that we should think of them as if they were our mothers?
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Re: Not my mother

Postby dakini_boi » Sun Oct 16, 2011 4:25 am

Epistemes wrote:Right now I am watching Planet Earth on Discovery - and I don't Love these geese or dolphins or snorkacks or tree frogs. These animals weren't my mother or my wife. Saying they were my mother is just another control of religion to get us to act in some ethical manner towards all life when there is no empirical basis. I don't want to harm life but I don't want to not because I think some stinkbug might me my mother but because life is life and is short and precious for everything.


When I come across an idea from Buddhism that sounds blatantly false (for example - "all beings have been your mother"), I've gotten in the habit of asking myself - aside from whether it is objectively true (and whether or not it is meant to control the masses), what is that teaching meant to do to my mind if I openly consider it, instead of just dismissing it as untenable?

When I first heard "all beings are my mother" I thought it was kind of ridiculous too. But now I see there is an elegance to that idea, and it isn't so ridiculous if you accept reincarnation and infinite time as given. Basically, I think considering that statement has a few functions:

1. it compels you to consider infinite time and the cycle of samsara.
2. it compels you to consider that all beings are interdependent.
3. it compels you to consider how existence in any of the 6 realms is impermanent.
3. it compels you to consider the utter arbitrariness of belief in a self.
4. it compels you to develop compassion for all beings.

If you allow these ideas to influence your attitudes and behavior, your suffering will definitely decrease. And you won't care whether or not the statement has any objective truth to it.

Every practice and every teaching in Dharma is skillful means. There is no objective truth. Anything we can understand with our mind is only relative. Buddha was smart! And Dharma simply consists of those truths (i.e. concepts, practices) which have the effect of decreasing and, eventually, eliminating suffering.

Keep questioning, Epistemes, and also keep an open mind about ideas that push your buttons! :thumbsup:
Last edited by dakini_boi on Sun Oct 16, 2011 3:43 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Not my mother

Postby Quiet Heart » Sun Oct 16, 2011 4:53 am

Epistemes wrote:Right now I am watching Planet Earth on Discovery - and I don't Love these geese or dolphins or snorkacks or tree frogs. These animals weren't my mother or my wife. Saying they were my mother is just another control of religion to get us to act in some ethical manner towards all life when there is no empirical basis. I don't want to harm life but I don't want to not because I think some stinkbug might me my mother but because life is life and is short and precious for everything.

---------------------------------------

Glad to see your still here Epistemes .... and as cantankerous as ever.
Those who take the teaching without question are the ones that don't feel it deeply enough, and their understanding can be too shallow for the long haul that is required.
Those who start out "kicking and screaming" in their traces are the horses that do have the spirit for the long run.
You might even be one of those horses.
(Stranger things have happened).
Shame on you Shakyamuni for setting the precedent of leaving home.
Did you think it was not there--
in your wife's lovely face
in your baby's laughter?
Did you think you had to go elsewhere (simply) to find it?
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The Layman's Lament
From What Book, 1998, p. 52
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Re: Not my mother

Postby catmoon » Sun Oct 16, 2011 8:25 am

An odd view occurred to me.


Buddhism teaches rebirth, not reincarnation. The difference is that in rebirth, it is not a "self" or "soul" that goes forward to the next life. Instead it is a causally related being that arises, one that carries forward the causes of this life as effects in the next.

Suppose I and my dog die. Suppose I manage a decent rebirth as a human and my dog does rather better, arising as a fully human being. Finally suppose that the two new beings are related as mother and son. What would this mean? It certainly does not mean that I have changed sex and had a dog for a kid. There is no "I" to change sex and the kid is fully human.

So the question arises whether or not the two new beings are sufficiently related to the current ones that we can say, "in the next life I will be mother to the one who is currently my Labrador Retriever." But stating the case this way is sort of conventional, and as pointed out so well by dakini_boi, it is a pretty virtuous way of thinking. I think it just comes down to this; do want want to adopt this rather odd convention of thought for the sake of acquiring merit? Or do you want to pursue other lines of thought?
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Re: Not my mother

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sun Oct 16, 2011 3:48 pm

Epistemes wrote:I don't want to harm life but I don't want to not because I think some stinkbug might me my mother but because life is life and is short and precious for everything.
These two views, which you posit as mutually exclusive, are actually taught synchronously in Lojong/Tonglen practice.

