Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Buddhism Without Reincarnation/Rebirth - A Thought Experiment

Collapse
X
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • #31
    Alex/Eamonn/Ruth,

    Alex's last post really stopped me in my tracks, because, say 25 years ago, I would have had the same view of what constituted 'benefit' as Alex, and I think Alex's view is the prevalent one in society.

    But now, with my minuscule understanding of Buddhism, my 'values' have changed and are now more in line with Ruth's and Eamonn's and further away from Alex's - so much so that I couldn't think of one example (in fact I still can't think of one) where 'being ethical' would not be for my benefit!

    It puts me in mind of Bhante Nandiya's recent blog post, where he quotes a sutta that says:

    What others speak of as happiness,
    That the nobles one say is suffering;
    What others speak of as suffering,
    That the nobles ones know as bliss.
    If even I am so 'out of step' with society - then what must it be like for the noble ones who ...

    ... have seen as happiness
    The ceasing of identity
    Thanks for this thread Alex. A valuable lesson.

    Stuart
    xxx

    Comment


    • #32
      Thank you Stuart I read that post from Bhante Nandiya and always loved that sutta-quote. So true!
      And now I say good bye until at least 27th of November, after the retreat in Perth.
      May you all be happy and well
      _()_ Ruth

      Comment


      • #33
        Originally posted by Ruth Morrison View Post
        I say good bye until at least 27th of November, after the retreat in Perth.
        May you benefit greatly from the Retreat, and increase in bliss, peace and radiant metta ...

        Comment


        • #34
          One of the wonderful things about a thread dedicated to speculation (including thought experiments, brainstorming, etc.) is that those participating don't have to commit belief to any ideas that they wish to express. Also, though it's likely that we'll go off on tangent relative to the original topic, that's fine, too, because sometimes dancing around a subject is necessary in order to see its boundaries more clearly.

          Earlier on, I began constructing a speculative model of what Buddhism sans Rebirth might look like, and I speculated that among the building blocks would be Determinism instead of Free Will, and also the idea that happiness/pleasure basically represented lessening of suffering or progress toward such lessening (while admitting that this definition was a bit simplistic). As it happens, I neither believe nor disbelieve either of these ideas, and could (and probably will) also make a case for the ideas of free will and of happiness/pleasure as actualities independent of suffering.

          In the course of the discussion, Ruth asked me why I felt that belief in an Afterlife (or as I put it, an optimistic, progressive version of it) would make my life easier.

          Firstly, I guess that the "lessening of suffering" happiness model (in which I neither believe nor disbelieve) is relevant because if it is true, then one doesn't have to exist at all in order to be "happy"- in fact it's best if one doesn't- so in that case, death as oblivion would suffice. However, since I have sufficient doubts about its validity, it doesn't fulfill the intended function of making my life happier.

          The discussion then morphed into a topic which I'll paraphrase as: a comparison of spiritual progress (i.e. the Buddhist flavor)vs. material progress, coarsely oversimplified in pop philosophy as East vs. West, Lunar Societies vs. Solar, Curvilinear/Cyclical Time vs. Linear/Triangular-Pyramidal Time, Definition vs. Domination, etc.. My own tendency is to view the inward spiral of spiritual progress and the outward spiral of material progress as interdependent, rather than in conflict. I believe that material wealth is (or can be) a very good thing, but that the current problem plaguing the hypercapitalist world is that the definition of wealth is not comprehensive enough. There are many things which are not taken into account when we calculate economic progress, including the environmental health of the biosphere, the level of economic sustainability and fairness, the general happiness of the community and individuals within it, etc.. All of these things affect everyone, including the billionaires. Material progress has benefited humanity, but it does require some kind of spiritual guidance to keep it on track.

          Time to swim again. Back w/more focus on speculative models of Buddhism (hold the Rebirth) later.

          -Alex

          Comment


          • #35
            Originally posted by Ruth Morrison View Post
            Thank you Stuart I read that post from Bhante Nandiya and always loved that sutta-quote. So true!
            And now I say good bye until at least 27th of November, after the retreat in Perth.
            May you all be happy and well
            _()_ Ruth
            It is probably too late Ruth as you are probably on your way over here, but I shall be at at the retreat also, so see you there.........but no words can be exchanged as it is a "No Bell Silent" retreat. Sorry for stealling an Ajahn Brahm joke here.

