• baker
    583
    you are born and you receive an education, and you become this education, and once you have been duly assimilated into a culture with its language and history, and then, there is your private history that ends up becoming a repository for future possibilities, the plot and character development, if you will, of the narrative you will write into existence.

    But the rub: this is the way of everyday living, and everyone lives this life of unfolding affairs with implicit trust and unquestioned confidence, and one is entirely absorbed in the grand narrative.
    Constance
    Oh god, no.
    Where do people get such ideas ...

    Then one opens a copy of Heidegger's Being and Time, and begins to question, and if s/he is lucky, or unlucky, there is an epiphanic moment of startling awareness that there is a discontinuity in our questioning self and the world that is there to meet questions at the basic level. /.../ Most are not disturbed by this, that is, until they start reading Heidegger.
    Eh ...?
    No, one most certainly doesn't need to read Heidegger for that. Oh dear.

    For me, it is the question, "why are we born to suffer and die?"
    If you like to question basic assumptions, then how about qualifying the above as a mere assumption and questioning it?

    Are we really born to suffer and die?
    We suffer, and we die, yes, but is this all we're born to??
  • Constance
    177
    I would think that everyone thinks so, at least intuitively. It's not like people actually confuse words for reality.
    Confusion emerges when people say things they don't mean, or when the parties involved have irreconcilably different understandings of the matter at hand -- and this in plain terms, not in some fancy, abstract sense.
    "Yes, I told you that loved you, but that doesn't mean I want to be with you, so bugger off."
    baker

    Not that they confuse them, the there is a movement toward unity, and you are probably familiar the attempts to pull away from dualism toward some kind of unity, whether it is material substance or, as with Heidegger, the unity of the phenomenon of idea and actuality. So the discontinuities understood are really unities at the most basic level, then the former can be reduced to the latter.

    Yes. That's why a line "drawn" in the air isn't a meaningful demarcation.baker

    Well, for me it does get more complicated, as I have said elsewhere. Remember, W DOES draw that line, thoughunder erasure (very Derrida). We do not live in a world where the term "transcendence" is existential nonsense, rather, we see as we "see' eternity. Now, is eternity unspeakable? One has to ignore the infinite timeline or spatial extension. Wittgenstein read Kierkegaard and they are the same on this: eternity is the present released from time, and this is where I rest my case regarding meditation. For what is meditation if not the annihilation of the standards of measurement? Call it transcendental meditation, but wait, Paramahansa Yogananda already did this. Not that I believe all the wild tales of his autobiography, though. Or, the metaphysics of meditation.

    Wittgenstein never went here, nor did he ever entertain any thoughts about intimations outside the boundaries language and logic. But it has to be said that I am really not AT ALL entertaining such ideas: everything that can be thought is rigorously bound to the rules of logic. Meditation is more an existential discovery in what is disclosed when one turns off explicit experience making.

    I'm not sure I understand what he meant here ... He may be saying something that is strongly influenced by Christian and anti-Christian thought. Metaphysics have such a bad reputation ... and I'm not sure I can redeem it in one forum post.baker

    As I read him (and certainly I am no Wittgenstein scholar; this should go without saying throughout. I've read the Tractatus, several papers on it, and sat and thought) he is simply looking at the way meaningful utterances are made. In order for a term to be meaningful one has to be able to conceive its opposite, or of its nonexistence. Existence makes no sense as a philosophical concept because one cannot even imagine non-existence. 'In' makes no sense without "out". 'Outside" makes no sense without "inside". This makes "meta" anything nonsense. Now, W did encourage religion, its rituals and faith, and divinity. I think he understood that the ethical/aesthetic dimension of human existence required this, but we could never talk about these things philosophically.

    Still, language is good enough. It serves a purpose.baker

    Yes, it "works". But we are faced with reality, too. The loathing I have for the taste of ammonia, e.g., is not language. Yellow is not language. The question I am posing here is how is it that we understand the actuality AS actuality. This is Sartre's radical contingency notion: the world "overflows" the boundaries of language. It confronts us as an alien presence, for what is familiar, comfortable, identifiable, and the rest is made so by language: words are not labels; they are deep in the construct of the world we live in, when we say, pass the salt, and my, what a fine day! we are participating in a narrative that sits like a superstructure on top of this very alien reality. See his Nausea.

    Existential thinking is supposed to be an unsettling experience.

    "You're an intruder, you don't belong here" is an assumption that seems to be tacitly held in so much of our culturally specific discourse.
    This assumption could be inherited from Christianity, or from European classism, or from reductive materialism, or a combination thereof. Be that as it may, it's a culturally specific discourse that is making us alien to our own lived experience.
    baker

    If this were about Christian dogma and metaphysics, I would agree, as if original sin set the stage for our alienation from God. I find it off putting to think like this, and so did Kierkegaard; in fact, K spent his entire life trying to liberate Christianity from this kind of thing.
    Phenomenology is a "descriptive" science, as Husserl would say, of what is there when we take the apple on the table and analyze it for its essential features as a phenomenon present before us. And prior to its being deployed in empirical science. Kierkegaard started this, revolting against the rationalism popular in his time. It is not "culturally specific discourse" any more than physics is. We are only "not at home" because analysis shows us this divide. W of course, understood this, but again insisted we could not speak of it.

    There is an important difference here, though: the early Buddhist samvega narrative and the existential anxiety narrative are different.

    The narrative of existential anxiety is conceived within a framework of one lifetime.
    The early Buddhist one is conceived of in the framework of rebirth.

    The person who conceives of life in the framework of one lifetime experiences the threat of loss of everything that is meaningful and dear to him as unique, ultimate, and fatal.