Get your self a teacher Mr "Science", you will find that it'll make life easier for you and reduce your cantankerous attitude! (That is if you want life to be easier and for you to become more pleasant or good natured).
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Last edited by Sherab Dorje on Sun Oct 16, 2011 5:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Not my mother

Postby ground » Sun Oct 16, 2011 4:08 pm

Epistemes wrote:Right now I am watching Planet Earth on Discovery - and I don't Love these geese or dolphins or snorkacks or tree frogs. These animals weren't my mother or my wife. Saying they were my mother is just another control of religion to get us to act in some ethical manner towards all life when there is no empirical basis. I don't want to harm life but I don't want to not because I think some stinkbug might me my mother but because life is life and is short and precious for everything.


Never mind.

Kind regards
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Re: Not my mother

Postby Epistemes » Sun Oct 16, 2011 9:37 pm

I e-mailed Dr. Paul Williams, former professor of Buddhist Studies at Bristol University, this past week concerning a variety of topics related to Buddhism and Christianity. The following is my concern and his response:

Me wrote:: How can we definitively say that a tapeworm wasn't, at one time, our mother?


Dr. Paul Williams wrote:Christian tradition has always held it is simply false, and can indeed be debunked since truth is always triumphant. But even if reincarnation were true, that a tapeworm was on a direct psycho-physical causal continuum in the past with one’s mother (which is the actual Buddhist position - no one is saying the tapeworm *itself* was one’s mother (I take it you are not a tapeworm)) does not mean the tapeworm is or was one’s mother (tapeworms have tapeworm-babies, not human babies). What it means is that one’s mother simply does not exist anymore. There is now a tapeworm. And how one behaves towards that tapeworm is not changed by that fact. If you kill the tapeworm, you are not *in any sense* killing your mother. Your mother would not be there thinking, 'Oh no, my son is killing me'. Tapeworms do not think like that, and no Buddhist tradition holds they do.

You are killing a tapeworm. I repeat, **your mother, on this basis, simply does not exist anymore**. There is now a tapeworm. On this basis you will never see her again, and she has been discarded in the process of – what? Of history? Anyway, she has been discarded.

Well, if that is true it is horrible! It gives neither your mother, nor you, nor any of us any *hope*. I prefer to hope the scenario is much, much better. And I would be very careful before freely choosing to throw all that to one side. 'When death time comes' as my lama used to say, it is better to have have hope (he didn't add the last bit!).
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Re: Not my mother

Postby dakini_boi » Sun Oct 16, 2011 10:16 pm

Epistemes wrote:Well, if that is true it is horrible! It gives neither your mother, nor you, nor any of us any *hope*.


Correct. As has been pointed out before, the Buddhist view is that there is no hope to be found in grasping at an identity as one or another of the 6 classes of beings cycling in samsara.

The point of Buddhist teachings on reincarnation and considering all beings as your mothers is certainly NOT to give you comfort in the idea that there is a continuity of consciousness beyond death.

Epistemes wrote: 'When death time comes' as my lama used to say, it is better to have have hope (he didn't add the last bit!).


Yes, ultimately Dharma teaches to overcome extremes of eternalism and nihilism - but some great masters have said that, on a relative level, eternalism is less dangerous than nihilism.
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Re: Not my mother

Postby Virgo » Mon Oct 17, 2011 1:44 am

catmoon wrote:An odd view occurred to me.


Buddhism teaches rebirth, not reincarnation. The difference is that in rebirth, it is not a "self" or "soul" that goes forward to the next life. Instead it is a causally related being that arises, one that carries forward the causes of this life as effects in the next.

No being arises. Just mentality and materiality.

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Re: Not my mother

Postby Fa Dao » Mon Oct 17, 2011 2:23 am

Epistemes,
an interesting way to approach this, or anything that creates a strong arising in your mind, is to try and figure out why you are having a strong like or dislike or strong belief or disbelief. Whether or not all beings were your mother is not overly relevant. If true and you try to live your life accordingly then you develop compassion which as we know lessens suffering. If not true and you still try to live your life by that ethos then same result. Either way its a win/win situation for you and all those you come into contact with.
"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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Re: Not my mother

Postby Sherab Dorje » Mon Oct 17, 2011 10:34 am

Dr. Williams take is merely one angle on the story.

Then there is the mind training angle where seeing all sentient beings as your mother causes you to act towards them in the same manner that you would act towards the person that gave birth to, nourished and raised you.

Another angle is that you too have been a mother to each and every single sentient being so you should treat them with the same loving-kindness that you would treat your children.

It's also a way to realise the cyclic nature of samsara, Dependant Origination, Sunyata, etc...

No matter how you see it, there is a lesson there for you to learn.
:namaste:
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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