No beginning?

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No beginning?

Postby Metta » Wed Apr 03, 2013 4:35 pm

If all beings have had an infinite number of past lives and have encountered and practiced all types of teachings, why aren't we all already enlightened?
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Re: No beginning?

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Wed Apr 03, 2013 5:50 pm

Just stuck in a rut!!!

Why don't we realize that we are already enlightened?
We are not the same being from lifetime to lifetime.
there is just the continuation of replicating conditions,
just as you are not the same person you were yesterday,
even though some parts of what was there before are still here for the time being.
Not all types of teachings lead to 'enlightenment'.
Having made a connection to the dharma previously
creates the conditions for that connection being established again.
Consider, if, as a kid, you learned how to ride a bike
but many years passed and you never rode one again
but today, somebody gave you a bike.
Even though every cell in the body that you had as a kid is dead now,
and even though your mind has been millions of experiences since then
you don't have to learn how to ride again, because you already made that connection
which in this case is experienced as memory.
Conveniently you can say "I remember how to ride a bike"
even though there is nowhere an "I" can be found inside or outside of the body.
A kid learned how to ride a bike a long time ago, and a series of changes and replications took place since then
so now you are not that kid. that kid is dead and gone. Now "you have" a different life than that.
So, that's all rebirth is. The replication of conditions.
If the previous conditions contain some dharma, so to speak, some understanding or realization,
then that's good. But the conditions for that to happen are extremely rare.
Most beings never hear the teachings or make any connection to the dharma whatsoever.
It is rare to experience the connections made in previous lives as memory
although it is said that Buddhas and fully enlightened beings can do it.
.
.
.
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Re: No beginning?

Postby Nosta » Wed Apr 03, 2013 6:33 pm

I have the same question about the no beginning! But now I dont strugle with it because I now that it is impossible to find an answer. Also, this is one of the questions that Buddha would not answer, because he knew that would give a knot on peoples mind and wouldnt be useful, since this is not about Dharma. But he only scientific way I find to answer the question is that the concept of time, and consequently the concept of beggining, are human concepts. Perhaps a superhyper alien life form could understand things on a completly different level, perhaps we, as humans, will never be able to see things clearly. Its like Theory of Relativity: it says that time is different if you go at near light speeds; its like Quantic Theory: it says, for example, that sometimes some particles are at two places at same time. Can you understand that? On a mathematic level perhaps, but at direct observation level, thats impossible, and thats how I see things about the "no beginning" question. :)
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Re: No beginning?

Postby Dechen Norbu » Thu Apr 04, 2013 12:39 am

Metta wrote:If all beings have had an infinite number of past lives and have encountered and practiced all types of teachings, why aren't we all already enlightened?

Because that's a nice story perhpas. It's made up to convey the importance of the path you found right now, eventually? Surely you've asked yourself that. Or is it? Even if you study the abhidharma, the abhidharmakosa or the abhidharmakosabhasyam (get the joke, pls), it won't matter much will it? You'll have some bases to formulate a working hypothesis, an alternate worldview. And if you meet Dzogchen you risk changing all that again in your search for an answer.
It doesn't really matter you know? In the end for you it is as if it was a tale. It matters more if you realize that this path you met can be of great benefit. Some people from now and from different eras need tales like those to feel stimulated, maybe? Know that and try to see if there's here something that can really help you. If you know a little how our mind as humans work given enough time you can get a pretty good notion of a lot of things that may seem strange in our own backyard, Buddhists are not Buddhas. Well, better mentioning that some people took similar ideas too far and invented a wheel that is no longer round. Get what I'm saying? The core tenets are what matters. Then the adornments are like jewelry. Some need it, some don't.
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Re: No beginning?

Postby justsit » Thu Apr 04, 2013 1:46 am

Ah, DN, good to see you again.
Sounds like you've been drinking the kool aid. :tongue:
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Re: No beginning?

Postby randomseb » Thu Apr 04, 2013 5:50 am

PadmaVonSamba wrote:just as you are not the same person you were yesterday,


Why, you are not the same person as you were when you started reading this particular word right here, yes?

Moment to moment to moment to moment. Change, Change, Change.
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Re: No beginning?

Postby dude » Thu Apr 04, 2013 6:15 am

Metta wrote:If all beings have had an infinite number of past lives and have encountered and practiced all types of teachings, why aren't we all already enlightened?


We are.
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Re: No beginning?