    The person who conceives of life in the framework of many lifetimes experiences the threat of loss of everything that is meaningful and dear to him as serial, cyclical: they get it and then they lose it, and then they get it again, and lose it again, and so on.

    That's how such a person sees those things as inherently unsatisfactory, whereas the person who thinks in terms of one lifetime, doesn't.

    This is how the existential anxiety of a Western secular existentialist is qualitatively different from the existential anxiety as experienced by a rebirthist.
    baker

    Remember, I am explicitly trying to think outside of the historical belief systems of Buddhism. I only want to know what meditation is at the level of basic assumptions. I mean, what really happens in this event in which one sits, ceases thinking, wanting, anticipating, and does this rigorously over time? Buddhists famously want the purity of the event to be untainted by presuppositions, and I see the value of this. But what is it that you see as opposition to the philosophy of what this is about?
  • Constance
    177
    Eh ...?
    No, one most certainly doesn't need to read Heidegger for that. Oh dear.
    baker

    Being and Time is the pinnacle work on existential thinking. Maybe Sartre is to one's liking (can't imagine), or just Husserl, but Heidegger really drew it out. One really should read Kierkegaard so as to see the depth. Not that he held the one true view, for such a thing is always receding in the horizon of thought, but his ontology opens the way to greater understanding.

    A meditating person may discover unity beneath it all, a calm in which particulars vanish into pervasive
    overarching nowhere, at no time, and I know such a thing is right and true, not to put too fine a point on it, but I claim that behind this state, or this "stateless state" is yet a foundational barrier thick with beliefs and most of all, simple familiarity that is still in place implicitly. I have read stories of Zen masters running amok, shouting at trees, and I thought, they must be close.
    Existential thought can clarify this, and undo familiarity, for it is this very undoing, perhaps you've noticed, that is its very essence. I think that infamous "existential dread" is a precursor to liberation.
  • Ciceronianus the White
    1.5k
    Most are not disturbed by this, that is, until they start reading HeideggerConstance
    All the more reason not to read Heidegger. I'm not a fan of his as a philosopher, and especially not a fan of him as a person, as I've gently hinted in this forum now and then. But let's pass over that in silence. The path you describe is a path I can't follow, nor do I want to follow it, though I read all the Nietzsche and Dostoyevsky I could find in my distant youth.

    From time to time I wonder when and why this hyperbolically negative attitude toward life and the world arose among and came to be expressed by intellectuals. We can't know all that was thought and believed by people in the past, but as far as I'm aware it doesn't appear until the 19th and 20th centuries, and seems to be peculiarly European. This view that living is a terrible thing and therefore requires explanation doesn't seem to have been held by ancient thinkers of the pagan West. The view that living, and the world, are terrible things became prominent with the rise of Christianity. No matter how nasty the world is, though, Christianity promised salvation and a vaguely defined happy and holy life beyond the world provided one is appropriately Christian. I speculate that as European thinkers lost their faith, they could think of nothing similar to replace it, and so succumbed to despair or sought refuge in alternatives that appear to foster melancholy, or a manic kind of romantic mysticism (leading some to be fascists or Nazis).
  • Constance
    177
    Because he did not point this assumption out. He can't assume we will assume the same thing he is assuming. That is not kosher in philosophy.god must be atheist

    Well, there is the subject matter one discusses and the structure of discussion itself. You have to separate the two. If I am, for example, going to explain the electronics of cell phone, and I am explaining this on a cell phone, then it is assumed that the cell phone functions sufficiently well to satisfy the explanatory requirement. W is explaining and deploying logic all at once, but this assumption is implicitly in place. He is not arguing that this assumption is in jeopardy, only describing the logical limitations that prevent certain other kinds of explanations, those that include irrational concepts.

    Whoo, boy. This is the most watered-down description of all the utterances of any philosopher ever in existence.

    This I say with the ASSUMPTION that philosophers don't say illogical things. If it is illogical to a listener, it is because the listener does not base his logic on superstitious beliefs while the speaker does, or the listener does not suffer from the same mental illness as the speaker or else vice versa for both conditions.
    god must be atheist

    These would be kinds of assumptions implicitly in place, yes. I don't see why this is an issue. It DOES sound close to what Willard Quine talked about in his indeterminacy of translation. In fact, if you haven't read this, and this kind of thing is your concern, it is right up your alley.
  • Banno
    11k
    I don't think there's much disagreement then. Meditation is the analysis of the beetle in the box; whatever is said about it drops out of the discussion, and what is significant is the change in attitude and action.

    I cannot confirm the Being of objects that are not me, but my own interior: nothing could be more intimate or unmediated.Constance

    I'm not sure of what is going on hereabouts... I am certain of the itch on my left foot; confirmation does not come into it. Talk of an interior divides the self from the world; a false dichotomy. In your reply to @Ciceronianus the White you spoke of values having no foundation; the itch in my foot, together with the other certainties with which we are each surrounded, are that foundation.
  • Constance
    177
    All the more reason not to read Heidegger. I'm not a fan of his as a philosopher, and especially not a fan of him as a person, as I've gently hinted in this forum now and then. But let's pass over that in silence. The path you describe is a path I can't follow, nor do I want to follow it, though I read all the Nietzsche and Dostoyevsky I could find in my distant youth.

