Are Karma and Rebirth Real?

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

Re: are karma and rebirth for real?

Postby Malcolm » Mon Nov 07, 2011 2:21 pm

KevinSolway wrote: that consciousness does not exist independently, but that it too has a cause, and that it's life is as fragile as that of a candleflame.


No one ever said that consciousness had no cause. Consciousness is a substance, conceived of by the Buddha and Buddhists to be of a different kind than matter. Conciousness has a cause, but not a material cause, even though, according to them, it can be conditioned by material substances.

Dharmakirit runs through these reasonings in much detail in the Pramanasiddhi chapter of the Pramandavartika.
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Re: are karma and rebirth for real?

Postby KevinSolway » Mon Nov 07, 2011 2:49 pm

Namdrol wrote:Conciousness has a cause, but not a material cause, even though, according to them, it can be conditioned by material substances.


Conditions are the same as causes. If a thing is conditioned by material substances then it is changed by material substances. In other words it is caused by them.

For example, I am changed by my education, and the food that I eat. And without those conditions I wouldn't be what I am. What I am now wouldn't exist. There is no "me" that is conditioned, but who is untouched, separate, and unchanged by the conditions.

Likewise with consciousness.

What is more, even if you want to imagine that conditions are somehow fundamentally different to causes, then if consciousness is conditioned, and thereby changed by the material world, then it is not independent of the material world, which is what I contended as my first point.
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Re: are karma and rebirth for real?

Postby KevinSolway » Mon Nov 07, 2011 2:56 pm

LastLegend wrote:Relatively speaking, the deluded mind is independent of the body. Ultimately speaking, physical and mind cannot be separated.
So the monk is not wrong.


You mean he's not wrong because he's deluded? (since his mind is independent of his body) :wink:
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Re: are karma and rebirth for real?

Postby edearl » Mon Nov 07, 2011 4:00 pm

KevinSolway wrote:
LastLegend wrote:Relatively speaking, the deluded mind is independent of the body. Ultimately speaking, physical and mind cannot be separated.
So the monk is not wrong.


You mean he's not wrong because he's deluded? (since his mind is independent of his body) :wink:

I don't know what the two of you mean by deluded. However, if I understand http://www.med.nus.edu.sg/pcm/book/23.pdf correctly, a delusion is an effect with a cause.
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Re: are karma and rebirth for real?

Postby catmoon » Mon Nov 07, 2011 4:15 pm

KevinSolway wrote:
Namdrol wrote:Conciousness has a cause, but not a material cause, even though, according to them, it can be conditioned by material substances.


Conditions are the same as causes. If a thing is conditioned by material substances then it is changed by material substances. In other words it is caused by them. I don't think that's too difficult to understand.



Not in Buddhism. In Buddhism , a cause is something that is required to be present for an effect to occur, and if present, will certainly cause the effect to arise. A condition is something that will affect the outcome, but is not a cause.

So if growing a field of wheat, the wheat seed is a condition. Although it must be present, it's presence does not guarantee a crop. The farmer is a cause of wheat filling the barn. Assuming he doesn't take the year off or something. I'll go digging for a reference...


Closest I could find was

Imasmiṃ sati idaṃ hoti; imass’ uppādā idaṃ uppajjati.
Imasmiṃ asati idam na hoti; imassa nirodhā idaṃ nirujjhati. (S 2.28)

When this is, that is; because this arises, that arises.
When this is not, that is not; because this ceases, that ceases.


I hope it's not out of context. The trouble is, similar phrases occur throughout the Nikaya.
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Re: are karma and rebirth for real?

Postby LastLegend » Mon Nov 07, 2011 4:16 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:Exist within the mind.
Do not exist within the mind.
Both exist and does not exist within the mind.
Neither exist or do not exist within the mind.

The four extremes as outlined by Nagarjuna and applied to your view.
Where to go from here then?
If you consider the rootlessness
of the real 1 , well,

it's revealed
through the gurus teaching

Saraha says: Fool!
Know this well-

samsaric distinctions
are forms of mind.

