when asked for ... "evidence" ... ideas, please ?

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Re: when asked for ... "evidence" ... ideas, please ?

Postby Jesse » Fri Nov 09, 2012 9:13 pm

The other, more accurate, use has to do with reducing "mind" to the sum of operations of the material "body", such that all aspects of mind cease at death. This is more properly "reductionistic".

While the latter is certainly associated with "science", it is a limited view to reduce science to materialism.


:good:

I don't think
reducing "mind" to the sum of operations of the material "body"
necessarily implies
all aspects of mind cease at death
, I think that's the difference between science and materialism.

So, Buddhism can very easily get along with science, but not with materialism.. because materialism supposes existence ends when the physical body ends, and supposes their is a self to be ended.
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Re: when asked for ... "evidence" ... ideas, please ?

Postby duckfiasco » Fri Nov 09, 2012 9:20 pm

Reductionism is very common and kind of strange if you think about it. Many believe the mind is the same thing as the brain. Feelings are chemicals. Consciousness is nothing but electrical activity. The totality of experience is something that can be measured in terms of data and numbers.

It's a bit odd to me that this view is held simultaneously with the view that there is a "me" in there somewhere. If people held 100% reductionist views, it seems like another take on emptiness. Following that rationale, the monolithic ego doesn't really exist because of the analysis of the brain being the same as mind, an advanced kind of baking soda and vinegar volcano taking place that generates the appearance of sentience. But despite obvious problems with this, how many people even take it that far?

A lot of materialism, reductionism, whatever you want to call it, just seems like it lacks curiosity. It's an answer that doesn't really satisfy under scrutiny, but at least it's some kind of answer. If you constantly probe with the curiosity and mindfulness that the dharma inspires, you never really get to an answer. You just go and go, repeatedly frustrating the desire for solidity, until the whole chasing, questioning process exhausts itself and... wait, what was that?

Maybe this is why it can appear absurd, unfortunately :thinking:
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The Perfect Way knows no difficulties
Except that it refuses to make preferences;
Only when freed from hate and love,
It reveals itself fully and without disguise.
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Re: when asked for ... "evidence" ... ideas, please ?

Postby Lhug-Pa » Fri Nov 09, 2012 9:24 pm

One possibly useful way to define what we're discussing here:

Materialist = "reductionist"

Materialistic/materialism = consumerist/consumerism


viniketa wrote:...Buddhism, and other non-scientific philosophies


Dharma actually does follow the steps of the Scientific Method (usually without microscopes and computers):


Image


In fact, I'd even say that Dharma not only makes use of both inductive and deductive logic, but also that it goes beyond inductive and deductive reasoning (see Nagarjuna and Longchenpa for example) by observing more variables than what the common Scientific Method observes.

My qualm with materialist or "reductionist" science is that it often excludes many variables from its hypothesis and experiments. At least within the mainstream. In other words, many scientists are close-minded and often refuse to consider other options in their experiments (either that, or they're paid to not consider other options). For one, many scientists still haven't caught on to what many ancient scientists have always said: That the observed and observer are not separate. Some scientists are starting to catch on though.


ghost01 wrote:So, Buddhism can very easily get along with science, but not with materialism.. because materialism supposes existence ends when the physical body ends, and supposes their is a self to be ended.


:good:

Skeptics/materialists often scoff at Buddhism, Tantra, Yoga, Occultism, Mysticism, etc.; yet ask them if they've actually applied what they supposedly stand for (the Scientific Method) to these things with sustained effort over a long enough period of time, and they'll most likely tell you no.
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Re: when asked for ... "evidence" ... ideas, please ?

Postby humanpreta » Sat Nov 10, 2012 6:51 am

Lhug-Pa wrote:One possibly useful way to define what we're discussing here:



In fact, I'd even say that Dharma not only makes use of both inductive and deductive logic, but also that it goes beyond inductive and deductive reasoning (see Nagarjuna and Longchenpa for example) by observing more variables than what the common Scientific Method observes.


Madhyamika is a big F-YOU to Aristotelian logic
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Re: when asked for ... "evidence" ... ideas, please ?

Postby joda » Sat Nov 10, 2012 12:22 pm

duckfiasco wrote:It's a bit odd to me that this view is held simultaneously with the view that there is a "me" in there somewhere. If people held 100% reductionist views, it seems like another take on emptiness. Following that rationale, the monolithic ego doesn't really exist because of the analysis of the brain being the same as mind, an advanced kind of baking soda and vinegar volcano taking place that generates the appearance of sentience. But despite obvious problems with this, how many people even take it that far?


The question arises as why one should take it that far.
The egoistic aspect is an integral aspect of all life that simply emerged out of evolutionary necessity. Not to speak of that the idea of a self is a natural result of processes in the mind making us capable of differentiating objects and thinking. It being a natural aspect of life, there really is no reason to stop working with this idea of selfhood. Its only in specific religious world-views like that of Buddhism that this is seen as a problem. This also, since you are perceiving things like greed for example to be a natural aspect of the mind in "ignorance", while outside of the Buddhist box greed is perceived as the result of society-models and education and not at all integral to the mind.
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Re: when asked for ... "evidence" ... ideas, please ?

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Sat Nov 10, 2012 2:08 pm

joda wrote:
The egoistic aspect is an integral aspect of all life that simply emerged out of evolutionary necessity. Not to speak of that the idea of a self is a natural result of processes in the mind making us capable of differentiating objects and thinking. It being a natural aspect of life, there really is no reason to stop working with this idea of selfhood. Its only in specific religious world-views like that of Buddhism that this is seen as a problem.