Postby lobster » Sat Apr 06, 2013 1:04 am

Metta wrote:If all beings have had an infinite number of past lives and have encountered and practiced all types of teachings, why aren't we all already enlightened?


Things to do, people to see, suffering to cling to.
When ready . . . we are already.

Need to hear that more?
:popcorn:
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Re: No beginning?

Postby Metta » Sat Apr 06, 2013 7:19 am

lobster wrote:
Metta wrote:If all beings have had an infinite number of past lives and have encountered and practiced all types of teachings, why aren't we all already enlightened?


Things to do, people to see, suffering to cling to.
When ready . . . we are already.

Need to hear that more?
:popcorn:

Infinite is a pretty damn long time to have not have met the Dharma and renounce those things. Do you have any idea what infinite is? Think about it.
Last edited by Metta on Sat Apr 06, 2013 7:23 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: No beginning?

Postby Metta » Sat Apr 06, 2013 7:23 am

Dechen Norbu wrote:
Metta wrote:If all beings have had an infinite number of past lives and have encountered and practiced all types of teachings, why aren't we all already enlightened?

Because that's a nice story perhpas. It's made up to convey the importance of the path you found right now, eventually?

If it is just a story then that would mean there would be a beginning to ignorance which would be contradictory to what Buddhism teaches from what I've studied so far.
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Re: No beginning?

Postby Namgyal » Sat Apr 06, 2013 10:15 am

Image
'First thinking 'me' they fixate on self, then thinking 'this is mine' attachment to things develops.' (Chandrakirti)
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Re: No beginning?

Postby randomseb » Sat Apr 06, 2013 2:58 pm

If there is no self, how is there a beginning, or an end, or anything in between? Why, this is all an illusion, just an illusion. Time and space are not separate things, and these too are just an illusion, they have no meaning outside the confines of our universe, which is like a bubble in a nondefined, noncreated area. Sometimes it pops (science's "Big Rip" ending to it) and perhaps a new bubble might form (Big Bang), who knows, but in between this, outside of this.. Time does not exist. So how can you formulate the concept "beginning" and "ending"?

:rolleye:

In sutras they often say something like "incalculable koltis of kalpas" to mean an incredibly long time, such as between "cycles" of reality and birth/rebirth.. But they also use this in the context of the space between one moment and the next. Think about that!
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Re: No beginning?

Postby perkele » Sat Apr 06, 2013 4:15 pm

Metta wrote:If all beings have had an infinite number of past lives and have encountered and practiced all types of teachings, why aren't we all already enlightened?


As someone who (supposedly) studies mathematics I always get irky when someone comes to such conclusions: something of infinite extent must contain everything. No! That's wrong. It's not logical at all.

I never had a problem with the existence since beginningless time. Somehow, to me it seems intuitively totally natural, much more reasonable than anything else, much more reasonable than any arbitrary beginning. If there was a beginning to the continuity of consciousness, how did that come about? Okay, but let's not digress.

Having lived an infinite number of past lives, from where do you draw the conclusion that we must have "encountered and practiced all types of teachings"? Show me the logic there. What is "all types of teachings" supposed to mean anyway? How many "types" are there? Can you count them, can you list them here? Are they static, discrete entities that "exist" in that way, static like that, throughout all times, unchangeable, so that anyone easily gets the chance to practice "all of them" one after another until he's finished?

Think about it.

So really, from my point of view, it's just natural to have existed since beginningless time and still be stupid and confused.
Last edited by perkele on Sat Apr 06, 2013 4:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: No beginning?

Postby Simon E. » Sat Apr 06, 2013 4:28 pm

Or simply to have existed from beginingless time and not encountered the teachings. In fact that must be be true of the vast majority.
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Re: No beginning?

Postby anjali » Sat Apr 06, 2013 5:29 pm

Metta wrote:Infinite is a pretty damn long time to have not have met the Dharma and renounce those things. Do you have any idea what infinite is? Think about it.


Yup. The infinite past is a pretty damn long time. Yet, here we are now. Here is a quote I read just last night by Gendun Rinpoche, "Evidently in our past lives we have not followed the right path or else we have not persevered, or else we would have already obtained enlightenment." What we do from now on is what matters.
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  • All activities are like the games children play. If started, they can never be finished. They are only completed once you let them be, like castles made of sand. --Khenpo Nyoshul Rinpoche
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Re: No beginning?

