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Buddhism Without Reincarnation/Rebirth - A Thought Experiment

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  • Originally posted by Ara Danielyan View Post
    Stuart,

    (Clarification: this is an innocent joke. I just couldn't help myself from not picking up such a low-hanging fruit)

    Ara
    Certainly you're not calling Stuart a 'low-hanging fruit'.

    Comment


    • Jerrod,

      No, I am not calling Stuart a low-hanging fruit, but, if I need to explain what I meant, it's probably a sign that it wasn't a good joke.
      Stuart, it wasn't my intention to offend you, and, if I did, I apologize.

      Ara

      Comment


      • Unfortunately, I'm not a low-hanging-fruit, but a fallen and rotten one.

        Comment


        • Alex,

          I am not calling you a low hanging fruit either, although according to your own model, you certainly have elements of a fruit that was previously fallen and rotten.. as we all do...

          And I thought I made a witty joke...

          Comment


          • I should be the one apologizing. I thought I'd try and make a good joke out of what you had written Ara. Strange. Everywhere else they laugh at my stupid jokes. Sorry to have busted up the thread. Carry on.

            Comment


            • Maybe I'll make it to low hanging fruit in my next life - if I'm a good boy, that is ... No Ara, I didn't take offence - I certainly would have been wasting all those years with Buddhism if that was the case ... I'm usually called a fruitcake - I'm not going anywhere near the concept of a low hanging fruitcake

              I wonder if there is a seed in the fallen and rotten fruit that is going to grow into a beautiful plant in the WG?

              love and xxx's to all my Dhamma-friends - and non Dhamma-friends too.

              Stuart
              xxx

              Comment


              • Very good. No one got insulted, and Alex revealed his true identity as a talking fruit

                Which reminds me another funny story told by one of me favorite meditation teacher Tara Brach (if you want to skip the talk and go directly to the story, it starts at 2:40)

                Comment


                • Hi Alex,

                  in post 101 you said:

                  1) By "component elements returning to insentience", I was referring to the dissolution of sentience as the complex material structures of the terminated manifestations (in our case, as living humans) decay into more simplified forms.
                  and in post 103 you said:

                  I believe that the WG speculation has left open the question of whether materialism or idealism is correct.
                  I don't see how it can be both? (my bold in both cases)

                  Stuart
                  xxx

                  Comment


                  • Great story Ara - I love talking dogs. My current one, Kaya (pictured) gets quite frustrated sometimes that she can't quite form words (yet!). It's like watching an infant during the 'terrible twos' where they can understand what you are saying but haven't learnt how to put together a response yet. I have heard that this is because the Wernicke's area of the brain (language understanding) develops faster than the Broca's area (language production).

                    Stuart
                    xxx

                    Comment


                    • Stuart-

                      Leaving open the question of which is correct (materialism or idealism) is basically an incorporation of an agnostic position on the subject within the WG system - a tabling of the issue until more is known, partly based upon my feeling that it may not matter which is correct.

                      Best,
                      Alex

                      Comment


                      • In other words, it may not matter whether:

                        - matter creates mind and thereby participates in its experience and evolution, ultimately beyond the limitations of time and space, or

                        - trans-temporal mind creates matter; the result is the same.

                        Comment


                        • Originally posted by Alex Rogolsky View Post

                          Certainly, a half-measure is possible, in which there might be an "agnostic" approach to R&R, which neither accepts nor rejects it, but I think that one condition of the thought experiment should be that even with such an approach, a "Buddhist Agnostic" in the alternate universe would have to consider the possibility that both consciousness and Karma end with death, and that, in effect, Gandhi and Hitler get the same thing.

                          I completely understand should some members of the Community view this exercise as a waste of time, and I sincerely hope that I haven't offended anyone simply by asking the question.

