dude wrote:Tell me more about that.
What answer in the book doesn't jibe with your calculations?
In a nutshell one of the few things that all schools of Buddhism without exception agree on is that Enlightenment is a good thing. Everyone from the most unconventional Nyingma to the most ardent Theravadin all agree that Enlightenment is a great thing even if they agree on absolutely nothing else. People are willing to sacrifice everything and more over the course of not just this lifetime but hundreds or even thousands of lives.
So, logically, it stands to reason that when you look into what Enlightenment is it should be unambiguously awesome from the earliest mentions of Buddhism all the way until today.
What I am actually finding when looking at the very early Sutras, including ones the variations of which are considered to be closest to what the Buddha actually taught, is that the goodness of Enlightenment is entirely relative. For someone who lived in the 6th century BCE where life, even as a noble, was nasty brutish and short the idea of the self not existing and the final result of a holy life is that your consciousness vanishes like a fire going out(an analogy used to describe Nirvana) sounds pretty awesome.
To me, on the other hand, that sounds utterly horrifying. Yes, life can be deeply unsatisfactory but obliterating your consciousness seems a little extreme and working to annihilate the consciousness of every sentient being in existence(which is what a Bodhisattva would be doing if this explanation were true) seems even worse.
And the justification of, "Well, the self doesn't exist anyway so when it is annihilated then nothing is actually destroyed" is unsatisfying in the extreme.
The problem I am running into is that even though I know that Enlightenment is a good thing, I also know that annihilation of consciousness is a bad thing. And I also know that the hypothesis that the Nirvana as the Buddha taught was a sort of super-annihilation that he could call not nihilism due to a subtle point fits the information(the analogies we have for Nirvana, the part in the Nidanavaggasamyutta where it is said that " mere bodily remains will be left" when an Arhant dies, the fact that as time passes schools of Buddhism have become more and more vague about what Nirvana is and made the actual goal of Nirvana harder to obtain, etc) we have extremely well. So since all of these cannot be true there has to be a flaw in my research, some source I'm not finding.
So, to sum up.
The "problem" is , "What is Enlightenment?" The answer in the back of the book is "This really awesome thing". The answer I get from my "math" is, "The utter annihilation of consciousness"
One last thing, I can't put enough emphasis on the fact that I think that my conclusions have to be wrong. I am not saying that Enlightenment is the utter annihilation of consciousness. I am saying that my research has brought me to that conclusion and that means that my research has to be wrong somewhere. I am hoping someone can point me to the flaw in my logic that will work out this paradox.
I'm an agnostic in the same sense that Robert Anton Wilson was, except his reaction was laughter. Mine isn't.
I am not a teacher in any tradition, Buddhist or otherwise. Anything that I have posted should not be taken as representing the view of anyone other than my own. And maybe Larry S. Smith of Montgomery, Alabama. But most likely just me.