    From time to time I wonder when and why this hyperbolically negative attitude toward life and the world arose among and came to be expressed by intellectuals. We can't know all that was thought and believed by people in the past, but as far as I'm aware it doesn't appear until the 19th and 20th centuries, and seems to be peculiarly European. This view that living is a terrible thing and therefore requires explanation doesn't seem to have been held by ancient thinkers of the pagan West. The view that living, and the world, are terrible things became prominent with the rise of Christianity. No matter how nasty the world is, though, Christianity promised salvation and a vaguely defined happy and holy life beyond the world provided one is appropriately Christian. I speculate that as European thinkers lost their faith, they could think of nothing similar to replace it, and so succumbed to despair or sought refuge in alternatives that appear to foster melancholy, or a manic kind of romantic mysticism (leading some to be fascists or Nazis).
    Ciceronianus the White

    Dostoyevsky was not happy about the world, or about anything as far as I can tell. Probably permanently emotionally damaged when then put him in front of a firing squad, pulled the triggers on blanks just to teach him a lesson.
    Hyperbolic? The question doesn't rest with "ancient thinkers" or the Christian promise of salvation. It is simply a descriptive statement. Think of the world as a "place" like a room. In this place things occur. Some die horribly, some not. The number is not really to the point, for the argument is not quantitative, but qualitative; really, all it takes is one actual case. What does one think of such a room where people are tortured? The rack, thumb screws? I am simply saying this is the "place" where we actually are. Of course, one can just dismiss this and get on with things. But complacency does provide what we are looking for, which is an honest assessment of the world when we ask, what IS it?
    Heidegger, it is generally understood, was despicable in his nazi cooperation. Didn't last long, but he never denounced the nazis properly, and went along with them while Jews were being persecuted. Nobody lets him off the hook. Too bad his philosophy was so extraordinary. I see you do not agree, but one can't argue against his thinking based on what kind of person he was, and this is an infamous fallacy.
    You're right about the European romanticism: Himmler and others were inspired by Madam Blavatsky and a movement called Volkism that held beliefs about aryan ancestry, interracial perversions that led to lower races and so on. Ghastly thing! It could be that Heidegger held some of this in his belief that culture needed to be reborn. But he was disappointed to find the same perverse modernism in the Third Reich.
    But really, none of this is what I am on about. For me, I want to honestly describe the world. Then, further thoughts may be warranted. I think the presence of suffering makes the world indefensible, and in need of a metaphysical counterpart to "redeem'" it. I find this need as coercive as even the principle of sufficient cause.
  • Constance
    177
    I'm not sure of what is going on hereabouts... I am certain of the itch on my left foot; confirmation does not come into it. Talk of an interior divides the self from the world; a false dichotomy. In your reply to Ciceronianus the White you spoke of values having no foundation; the itch in my foot, together with the other certainties with which we are each surrounded, are that foundation.Banno

    This is not as easy as it seems. The itch is there, as an unquestioned immediacy. But then it is one thing acknowledge the itch spontaneously, and another to recognize, identify, report about, understand what it IS. Dogs and cats have itches, but they don't "understand" what an itch is. We do, but this understanding is what is at issue, because, while the intimacy with the tactile feeling is unmistakable, more so than talk about plate tectonics or evolution, say, since it is not it itself discursive at all, to observe and understand, this is conceptual.
  • Ciceronianus the White
    1.5k
    For me, I want to honestly describe the world. Then, further thoughts may be warranted. I think the presence of suffering makes the world indefensible, and in need of a metaphysical counterpart to "redeem'" it. IConstance

    Dewey wrote of something he called "the philosophical fallacy" because he thought it so pervasive in philosophical thinking. Very simply put, he thought this was neglect of context. I think the use of concepts such as dread, anxiety, suffering and so on as appearing in the existentialist's lexicon, applied to describe (and perforce condemn) the entire world, is an impressive example of neglect of context. Neglect of context in using and applying concepts and making judgments and claims based on them is unreasonable and potentially dangerous.

    The "room" you refer to is unimaginably vast. To claim that room is indefensible because of the act of a particular person (instead of making the altogether obvious and unobjectionable claim that the act is indefensible as is the person committing the act) is similar to claiming that the world is evil because of a sin committed by a single person, the claim we find in the doctrine of Original Sin--perhaps the most glaring example of neglect of context we've managed in our history. The concepts of "evil" and "sin" applied so broadly and thoughtlessly have been used for various purposes since St. Augustine came up with the notion, none of them laudable, or so I think.
  • god must be atheist
    2.5k
    this assumption is implicitly in place.Constance
    Assumptions are never knowledge. At best they carry a possibility of getting it wrong. You can't tell me that an instance of a falsification of a theory, which falsification does not contravene any of the hypotheses of theory, is an invalid falsification.
  • god must be atheist
    2.5k
    Banno, you're actually wrong.
  • baker
    583
    Remember, I am explicitly trying to think outside of the historical belief systems of Buddhism.Constance
    The early Buddhist teachings on karma and rebirth are _not_ mere "historical trappings".

    One may ask:
    "Can we strip the Buddha's teachings of any mention of rebirth and still get the full benefits of what he had to teach? In other words, can we drop the Buddha's worldview while keeping his psychology and still realize everything it has to offer?"

    See here for the answer: The Truth of Rebirth And Why it Matters for Buddhist Practice.

    I only want to know what meditation is at the level of basic assumptions.
    You're trying to force the issue. More below.

    I mean, what really happens in this event in which one sits, ceases thinking, wanting, anticipating, and does this rigorously over time?
    I don't know what happens in that event, because what you describe is some new-agey meditation mishamash that has nothing to do with Buddhism.

    Buddhists famously want the purity of the event to be untainted by presuppositions,
    Well, as long as those self-declared "Buddhists" are also New Agers or practitioners of corporate mindfulness (that's a term, look it up).


