Huseng wrote:Acknowledging the reality of rebirth is essential to having right view, which is the first of the eightfold noble path.
Thank you for the video. I'm not sure I got as much out of it as I would have liked, but my overall impression at first viewing is someone with somewhat conflicted views and no easy answers.
I'll be honest, the first time I heard about the concept of reincarnation and/or rebirth, there was something there that gave me a sense of "truth".
I don't know if this is because of my selfish "selfness" grasping at survival beyond death or if it was real "truth", but it made the most sense of all the theories that I'd heard posited before- ie a discontinuance of existence after death, going to heaven for eternity, or going to hell for eternity.
Even in my Theology classes as a kid in Catholic school growing up, there was a sort of blanket acceptance of the possibility of such a concept as rebirth because in the Catholic faith "purgatory" had never been explicitly spelled out. Purgatory was merely an after-death state where the "soul" was to learn more lessons about the reality of "good" and "evil" before finally being accepted as "good". In this way, the concept of rebirth never conflicted with the faith that i was raised in and was therefor much easier to accept as an adult as to be the true nature of things.
I believe most people in the West could buy into a non-materialist view, whether from the standpoint of an inherent "truthfulness" to the message, a selfish hope for continued existence after death, or from a standpoint that such a beautiful thing as sentience would surely be a waste if all sentience ceased upon the death of each and every sentient being.
I don't believe most people are quick to accept scientific materialsim as the reality of the nature of things, but we are definitely conditioned to think that scientists don't view any other possibility as any more than "wishful thinking" - in agreement with your comment about the "dominant state sanctioned ideology endorsed by the elites."
One of the biggest things that continues to impress me about Buddhism is the number of PHds (learned people who have a strong foundation in logical thinking) that have subscribed to the theories of the different flavors of Buddhism - that they have not found significant holes in the theories set forth in the Nikaya sutras, or even the Mahayana sutras that followed. In fact, most of the PHds I know subscribe to a continued existence of one form or another.
The shear number of such learned people who have not found fault in the Dharma leads me to think that either Siddhartha Gautama or the 600+ years of monks that followed in his footsteps that documented these sutras must certainly be positing genius ideas. There must be some strong logic there that transcends the mere "wishful thinking" of a continued existence. If the idea of scientific materialism had such a ring of "truth" to it, then I doubt the contrary would attract any PHds; let alone garnering the interest or agnosticism of such people as Einstein or Carl Sagan (who, while adamantly atheist, seemed to be genuinely interested in the teachings of HH the Dalai Lama).
Your comment about politicians is interesting. Robert Thurman once made a comment about how if the rulers of a country believed in nihilism/scientific materialism then that country would be very dangerous. I think that meshes well with your statement about politicians using religion as a means for gaining support, maybe not necessarily what they truly believe. The US has made some surprisingly huge gambles with the fate of human existence in the past 60 years.
As far as scientific materialism being a belief system, i'm reminded of the concept that atheists are just as devoutly religious in their beliefs of no metaphysical existence as religious leaders are devout in their own religious beliefs.
I'd just like to take this opportunity to apologize if anybody on this board thinks I'm writing too much as a relative Dharma-noob. My lack of standing in the Buddhist world does not reflect the amount of research or thought I've put into these topics. I really enjoy the discourse and if there are any errors in my line of thought, I really appreciate it when they are pointed out. I know in the next few years, I'll look back on these posts and be embarrassed, but at least I'm trying to learn.