1 A common way of describing the emptiness of all phenomena.
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I will go to sleep because I am tired.
I am not enlightened therefore I will continue to
make distinctions.

And to those who asked what is a deluded mind, I am deluded. And probably the rest of you are deluded until you are enlightened like Buddha. For this, that's why we are and why we are here to walk the path.
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Re: are karma and rebirth for real?

Postby LastLegend » Mon Nov 07, 2011 4:47 pm

About conditions and causes.

An orange seed will grow to become an orange tree when it meets the conditions of water, soil, sunlight, and temperature. A an orange seed that is sitting on the table will not grow because it cannot meet those conditions. Likewise, karma cannot be ripened without meeting the conditions. So that orange tree now bears oranges, and in those oranges, there are orange seeds. So conditions are there to create more seeds. This is the reason why there is rebirth.

Thanks for reading my rants.
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Re: are karma and rebirth for real?

Postby Virgo » Mon Nov 07, 2011 5:12 pm

KevinSolway wrote:Conditions are the same as causes. If a thing is conditioned by material substances then it is changed by material substances. In other words it is caused by them.

That's ridiculous. I can chisel pieces out of a rock and cause it to look different, shaping it and making a "new" rock that did not exist before. But I in no way shape or form caused the physical material of the rock to come into existence. "I" conditioned what came into existence because of other causes and conditions.

KevinSolway wrote:What is more, even if you want to imagine that conditions are somehow fundamentally different to causes, then if consciousness is conditioned, and thereby changed by the material world, then it is not independent of the material world, which is what I contended as my first point.


Right, we live in the physical world (though not all conscious beings do, there are exceptions). So are you trying to prove here that we actually live in a physical realm, or what?

Kevin
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Re: are karma and rebirth for real?

Postby LastLegend » Mon Nov 07, 2011 5:14 pm

Sit and meditate so we won't be confused by KevinSolway.

:meditate: :meditate:
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Re: are karma and rebirth for real?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Mon Nov 07, 2011 5:27 pm

KevSolway wrote:If consciousness were independent of the physical world, as the monk in my video says...
Well, not wishing to be a pedant or anything like that but Venerable Ajahn Brahm does not exactly say that it is independent of the physical world, but more along the lines of independent of the specific individual form it happens to be "linked" to.

But this is nothing new, we can see mind acting independent of physical form during sleep for example. We can also see this in paticcasamuppāda (dependent origination) where ignorance acts as a cause for mental formations, which then acts as a cause for consciousness, which then acts as a cause for name and form which then acts as a cause for the six sense bases...

So here consciousness precedes name and form, that is exists independently of name and form, with ignorance as its cause. And this all before birth and after death pending rebirth in a realm where the inhabitants possess physical form. Now unlesss you want to deny the veracity of dependent origination (which you are, of course, free to do), well...
:namaste:

PS :oops: I just remembered that you don't believe in rebirth and this leads you to having to tinker with paticcasamuppāda, which leads to... Well looks like we've come full circle.

My younger brothers were into "hot-rodding" cars and motorbikes for street races. Now while the outcome of their modifications were faster and more powerful vehicles there was always one major problem: once you messed with one basic feature, you then had to modify another, ad nauseum... This meant that the vehicles were never 100% trustworthy, always fell apart in the long run and spent more time being remodified or tuned up than actually running. Whereas the factory models, well I'm sure you can guess.

Good luck in your quest for truth Kev.
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Re: are karma and rebirth for real?

Postby Dechen Norbu » Mon Nov 07, 2011 5:35 pm

KevinSolway wrote:My main points again:

1. Consciousness cannot be independent of the physical world, otherwise it could never be aware of the physical world. In addition, if consciousness were independent of the physical world then it would be unnaffected by lack of sleep, drugs, lack of oxygen, and brain damage. Since we all observe that consciousness is indeed affected by these things, then consciousness can't be independent of these things.