Postby Namgyal » Sat Apr 06, 2013 6:16 pm

'Kyemal! This restless flickering awareness, which we call our 'mind', appeared in the beginning at the very same moment as Samantabhadra. Even so, it is he who is liberated, since he knows himself, whereas we sentient beings wander astray in endless Samsara, because we do not recognise our own true nature.

The number of forms we have taken on in the six realms is countless, and everything that we have done up to now has been pointless and in vain. So, now that we have a human form, a one in a million chance, if we do not put into practice the one and only means of avoiding birth in the lower realms of Samsara, then once we are dead, there is no saying where we will be reborn. However, in whichever of the six realms we might be born, we will not have passed beyond the reach of frustration and suffering.

Yet simply to have this human form is not enough; as death could come at any time, the sincere and true practice of Dharma must be started right now. Then at the moment of death, we need to be like Jetsun Milarepa, free from even the slightest trace of guilt or shame; 'The Dharma of Milarepa, my way, ' he would say, 'is to live and die without regrets.'' [Dudjom Rinpoche]
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Re: No beginning?

Postby Konchog1 » Sat Apr 06, 2013 7:15 pm

perkele wrote:
Metta wrote:If all beings have had an infinite number of past lives and have encountered and practiced all types of teachings, why aren't we all already enlightened?


As someone who (supposedly) studies mathematics I always get irky when someone comes to such conclusions: something of infinite extent must contain everything. No! That's wrong. It's not logical at all.

I never had a problem with the existence since beginningless time. Somehow, to me it seems intuitively totally natural, much more reasonable than anything else, much more reasonable than any arbitrary beginning. If there was a beginning to the continuity of consciousness, how did that come about? Okay, but let's not digress.

Having lived an infinite number of past lives, from where do you draw the conclusion that we must have "encountered and practiced all types of teachings"? Show me the logic there. What is "all types of teachings" supposed to mean anyway? How many "types" are there? Can you count them, can you list them here? Are they static, discrete entities that "exist" in that way, static like that, throughout all times, unchangeable, so that anyone easily gets the chance to practice "all of them" one after another until he's finished?

Think about it.

So really, from my point of view, it's just natural to have existed since beginningless time and still be stupid and confused.
What about all beings having been one's mother? Is that possible?
Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.

-Paraphrase of Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel citing the Guhyasamaja Tantra

"All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.
Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
Through the qualities of meditating in that way,
Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained."

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Re: No beginning?

Postby anjali » Sat Apr 06, 2013 7:47 pm

Konchog1 wrote:What about all beings having been one's mother? Is that possible?

Is it possible? Yes, it's just a mapping problem. Assume you can count (up to infinity) all sentient beings and uniquely map one sentient being for each mother in our infinite number of past lives. I'm not convinced this is necessarily true. I can't explain why, but, for me, it seems more likely that there are infinitely many beings that have not been my mother. That doesn't mean we should have any less compassion for all suffering beings. I guess it would take someone who was conscious of all past lives of all beings to confirm this either way.

I suppose it is an interesting corollary question as to whether there are infinitely many sentient beings.
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  • All activities are like the games children play. If started, they can never be finished. They are only completed once you let them be, like castles made of sand. --Khenpo Nyoshul Rinpoche
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Re: No beginning?

Postby Seishin » Mon Apr 08, 2013 9:54 am

Metta wrote:If all beings have had an infinite number of past lives and have encountered and practiced all types of teachings, why aren't we all already enlightened?


I think a couple of things need to be clarified first: When the suttas and sutras were translated into English some things lost meaning and/or gained new meaning. In reality, the Buddha didn't speak of an infinite number of beings, but rather a number of beings that cannot be fathomed.
Also, when the Buddha spoke about no beginning he said the beginning cannot be found. He also spoke about no beginning and no ending (try reading the Heart Sutra and "No beginning, no End" by Thich Nhat Hanh).

This idea often makes newcomers to Buddhism say "well if there's no end, what's the point!", well take a look at the water cycle . When we look at the water cycle we can't find the beginning, nor the end. But of course it had to have started somewhere, we just can't find it. This is what the Buddha is trying to say. The beginning of suffering can't be found and the number of beings cannot be fathomed.

This teaching is often hard to accept for a newcomer which is why you'll often hear people saying to leave it for now. The Buddha said
Conjecture about [the origin, etc., of] the world is an unconjecturable that is not to be conjectured about, that would bring madness & vexation to anyone who conjectured about it.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Hope that helps,
Gassho,
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Re: No beginning?

Postby Nosta » Mon Apr 08, 2013 12:28 pm

:twothumbsup: Very good post, thanks!
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