For me, the problem is,
"how does all this raw materialbear witness to its own existence?"

Carl Sagan used to say "We are made of the stuff from which stars are made".
Where , in the evolutionary process, do the components of the brain:

Water 77 to 78 %
fats 10 to 12 %
Protein 8%
Carbohydrate 1%
Soluble organic substances 2%
Inorganic salts 1%


....suddenly say, "we are thinking about something!"
???
.
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Re: when asked for ... "evidence" ... ideas, please ?

Postby Queequeg » Sat Nov 10, 2012 4:36 pm

joda wrote:
duckfiasco wrote:It's a bit odd to me that this view is held simultaneously with the view that there is a "me" in there somewhere. If people held 100% reductionist views, it seems like another take on emptiness. Following that rationale, the monolithic ego doesn't really exist because of the analysis of the brain being the same as mind, an advanced kind of baking soda and vinegar volcano taking place that generates the appearance of sentience. But despite obvious problems with this, how many people even take it that far?


The question arises as why one should take it that far.


That is a good point. I think the answer is that it is incumbent on Buddhists to explain why it should be taken that far - which from the Buddhist perspective is to end the experience of suffering. Rather than recognize this boundary, show that it is yet another construct and demonstrate that the Buddha's wisdom is continuous with conceptual models in the materialist/reductionist world view. Whether they are convinced would be a measure of our own skill, because fundamentally, I think most here would acknowledge that the obstacle is arbitrary.

The egoistic aspect is an integral aspect of all life that simply emerged out of evolutionary necessity. Not to speak of that the idea of a self is a natural result of processes in the mind making us capable of differentiating objects and thinking. It being a natural aspect of life, there really is no reason to stop working with this idea of selfhood. Its only in specific religious world-views like that of Buddhism that this is seen as a problem. This also, since you are perceiving things like greed for example to be a natural aspect of the mind in "ignorance", while outside of the Buddhist box greed is perceived as the result of society-models and education and not at all integral to the mind.


Right now, I think the nurture models of human behavior are losing traction and instead neuroscience based models are ascendant. In this model, our behavior is a function of our physical composition. Personally, I think this emphasis distorts the picture of what makes us what we are, but it does make for a certain parallel between Buddhist explanations of behavior and the scientific theories in vogue now.

The parallel is another means of publicizing Buddha Dharma. Indeed, the Dalai Lama is promoting dialogue on this point. How many Westerners/Scientific Secularists have aroused curiosity in Buddhadharma after hearing about the results of studies into the brains of advanced practitioners? At all times, the Buddha is asking himself - how do I make all beings equal to me and quickly attain the body of a Buddha? In my view, the nuts and bolts of it are engagements of this sort. Sure, there is my individual practice - but what is really interesting is the points of engagement, making the Buddhadharma comprehensible to increasing numbers of beings.
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Re: when asked for ... "evidence" ... ideas, please ?

Postby duckfiasco » Sat Nov 10, 2012 7:59 pm

Queequeg wrote:
joda wrote:
duckfiasco wrote:It's a bit odd to me that this view is held simultaneously with the view that there is a "me" in there somewhere. If people held 100% reductionist views, it seems like another take on emptiness. Following that rationale, the monolithic ego doesn't really exist because of the analysis of the brain being the same as mind, an advanced kind of baking soda and vinegar volcano taking place that generates the appearance of sentience. But despite obvious problems with this, how many people even take it that far?

The question arises as why one should take it that far.

That is a good point. I think the answer is that it is incumbent on Buddhists to explain why it should be taken that far - which from the Buddhist perspective is to end the experience of suffering. Rather than recognize this boundary, show that it is yet another construct and demonstrate that the Buddha's wisdom is continuous with conceptual models in the materialist/reductionist world view. Whether they are convinced would be a measure of our own skill, because fundamentally, I think most here would acknowledge that the obstacle is arbitrary.


Exactly that. The problem is we live by these assumptions, even unskillful ones that perpetuate our own suffering, and then are utterly inept at figuring out why calamity and sadness befall us. It's one of the thoughts that Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche gives as an example to elicit boundless compassion:
All beings, indulging ourselves, try to avoid such pain and its causes but, since we are lacking in wisdom and are subject to confusion, we still always end up experiencing suffering. This is proof that whatever approach we and other beings have used in the past is not the ultimate or proper method.
...
Contemplate that all these living beings, through their confusion, believe they are in the proper path to happiness but, as a result of the confusion, they are not. By really understanding that everyone has suffering and confusion and is trying to overcome those problems, but that all the methods they have used have not brought them liberation, we develop the experience of limitless compassion.

It's one of the saddest aspects of samsara for me. The burning issue with materialist or reductionist views is when this suffering arises, they're like going to the doctor when you have a broken leg, then the doctor hmms and strokes his chin... and deftly builds you a birdhouse. Sure it's nice, but if you take a step back you're like, "What the hell is this supposed to do?"