Just as a car depends on wheels, engine, etc, and if you take these things away then there is no car, in the same way consciousness depends on things like memory, perception, etc, and if you take these things away then there is no consciousness.


I think first we should find some common ground so that we can discuss in a meaningful fashion. It would be important for me to know what your operative definition of consciousness is. Are you using the term consciousness as an umbrella for all mental phenomena? For instance, is a reflex part of it? Are sensations part of it? Only feelings and ideas? Plain awareness? All of this?
It would be helpful to know how do you define consciousness, if you find it has different levels or layers, etc. Do you see it in terms of it being a state, a content, a process, a system, some other thing?

For now I’ll use the word loosely, as you seem to do. So you say “consciousness” is affected by the physical. Let’s rephrase this and be more precise. We can say that at least some mental phenomena are influenced by physical events. I add what we already know, that mental events also influence physical phenomena. For instance you can induce certain mental phenomena (i.e., a sensation) if you stimulate certain parts of the brain. Likewise you can induce the functioning of certain parts of the brain by means of a mental stimulus. So whether it’s all mental or physical would be a matter of predilection according to such argument. Note that all we can really experience are mental phenomena. We don’t experience anything without the mediation of the mind. There are philosophers and scientists who claim that this whole experience of the universe has the bearing signs of a simulation, a sort of virtual reality. I don’t happen to agree, but their argumentation is sound.

You can try to claim that the burden of proof of the non-physical nature of the mind rests on me and it should be I the one to provide evidence to that effect. However I have to remind you that introspective observation of mental phenomena doesn’t suggest at all their physical nature. If I observe mental phenomena I gather no knowledge whatsoever about brain. Similarly, the study of neural events alone doesn’t provide any knowledge about the mind. The fact remains that we never see any mental events in the brain. What we observe and measures are but electrochemical events and nothing else. This is what Chalmers coined as the hard problem of consciousness. So it’s a matter of faith believing that mental events are brain functions viewed from a subjective perspective. Generally speaking, if one believes that two types of phenomena that appear to be radically different are in fact identical, the burden of proof lies in demonstrating their equivalence. Such has never been accomplished. This is why the hard problem of consciousness remains unsolved. The theory of the epiphenomena breaks apart when one realizes that all epiphenomena known to us are of the same nature. Yet, this is not the case for mental events and their neural correlates.

2. The 12 links of dependent origination happen on a moment-by-moment basis. They do not refer to physical birth and death, but to the birth of the false "I", which repeatedly arises in non-Buddhas. "Ageing and death" does not refer to physical ageing and death, but refers to the ending of happiness that is associated with attachment. Buddhas physically experience ageing and death, but they do not experience samsara. They do not experience the 12 links.

This is your idea. You are entitled to it. However it's not how mainstream Buddhists see it.

3. Buddhism is not a physical science, but is a philosophy and a psychology. Buddhism does not speculate as to whether one of the consequences of a person's life involves the formation of, say, a physical frog. Such questions are a matter for science, and such scientific questions can never be answered with certainty.

Another very personal idea of what is and isn't Buddhadharma. Again, you are entitled to it, but it's not mainstream.
The consequences of one's actions after death are by no means a matter of science, at least in the current state of affairs of scientific knowledge.
4. Cause and effect doesn't work in a narrow, linear manner, even though it is serial in nature, with actions being followed by consequences. One cause can have many, simultaneous effects. And just as a candle can light many other candles, which burn simultaneously, in the same way we have many rebirths, which exist simultaneously.

It's quite an imaginative interpretation. :smile:

Side points:

5. The realms of existence are not physical places, but are realms of experience, here-and now.

I believe that Namdrol concedes that the hell realms are not physical places. The same goes for all the other realms.

6. Each physical human body is a vehicle for many different minds. This is something we can each know by experience. We all have minds that are competing, and we speak of our having a mind to do such-and-such, as well as having a mind to do something else.


