jeeprs wrote:But this came up with with Alfredo's referring back to 'reason' and how Buddhist beliefs are often 'non-rational'. A lot of people say that, as if 'science' has a monopoly on reason. But it doesn't!
Huseng wrote:I think one issue is related to our contemporary popular lexicon: "science" is equated to what is really undeniably true and hence the adjective "scientific" has come to mean objectively true.
What the term "objectivity" refers to in science, is that an event can be experienced by two or more witnesses and the description of what is witnessed is the same, and furthermore, that various mitigating circumstances can be eliminated from that observation in order to determine the actual cause of that event, and the same event can be replicated using the same circumstances repeatedly.
The general effects of Buddhist meditation (shamatha, mind calming) can be replicated, and have been for more than 2,000 years, even though the personal experience of each meditator is different. Analytical (Vippasna) meditation is essentially a logical breakdown of the appearance and experience of the self, which leads one to see that there is no final point of origin from which a self can be seen to emerge.
What Alfredo offers is a comparative argument, basically, that Buddha fields and ghost realms and such cannot be shown to exist, and by this, meaning shown to exist in the way our reality exists
. In other words, for example, comparing the 'hungry ghost realm' to our everyday world (one can be photographed from outer space, the other cannot). But this assumes a lot about the way our reality exists, mainly, that objects in our reality have an inherently existen
t quality to them.
Because Buddhist analytics can demonstrate that objects of our perception have no intrinsic reality to them, but arise only due to a series of temporary conditions, and that these conditions are mainly projections of the mind, this undermines the assertion on which a comparative argument is based. The most we can say is that the hungry ghost realm is no more real
than our own human realm, and the reason for this is that both realms, as real as they seem, are a projection of mind. Merely, disproving the intrinsic reality of one world does not mean that another one really does
exist, and Buddhists do not make any claim to the contrary (that our realm is an "illusion" yet other realms are "real").
It is often argued that Buddhism is the same as ("other") religions because Buddhists assert some reality of "Buddha-heavens" (pure lands), as a friend of mine called them, and this appears
to be the same idea as an afterlife in the teachings of various religions, for instance, Christian Heaven. But this argument reveals a fundamental misunderstanding (and this is pivotal), which is is that any theory involving a creator-god must
depend on the intrinsic existence of something that has been created: a 'self' , which Buddhism rejects. Only when this difference is understood can the distinction between Buddha realms and God-heaven be fully appreciated.
So, the question of whether these 'unprovable' places are real or not
At this point, any difference between rational and irrational is transcended by an understanding,
and eventually a direct experience that goes beyond anyting based on mere appearances,
regardless of how many people can 'objectively' document it.
The same holds true for what alfredo refers to as "the efficacy of spells and rituals", except that I am not sure what he means by these words, and depending on the meaning behind them, they can refer to anything from Tibetan Buddhist mantras (which serve a definite function as part of a visualization practice) to tattoos one gets in a parlor in a back alley in Bangkok, to ward off bad luck. I mentioned that many of the things on Alfredo's list were grossly misunderstood, and I was mainly referring to western popular culture, but even within eastern traditions, many times the purpose and efficacy is misunderstood. But lumping them all together is a mistake and really only demonstrates, because one cannot tell the difference, a superficial and inaccurate lack of understanding.