How can Buddhists be so sure of themselves?

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Re: How can Buddhists be so sure of themselves?

Postby wisdom » Mon Jul 23, 2012 9:45 pm

In the least a brain damaged person won't be achieving realization in this life. If the sky was perpetually covered with storm clouds without any hope of clearing ever, there would be no chance that one would ever see the Sun. This is the relationship of the mind to Enlightenment (as clouds to the Sun) as its clearly stated in numerous places. The existence of clouds does not make the sun go out of existence, and the clearing of the sky to reveal the sun has not caused the sun to come into existence. Nevertheless we can easily and clearly see that there are factors of causes and conditions which have to be in place, based on our karma, in order for the storm to clear and for us to perceive what has always been there. If this wasn't true, then everyone is already enlightened and nobody needs to practice Dharma at all in order to realize it.
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Re: How can Buddhists be so sure of themselves?

Postby dharmagoat » Mon Jul 23, 2012 9:59 pm

wisdom wrote:In the least a brain damaged person won't be achieving realization in this life. If the sky was perpetually covered with storm clouds without any hope of clearing ever, there would be no chance that one would ever see the Sun. This is the relationship of the mind to Enlightenment (as clouds to the Sun) as its clearly stated in numerous places. The existence of clouds does not make the sun go out of existence, and the clearing of the sky to reveal the sun has not caused the sun to come into existence. Nevertheless we can easily and clearly see that there are factors of causes and conditions which have to be in place, based on our karma, in order for the storm to clear and for us to perceive what has always been there. If this wasn't true, then everyone is already enlightened and nobody needs to practice Dharma at all in order to realize it.

Great posting.

Although I would suggest that it is not the mind itself that obscures enlightenment, as enlightenment is a quality of mind, but rather it is certain conditions of the mind that obscure the true nature of mind.
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Re: How can Buddhists be so sure of themselves?

Postby odysseus » Mon Jul 23, 2012 11:45 pm

wisdom wrote:In the least a brain damaged person won't be achieving realization in this life.


This statement is a bit provocative. A brain-damaged person still has a quality of life and an experience of life around him. Nobody can tell about his realisations as he may be unable to speak in language. Okay, how damaged are you before you lose consciousness? I think we talk about brain-damaged people who are still conscious but need help to feed for example. They may be unable to hear teachings but they can have realisations that comes by understanding their environment.

A real world example is an acquaintance of mine. He had a heroin overdose and got kidney failure. When the nurse made an error with the dialysis machine he acquired a brain seizure. He is now half-limb in his left side of his body. He cannot use his left arm. But he still studies science and religion and has a quality of life. He is brain-damaged but has clearly improved his understanding of "things". You can say he has had realisations.

It´s not in our power to say they are beyond development if they still have the conscious will to live.
It´s our duty as sentient beings to fight evil!

-- Tenzin Lhundup
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Re: How can Buddhists be so sure of themselves?

Postby Andrew108 » Tue Jul 24, 2012 9:00 am

wisdom wrote:In the least a brain damaged person won't be achieving realization in this life.

Yes this is provocative. Also if a master has a stroke or has brain damage does this mean they will lose their realization?

wisdom wrote:If the sky was perpetually covered with storm clouds without any hope of clearing ever, there would be no chance that one would ever see the Sun. This is the relationship of the mind to Enlightenment (as clouds to the Sun) as its clearly stated in numerous places.


This isn't really the relationship of the mind to Enlightenment. In your analogy the sun and the clouds are seen as being two different things. The common metaphor is to compare 'realization' or 'Enligtenment' to space in that space is pervasive (pervades sun and clouds equally).Join the term 'primordial awareness' with the term 'space' and that's about the highest view of enlightenment words can show.

wisdom wrote:Nevertheless we can easily and clearly see that there are factors of causes and conditions which have to be in place, based on our karma, in order for the storm to clear and for us to perceive what has always been there. If this wasn't true, then everyone is already enlightened and nobody needs to practice Dharma at all in order to realize it.

