nowheat wrote: My understanding is that it is freedom from dukkha -- so not "Invalid answer" at all. ... Beings who do not experience dukkha (which in the non-traditional view are generated by concepts of self that are within their power to change) are already free of dukkha -- see how that works? They don't have to be exposed to the Dharma to achieve Nirvana because they don't experience dukkha in the first place.
hello nowheat. (is it no wheat, or now heat?) anyway, I am interested in your viewpoint. I don't agree with it, but I can certainly see how it makes sense to you and probably to others. However, I would like to offer a correction to your statement (above).
Even though not all creatures experience dhukkha
on an intellectual or even rudimentary conceptual level, they do experience it on some level, and this can be seen because they show a preference for one type of situation over another. For example, moths are attracted to light. Flies attempt to avoid being swatted, and so on. Even microbes may "attracted" to heat and moisture. They may not think "I am suffering" if they don't find it. Their lifespans may only be for a few hours anyway, and they may not feel discomfort as we know it, but they are still struggling to survive and hopefully to reproduce.
They are always in a state of striving
I share some of your way of thinking. maybe this will help bridge some differences in understanding:
An interesting point that the great Indian Scholar & yogin Nagarjuna brings up is that all thoughts follow other thoughts. He argues that thinking does not spontaneously occur from component matter.
Hence, a baby cannot spontaneously begin thinking without it's basic sensory "thought" following a previous one.
Consider the recipe for this great zombie snack, the human brain
Water 77 to 78 %
fats 10 to 12 %
Soluble organic substances 2%
Inorganic salts 1%
While the brain certainly provides an environment, indeed, a mappable environment for mental activity to occur, none of the ingredients in this list, alone or in combinations, can, as far as is known, spontaneously produce thought, or even the slightest bit of sensory awareness. They can combine to transmit electrical impulses, but electrical impulses do not think. In short, nothing in the brain can bear witness to its own existence.
The brain lives its short life trapped inside of a dark calcium box, riding around on the top of one's shoulders.
When a person talks about rebirth in the Buddhist sense, this is not the same things as the Hindu notion of "reincarnation". which asserts a perpetual self that keeps aligning itself with flesh (that's the Carne
part of reincarn
ation). A link was provided here to a secular Buddhist blog on which appears a picture, I think, borrowed from the Hari Krishnas, a picture illustrating reincarnation, showing a single person morrphing through life and through one life to the next.
If you don't believe in that, then you are in good company here. That is not the buddhist notion of rebirth.
If you ask why "you" have a certain condition in life and not somebody else, there is a problem in answering this, because it suggests an inherent existence of "I" to which the conditions apply, or which is defined by, or composed of those conditions.
If one asserts there is an "I" then of course, within that framework, the question of one life vs. many lifetimes of that "I" becomes a reasonable question. However, if one asserts what is fundamental to the Buddhist view, that nothing can be shown to exist which can truly be called "Me" or "mine", then there is nothing to reincarnate.
Rebirth of that "me" doesn't occur.
For that matter, even this birth we are living out now did not occur as any kind of inherent "me" that got born.
So, the problem then comes up when we compare the idea of other "realms" such as hungry ghosts or whatever, to the notion of the "Me" realm that we experience right now.
Rebirth occurs. But it is not a reincarnation of the "me" that we think is happening right now.
Rebirth, in the buddhist sense, is more of a domino effect. with infinite, dependently arising dominoes.
It's also sort of like taking a jigsaw puzzle out of the box, putting the pieces together, taking it apart again, mixing the pieces up and putting them in another box. The picture only appears when the pieces come together. Except in Buddhism, the pieces interract with the environment and change a little bit each time you do the puzzle.
So, what is it that gets reborn, if not an "I"?
It is the stream of infinite conditions (out of which this brief experience we call 'this life' is only a temporary arrangement) which maintain the same paths until interrupted, until their courses are altered. That's the karma part. You can change your stuff. There is no 'self" which leaves one body and enters another. But there are causes, the very same causes, and results, which constantly replicate themselves (with some constant tweaking as well) that are quite observable in this life.
Who you were when you were born is dead. A dead baby. Every cell that made up that baby has died and has been replaced. They didn't all die all at once, of course. So you see, you have already experienced karmic rebirth. "Karmic" might be used, to mean that all the new cells inherited a lot of the the characteristics of previous cells. Your eye color probably hasn't changed much during your life. And this is only the physical body, the carbon and so forth. And as any physicist can tell you, that stuff has been around since the "beginning of the Universe".
But that's only the physical part. A constant flow of what we experience as "thoughts" has also come and gone, each one influenced by the previous one. That is the actual application of the word "Karma", to your thoughts."Thinking"
, as we know it in a relative sense, as we map it in brain study labs, is dependent on a bodily environment, a brain. But the causes
of thinking, or of cognitive awareness, of being to witness brain activity itself, do not rely on a physical body.