Do you believe in ghosts?

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

Re: Do you believe in ghosts?

Postby dharmagoat » Sun Jul 08, 2012 11:44 pm

Simon E. wrote:Twice at least I have attempted to leave this thread, and twice I have fallen into self- sabotage and reentered it. Whether due to ego or curiosity or a mixture of the two. Each time I have regretted it.
This time I will not be drawn back in.
The bottom line is I have no interest in belief systems and no interest in analysing belief systems.
They are functional. They arise. They pass.

Yes, and I made a point of drawing you back in. I personally feel that this latest discussion has been very productive. Speaking for myself, I can say that it made my position on this issue much clearer. My thanks go out to everyone involved.
Last edited by dharmagoat on Sun Jul 08, 2012 11:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Do you believe in ghosts?

Postby Norwegian » Sun Jul 08, 2012 11:45 pm

First, it's ChNN - not ChNNN. Second, it's not "Gyatso", it's Tenzin Gyatso, i.e., if you want to refer to the Dalai Lama by his name, though usually it's "HHDL" however, as in "His Holiness the Dalai Lama". Of course, his full given name is Jetsun Jamphel Ngawang Lobsang Yeshe Tenzin Gyatso, and his birth name is Lhamo Dondrub...

That aside, personally I am not that interested in religion, although there are many nice aspects about it. I am interested in Dharma, and I am interested in Dzogchen.

You mention belief systems, which Buddhism is.

But your house is not a belief system. Fish in the ocean, rain from the clouds, trees in the forest, people in the streets - these are not belief systems. These are observable entities, so to speak.

I don't "believe" in fish, and nor do I believe in rain, trees or people. These are things I can experience for myself. You most likely have very few problems accepting your car or your house, what you had for dinner, and what socks you put on. But you're very quick to dismiss devas, and so on. All fake! Hallucinations! Clearly someone here needs to prescribe Haloperidol and ECT in large quantities!

But why the objection? Yes, I am not one who buys the newspaper to read the daily horoscope, or someone who believes in ghosts the way we see them from popular culture, or UFO's etc. I prefer not to believe anything really, but instead keep an open mind to what is possible, and what's not possible. I am quite sure much of what is being reported as UFO's are not actually real alien spaceships, but on the other hand it is probably very likely that there exists intelligent life "out there" somewhere. Quite a lot of respectable scientists are of the same opinion as well. Also, many of the mystical reports one can read about may not be actual encounters with devas, pretas or other beings. It could be something different.

But devas, pretas, dakinis, and so on do exist, and people on the path have met these beings and meet these beings many times. Instead of rejecting all of it with no hesitation, it is much better if you just admit that you a.) Don't know anything about these, and b.) Have not met any of these beings. Then, like mentioned above, keep an open mind, and a little less limited.

It is a pity that you call HHDL a political pawn, and paint ChNN - who supposedly is your own teacher - in a very negative light. It is also quite a pity that you so quickly reject what others have experienced as just hallucinations and similar.

Oh well.
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Re: Do you believe in ghosts?

Postby dharmagoat » Sun Jul 08, 2012 11:54 pm

Norwegian wrote:But devas, pretas, dakinis, and so on do exist.

For the sake of discussion, I can't see how this can be more open-minded than "Devas, pretas, dakinis, might not exist," which is the position that I adopt.
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Re: Do you believe in ghosts?

Postby pueraeternus » Sun Jul 08, 2012 11:58 pm

Norwegian wrote:But your house is not a belief system. Fish in the ocean, rain from the clouds, trees in the forest, people in the streets - these are not belief systems. These are observable entities, so to speak.

I don't "believe" in fish, and nor do I believe in rain, trees or people. These are things I can experience for myself. You most likely have very few problems accepting your car or your house, what you had for dinner, and what socks you put on. But you're very quick to dismiss devas, and so on. All fake! Hallucinations! Clearly someone here needs to prescribe Haloperidol and ECT in large quantities!


Excellent points.
When I set out to lead humanity along my Golden Path I promised a lesson their bones would remember. I know a profound pattern humans deny with words even while their actions affirm it. They say they seek security and quiet, conditions they call peace. Even as they speak, they create seeds of turmoil and violence.

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Re: Do you believe in ghosts?

Postby Josef » Mon Jul 09, 2012 12:00 am

dharmagoat wrote:
Norwegian wrote:But devas, pretas, dakinis, and so on do exist.

For the sake of discussion, I can't see how this can be more open-minded than "Devas, pretas, dakinis, might not exist," which is the position that I adopt.

I don't think there is anything wrong with the might or might not position.
We start to create problems for ourselves when we become rigid and start seeing things in absolute terms.
We have to work with our circumstances and experiences as individuals on the path.
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Re: Do you believe in ghosts?