My issue isn't with -isms in themselves. If we didn't have egotism or other neuroses, we would have no vehicle for liberation. I won't scorn any part of the path, as tempting as it is! :popcorn: But still, it's a shame to remain thoroughly mired in unskillful means that won't bring any lasting measure of relief from suffering. The hard part is in telling the drug addict (ourselves included) that there may be a problem, without coming across as haughty or offensive.
Namu Amida Butsu
The Perfect Way knows no difficulties
Except that it refuses to make preferences;
Only when freed from hate and love,
It reveals itself fully and without disguise.
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Re: when asked for ... "evidence" ... ideas, please ?

Postby Lhug-Pa » Sat Nov 10, 2012 8:24 pm

Humanpreta, be that as it may, about every system of logic or reasoning uses inductive and deductive reasoning to some degree and/or in some instances. What I was saying is that even though Dharma is capable of using both inductive and deductive logic, it also goes beyond them; whereas materialist/skeptical reasoning doesn't even use deductive reasoning well or very much at all, as it mostly depends on inductive reasoning.

Anyway, regarding my previous post, what I mean when I say that Dharma uses the Scientific Method, is look at the Stages of Meditation of Kamalasila for example. Are not all the steps of the Scientific Method found therein?
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Re: when asked for ... "evidence" ... ideas, please ?

Postby greentara » Sun Nov 11, 2012 3:50 am

What evidence can there be? There's a yearning to understand the nature of existence. Your friend who has no real doubt or inner struggle will probably never understand. Some of my friends are secular and very proud of being athiests. So there's no need to disturb these people.

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that which is true is being made to appear false,
because that which is false is accepted as truth."
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Re: when asked for ... "evidence" ... ideas, please ?

Postby Quiet Heart » Sun Nov 11, 2012 5:58 am

:smile:
Turn the arguement around....contend, as I do, that the "evidence" of a matierial "reality" that can be "seen" and "experienced" as a reality is only a artifact of our limited perception.
For example....we see light only in a limited range....because of the physical nature of our vision.
Human beings can NOT see outside our limited visual range. We can not see into the infrared or the ultraviolet visual range.
Bees, for example, can see into a visual range we can't...into what we call the "ultraviolet".
Snakes can detect heat, into what we call the "infrafred" range....which we can not see.
Bees use their vision to detect the ultraviolet light emited by flowers that are the food source (Pollen from flowers reflects ultraviolet light, and Pollen is the bees food source).
Snakes can locate their prey in what we humans call darkness by the infrared (heat) their prey emits.
We hun=mans can not do this.
But from our LIMITED perception which is an artifact of our senses we have the conceit to construct our "reality" and pass that ILLUSIONARY reality based on our limited perception as the real one and only reality.
Apparently those perceptions experienced by Bees and Snakes do not truely exist in our reality construct?
Are they not real?
I could go on....but it would take to long.
Just understand....things like molecules, electrons, protons, and all those particles we can not see are regarded by scientists as the very construct of our everyday "real world".
And not one of them can be seen without special instruments we construct to detect them.
As a scientifically trained person, I ask this fundamental question of other "scientists" that are so sure of the nature of reality.
Apart from the evidence of our "detectors" which MAY be based on a mistaken and perhaps illusionary theory created by our limited perception, then HOW CAN WE BE SURE OF THE NATURE of our concieved realiity?
And, IF WE CAN NOT truely be sure of the nature of that possibly illusionary percieved reality, THEN HOW can we honestly claim there may beother realities we CAN NOT percieve?
The crux of the mater for me is:
Our eyes are organs that percieve light, but that perception is limited and can be deluded.
Our ears are organs that percieve sound but that perception is limited and can be deluded.
And I contend....our MIND is an organ that percieves the medium of conciousness, but it's perception is ALSO limited, and therefore also easily deluded.
And that gets to the very heart of the practice of Zen and it's understanding of the nature of experience.
:smile:
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Re: when asked for ... "evidence" ... ideas, please ?

Postby joda » Sun Nov 11, 2012 7:58 am

PadmaVonSamba wrote:
joda wrote:
The egoistic aspect is an integral aspect of all life that simply emerged out of evolutionary necessity. Not to speak of that the idea of a self is a natural result of processes in the mind making us capable of differentiating objects and thinking. It being a natural aspect of life, there really is no reason to stop working with this idea of selfhood. Its only in specific religious world-views like that of Buddhism that this is seen as a problem.


For me, the problem is,
"how does all this raw materialbear witness to its own existence?"

Carl Sagan used to say "We are made of the stuff from which stars are made".
Where , in the evolutionary process, do the components of the brain:

....suddenly say, "we are thinking about something!"
???
.


In which way is this a problem?
I asked questions like that, too but it kinda ceased to interest me, because if I had the answers it really wouldnt change anything - I also studied Buddhism in part because of questions like that, but Buddhism didnt answer them either.
Anyways - its still a topic of debate and research of course - check the Penrose-Hameroff Orch-OR model for instance for one of the more interesting approaches.
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Re: when asked for ... "evidence" ... ideas, please ?

Postby joda » Sun Nov 11, 2012 8:06 am

Queequeg wrote:That is a good point. I think the answer is that it is incumbent on Buddhists to explain why it should be taken that far - which from the Buddhist perspective is to end the experience of suffering. Rather than recognize this boundary, show that it is yet another construct and demonstrate that the Buddha's wisdom is continuous with conceptual models in the materialist/reductionist world view. Whether they are convinced would be a measure of our own skill, because fundamentally, I think most here would acknowledge that the obstacle is arbitrary.