    Like I said, you've been trying to force the issue. You've been trying to strip Buddhism of everything that "makes it Buddhist" and you're trying to find some Buddhism-independent truth but one which also happens to be at the core of Buddhism.

    I'm saying you're wrong to do this, on multiple levels.

    I'll briefly touch on one here:

    Buddhism has a virtue epistemology. It supposes that in order to know the truth, one needs to practice a sufficient measure of virtue. The trio sila, samādhi, and pañña is central: moral conduct, concentration (meditation), and wisdom. These are the three fundamental categories of training. One has to train in all three, simultaneously and progressively. One cannot have one without the other.

    In contrast, the popular mindfulness movement is trying to force the issue by focusing primarily or solely on the concentration/meditation, but generally avoiding the Buddhist prescription of the necessity of moral behavior, which is captured for lay people in the first five precepts.
    Some philosophers are trying to force the issue by focusing on the wisdom component, and, again, neglecting morality and the actual practice of meditation.

    The idea that one could force the issue like that and figure out the truth about Buddhism or the truth that "Buddhism is about" is incompatible with the actual Buddhist practice. It's akin to someone claiming he wants to learn to swim, but who refuses to even approach the water.
  • Constance
    177
    Dewey wrote of something he called "the philosophical fallacy" because he thought it so pervasive in philosophical thinking. Very simply put, he thought this was neglect of context. I think the use of concepts such as dread, anxiety, suffering and so on as appearing in the existentialist's lexicon, applied to describe (and perforce condemn) the entire world, is an impressive example of neglect of context. Neglect of context in using and applying concepts and making judgments and claims based on them is unreasonable and potentially dangerous.Ciceronianus the White

    On the other hand, dread is pointedly not concept, which is the point. Nor is fun and gloom and gangrene and Haagen das; I mean of course everything is a concept when it is spoken, but it is the actuality itself that is context free. But this is the point being made here: Contexts are conceptual. So when I say I want to look plainly at the world and simply report what it is, I am suspending, or "neglecting" contexts intentionally. this would be of no avail if I were thinking of the color yellow or the timbre of a certain tone, but the value dimension of experience can be identified context free AS a direct intimation of the world. The language, of course, is always in the middle, joined at the hip, as it were, with actuality, but this does not mean we cannot apprehend the, say, screaming pain as it is. Wittgenstein admits this, and calls it transcendence, mystical, impossible and nonsense, because he knows one cannot "speak" the pain. Logic contains delimitations on what can be said, and what cannot be said is where the value, the importance, the aesthetic/ethical meaning is. He will call this divinity.

    The "room" you refer to is unimaginably vast. To claim that room is indefensible because of the act of a particular person (instead of making the altogether obvious and unobjectionable claim that the act is indefensible as is the person committing the act) is similar to claiming that the world is evil because of a sin committed by a single person, the claim we find in the doctrine of Original Sin--perhaps the most glaring example of neglect of context we've managed in our history. The concepts of "evil" and "sin" applied so broadly and thoughtlessly have been used for various purposes since St. Augustine came up with the notion, none of them laudable, or so I think.Ciceronianus the White

    But it goes to a more fundamental level than this: before a person commits an act, the world is there as the place to commits acts. What kind of world is this? Look around, but do so phenomenologically look around, apart from the many contexts that would make a knowledge claim, but directly at the phenomenon itself. The phenomenon of pain has "presence".
  • Constance
    177
    Assumptions are never knowledge. At best they carry a possibility of getting it wrong. You can't tell me that an instance of a falsification of a theory, which falsification does not contravene any of the hypotheses of theory, is an invalid falsification.god must be atheist

    Assumptions are assumed knowledge. No one is saying some proposition is not falsifiable. All are. One has to consider that nature of a verification, for in the justification, there is nothing that can ever serve as an absolute, and Wittgenstein says as much. The concept of an absolute is nonsense. But we nevertheless get on with things, like discussions about what can be said within the delimitations of logic.
  • Ciceronianus the White
    1.5k

    Alas, I really don't understand what you mean. The world is a world in which we commit acts, necessarily, because we're part of the world. It isn't a world in which we don't commit them, as we commit an act whenever we interact with the rest of the world; we do so every moment we're alive. The judgments we make are necessarily human, like all else we do resulting from our interaction with other parts of the world. We can't take ourselves out of the world to consider it or describe it as if we were outside it, nor do I know of any reason why we should want to do so, but that seems to be what you imagine can be done. How do you imagine a human would "simply report" what the world is if not as would any human embedded in and formed by the rest of the world?
  • god must be atheist
    2.5k
    No one is saying some proposition is not falsifiable. All areConstance

    Again, I beg to differ. All scientific propositions are falsifiable, but mathematical and logical ones are not falsifiable.

    When you say "All things that can be said can be said with clarity" then you make a proposition which is falsifiable. I falsified the current one in question in my argument (won't bore you by repeating it). If you don't want to make it falsifiable, you have to make it into a squeaky-clean, logically unassailable statement, whereby you state your necessary assumptions to be present to make the proposition true. If you don't say the assumptions, the reader is not obliged to assume the same things as the author.