I'll leave you a small text for you to ponder. Obviously I'm not asking you to agree with any of it. But it's informative and quite challenging, I think.

Alan Wallace in Choosing Reality: A Buddhist View of Physics and the Mind. Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion, 1989 wrote:According to Tibetan Buddhist contemplatives, there is an unbroken continuum of consciousness throughout life, the death process, an intermediate state, and on to the next life.
These transitions are ordinarily so traumatic, however, that the individual quickly loses any recollection of this experience; and by the time an infant can speak, memory of its time in the womb and before then may be inaccessible. This should hardly come as a surprise, since most adults can remember very little even of their early childhood. The more recent events of one’s life intervene, and earlier memories withdraw into a latent state.
The continuum of consciousness itself flows on, unbroken, but because one’s memory is lost at these crucial transitions, one loses this sense of continuity. On what, then, do Buddhist contemplatives base their highly detailed accounts of the sequence of death, intermediate state, and rebirth?
These contemplatives employ ancient meditative practices that enable the adept to refine and stabilize the mind so that an unbroken clarity of awareness is maintained throughout all these events. Here is a mode of research that could hardly differ more drastically from the methods of modern Western science. The observed events, too, are bound to be profoundly different from those known by Western science. The events witnessed by a Buddhist contemplative, however, are no more intrinsically real than those observed by a neuroscientist.
Nor do Buddhist, any more than scientific, theories describe the way things really are, unrelated to the mode of research upon which those theories are based.
Tibetan contemplatives also create facsimiles of the death, intermediate state, and rebirth process through their powers of meditation, enabling them to transform these actual experiences to the enhancement of their spiritual growth. It is believed that such advanced contemplatives die, take rebirth, and as young children often remember many of the events of their previous lives as well as experiences following their recent deaths. Such children are called tulkus in Tibetan, and for centuries it has been the tradition in that culture to seek out such spiritually advanced children so that they can quickly recommence their contemplative training.
Other young children, often up to the age of four or five, may also recall events in their previous life, particularly if they had died in a sudden, violent way. There are numerous documented cases of this occurrence on several continents, and the most plausible explanation seems to be the simplest: for each individual there exists a continuum of life, intermediate state, and rebirth.
Tibetan Buddhism asserts that our experiences of our environment come about as manifestations (might one say emergent properties?) of imprints placed upon our mental continua due to previous actions. Such imprints are sometimes called karmic seeds, and the world that each of us experiences arises from those seeds. Some of our actions are committed in relative isolation, while others are committed in participation with others. As the imprints from those actions manifest, we experience events individually and in common with others, respectively. In short, participatory action yields participatory experience, while solitary individual action yields solitary experience.
According to this view, multiple worlds coexist in an interpenetrating fashion. One might liken this to different frequencies of electromagnetic energy occupying the same space: the band of frequencies that one detects depends upon how one’s receiver is tuned. This allows for a tremendous malleability of experience for a single individual, depending on how the mind is transformed. The type of events that we experience is a function of our conceptual conditioning. And numerous Buddhist contemplatives have verified that in the utter absence of even the most subtle conceptualization all appearances vanish, and only emptiness is experienced. The theory of emptiness is relatively simple, whereas the Buddhist theory of karma, or of actions and their results from life to life, is extremely complex. A satisfactory understanding of the process underlying the commonality of our experience and of the causal interactions among phenomena can be gained only through prolonged study and contemplative inquiry. As one's insight into emptiness deepens, understanding of the interdependent nature of events is enhanced. And as one investigates more closely the interactions among phenomena, their lack of inherent existence becomes increasingly apparent.

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Re: are karma and rebirth for real?

Postby KevinSolway » Mon Nov 07, 2011 5:36 pm

a cause is something that is required to be present for an effect to occur, and if present, will certainly cause the effect to arise. A condition is something that will affect the outcome, but is not a cause.

So if growing a field of wheat, the wheat seed is a condition. Although it must be present, it's presence does not guarantee a crop.