Kinda surprising to find Buddhists with a sense of mission. o_O
While I can understand from your perspective the need to proselityze people, from the side of those people it will be rather unwelcome. As I said the whole idea of reaching happiness through the realisation of emptiness is a Buddhist notion and is not accepted outside of Buddhism, so its not an arbitrary obstacle but a real one. From their perspective its you who is deluded.
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Re: when asked for ... "evidence" ... ideas, please ?

Postby Nothing » Sun Nov 11, 2012 1:44 pm

When asked for....."evidence"

There is no such a thing as "evidence".....if one is asking, one is clearly in delusion.
"If you open your eyes and see, one is clearly blind!"
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Re: when asked for ... "evidence" ... ideas, please ?

Postby Queequeg » Sun Nov 11, 2012 5:42 pm

joda wrote:
Queequeg wrote:That is a good point. I think the answer is that it is incumbent on Buddhists to explain why it should be taken that far - which from the Buddhist perspective is to end the experience of suffering. Rather than recognize this boundary, show that it is yet another construct and demonstrate that the Buddha's wisdom is continuous with conceptual models in the materialist/reductionist world view. Whether they are convinced would be a measure of our own skill, because fundamentally, I think most here would acknowledge that the obstacle is arbitrary.


Kinda surprising to find Buddhists with a sense of mission. o_O
While I can understand from your perspective the need to proselityze people, from the side of those people it will be rather unwelcome. As I said the whole idea of reaching happiness through the realisation of emptiness is a Buddhist notion and is not accepted outside of Buddhism, so its not an arbitrary obstacle but a real one. From their perspective its you who is deluded.


Ha. I was wondering when someone might say something like that. My whole point is about engagement - "Mission" and "Proselytizing" are concepts that assume in group and out group, and even more, the imposition of ideas and thinking toward others. But that's a more abstract point.

The practice of Bodhisattva is "Practice for Oneself and Practice for Others." The Buddha made a deliberate decision to engage with others when he turned the wheel at Sarnath - "there are some with little dust in the eyes" he reasoned. I am firm in confidence that Buddhadharma benefits people. Was Buddha engaging others outside of his world view? There was no such thing as "Buddhism" to proselytize at that point. When he addressed the five ascetics, these were his fellows and he was, as one of them, showing them a solution to the problem they were all trying to solve. The Buddha was addressing the problem of the human condition, common ground we all share.

I suppose my approach could be surprising for those who subscribe to Buddhist traditions in which the "sense of mission" has been blunted by centuries of persecution, retreat, and maybe most critically, saturation. The full implications of "Practice for Others" has been lost because many facets of this aspect of the Buddha's teaching and practice has lain dormant. The spread of Buddhism to the West is the first time that the Buddhadharma has actually been spreading into worlds where it has never been known before - this literally has not happened in centuries. It seems to me, Buddhists, at least in the West, need alternative models of practice - the state/Buddhist Church institutional structure and its remnants throughout Asia are not applicable here, and won't be for a long time, if ever.

And is it proselytizing? I don't think you could say what I do is proselytizing. What I do is, for instance, when talking to friends or acquaintances, merely bring my views to the discussion, which happen to be conditioned by my Buddhist practice and study. I'm not saying, "You know, you ought to accept Buddha as your personal God and Savior." Say some subject comes up that is a problem, I'll do my best to talk it through. In my analysis, concepts like emptiness and dependent origination come to bear - not because I want to impress them with Buddhist learning, but because they are internalized views and I think it might help this fellow get through this problem. If questions of how to apply these ideas come up, I might suggest meditation practices. This is functionally the same as stopping to help someone with a flat tire, it just happens to deal with a flat tire in one's thought process that is hampering one's life on a more abstract level.

When a physicist presents a paper solving a problem - is that proselytizing? No, its sharing one's work on thinking a problem through to find an elegant solution. I see Buddhism as yet more of the same - the difference being it is a discipline applied to the existential questions of our lives.

What I don't recognize, is a demarcation between Buddhist knowledge and any other. As I've stated, I view it as a continuum. If someone doesn't see the sense of emptiness and dependent origination and the implications these things have on the way they view the world - well - there are people with all kinds of attachments to reified ideas. It doesn't make those views any less distorted - a distortion which will bear itself out in that person's life as suffering sooner or later. Is that reason not to engage and offer suggestions on how to think about things?

Maybe the more surprising thing is the tendency of people to close themselves off from others and retreat into little clubs, declining to engage. That was the substance of a critique that caused a grand schism in Buddhism about 2000 years ago.
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Re: when asked for ... "evidence" ... ideas, please ?

Postby joda » Mon Nov 12, 2012 7:42 am

queequeg wrote:Ha. I was wondering when someone might say something like that.


Took a while since I had to google those complicated words first :tongue:

I suppose my approach could be surprising for those who subscribe to Buddhist traditions in which the "sense of mission" has been blunted by centuries of persecution, retreat, and maybe most critically, saturation.


Well in my case I dont adhere to any Buddhist school. But while being aware of the whole bodhisattva ideal in Mahayana buddhism I was always under the impression that the idea of karma minimized missionary efforts, since only the people who are "ready" can have both the capacity and will to learn.

And is it proselytizing? I don't think you could say what I do is proselytizing. What I do is, for instance, when talking to friends or acquaintances, merely bring my views to the discussion, which happen to be conditioned by my Buddhist practice and study. I'm not saying, "You know, you ought to accept Buddha as your personal God and Savior.