The storm doesn't clear away. It is important to understand that thoughts, discursive thinking, emotional reactions don't really go or clear away. Enlightenment isn't like the sun shining all the time. It's more that conceptual clinging is neither here nor there - 'like a thief entering an empty house'.
The karma required is to be inspired by truth and to look further as to what constitutes the truth in experiences. 'Good' karma in this sense means finding a good teacher. That's all the karma a person needs.
Dharma isn't about achieving a realization. It's not really about reaching the end of a road. When we think we have arrived at a destination we are actually back to the beginning - right where we left off. So that's the paradox. The more we feel engaged in Buddhism the less engaged we actually are. The buddhism that is brain-based is like that - the idea that we are progressing towards some goal. When we die we'll be shocked with how little realization we have. So it's very very important for Buddhists to look with absolute honesty at their chosen path and to be skeptical about what they are doing. Brain-based buddhists or buddhists holding on to a lot of concepts are very sure of themselves and this being sure is not in keeping with genuine dharma. To not question the path means that a buddhist doesn't have confidence to question. So instead of confidence, which comes about because of a small glimmer of genuine insight, a buddhist practitioner will instead try to be sure. To be sure they need to take on the words of the teacher. This faith-based approach is limited.
For me I hope bad situations arise. I hope I get a lot of desire and anger. I hope I have no realization. I hope that I will go unnoticed. I hope that the world of appearances will turn against me. When the sun starts shining I'll hope for the clouds and storm to come.
I'm not meaning to criticize - everyone has a different view of dharma so I thought I would share mine.
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Re: How can Buddhists be so sure of themselves?

Postby muni » Tue Jul 24, 2012 9:47 am

Buddhists can be sure when they ask few times "am I on the right train to Manchester" and the answer is "yes". Then they can relax (trust) and let go the passing scenery without focussing.
:focus:
"When the equal selfless loving state is revealing itself" is said by wise ones.
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Re: How can Buddhists be so sure of themselves?

Postby KeithBC » Tue Jul 24, 2012 6:02 pm

:good:

Om mani padme hum
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Re: How can Buddhists be so sure of themselves?

Postby Simon E. » Thu Jul 26, 2012 11:43 am

wisdom wrote:In the least a brain damaged person won't be achieving realization in this life. If the sky was perpetually covered with storm clouds without any hope of clearing ever, there would be no chance that one would ever see the Sun. This is the relationship of the mind to Enlightenment (as clouds to the Sun) as its clearly stated in numerous places. The existence of clouds does not make the sun go out of existence, and the clearing of the sky to reveal the sun has not caused the sun to come into existence. Nevertheless we can easily and clearly see that there are factors of causes and conditions which have to be in place, based on our karma, in order for the storm to clear and for us to perceive what has always been there. If this wasn't true, then everyone is already enlightened and nobody needs to practice Dharma at all in order to realize it.

You have no way of knowing what brain damaged people can or cant achieve.
Its an example of the Buddha of the Pali Canon called " papanca "....which means
proliferating speculation...and he warned against it.
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Re: How can Buddhists be so sure of themselves?

Postby wisdom » Mon Jul 30, 2012 8:54 pm

After giving it some consideration I agree. Though by brain damage I mean severe damage impairing cognition and comprehension to the point of permanent mental retardation, and not mere damage to the brain resulting from a stroke or other things that many recover from. Even then though, maybe they can or have somehow achieved Enlightenment. There is no way to know.
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Re: How can Buddhists be so sure of themselves?

Postby Yudron » Mon Jul 30, 2012 10:30 pm

Ikkyu wrote:All I'm asking for is empirical evidence. Evidence that Buddhist enlightenment is any more real than the ecstasy Christian and Muslim mystics sense. That it's more real than Hindu moksha or the Nirvana of the Jains. To all these individuals the goal may be equated with the end of suffering. People experience these things independent of Buddhism and while I am aware of the concept of Pratekyabuddhas it just doesn't add up to me that this "enlightenment" is anything other than a very convincing bio-chemical experience created by neurotransmitters in the brain, as are all experiences, arguably.


If Ikkyu is still following this thread, I would like to respond to you.

I'm curious why you are posting this to a Mahayana or Vajrayana board? Surely you must know that many, probably most, people who practice Buddhist meditation in America or Europe do not come at Buddhism from perspective of faith and devotion. Whatever kind of meditation they do, they are doing primarily as a means to personal peace, and it sounds like you have confidence one can achieve that by altering one's brain chemistry through meditation. That is enough for them as a motivation to practice meditation regularly. Mostly, these people are drawn to shamatha or vippasana meditation, or perhaps zen (stripped of it's Mahayana roots).