    If you say "all eating utensils dropped near the surface of the Earth will fall down in some cases" then I'll by it. I can't easily think of a likely scenario in which it would not work. There may be some (for instance, if the utensil is made of aluminum and the medium in which the event happens is liquid mercury or quicksilver). But if you say "You can tell about colours to a man born blind and he will understand you " then it is clearly an example where clarity is not part of the speech on the receiving end. And this is caused by the lack of specifying the underlying assumptions.
  • Constance
    177
    See here for the answer: The Truth of Rebirth And Why it Matters for Buddhist Practice.baker

    I read it, or significant parts of it. first, I did like, and frankly, already understood, that, "The Buddha was a radical phenomenologist in that he dealt with experience on its own terms." Meditation is the ultimate phenomenological reduction, more radical than Husserl imagined, and in fact, the consummation of his epoche. Radical because, while Kierkegaard talks about the eternal present and Derrida performs the ultimate in apophatic thinking, that is, he annihilates any and all foundational possibilities in knowledge claims, meditation takes these claims to actuality. all phenomenologists have as the centerpiece of philosophy, Time. Our existence is an event, and all that we encounter is an event. My couch is an event. So, when I come across ideas like those in "The Truth of Rebirth...." I first look for something that has the explanatory depth of Kant, Kierkegaard, Husserl, Heidegger, Levinas, Nancy, Marion, Derrida, et all, and find it absent. This is not to say at all that the Buddha didn't have it right, but it is to say that interpretation was not his forte.
    Yes, of course, blasphemy, but interpretation is thought, not prereflecitve experience. As a child I can tell you in all candor that the world was perfect at times. intimations of immortality, as Wordsworth put it-- "trailing clouds of glory," that was childhood, without exaggeration. But as I grew up, this was forgotten, and at the time, I had no ability to articulate it. I think the Buddha was clear as a bell as to the experience of liberation, but the interpretative language available failed him.

    I don't know what happens in that event, because what you describe is some new-agey meditation mishamash that has nothing to do with Buddhism.baker

    Sounds like you are saying meditation is not sitting quietly and doing nothing. This is Daisetsu Teitaro Suzuki speaking. If you take issue with it, then pray tell.

    Well, as long as those self-declared "Buddhists" are also New Agers or practitioners of corporate mindfulness (that's a term, look it up).baker

    You have an ax to grind with new age people. But really, it should be with ideas, not resentment over offences to the purity of the Buddha's words. This latter is more like a cult, like being hung up on Jesus' words, as the Bible tells us. This is not the point. The point is to understand and have the explanatory resources, not to recall, but to reason out.

    Buddhism has a virtue epistemology. It supposes that in order to know the truth, one needs to practice a sufficient measure of virtue. The trio sila, samādhi, and pañña is central: moral conduct, concentration (meditation), and wisdom. These are the three fundamental categories of training. One has to train in all three, simultaneously and progressively. One cannot have one without the other.baker

    Moral conduct? Is this a discipline or is this a moral thesis? Wisdom? Again, pray tell. Meditation? You need to see that when you talk about meditation, you take your meditative states and put them unders review. So what meditation IS, is an interpretative matter. The meditative act itself I take as clear and nonesoteric. The esoterica comes in the interpretation.

    In contrast, the popular mindfulness movement is trying to force the issue by focusing primarily or solely on the concentration/meditation, but generally avoiding the Buddhist prescription of the necessity of moral behavior, which is captured for lay people in the first five precepts.
    Some philosophers are trying to force the issue by focusing on the wisdom component, and, again, neglecting morality and the actual practice of meditation.
    baker

    The moral element: how is it that this is in any way conducive to freeing the mind? I mean, it can help because it is discipline, and the point is to discipline oneself out of attachments. The whole effort is toward liberation, I could say with confidence. You can say, and perhaps rightly, that it is not Buddhism even if liberation is achieved, but not through the specified techniques. But then, it would be a technical distinction.
  • Constance
    177
    Alas, I really don't understand what you mean. The world is a world in which we commit acts, necessarily, because we're part of the world. It isn't a world in which we don't commit them, as we commit an act whenever we interact with the rest of the world; we do so every moment we're alive. The judgments we make are necessarily human, like all else we do resulting from our interaction with other parts of the world. We can't take ourselves out of the world to consider as if we were outside it, nor do I know of any reason why we should want to do so, but that seems to be what you imagine can be done. How do you imagine a human would "simply report" what the world is if not as would any human embedded in and formed by the rest of the world?Ciceronianus the White

    I would stop you at "the world is the world". The question is, I surmise, about "fun and gloom and gangrene and Haagen das" and the claim I made: "the value dimension of experience can be identified context free AS a direct intimation of the world."

    Just as a reminder, I am responding to your claim about a "hyperbolically negative attitude toward life." My response is not about taking "ourselves out of the world to consider as if we were outside it" at all. Rather, I want to look directly at the world. Talk about what may or may not be or should or shouldn't be "other" than this cannot proceed until the world is observed in earnest, like an empirical scientist who wants to classify something and has to first observe its properties.
    But here, we are doing empirical science, but phenomenological "science" (Husserl) which deals with the structures of experience. There is logic, e.g., a term for the very structure of thought itself, and is there, antecedent to doing any empirical work. There is pragmatics, which attempts ground logic in end-looking problem solving (I think this right). And there is value, and this is where my attention is. Analysis proceeds from experience itself, and there is the convicted 15 year old dancer in the moonlight to be burned alive (horrific examples are the most poignant). I am very simply asking, what IS this horror, pain and the rest. I find G E Moore's answer (Principia Ethica) the only one viable: the experience of pain is a non natural property, sui generis, irreducible, as Kierkegaard would put it, its own presupposition.
    Everything else follows on this.
    To give this some perspective, consider the term "good". There are two kinds, contingent and absolute (see Wittgenstein's Lecture on Ethics, very short and to the point, online: http://sackett.net/WittgensteinEthics.pdf). Contingencies are very common: that is a good couch. Why? It is wide enough, comfortable ,and so on. W says absolutes are nonsense, and it is important to know that he is talking about the philosophical examination of ethics that looks for a foundation. Impossible, God's world. He writes, "What is Good is Divine too. That, strangely enough, sums up my ethics." This matter goes to the girl's actual suffering, the "badness" of it. On the stake as the flames scorch the flesh, this is not a simple fact of the world, like my shoe being untied or alluvial weathering. We are "out" of the factual, for there is in the simple analysis this sui generis, non natural "presence".
  • baker
    583
    But really, it should be with ideas, not resentment over offences to the purity of the Buddha's words.Constance
    No, for me here, it has nothing to do with "offences to the purity of the Buddha's words". You keep bringing this up, but you're barking up the wrong tree. I'm not a Buddhist, I can't be offended this way.