Aww, there I pictured you standing on an empty beer-crate in front of a church and screaming at people :soapbox:

Say some subject comes up that is a problem, I'll do my best to talk it through. In my analysis, concepts like emptiness and dependent origination come to bear - not because I want to impress them with Buddhist learning, but because they are internalized views and I think it might help this fellow get through this problem. If questions of how to apply these ideas come up, I might suggest meditation practices. This is functionally the same as stopping to help someone with a flat tire, it just happens to deal with a flat tire in one's thought process that is hampering one's life on a more abstract level.


Certainly nothing wrong with that, if it helps.

When a physicist presents a paper solving a problem - is that proselytizing? No, its sharing one's work on thinking a problem through to find an elegant solution. I see Buddhism as yet more of the same - the difference being it is a discipline applied to the existential questions of our lives.


Thats kind of a daring remark - a physicist builds theories on a proven base of facts which makes the whole process valid. From a scientific standpoint Buddhism can never build any valid theories at all because you dont have a fact base but base the whole philosophy on the hope-principle.

What I don't recognize, is a demarcation between Buddhist knowledge and any other. As I've stated, I view it as a continuum. If someone doesn't see the sense of emptiness and dependent origination and the implications these things have on the way they view the world - well - there are people with all kinds of attachments to reified ideas. It doesn't make those views any less distorted - a distortion which will bear itself out in that person's life as suffering sooner or later. Is that reason not to engage and offer suggestions on how to think about things


Well thats where I see it differently. You keep - through the conditioning that you see yourself - repeating that there will be suffering sooner or later due to not seeing emptiness. You dont seem to accept the possibility that that might be untrue. The opposite, too btw - in the Sutras the realisation of emptiness is always declared as something to rejoice and be happy about but funnily almost all people on this planet find exactly that things are empty rather displeasing and do a great deal of work to forget about it. If thats right or wrong of course is another matter and maybe seeing ourselves even on a biological level in the way that we are would have the potential to take negative aspects out of our societies. But to have both views at the same time - on the one hand side being convinced that the ideas of Buddhism are correct and on the other hand side seeing all others as a distortion - that doesnt look objective to me. Especially - as this thread has shown - since you dont have any evidence for any of your claims.
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Re: when asked for ... "evidence" ... ideas, please ?

Postby Queequeg » Mon Nov 12, 2012 3:33 pm

Hi Joda :smile:

A lot of the discussion may come down to which Buddhism one considers normative. I suppose you could think of a spectrum - on one end, you have a retreating practitioner who only very reluctantly shares dharma. At the other, you have an inspired bodhisattva compulsively sharing the good news even when people don't want to hear it. I subscribe to Lotus Buddhism which understands the Buddha as constantly reaching out to reveal the True Aspect. The Lotus Sutra elaborates on this with a story about a Bodhisattva who goes around honoring people as Buddhas-to-be even against other's wishes and getting beaten up for it. So, I may very well be far beyond what others consider normative.

joda wrote:
queequeg wrote:I suppose my approach could be surprising for those who subscribe to Buddhist traditions in which the "sense of mission" has been blunted by centuries of persecution, retreat, and maybe most critically, saturation.


Well in my case I dont adhere to any Buddhist school. But while being aware of the whole bodhisattva ideal in Mahayana buddhism I was always under the impression that the idea of karma minimized missionary efforts, since only the people who are "ready" can have both the capacity and will to learn.


I suppose it might come down to the "bodhisattva ideal" and the "bodhisattva reality". Everyone is "ready". The propagation of Buddhism didn't just happen. Some might have an allergic reaction to the Buddha or any good Buddhist having an intention to do something, like spread the Dharma, but then who is not perceiving the True Aspect? It spread because people wanted it to spread and made efforts to make sure the seeds of Buddhadharma were planted in people's minds where they took root and grew.

When a physicist presents a paper solving a problem - is that proselytizing? No, its sharing one's work on thinking a problem through to find an elegant solution. I see Buddhism as yet more of the same - the difference being it is a discipline applied to the existential questions of our lives.


Thats kind of a daring remark - a physicist builds theories on a proven base of facts which makes the whole process valid. From a scientific standpoint Buddhism can never build any valid theories at all because you dont have a fact base but base the whole philosophy on the hope-principle.


I don't know if you actually know practicing physicists, but what they do, at least the folks on the theoretical end, is not necessarily based on facts. The theorist advances solutions to problems, on paper. These are facts only in some very narrow senses. They are not "facts" like a table or a chair, or "my wife's hair is red". And then years, sometimes decades later, experimental physicists try to prove the solution. There are some ideas that are widely accepted in physics as plausible but so far beyond any possibility of experimental confirmation that they just stay ideas. This does not stop physicists from building on these theories further to build a picture of reality. And what does it mean to prove something in physics? In some areas, they are dealing with things that literally cannot be seen - most experimental work at the sub-atomic level, for instance, is concerned with observing the effects of theorized realities rather than the reality itself. The same goes for physics dealing with the universe at the largest scales. Things get really weird in advanced physics.

Incidentally, I think someone with a strong grounding in Buddhist theory would understand very well many problems associated with making observations in physics experiments, as well as the weirdness, because much of Buddhist theory and practice is concerned with observation and the strange things that happen at the extremes.

For people doing really high level science - "facts" get very elastic - to the point that concept is rather useless. What you get with an experiment is a repeatably observable phenomena, not really a "fact". You get to common ground with high level Buddhism. Some may disagree.