            Comment


            • #36
              Hi Alex,

              Originally posted by Alex Rogolsky View Post
              Firstly, I guess that the "lessening of suffering" happiness model (in which I neither believe nor disbelieve) is relevant because if it is true, then one doesn't have to exist at all in order to be "happy"- in fact it's best if one doesn't- so in that case, death as oblivion would suffice. However, since I have sufficient doubts about its validity, it doesn't fulfill the intended function of making my life happier.
              One of the main problems with the word "happiness" (and, to some extent, "suffering") is that it's one of those words which is so promiscuously applied to such a wide range of different concepts (and within the framework of many different world views and presuppositions) that it has lost any real meaning (unless the person you are talking to carries the same world views and presuppositions as you, or at least understands the word in the context you are using it). I mention this not merely as an exercise in semantics, I mention this because it might help you reconcile the possibility of certain types of "happiness" being real and attainable (lesser goals) for unawakened mortals within the framework of the Buddhist world view without negating the elimination of suffering altogether as being the "Ultimate Goal" or "Ultimate Happiness".

              Often when people talk about happiness, what they really mean is "positive emotion" (as Martin Seligman puts it - I think you would enjoy his book, Alex, if you haven't read it already: Flourish...). And positive emotion is certainly attainable for most of us to some extent some of the time. "Some of the time" is, from a Buddhist POV, part of the definition of "Suffering" (with a capital "S"). Anything, whatsoever, which is impermanent, from a Buddhist POV, is "Suffering" or "Dukkha" (with a capital "D"). Stubbing your toe is "suffering" (with a small "s"). Being born, wearing nappies, not being able to chew your food, getting sick, getting old, not being able to chew your food, wearing nappies, dying - OVER AND OVER AND OVER - sometimes living a mostly pleasant life (which you will lose), sometimes living a mostly horrible life (which you will have to endure). Therefore (if this view is accepted, or at least understood) it would be considered a relief, it could be called "Happiness", to stop being reborn.

              Not being born again loses its magnitude as a "relief" if it is guaranteed for all at the end of this lifetime.

              Of course, none of this will impress or persuade you to believe in rebirth, and that is not my goal in writing this, I just want to show that "happiness" (with a small "h") is certainly possible in this lifetime, even for Buddhists.

              Even the Buddha, who maintained that the cessation of Suffering was the Ultimate Goal, encouraged some lay people to pursue "happiness" (with a small "h") as their goal in life. I think that this is a great credit to the wisdom of the Buddha, showing that he understood clearly that not everyone is ready to strive for the Ultimate Goal and was flexible enough to teach others how to achieve lesser goals.

              Metta,

              Guy
              Last edited by Guy Craft; 15th-November-2012, 07:19 AM.

              Comment


              • #37
                Hi Alex, you mentioned before your swim the following:
                "Firstly, I guess that the "lessening of suffering" happiness model (in which I neither believe nor disbelieve) is relevant because if it is true, then one doesn't have to exist at all in order to be "happy"- in fact it's best if one doesn't- so in that case, death as oblivion would suffice. However, since I have sufficient doubts about its validity, it doesn't fulfill the intended function of making my life happier."

                Your last words are "it doesn't fulfill the intended function of making my life happier".

                My question is..."how do you know?"

                Lessening or what is hoped in the Buddhist Path, cessation of suffering, isnt to be understood intellectuallly in order for it to provide happiness and freedom. It needs to be understood and experienced deeply and truely. Have you been to this point and thus in a position to say "it doesn't fulfill the intended function of making my life happier"?

                Personally I can clearly see that the lessoning of suffering is making my life much happier, even through some difficult times of late. My confidence in the path of the cessation of suffering is compounded by Spritual Teachers such as Ajahn Brahm, who radiate natural joy and happiness which is clear for all to see, even though he is a very busy Monk. He is the happiest person I know, and has the least material possessions of anyone I know.....But he is Rich!

                Like Ruth says, if I look at some of the wealthiest people in the world (apart from Richard Branson whilst on TV at least) they just dont seem to be that happy. Why? Becuase their thurst for more will never end.

                Ps; I appreaciate you inputs too as they do create good discussion and contemplation.

                With Metta
                Eamonn

                Comment


                • #38
                  Originally posted by Eamonn McGrath View Post
                  Ps; I appreaciate you inputs too as they do create good discussion and contemplation.
                  I concur wholeheartedly.