The group of conditions that produce a particular outcome must necessarily be the cause of that outcome. So in this sense conditions are causes.
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Re: are karma and rebirth for real?

Postby LastLegend » Mon Nov 07, 2011 5:44 pm

According to some Buddhist story, the ancestors of human beings were heaven beings who ate cereals on earth and got stuck on earth. So those heaven beings created karmic connection with the earth by eating cereals. The same way we create karma with this material/physical existence, and thereby will continue to cycle rebirth. So in a way we are not independent of this material/physical realm YET until we become Buddha. But does not mean consciousness(s) cannot be separated from body or physical on a relative level. And does not mean physical alone created consciousness(s) but a combination of created consciousness (alaya) or deluded mind and a condition of a physical body or form that created consciousness(s) [refer to DO, where it talks about how the consciousnesses form]. However, ignorance seems to be the original condition. And if by "consciousness" we mean mind, then physical definitely does not create consciousness...but on the ultimate level, "all dharmas created by the mind."

I just edited because I wanted to make a distinction between consciousness as in mind and consciousnesses (8 consciousnesses) or conditions created by mind.

Now I have a headache.
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Re: are karma and rebirth for real?

Postby conebeckham » Mon Nov 07, 2011 5:47 pm

KevinSolway wrote:
a cause is something that is required to be present for an effect to occur, and if present, will certainly cause the effect to arise. A condition is something that will affect the outcome, but is not a cause.

So if growing a field of wheat, the wheat seed is a condition. Although it must be present, it's presence does not guarantee a crop.


The group of conditions that produce a particular outcome must necessarily be the cause of that outcome. So in this sense conditions are causes.



Linguistically, this is correct. But you must understand that Buddhism differentiates between Primary Cause, and Conditions.

The Wheat seed is the primary cause. No matter how good the soil, no matter how excellent the rainfall, no matter how beneficent the sunlight and temperature, no wheat will grow if there is no wheat seed. Conditions can vary, within parameters, and change results, but Causes MUST be present in order for given results to occur. If an orange seed is planted, a stalk of wheat will not grow.
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Re: are karma and rebirth for real?

Postby KevinSolway » Mon Nov 07, 2011 6:12 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:we can see mind acting independent of physical form during sleep


Not independent. For one thing the things that are heard or felt by the body during sleep are often, if not always translated into our dream experience. And if the body died during sleep then this would have a significant impact on mind.

So here consciousness precedes name and form, that is exists independently of name and form, with ignorance as its cause. And this all before birth and after death pending rebirth in a realm where the inhabitants possess physical form. Now unlesss you want to deny the veracity of dependent origination (which you are, of course, free to do), well...


As you would know, if you read my posts in this topic, I reject your interpretation of dependent origination, so you're wasting your time telling me about this interpretation of yours. I've heard the popular interpretation countless times over the years, and I thoroughly reject it, from the ground up.

In the teaching of dependent origination, "birth" has nothing whatsoever to do with physical birth, but it refers to the birth of the false "I".

That's why things like "consciousness" and "feeling" are listed before "birth" - because these things arise before the creation of the false "I" - the ego.

If dependent origination was about the physical body, then things would be in an entirely different order.
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Re: are karma and rebirth for real?

Postby Malcolm » Mon Nov 07, 2011 6:16 pm

KevinSolway wrote:
Namdrol wrote:Conciousness has a cause, but not a material cause, even though, according to them, it can be conditioned by material substances.


Conditions are the same as causes.


No, conditions are not the same thing as causes.

Conditions do not bear the potential to bring about a result. for example, no matter how much it rains, without a seed, there can be no shoot.

Causes carry the potential to bring about a result. For example, even though it may not rain, as long as a seed is viable, it can produce a sprout when the proper conditions are present.

In the example of consciousness, consciousness, according to the Buddhist model, is of six kinds: mental consciousness and five physical sense consciousness. The sole difference between these six is whether consciousness is conditioned by sense organs or not leading to the descriptors "eye consciousness" and so on. However, consciousness also exists in absence of a physical substrate, for example, arūpyadhātu beings, those beings of the four immaterial realms, have no physical bodies. In the Buddhist way of seeing things, mind and body are different substances, with different causes.

