doubledragon wrote: I don't know with you all, but I find it strange that after so many years (I'm in my early forties), after so much learning, so much reading, I could sometimes find myself back to square one in my beliefs. I find myself questioning the same things again and again and have a feeling that I know nothing. I'm emptying my cup instead of filling it, which I suppose is positive because I am open to all the teaching that comes my way. I feel the Dharma has enriched my life in a positive way, not so much by providing all the answers but by opening me up to more meaningful questioning.
I think, returning to square one is almost certain. Common to most Dharma students.
It reminds me of a line from the teaching, On Believing In Mind
:When the deep mystery of one Suchness is fathomed,
All of a sudden we forget the external entanglements;
When the ten thousand things are viewed in their oneness,
We return to the origin and remain where we ever have been.
In a way, it's how everything opens up. we start at the beginning, and when we get so far, we have to look at the beginning to measure how far we have traveled. For me, returning to square one has included rethinking all of the terms and definitions that I started with, and redefining them with the things I know now that I didn't know when I first started to ask.
This is especially true when thinking about the topic of rebirth.
If there is no actual "me", then what is born and what dies?
Thoughts change constantly, and every cell of the newborn baby I once was is now dead.
So, "me " can't be the mind, and t can't be the body.
I can only conclude that "rebirth"
which is really just an imaginary sensation of a self
that one clings to,
happens constantly, many times a second,
and the notion of a a single 'lifetime" sandwiched between the first breath and the last, like a set of bookends
is a mistaken appearance, just as the Earth appears to be flat, when it is actually round.
So, to me, it is not even a matter of believing or not believing in rebirth,
because the whole concept is off.
Yes, rebirth happens, but it isn't what people are expecting.
They imagine "the next life' as a single thing
because they imagine this life
as a single thing,
rather than as an uncountable chain of replicating events.
They think there has been a constant "me' that lived all these years,
and then question what happens to that "me" when a person dies.
but if you understand that there has never been a constant "me"
then the question doesn't make sense any more.
So, I think that when a person can't get the right answer
it is usually because they have been asking the wrong questions.
Likewise, with deities and ghosts and so forth,
"Are they real or not?" is only a valid question
if one is comparing things to what they now assume is "real".
But if they never question the reality of their own experience, their own perceptions,
their own sensation of a "real" self,
how can comparing the reality of ghosts and deities make any sense?
. . .