My questions for you are: Is that motivation -- a personal experience of peace, and perhaps an increase of love and compassion--not enough for you personally? Would you need to believe more in the faith-based side of the Mahayana (in buddhahood, etc...) in order to want to practice? If so, why?

The Mahayana and Vajrayana uses faith as a tool to enhance one's practice. I can't imagine what would qualify as empirical evidence of enlightenment, Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, and so forth. Do you have an example of what kind of evidence would support the hypothesis, for you, that such things exist?

If you can't conceive of how such evidence would appear, then why are you asking? In other words, are you trying to dissuade us--who choose to accept these things--from our faith? Why?

I have a masters degree in science, and for a long time I saw my practice as a phenomenological study with an n=1 (one participant... me). That approach slowed down my practice by years. Only recently did I make a decision to have faith and devotion, and --although I am not enlightened-- it really helped my practice. Personally, I feel regret for not doing it sooner, 100%. Faith, respect and devotion soften dualistic mind.. they serve a function.
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Re: How can Buddhists be so sure of themselves?

Postby My Socks Smell » Wed Aug 15, 2012 3:21 pm

undefineable wrote:Rather than grasping at the assumed possibility that Buddhism is somehow 'false', those who are distressed by it may be better off finding a belief system -such as materialism (with its assertion that there can be nothing after death for us to worry about)- that doesn't affect them so negatively - ...
Am I to understand that, unlike materialism, Buddhism is a belief system based upon the assertion that there is something after death for us to worry about?
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Re: How can Buddhists be so sure of themselves?

Postby cesar » Wed Aug 15, 2012 4:14 pm

My Socks Smell wrote:Am I to understand that, unlike materialism, Buddhism is a belief system based upon the assertion that there is something after death for us to worry about?


a notion, that there is a continuum. because it is difficult, through meditation and analysis, to determine a beginning, or an end for that matter.
and a notion, that their is a law of causes, conditions, and effects. karma.
for every action, there is an effect, dependent on conditions. so this continuum is a wheel that runs on this formula. so if one asserts to this notion, one could possibly be worried about what happens after death, if one is aware of the present actions and what the result would most likely be.

it is said that the Buddha proclaimed that if one wanted to know about their past lives, to look at their present conditions. and that if one wanted to know the future, to look at their present actions.

it is not so helpful to be sure of ourselves. more helpful to be sure of the View.
we are on this forum now. alive and well, for now. we cannot say what will actually happen at the moment of transition. no one can. but for Buddhist, through study, reflection, and meditation we come to this conclusion..or continuum.

cheers,
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Re: How can Buddhists be so sure of themselves?

Postby Malcolm » Wed Aug 15, 2012 4:18 pm

My Socks Smell wrote:Am I to understand that, unlike materialism, Buddhism is a belief system based upon the assertion that there is something after death for us to worry about?


The mind stream does not die along with the body.
http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://atikosha.org
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

" The one who teaches the benefits of peace,
he is said to be a ṛṣī; the others are the opposite of him."

-- Uttaratantra
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Re: How can Buddhists be so sure of themselves?

Postby futerko » Wed Aug 15, 2012 5:29 pm

My Socks Smell wrote:Am I to understand that, unlike materialism, Buddhism is a belief system based upon the assertion that there is something after death for us to worry about?


The certainty of Buddhism avoids assertions of beliefs. On a purely logical level, if all views are relative then there is only one meta-View. Buddhist practice involves establishing a stability in the absence of views, so no worries.
we cannot get rid of God because we still believe in grammar - Nietzsche
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Re: How can Buddhists be so sure of themselves?

Postby My Socks Smell » Wed Aug 15, 2012 5:36 pm

cesar wrote:so this continuum is a wheel that runs on this formula. so if one asserts to this notion, one could possibly be worried about what happens after death, if one is aware of the present actions and what the result would most likely be.

Malcolm wrote:The mind stream does not die along with the body.
May I ask you both if your practice of Buddhism is at least in part motivated by worry about what might happen to your continuum/mind stream after the death of the body?
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Re: How can Buddhists be so sure of themselves?