                  Comment


                  • #39
                    Hi Eamonn,
                    All I have to say is 'Saadhu, Saadhu, Saadhu.
                    With much metta
                    Kathleen

                    Comment


                    • #40
                      Dear Eamonn,

                      I can only add the following: ​Sadhu, Sadhu Sadhu !

                      With Metta,
                      Last edited by Krispy Not; 15th-November-2012, 11:16 PM.

                      Comment


                      • #41
                        Originally posted by Alex Rogolsky View Post
                        ... Earlier on, I began constructing a speculative model of what Buddhism sans Rebirth might look like, and I speculated that among the building blocks would be Determinism instead of Free Will ...
                        Oops, I forgot to address this earlier. Buddhism does not hold a doctrine of Free Will. Buddhism holds a doctrine of Kamma/Rebirth, which is to be understood along side Dependant Origination. 'Free Will' and 'Determinism' are both rejected by Buddhism. I think that this may be where you might be holding certain misunderstandings.

                        A Buddhism sans Kamma/Rebirth could include either Determinism or Free Will, as both are competing doctrines to Kamma/Rebirth.

                        I hope that makes sense as this is a difficult area that requires more than a passing understanding of the doctrine of Dependant Origination.

                        Stuart
                        xxx

                        Comment


                        • #42
                          Guy, Eamonn, and Stuart-

                          I apologize for attempting a consolidated response, but you may have already guessed that I'm incredibly lazy, and though it's interesting to read all of the posts that accumulate after having absented myself for a day or two, the prospect of responding to them all in exhaustive detail is daunting, and I am therefore inclined to take a more general "big picture" approach.

                          I'm agnostic on the question of whether Happiness (and note the capital "H") is solely comprised of a lessening of suffering (or progress towards such lessening), or whether it exists independent of it. I do not know which is true, or truer, and when I said that the lessening of suffering hypothesis does not fulfill the intended function of making my life happier, I meant that it doesn't do so because of the doubts that remain. Certainly, the Buddha and Schopenhauer would agree with you about relief being Happiness, as would I when I'm taking a dump, but for some reason, the possibility that Oblivion might turn out to be the only true and final relief, after which I don't exist to experience any more of it, seems an overly facile disposition of this mystery.

                          Similarly, neither do I know whether free will or determinism are correct, and while I recognize that dependent origination is not the same as determinism, a linear concept which is characterized by more of a sequence of causality rather than everything being a cause and effect simultaneously, I am also agnostic on the question of whether time is to be considered curvilinear or linear, and tend to think that, as incomprehensible and nonsensical as it sounds, it's both.

                          My cousin, a physicist and mathematician, once told me that because Pi goes on forever and has no pattern, it contains all patterns; in other words, if one were to take Shakespeare's "Macbeth" and transcribe it into numbers, it would be contained in Pi, as would "Macbeth" with one letter wrong, every other work of literature and genetic code, etc.. And what is Pi but a description of a relationship between linear and curved forms? Could it not be analogous to a description of a relationship between linear and curvilinear Time as well? What if both material and spiritual progress are complementary, each being essential but not sufficient to benefit either the individual or society when we contrive to segregate them from one another, or overemphasize one at the expense of the other?

                          Should such a thing as freedom or free will exist, perhaps it exists as a sort of aesthetic awareness which is beyond the limitations and conditions of temporal existence, yet makes use of them as a potter might mold clay. These speculative systems that we call religions and philosophies are somewhat like works of art, are they not? Yet in the art world, one doesn't find many fans of Andy Warhol's work going around slashing paintings by Jackson Pollock.

                          Best,
                          Alex

                          Comment


                          • #43
                            Hi Kris,
                            Sadhu or Saadhu? I wasn't sure, but on the Five Precepts online, it's spelt with two a's. I know this is a minor point, but which is it?
                            With metta Kath

                            Comment


                            • #44
                              Alex, you just blew my mind.

                              Comment


                              • #45
                                Originally posted by Guy Craft View Post
                                Alex, you just blew my mind.
                                Why ??

                                Buddhism sans "Rebirth" sans "Kamma" sans "Sila" sans "Dependent Origination" sans "Four Noble Truths" sans "anatta" seems like a nice thought experiment ...

                                Comment

                                Working...
                                X

                                Debug Information