    When people make stuff up and ascribe it to someone else, it takes a lot of time and effort to untangle the mess, a mess that could have been avoided in the first place if the person would simply quote what that other person said, instead of making stuff up. It's a colossal waste of time.

    This latter is more like a cult, like being hung up on Jesus' words, as the Bible tells us.
    *sigh*

    *sigh*


    This is not the point. The point is to understand and have the explanatory resources, not to recall, but to reason out.
    If you don't even understand the relevance of virtuous behavior for epistemic purposes, then I'm not sure what to tell you.




    Anyway, I've been engaging in some discussions of Buddhism in an effort to find closure to my involvement with Buddhism. But it's only in these discussions lately that I've come to realize that even though early Buddhism seemed so natural to me (and still does), I'm beginning to see just how foreign early Buddhism is to many other people ... I've gravely underestimated that for some 20 years.
  • Ciceronianus the White
    1.5k
    I am very simply asking, what IS this horror, pain and the rest.Constance

    You want to "honestly describe" the world, the world as it "really" is, before any human act. This apparently must be done "context free" though just what that means must remain unexplained, there being no examples to be given. You ask what "this Horror is" (Horror being, I would guess, something which must be also described, if at all, "context free").

    Well, I'm just a simple country lawyer (sorry, not really), and phenomenology may be beyond my limited, brutish understanding. Perhaps your questions or statements must be gnomic, but it renders response, and communication, difficult. When we're ambiguous, though, I suggest we're merely ambiguous; we can't be credited thereby with any special knowledge or insight.

    This may just be the nature of the beast, whatever that beast must be, it being one which can't be described except outside of context or--I suspect--at all. And so we or those like me come back to that which we must pass over in silence.

    So, let's do just that. Wittgenstein was wise to recommend silence. Silence saves us from trying to say in words what can't be described in words, but can only be asserted or named as something. Or Nothing? Is Nothing something which can be shown, at least, even to such as me? Perhaps I'll know the Nothing only when and if I'm suspended in dread. But then, how will I know when I'm suspended in dread, or what dread is for that matter? Will I know it when I'm suspended in it?
  • Constance
    177
    Again, I beg to differ. All scientific propositions are falsifiable, but mathematical and logical ones are not falsifiablegod must be atheist

    Now there is an issue. Not falsifiable, but then are logical propositions really propositions at all? they have the form of a proposition, but exhibit only form. All logical propositions are simply tautologically true, says Wittgenstein. But on the other hand, and I will review this if you want to take issue, Quine's Two Dogmas attempts to show that analyticity never holds up, for terms are never really the same. All bachelors are male is supposed to be analytically true, but what does one do about the "sense" the terms? Also consider, and this one is especially compelling: a proposition is a temporal event, thus although, say, modus ponens, is logically valid, in the space of time it is uttered, the P, of "if P then Q" will not be identical to the P of the next premise, for their actuality is found in two different temporal events. this applies even to "P is P" for there is really no true sameness in identity. This is Heraclitus' world, not Parmenides'.
    Finally, when what is the foundation for logic? Intuition. What is this, that is, what is "behind" logic that gives logic its justification? In order to see this, we would need another standard of assessment, which would in turn need another such standard. Logic, says Wittgenstein, is transcendental. It "shows" but does not explain itself for the generative source is outside logic, which is nonsense, of course. The point I would make is this: where is the warrant for excepting logic as self justifying? Granted, we are not in a postiion to choose, but nor are we in a position to justify.

    When you say "All things that can be said can be said with clarity" then you make a proposition which is falsifiable. I falsified the current one in question in my argument (won't bore you by repeating it). If you don't want to make it falsifiable, you have to make it into a squeaky-clean, logically unassailable statement, whereby you state your necessary assumptions to be present to make the proposition true. If you don't say the assumptions, the reader is not obliged to assume the same things as the author.god must be atheist

    You sound like Derrida. Keep in mind this: that even while Derrida insisted that there the "trace" always seized upon meaning rendering all communication indeterminate (interlocutors all different in the interpretative grounds for receiving others' utterances), he still had pragmatic success in his works and in everyday speaking and listening.
  • Wayfarer
    11.3k
    I've been engaging in some discussions of Buddhism in an effort to find closure to my involvement with Buddhism. But it's only in these discussions lately that I've come to realize that even though early Buddhism seemed so natural to me (and still does), I'm beginning to see just how foreign early Buddhism is to many other people ... I've gravely underestimated that for some 20 yearbaker

    I hear you. I'm going through something similar. I even did an MA in Buddhist Studies 2011-12 but now finding it increasingly difficult to relate to.

    when I come across ideas like those in "The Truth of Rebirth...." I first look for something that has the explanatory depth of Kant, Kierkegaard, Husserl, Heidegger, Levinas, Nancy, Marion, Derrida, et all, and find it absent. This is not to say at all that the Buddha didn't have it right, but it is to say that interpretation was not his forte.Constance

    The secular Buddhist movement tries to separate what they see as retreivable from Buddhism from what they see as the 'metaphysical trappings'. They might say that re-birth was not really part of Early Buddhism, it was imported into the tradition from external sources. That is what the article that @baker linked to was written in response to.