N
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Re: are karma and rebirth for real?

Postby Malcolm » Mon Nov 07, 2011 6:18 pm

KevinSolway wrote:
If dependent origination was about the physical body, then things would be in an entirely different order.


Dependent origination is about both mind and body -- this is why we have links such as consciousness, name and form, six sense organs, etc.

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Re: are karma and rebirth for real?

Postby LastLegend » Mon Nov 07, 2011 6:31 pm

KevinSolway wrote:
As you would know, if you read my posts in this topic, I reject your interpretation of dependent origination, so you're wasting your time telling me about this interpretation of yours. I've heard the popular interpretation countless times over the years, and I thoroughly reject it, from the ground up.

In the teaching of dependent origination, "birth" has nothing whatsoever to do with physical birth, but it refers to the birth of the false "I".

That's why things like "consciousness" and "feeling" are listed before "birth" - because these things arise before the creation of the false "I" - the ego.

If dependent origination was about the physical body, then things would be in an entirely different order.


You are not wrong about the false "I." But there is physical rebirth. This is the reason why you have a body.
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Re: are karma and rebirth for real?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Mon Nov 07, 2011 6:56 pm

KevinSolway wrote:Not independent. For one thing the things that are heard or felt by the body during sleep are often, if not always translated into our dream experience. And if the body died during sleep then this would have a significant impact on mind.
Of course it would, nobody is denying that. Of course you are right that the mind is not fully independent of the body during sleep but then the bardo of dreaming is not the same as the bardo of death, though there are many similarities that can help us understand what the bardo of death is about.

As you would know, if you read my posts in this topic, I reject your interpretation of dependent origination, so you're wasting your time telling me about this interpretation of yours. I've heard the popular interpretation countless times over the years, and I thoroughly reject it, from the ground up.

In the teaching of dependent origination, "birth" has nothing whatsoever to do with physical birth, but it refers to the birth of the false "I".

That's why things like "consciousness" and "feeling" are listed before "birth" - because these things arise before the creation of the false "I" - the ego.

If dependent origination was about the physical body, then things would be in an entirely different order.
Yes Kev, I know, that's whay I added the PS to my previous post. But what you are failing to understand is that I am not talking about "my" interpretation of dependent origination, though you are definitely talking about "yours". The interpretation of dependent origination that I "report" is the common interpretation, not "my" interpretation. I am neither enlightened enough nor deluded enough to believe that I can come up with "my" own interpretation.
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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."
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Re: are karma and rebirth for real?

Postby KevinSolway » Mon Nov 07, 2011 7:07 pm

Namdrol wrote:Conditions do not bear the potential to bring about a result.


All of the conditions that actually bring about a result, such as rain, seed, etc, are definitely the cause of the result. In that sense only are conditions the same as causes, i.e., when the conditions definitely contribute to a result.

Causes carry the potential to bring about a result.


Yes, except when they have already caused the result, in which case their potential has been realized.

Consciousness also exists in absence of a physical substrate, for example, arūpyadhātu beings, those beings of the four immaterial realms, have no physical bodies.


I consider that it is a matter of definition that the substrate or cause of consciousness is "physical", and it is ultimately the physical world (which is the cause of consciousness), which is the physical body.

I agree that there are definitely immaterial realms, and there are no physical bodies in those realms, but the immaterial realms themselves have a cause, and that cause is physical. That's where the physical "body" is. The body is not in the immaterial realm.

In the Buddhist way of seeing things, mind and body are different substances, with different causes.


It's fine to divide things up into "mind" and "body". The problem comes when people imagine that each of these are inherently existent, and imagine that the mind is independent of the body, and unaffected by the body.
Last edited by KevinSolway on Mon Nov 07, 2011 7:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
KevinSolway
 
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