What I don't recognize, is a demarcation between Buddhist knowledge and any other. As I've stated, I view it as a continuum. If someone doesn't see the sense of emptiness and dependent origination and the implications these things have on the way they view the world - well - there are people with all kinds of attachments to reified ideas. It doesn't make those views any less distorted - a distortion which will bear itself out in that person's life as suffering sooner or later. Is that reason not to engage and offer suggestions on how to think about things


Well thats where I see it differently. You keep - through the conditioning that you see yourself - repeating that there will be suffering sooner or later due to not seeing emptiness. You dont seem to accept the possibility that that might be untrue. The opposite, too btw - in the Sutras the realisation of emptiness is always declared as something to rejoice and be happy about but funnily almost all people on this planet find exactly that things are empty rather displeasing and do a great deal of work to forget about it. If thats right or wrong of course is another matter and maybe seeing ourselves even on a biological level in the way that we are would have the potential to take negative aspects out of our societies. But to have both views at the same time - on the one hand side being convinced that the ideas of Buddhism are correct and on the other hand side seeing all others as a distortion - that doesnt look objective to me. Especially - as this thread has shown - since you dont have any evidence for any of your claims.


I don't know if I repeat that there will be suffering sooner or later, and I'm not sure I mean it in the way you understand that term. Suffering is a technical term in Buddhism with a meaning that is somewhat different than the ordinary meaning of suffering. If you hold me to what I suspect to be your measures, what I say may not be true. But that's just a word game.

What I understand about Buddhism - all views are distortion. But, at the same time, they are inescapable. (here I am going off into a Lotus Buddhism tangent that others may not agree with.) Even the Buddha's view is distorted to a degree - as judged from the views of others. And all of these views, enlightened and deluded, are "real", all encompassing, and accurate within their parameters of definition. Some views, however, are more distorted than others. There were people who thought the world was flat and that if you went too far, you'd fall off. There are plenty of whacked out ideas people take as real that are just clearly mistaken. At the same time, there are people who's views accord with reality much more closely.

I don't buy a lot of Buddhism that others take very seriously. I'm a heretic, icchantika. We all get on and do the best that we can. That's what it is, and that's were "proslytizing" comes from. Buddhism in my view, is nothing but a discipline for getting a better perception of reality. The community of Buddhists are people who share this endeavor. We share it with others because it works. Don't believe it? Give it a try. Its better than taking a physicists word that they found the Higgs Boson - more practical, and actually accessible without billions of dollars of high tech equipment.

:)

Or not. Carry on.
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Re: when asked for ... "evidence" ... ideas, please ?

Postby duckfiasco » Mon Nov 12, 2012 7:43 pm

First, my personal evidence is anecdotal. I was suffering greatly from depression and suicidal thoughts. Other religions provided zero relief. I tried some of the Buddha's suggestions for the specific ailments. They worked, to my astonishment and delight. The Buddha became like a good friend who helped me through a very bad time. On those grounds, I trust his other teachings to be true, even if they're not relevant to my current situation or beyond my understanding.

The opposite, too btw - in the Sutras the realisation of emptiness is always declared as something to rejoice and be happy about but funnily almost all people on this planet find exactly that things are empty rather displeasing and do a great deal of work to forget about it.

I'm not so sure people are spontaneously having an experience of emptiness and then finding it displeasing and trying to put it out of their minds. I say this for a few reasons.

One, to realize emptiness requires a great deal of deliberate practice, because emptiness isn't normally available to us through our widespread habits of agitation and confusion. Tell me what color that wall is, but just ignore the disco lights, laser show, and fog machine :)
Second, even if a person has a naturally calm and unperturbed mind, slapping a label "unpleasant" on emptiness means it's no longer emptiness: it's an unpleasant interpretation of emptiness, basically the same thing as unpleasantness.
And third, from what I've read and heard, an experience of emptiness is possibly like becoming aware in a dream that everything is a dream. It feels solid enough, but every perception and experience you have is made of the same, insubstantial stuff: the dream. Experientially, phenomena become even more vivid and bright in their lack of substance. It sounds quite remarkable, and liberating.
It's not the same thing as the dreary, meaningless, nihilistic, "life is empty, sigh" that perhaps some people may feel sometimes.

If thats right or wrong of course is another matter and maybe seeing ourselves even on a biological level in the way that we are would have the potential to take negative aspects out of our societies.

I think it's important also to stress that from what I understand at least, Buddhism isn't about favoring this concept over that. One reason I found the Dharma so compelling was that, unlike many religions, it stresses the inseparability of good/evil, light/dark, certainty/uncertainty. The constant tension of one trying to triumph over the other is largely absent in Buddhism, and a cause of great strife in the world.
In fact, there are practices that specifically instruct to embrace the negative mental formations we normally run away from (e.g. tonglen). One of the points is to show the sheer relativity of any concept, that when you stay with your anger or sadness and look at it closely, it's made of the same insubstantial mist as everything else. A lot of the time, it even loses its visceral impact. How many people are compelled to increase suffering around them on account of mist? And yet, this gives rise to great compassion because we've all been there, tormented by shadows and the tales we tell ourselves.