    It's not a question of interpretation, but of the background of Buddha's teaching, which assumes the reality of saṃsāra, the eternal round of re-birth. So it's a soteriological doctrine, in academic language. Kant, and the others, did not assume that background, although Kant did have something to say about God, freedom and immortality, and those soteriological concerns are present in a greater or lesser degree in the others you mention (not all of whom I have read, but I believe Levinas was a religious philosopher.)

    Belief in re-birth in any form is tacitly forbidden in Western discourse (save for in some of the underground movements like gnosticism, hermeticism and so on.) But it seems to me, remove that background from Buddhism, and it loses its overall rationale.
  • Constance
    177
    The secular Buddhist movement tries to separate what they see as retreivable from Buddhism from what they see as the 'metaphysical trappings'. They might say that re-birth was not really part of Early Buddhism, it was imported into the tradition from external sources. That is what the article that baker linked to was written in response to.Wayfarer

    To me, rebirth is a metaphysical idea, only to be approached by first observing the world. I mean, this is how metaphysics has any reasonable standing at all. Otherwise, one might as well be talking about cherubs and demons and Platonic forms. Wittgenstein (and Kant, et al) claimed that even when one gets down to extrapolating from the observed to "that which must be the case given the observed" there is no room for sensible thought. I think this is wrong, but it largely issues from the kind of thinking that sees no possibility in non discursive intuitive experiences that have something other than logical "content". Intuition is a four letter word in philosophy. But meditation, I claim, brings one to some extraordinary intimation that actually realizes what Kierkegaard, as well as Wittgenstein, called the eternal present, what I consider to be the most profound philosophical encounter possible. But this: I am not interested in early Buddhism any more than Kierkegaard is interested in Christendom. I look to its essential features, and by essential I mean what is conducive to liberation and enlightenment, the brass ring of all Eastern philosophy.
    I am trying to accommodate baker, but he wants Buddhism to stay in the comfort of the 650 BCE's. This is an extraordinary time, granted, and but there was a deficit in interpretative language to explain it. IT being meditation and the place of realization deep in the interior of the self. Everything else is incidental, historically important, of course, but Hinayana, Mahayana, Hinduism and its Vedanta and the intellectual/cultural practices, the metaphysics that is part of this, the synthesis of Taoism and Buddhism, Korean Won Buddhism, Japanese Zen, and on and on are mostly about contexts of contingency, grounding things so we can talk about them, get university degrees in this talk. But meditation has nothing to do with history, and the Buddha would agree with me. The eight fold path has one purpose, that it can contribute liberation and enlightenment. It is a method. Consider if I were to discover a means to God's grace, and it were actuallytrue, literally-- Christ himself would yield. I think were the Buddha equipped with phenomenological philosophy, he would yield to this, because it is an extension in language of what occurs in meditation. He would then tell us quite emphatically that the moment one even begins the conversation, with which he just agreed, one has fallen away form the whole point. Sounds a LOT like Wittgenstein who speaks about what he insists will cannot be spoken.



    It's not a question of interpretation, but of the background of Buddha's teaching, which assumes the reality of saṃsāra, the eternal round of re-birth. So it's a soteriological doctrine, in academic language. Kant, and the others, did not assume that background, although Kant did have something to say about God, freedom and immortality, and those soteriological concerns are present in a greater or lesser degree in the others you mention (not all of whom I have read, but I believe Levinas was a religious philosopher.)Wayfarer

    When I say interpretation was not the Buddha's forte, I simply mean he, the "extraordinary phenomenologist" as the paper called him, was the embodiment of exactly where philosophy needs to go. Derrida put the nail in the coffin of Western philosophy, but the nail was really always already there. An attack on language is an attack on what can be said vis a vis the world, telling us clearly that it is time philosophy went silent, as language was cluttering thought, interfering, misleading, confusing. Language is the "final attachment" to use a Buddhist's terms, for once one can control appetites and affectivity, then there remains familiarity, memory and what Husserl called predelineation: the eidetic hold language has on the present (though he didn't think it an issue). Here is where phenomenology is useful, for so many get to the point where taming attachments does not make for the final movement, for the attachment is implicit, unseen, IN the simple apprehension of the world AS world. How to make the move to the "eternal present" is a fascinating matter. I somewhat challenge the idea that the Buddha understood this, and that all that could be said and realized about meditation and liberation and enlightenment. Blasphemy, of course. I lean more toward Hinduism.

    Belief in re-birth in any form is tacitly forbidden in Western discourse (save for in some of the underground movements like gnosticism, hermeticism and so on.) But it seems to me, remove that background from Buddhism, and it loses its overall rationale.Wayfarer

    Yes, analytic philosophy is not able to take metaphysics at all seriously, not as some sort of philosophical foundation. Wittgenstein is in part responsible for exactly the thinking posted in the OP here: a ban on what is not clear. Thus you have a hundred years or so of analytic thinking trying its best to make philosophical concepts conform to existing standards of clarity, which is largely what science says. Has gone nowhere.