Postby viniketa » Wed Aug 15, 2012 6:19 pm

futerko wrote:The certainty of Buddhism avoids assertions of beliefs. On a purely logical level, if all views are relative then there is only one meta-View. Buddhist practice involves establishing a stability in the absence of views, so no worries.


Socks (if I may be allowed this familiarity) - Please contemplate futerko's post... :smile:

:namaste:
If they can sever like and dislike, along with greed, anger, and delusion, regardless of their difference in nature, they will all accomplish the Buddha Path.. ~ Sutra of Complete Enlightenment
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Re: How can Buddhists be so sure of themselves?

Postby cesar » Wed Aug 15, 2012 6:47 pm

My Socks Smell wrote:May I ask you both if your practice of Buddhism is at least in part motivated by worry about what might happen to your continuum/mind stream after the death of the body?


good morning Socks,

more motivated by wishing to be a source of happiness, and not more suffering. so by this motivation, we strive on with more mindfulness and awareness.
if there is too much worry, there is an unnecessary fascination with the continuum and of what happens afterwards. after what?
we forget to rest in presence. if you think about it, it is no difference than when we are unnecessarily worried about what's going to happen tomorrow, next week, or even in the next moment. rather than just working and enjoying what is happening, now.

they say there is an opportunity, as the set and all the props are being taken down, to completely wake up. my activity of practice is to habituate the familiarity with this moment. so perhaps one might describe this as a worry of forgetting in this moment. they say any spiritual practice is actually preparing for the moment of death.

i don't feel worried. just preparing.

cheers,
césar
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Re: How can Buddhists be so sure of themselves?

Postby My Socks Smell » Wed Aug 15, 2012 7:00 pm

viniketa wrote:
futerko wrote:The certainty of Buddhism avoids assertions of beliefs. On a purely logical level, if all views are relative then there is only one meta-View. Buddhist practice involves establishing a stability in the absence of views, so no worries.


Socks (if I may be allowed this familiarity) - Please contemplate futerko's post... :smile:

:namaste:
Re-reading and contemplating again.
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Re: How can Buddhists be so sure of themselves?

Postby My Socks Smell » Wed Aug 15, 2012 7:01 pm

cesar wrote:i don't feel worried. just preparing.
Thanks.
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Re: How can Buddhists be so sure of themselves?

Postby viniketa » Wed Aug 15, 2012 7:11 pm

My Socks Smell wrote:
cesar wrote:i don't feel worried. just preparing.
Thanks.


Good. Any ability to exercise control over one's karma in the present is more important than any benefit to some future birth. More importantly, our ability to exercise control over our karma in the present is of benefit to all beings, now and in the future... :group:

The bad things, don't do them.
The good things, try to do them.
Try to purify, subdue your own mind.
That is the teaching of all buddhas.

At first, when I heard these teachings, I wasn't impressed. Now, after 65 years of practice, I understand that the bad things you should avoid are those that create suffering for you and other people, including other living things and the environment.

Thich Nhat Hahn, The Art of Power, p.91


:namaste:
If they can sever like and dislike, along with greed, anger, and delusion, regardless of their difference in nature, they will all accomplish the Buddha Path.. ~ Sutra of Complete Enlightenment
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Re: How can Buddhists be so sure of themselves?

Postby My Socks Smell » Wed Aug 15, 2012 8:11 pm

viniketa wrote:Good. Any ability to exercise control over one's karma in the present is more important than any benefit to some future birth. More importantly, our ability to exercise control over our karma in the present is of benefit to all beings, now and in the future... :group: :namaste:
If Buddhism is to make sense to me personally, what you describe is how I feel it should be viewed. What concerns me is that, occasionally, worry about the state of the mind-stream/continuum after death is invoked as a relevant factor in determining whether one might choose to either believe in materialism or practice Buddhism. I suppose I am sensitive to the mention of anything sounding like karmic retribution, as the selfish escapism of my former Christianity was turning me into more of a mercenary than a Bodhisattva. If I were to take undefineable's post above seriously, I would be one of those he suggests might be better off believing in materialism because it does not disturb people with such a worry.
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