I'm not suggesting Buddhism condones negativity. The accumulation of merit, positive deeds/thoughts/etc., is a crucial part of practice because it tends to lead to circumstances with less confusion and distraction, which otherwise complicate practice. A master could meditate through a toothache. The rest of us need a little help. So by no means is there a rejection of the negative aspects, things about us we wish we didn't have. Cut off the right side of something and you have a new right side. We need our neuroses and people who drive us nuts to motivate us to practice, and to provide opportunities to perfect the paramitas. Otherwise we'd all be sipping nectar in the god realm, totally blissed out and unconcerned with our own confusion.

Samsara/nirvana are similarly two extremes, and relative/absolute as well. They're gateways from our normal mode of operation in extremes to a third option: both and neither; not one, not two.

I hope I'm not making this too complicated. The actual gist is so simple it's stupid. Here is one of my favorite quotes on the matter:
"All phenomena,
the outer world and all its inhabitants,
are appearances of our own mind.

Appearances are mind,
appearing and yet empty,
empty and yet appearing.

Appearances are inseparable from emptiness,
deceptive like a dream or an illusion.
They are nothing and yet they appear,
like the moon on water.

To recognize this
completely liberates us
from our deep entanglement
in dualistic grasping and fixation.

Free of artificiality, relaxed and loose,
open to that freshness
that is the very nature
of self-aware consciousness.

Aside from this,
there is nothing to contemplate or meditate on.

Don’t think,
don’t meditate,
don’t do anything.
Simply remain undistracted.
I beg you -
meditate naturally and let go!"
- Gendun Rinpoche
Namu Amida Butsu
The Perfect Way knows no difficulties
Except that it refuses to make preferences;
Only when freed from hate and love,
It reveals itself fully and without disguise.
- Sengcan (tr. Suzuki)
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Re: when asked for ... "evidence" ... ideas, please ?

Postby joda » Tue Nov 13, 2012 8:53 am

duckfiasco wrote:First, my personal evidence is anecdotal. I was suffering greatly from depression and suicidal thoughts. Other religions provided zero relief. I tried some of the Buddha's suggestions for the specific ailments. They worked, to my astonishment and delight. The Buddha became like a good friend who helped me through a very bad time. On those grounds, I trust his other teachings to be true, even if they're not relevant to my current situation or beyond my understanding.


I had the opposite experience. In my case - as I see it now with a bit of distance - Buddhism was a form of self-escape. Then again I might have what Queequeg called "allergy against Buddha" hehe - when I was 19 i deactivated all feelings of love inside of me because the fact that things we love disappear forever. That broke me completely and I never recovered from it. I tried to jump into the middle of it through Buddhism after quite some years but it didnt really work and really seemed artificial.

I'm not so sure people are spontaneously having an experience of emptiness and then finding it displeasing and trying to put it out of their minds. I say this for a few reasons.

One, to realize emptiness requires a great deal of deliberate practice, because emptiness isn't normally available to us through our widespread habits of agitation and confusion. Tell me what color that wall is, but just ignore the disco lights, laser show, and fog machine :)
Second, even if a person has a naturally calm and unperturbed mind, slapping a label "unpleasant" on emptiness means it's no longer emptiness: it's an unpleasant interpretation of emptiness, basically the same thing as unpleasantness.
And third, from what I've read and heard, an experience of emptiness is possibly like becoming aware in a dream that everything is a dream. It feels solid enough, but every perception and experience you have is made of the same, insubstantial stuff: the dream. Experientially, phenomena become even more vivid and bright in their lack of substance. It sounds quite remarkable, and liberating.
It's not the same thing as the dreary, meaningless, nihilistic, "life is empty, sigh" that perhaps some people may feel sometimes.


Of course it depends on the definition of emptiness. In Mahayana it seems many people see it as kind of a subject. Since I am more influenced by the old schools for me emptiness is merely an attribute of reality which means from a non-buddhist perspective that all things are changing. From that pov I am quite sure most people are aware of it.

I think it's important also to stress that from what I understand at least, Buddhism isn't about favoring this concept over that.


Maybe the drawback of studying the historical development is that you see all those debates going on. Figuring out which was the true concept seems to have been rather central to the development of most schools and the historical Buddha himself seems to have gone through some lengths himself to show that all of the existing schools of thought were either nonsense or incomplete.

In fact, there are practices that specifically instruct to embrace the negative mental formations we normally run away from (e.g. tonglen). One of the points is to show the sheer relativity of any concept, that when you stay with your anger or sadness and look at it closely, it's made of the same insubstantial mist as everything else. A lot of the time, it even loses its visceral impact. How many people are compelled to increase suffering around them on account of mist? And yet, this gives rise to great compassion because we've all been there, tormented by shadows and the tales we tell ourselves.


This is part of why I would now call it self-escape because eventho those things are not as they seem, we ourselves are part of that. If you have a toothache for example it makes no sense to sit down and contemplate that the tooth is just an illusion. You go to your dentist and he starts drilling. Of course while he is drilling away it might relieve some people to look at it as not being real :tongue: - but its not unreal as the drill really creates a hole.
But I kind of have a different perspective here, since I think that one of the problems that people like Nagarjuna exploited is that we dont have a firm grasp on the nature of temporality and that language is of course not capable of perfectly reflecting reality.
Last edited by joda on Tue Nov 13, 2012 9:08 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: when asked for ... "evidence" ... ideas, please ?