Postby Dechen Norbu » Mon Jul 09, 2012 1:53 am

The worse problem about not being open to the possibility of the existence of beings/realms/processes we can't detect with our senses and untamed mind is what lies behind it that greatly contributes to the reification of our deluded experience instead of helping us putting and end to it.
That's the real hindrance that may cause problems in the practice, instead of not believing in ghosts or devas or what have you. Someone can practice without believing any of this, as long as the reason for such is not the belief in a different metaphysical system incompatible with Dharma practice, like physicalism.
One can focus in experience. While not having experience of such beings, one may hold beliefs. Negating the possibility, however, may bear a hidden trap and that is being under the influence of competing beliefs, taking them as facts without even noticing.

Simon, for me it makes no difference whether you believe in ghosts, devas, demons, dakinis, prettas, asuras, you name it. I'm also very well aware of the dangers that lie in unfoundedly attributing supernatural causes to mental illnesses and the suffering such wrong attributions caused in the past and still cause in the present. In spite of that, I'm also aware of the dangers of assuming negative provocations are mere products of imagination.
As a student of the same teacher, I suggest you carefully think about the basis of your own position regarding this subject. I'm not suggesting you should believe in anything - and as ChNN usually says, Dzogchen is not a matter of beliefs. That's exactly the point. It seems to me you are believing in a metaphysical system that is hardly beneficial to your practice, whose premises are not scientific facts but articles of faith. Just check that out if you want. It can't hurt.
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Re: Do you believe in ghosts?

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Mon Jul 09, 2012 4:14 am

Ghosts are no more real than you are.
This doesn't mean that they are not real.
But perhaps if you think about what makes you real or not
then you will know about ghosts.
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Re: Do you believe in ghosts?

Postby dharmagoat » Mon Jul 09, 2012 6:58 am

Dechen Norbu wrote:The worse problem about not being open to the possibility of the existence of beings/realms/processes we can't detect with our senses and untamed mind is what lies behind it that greatly contributes to the reification of our deluded experience instead of helping us putting and end to it.

Granted. But the deluded experience can include the perception of other beings/realms/processes. How can one be sure these are not delusions?

I have a friend that hears voices, some being of people that he knows. He told me once that he heard my voice and described what I said. I told him that I would never have said such a thing. He acknowledged that the voice he heard could not have been mine. I was real, but the voice he heard was not. Could the same not be said for many of the experiences people have of other-worldly beings?
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Re: Do you believe in ghosts?

Postby Blue Garuda » Mon Jul 09, 2012 8:58 am

Simon E. wrote:
Twice at least I have attempted to leave this thread, and twice I have fallen into self- sabotage and reentered it. Whether due to ego or curiosity or a mixture of the two. Each time I have regretted it.
This time I will not be drawn back in.
The bottom line is I have no interest in belief systems and no interest in analysing belief systems.
They are functional. They arise. They pass.

:namaste:


it's easy to try to wriggle out of a faux pas by attempting to deflect attention on to someone else and, having called them liars or hallicinators, to compound it by ascribing anger to them created by the remark.

Fact - you said people here were either liars or hallucinating.
Fact - HHDL relies on a spirit oracle, Nechung, for advice on major issues, and refers to a former oracle as a ghost.
Fact - ChNNR has similarly spoken of their reality

You appear unable to retract or stand by your remark, hence I made it clear how daft it was to bandy about generalised insults.

You spent your last few posts attempting to evade and obfuscate instead of owning up to a stupid and insulting remark. I am not indignant at all, since I have told you nothing of my own experiences for you to conclude that I too am a liar or hallucinating. A simple retraction of that remark would have been sensible, don;t you think?
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Re: Do you believe in ghosts?

Postby Simon E. » Mon Jul 09, 2012 9:18 am

I stand by my remark.
People who claim experience of ghosts are either lying for social strokes, or are emotionally unbalanced temporarily. Or are mistaken due to misinterpretation of stimuli due to their preexisting mindset.
I could SHOW you on a screen the phenomena described as ghosts appearing to subjects who are experiencing stimuli applied to various sites in the brain.
But if you wish or need to believe in their literal existence, that is entirely your business.

My view of Tenzing Gyatso and the actions of his " oracle " differs radically from yours.

My interpretation of Norbu Rinpoches teaching differs from yours in some respects.

Clear enough ? Can we move on with our lives ? :smile:

:namaste:
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Re: Do you believe in ghosts?

Postby dharmagoat » Mon Jul 09, 2012 10:38 am

Simon E. wrote:I could SHOW you on a screen the phenomena described as ghosts appearing to subjects who are experiencing stimuli applied to various sites in the brain.

Please do. This sounds interesting.
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Re: Do you believe in ghosts?

Postby Simon E. » Mon Jul 09, 2012 10:59 am

Sorry Dharmagoat I didnt mean on the screen of your PC ( although actually that might be possible...I'll look into it the problem being the confidentiality aspect, these are volunteers.)
I meant I could take you by the hand ( not necessarily literally :smile: ) and introduce you to colleagues who are engaged in such research. There you would see how easy it is to produce intensely real seeming hallucinations in volunteer subjects by gently stimulating various parts of the brain.
This then shows by areas of colour , raised levels of electrical activity in various parts of the cortex.
At a more subtle level you would see how the contemplation of various topics translates into electrical activity in a repeatable way in those volunteers.
Most excitingly you can actually witness as light phenomena the changes brought about by modifying habitual cognitions.
Fascinatingly you could also witness the firing of neurons in ANTICIPATION of stimuli not yet applied...mindset in action.
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Re: Do you believe in ghosts?