                          Best,
                          Alex
                          Alex, as someone who grew up an atheist, I can tell you I'm not offended (more like bored) with the idea that the breakup of the material body is the ultimate end. However, I would fit into the category of an "agnostic Buddhist" you mentioned (insofar as I'm indifferent or lenient with either belief). So, I guess I'm a good candidate for your far out alternative universe!

                          Well, my emphasis is less on supernatural elements and more on the ethical dimension. When the question of reincarnation or rebirth comes up, I can entertain either possibility without feeling uncomfortable. However, speculation about these issues is drastically less important to me than how I behave (i.e., speaking abusively or resentfully towards others, trying to maintain a balanced lifestyle, meditating daily). As for whether or not R&R is required of myself and others... it isn't. What's more important is how the person behaves with this belief. This is especially important because, once again, my emphasis is not about belief but behavior. Do they haggle people who holds views contrary to their own? When they hear that someone has a different belief than they do, does this person try to proselytize them, interrogate them, intimidate them, bully them, or exclude them? If they do, I'd say this person is not only doing a disservice to their belief but also has their values backwards.

                          Comment


                          • Rocky -

                            I tend to agree with you that ethical behavior, which I define as acting compassionately towards others and one's self, is more important than speculating about the Unknown, but I haven't really touched on it because, frankly, compassion is a mystery to me, despite the fact that I know that I have it and even express it at times.

                            This is not to say that I don't often entertain or express misanthropic or nihilistic thoughts, nor do I deny acting selfishly and to the detriment of others as is necessary to preserve my own minimum tolerable level of comfort, living, as I do, in an increasingly hyper-capitalist nation which worships at the altar of Social Darwinism. But that being said, I try to be as compassionate as I can afford to be.

                            However, I think that speculating about the Unknown, especially about what happens after death, is necessary if one wishes to try to construct a world view which clarifies one's place in the world, what takes priority, and the direction in which one should endeavor to progress.


                            Best,
                            Alex

                            Comment


                            • Re: the above-

                              Life has no meaning the moment you lose the illusion of being eternal.
                              ]-Jean-Paul Sartre

                              Comment


                              • In the year and a half since the last post on this topic, I've been reflecting upon how Buddhism might be transformed by the general acceptance of the possibility that the doctrines of Karma and Rebirth are delusions. I'm submitting this post in order to re-introduce the question. I've considered some of the auxiliary questions raised below, and hope to discuss them further with others interested in the subject, in later posts.

                                Questioning long-held doctrines which are at least partly bolstered by their powerful emotional appeal and function as moral organizing principles within society can seem mortifying at first. This is because initially, deeply questioning such doctrines means allowing one's doubts about them to be given full expression, which clashes with to the more comfortable, and more socially encouraged, tactic of simply repressing doubt. Also, there arises the fear that should the familiar edifice of belief be torn down, then nothing but chaos and horror will remain in its stead.

                                Most Afterlife doctrines offer emotional consolation to the bereaved and to those facing death. All of us desire that "All will be well" after we die, and this desire is manifested in many forms across the spectrum of religions. In my opinion, the hope (rather than the faith) that "All will be well" is worthy of retention, because it is probably psychologically healthy to retain it, and because it is vague, non-dogmatic, and unfettered by any spurious claims of unconfirmable specific knowledge. That having been said, the simple hope that "All well be well" is too general and non-assertive to be the basis of a religion or ideology. The question to be considered is: Can such a hope survive the ejection of an Afterlife doctrine, such as Rebirth, and what possible forms might the manifestation of the hope take?

                                Secondly, there is the function of an Afterlife doctrine as a moral organizing principle. Has not promoting the belief that those who behave well are rewarded after death (and that those who do not are punished) served to create a more civilized society? What would society be like if everyone believed that death was the same for both saintly individuals and demonic ones? Would there be chaos and barbarism, or would a more convincing moral organizing principle arise?

                                I look forward to a lively and intellectually stimulating discussion with others who have pondered this matter. It's good to be back.

                                Comment

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