Postby joda » Tue Nov 13, 2012 8:58 am

:hi:

Queequeg wrote:Hi Joda :smile:

A lot of the discussion may come down to which Buddhism one considers normative. I suppose you could think of a spectrum - on one end, you have a retreating practitioner who only very reluctantly shares dharma. At the other, you have an inspired bodhisattva compulsively sharing the good news even when people don't want to hear it. I subscribe to Lotus Buddhism which understands the Buddha as constantly reaching out to reveal the True Aspect. The Lotus Sutra elaborates on this with a story about a Bodhisattva who goes around honoring people as Buddhas-to-be even against other's wishes and getting beaten up for it. So, I may very well be far beyond what others consider normative.


Yea I thought that much, since you implied you see Buddha as a form of metaphysical entity. I dont think I've read the Lotus sutra myself tho; when I dont mix it up its like the Avatamsaka rather filled with gummybears falling from the sky and rainbows shooting out of peoples ears - I prefered texts like the Samdhinirmocana where they just throw infos at you :tongue: .

I suppose it might come down to the "bodhisattva ideal" and the "bodhisattva reality". Everyone is "ready". The propagation of Buddhism didn't just happen. Some might have an allergic reaction to the Buddha or any good Buddhist having an intention to do something, like spread the Dharma, but then who is not perceiving the True Aspect? It spread because people wanted it to spread and made efforts to make sure the seeds of Buddhadharma were planted in people's minds where they took root and grew.


From what I've seen the development of the Buddhist schools and spreading of the dharma was not just missionary but also exegetical in nature. I havent delved into later east-asian nor tibetan Buddhism but the older schools developed - from my pov - primarily due to the need to fill philosophical holes that existed.
Of course individuals inspired by the teachings (and possibly adhering more or less to the bodhisattva ideal) are expected to have a wish to bring others to their perceived truth. Missionary work is rather typical for religious people tho and says nothing about the truth of the religious ideas.

Incidentally, I think someone with a strong grounding in Buddhist theory would understand very well many problems associated with making observations in physics experiments, as well as the weirdness, because much of Buddhist theory and practice is concerned with observation and the strange things that happen at the extremes.

For people doing really high level science - "facts" get very elastic - to the point that concept is rather useless. What you get with an experiment is a repeatably observable phenomena, not really a "fact". You get to common ground with high level Buddhism. Some may disagree.


Yes, I am aware of that. What I mean is that from what I've found (or rather not found) in the years I went thru sutras and shastras is an actual indication of a) why the realisation of emptiness should lead to the cessation fo dukkha and b) how exactly it would do so. It seems to be kind of a naive anticipation found in all religions, that if you just believe in Jesus, or get your foreskin cut off, or meditate, that this will magically lead you to some sort of salvatory state, in this case enlightenment. But there is no evidence for the existence of enlightenment, nor a firm theoretical basis on how to achieve it. And if you argue time, I would expect people to have found such after 2500 years.
Thats what I mean by the discrepancy between facts and what I called hope-principle.

I don't know if I repeat that there will be suffering sooner or later, and I'm not sure I mean it in the way you understand that term. Suffering is a technical term in Buddhism with a meaning that is somewhat different than the ordinary meaning of suffering. If you hold me to what I suspect to be your measures, what I say may not be true. But that's just a word game.


I interpreted suffering in that case as primarily the "physical" form of dukkha in the sense of a further rebirth as one of the six classes of beings or as the stress of continous rebirth of mental states of affliction and associated sensual imprints of reactive karmic nature.

What I understand about Buddhism - all views are distortion. But, at the same time, they are inescapable. (here I am going off into a Lotus Buddhism tangent that others may not agree with.)


Inescapable?

Even the Buddha's view is distorted to a degree - as judged from the views of others. And all of these views, enlightened and deluded, are "real", all encompassing, and accurate within their parameters of definition. Some views, however, are more distorted than others. There were people who thought the world was flat and that if you went too far, you'd fall off. There are plenty of whacked out ideas people take as real that are just clearly mistaken. At the same time, there are people who's views accord with reality much more closely.


Let me subscribe to that.

I don't buy a lot of Buddhism that others take very seriously. I'm a heretic, icchantika. We all get on and do the best that we can. That's what it is, and that's were "proslytizing" comes from. Buddhism in my view, is nothing but a discipline for getting a better perception of reality. The community of Buddhists are people who share this endeavor. We share it with others because it works. Don't believe it? Give it a try. Its better than taking a physicists word that they found the Higgs Boson - more practical, and actually accessible without billions of dollars of high tech equipment.


Yea this, too. I personally prefer research that manifests in making our world better - or at least easier.
But giving it a try - I have told that to many Buddhists already, some of which got kind of annoyed by me saying that, but this is the exactly same in all other religions, too. Christians also tell you to start praying and "then you will see" - sure I will, because my subconsciousness will start to color my experience quickly, maybe I'll find Maria on a toast or I will think that Jesus helped me find this extremely cheap but super-hot looking t-shirt o_O. From my current perspective it doesnt matter what you believe in, as long as it is a concept-formation which somehow complements your personality.
Because lets be honest about this. If you have a health problem you go to your doctor, you have a mental issue you go to the psychotherapist, you have an ingrown nail you go to the podiatrist. Interestingly there is no real problem at all that religion actually solves. Which is one of the things I really dont understand about it, since it doesnt help in any way, then why are people even attached to it? And in which way would it be "seeing in accord with reality" if one ignores such a truth?
But I'm babbling, we're already quite offtopic, sorry. :ban:
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