Postby dharmagoat » Mon Jul 09, 2012 11:40 am

Simon E. wrote:I meant I could take you by the hand ( not necessarily literally :smile: ) and introduce you to colleagues who are engaged in such research. There you would see how easy it is to produce intensely real seeming hallucinations in volunteer subjects by gently stimulating various parts of the brain.
This then shows by areas of colour , raised levels of electrical activity in various parts of the cortex.
At a more subtle level you would see how the contemplation of various topics translates into electrical activity in a repeatable way in those volunteers.
Most excitingly you can actually witness as light phenomena the changes brought about by modifying habitual cognitions.
Fascinatingly you could also witness the firing of neurons in ANTICIPATION of stimuli not yet applied...mindset in action.

Unfortunately all this would be lost on someone with no interest in this field of research. There will always be those that will deny that this indicates anything at all. As a buddhist practitioner myself, I find that this kind of insight into how the mind works complements the insight that can be gained subjectively.
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Re: Do you believe in ghosts?

Postby Blue Garuda » Mon Jul 09, 2012 11:53 am

Poking electrodes into tortured lab animals and volunteer humans proves nothing about the mind, only about the brain.

Largely, what it proves is that, surprise surprise, the use of the brain by the mind is disrupted when it is damaged.

It does not prove that the mind has been disrupted or deluded at all.

Neither does it prove or disprove the existence of ghosts or spirits, only that we can produce an effect which people may think is real by disrupting the brain.
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Re: Do you believe in ghosts?

Postby Simon E. » Mon Jul 09, 2012 11:55 am

Sure. ( Dharmagoat ) I once had a colleague who was a fundamentalist Christian, he was highly intelligent and ironically taught degree level Biological Sciences...
The only way he could manage the dissonance was by a protracted life of psychological Denial.
He had two modes of functioning which he kept separate from one another.

The irony of brain studies is that they support, rather than undermine, the model of the Skandhas.

Such studies are in contradiction only to a primitive and atta-like view of " mind " .

Its analogous to attacking Newtonian Physics through fear of Quantum theory. ;)
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Re: Do you believe in ghosts?

Postby Simon E. » Mon Jul 09, 2012 11:58 am

Blue Garuda wrote:Poking electrodes into tortured lab animals and volunteer humans proves nothing about the mind, only about the brain.

Largely, what it proves is that, surprise surprise, the use of the brain by the mind is disrupted when it is damaged.

It does not prove that the mind has been disrupted or deluded at all.

Neither does it prove or disprove the existence of ghosts or spirits, only that we can produce an effect which people may think is real by disrupting the brain.

Define " mind ". Then having defined it, locate it within the Skandha model.
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Re: Do you believe in ghosts?

Postby dharmagoat » Mon Jul 09, 2012 11:59 am

Blue Garuda wrote:Poking electrodes into tortured lab animals and volunteer humans proves nothing about the mind, only about the brain.

Largely, what it proves is that, surprise surprise, the use of the brain by the mind is disrupted when it is damaged.

It does not prove that the mind has been disrupted or deluded at all.

Neither does it prove or disprove the existence of ghosts or spirits, only that we can produce an effect which people may think is real by disrupting the brain.

I sense exactly the kind of ignorance I was describing above.

Why mention lab animals when they are not used in this research? Point scoring?
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Re: Do you believe in ghosts?

Postby Simon E. » Mon Jul 09, 2012 12:06 pm

No one spoke of animal studies. ( Which I marched against in Oxford when the Primate Lab was in construction ) No one spoke of electrodes. Those are strawmen.

Considerable effects can be mapped in brain function which can be recorded and repeated by completely none-invasive means, simply by asking the subject to visualise an object, or by introducing cognitions which are in most subjects emotionally loaded.
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Re: Do you believe in ghosts?

Postby dharmagoat » Mon Jul 09, 2012 12:18 pm

If I was to attempt to refute something like Dzogchen (not that I have any inclination to), I would at least put some research into what it is and what is involved. I would ask questions. In that way I could put forward a useful argument and not sound stupid.
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Re: Do you believe in ghosts?

Postby Simon E. » Mon Jul 09, 2012 12:52 pm

Simon E. wrote:
Blue Garuda wrote:Poking electrodes into tortured lab animals and volunteer humans proves nothing about the mind, only about the brain.

Largely, what it proves is that, surprise surprise, the use of the brain by the mind is disrupted when it is damaged.

It does not prove that the mind has been disrupted or deluded at all.

Neither does it prove or disprove the existence of ghosts or spirits, only that we can produce an effect which people may think is real by disrupting the brain.

Define " mind ". Then having defined it, locate it within the Skandha model.



Bump.

Its possible that you might find that the model you have of the mind is not shared by Buddhism either.,
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