    As I see it, there is only one basis for belief in reincarnation, and that is the metaethical argument that I have tried make clear several times here and there. Put briefly, the world is ethically impossible without something like reincarnation and samsara. It is a complex argument, but it is a metaphysical one that moves from the world to what must be the case given the way the world is, adn the world demands an explanatory extension where observation cannot go. Pretty simple, really: Why, are we born to suffer and die? is a question that haunts us. The question then goes to suffering and I have put this forth earlier elsewhere more than once. If you like, because it IS after all THE issue of the world and the self, we can discuss this.
  • Constance
    177
    So, let's do just that. Wittgenstein was wise to recommend silence. Silence saves us from trying to say in words what can't be described in words, but can only be asserted or named as something. Or Nothing? Is Nothing something which can be shown, at least, even to such as me? Perhaps I'll know the Nothing only when and if I'm suspended in dread. But then, how will I know when I'm suspended in dread, or what dread is for that matter? Will I know it when I'm suspended in it?Ciceronianus the White

    Pass over in silence. OR, just read Heidegger, and put aside his flirtation with monsters. Husserl, too. Then Kierkegaard is behind them, and Kant behind him, with Hegel, who is a whole new dimension of weird, that gets less weird the more you read in the field. What can I say, one say I picked up Heidegger determined to understand him, and the world of phenomenology opened up in time. Now I can't stay away. Reading Caputo on Derrida and radical hermeneutics, and the French post Heideggerians, very religious, since Husserl opened religion to Kierkegaard, and in all this there is actual insight I never remotely thought possible.
    I often say to other in such a conversation, you are what you read. Never well received, because it is tantamount to telling others to read what I want them to read. But one has, once they get into a lived life, already "read" his or her way into things. If you have the patience for Jerry Fodor (didn't you say you read him?), Dewey and others, why not pick up a copy of Husserl's IDEAS I? For dread, Kierkegaard's "Concept of Anxiety" which you will certainly find off putting for its religious leaning, but then, it is really not religious at all if you continue reading.
    As to knowing it once you are suspended in it....perhaps.
  • Constance
    177
    If you don't even understand the relevance of virtuous behavior for epistemic purposes, then I'm not sure what to tell you.baker

    Hmmm, I think language is essentially a pragmatic epistemology, true, and by this I mean pragmatics in the literal sense: a term is an inherent proposition, and all such things are in time, performative events. The question is, what practical good is there in virtuous behavior regarding liberation and enlightenment? And here it is the eight fold path: right view, right resolve, right speech, right conduct, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right meditation. Well, there are a hundred ways I can think of to direct a person to a disciplined life, but the bottom line is not the virtuous behavior, is it? This would be simply dogmatic governing of living. The point is not this. It is liberation. How this is achieved is not a singular path, though all paths are of the same nature, which is a turning away from the many engagements towards a rather mystical unity. That term mystical is mine, and is one reason I don't care to ask the Buddha if it is authorized: when one turns away from everydayness, one takes normal standards of interpreting the world away as well. One is no longer anywhere, and this is the marvel of it all, beholding the world no longer as the world, not as anything. My claim is that this is a profound experience, rapturous and outside the currents of thought that hold powerful sway over our collective understanding of what the world is.
    One can rightly say, there is only one virtue, and that is achieving the extraordinary state of mind, not to put too fine a point on it, achieved by the Buddha.

    Anyway, I've been engaging in some discussions of Buddhism in an effort to find closure to my involvement with Buddhism. But it's only in these discussions lately that I've come to realize that even though early Buddhism seemed so natural to me (and still does), I'm beginning to see just how foreign early Buddhism is to many other people ... I've gravely underestimated that for some 20 years.baker

    If the Buddha was an extraordinary phenomenologist (your linked essay) then why not just do what phenomenologists do with Buddhism in the world and forget what is natural or foreign? Think philosophically about meditation, liberation and enlightenment. The world he lived in long ago was the same sun rising and setting of today, and those extraordinary people aggrandized by time were just like you and me, and for Buddha, he had none of his own teachings to guide him, but synthesized for himself what he deemed right out of the existing culture, one at that time when becoming a sadhu was the be all and end all.
  • Ciceronianus the White
    1.5k

    To see the world as it is, refrain from imposing on it what you fear or imagine. Take it from Wallace Stevens, who said it better than any philosopher could in The Snow Man:

    One must have a mind of winter
    To regard the frost and the boughs
    Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;

    And have been cold a long time
    To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
    The spruces rough in the distant glitter

    Of the January sun; and not to think
    Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
    In the sound of a few leaves,

    Which is the sound of the land
    Full of the same wind
    That is blowing in the same bare place

    For the listener, who listens in the snow,
    And, nothing himself, beholds
    Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.
  • baker
    583
    To me, rebirth is a metaphysical ideaConstance
    One of the perspectives that one can derive from Early Buddhism is that an insight into rebirth follows from an insight into the workings of karma. As in: There is karma, therefore, there is rebirth. Which is why rebirth is not a metaphysical idea the way heaven, hell, etc. in Christianity or Hinduism are, or Platonic forms.

    only to be approached by first observing the world.
    It's difficult to have a conversation on a very specific topic when not all involved are familiar enough with Buddhist doctrine. And it's too much to try to bring in all relevant references and clarify all points of contention at once.

    I mean, this is how metaphysics has any reasonable standing at all.
    The thing is that in Early Buddhism, one wouldn't start off with a catechism-like set of doctrines. But, quite on the contrary, start exactly where one is at the moment.
    For example, like this:

    /.../ Then Mahapajapati Gotami went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down to him, stood to one side. As she was standing there she said to him: "It would be good, lord, if the Blessed One would teach me the Dhamma in brief such that, having heard the Dhamma from the Blessed One, I might dwell alone, secluded, heedful, ardent, & resolute."

    "Gotami, the qualities of which you may know, 'These qualities lead to passion, not to dispassion; to being fettered, not to being unfettered; to accumulating, not to shedding; to self-aggrandizement, not to modesty; to discontent, not to contentment; to entanglement, not to seclusion; to laziness, not to aroused persistence; to being burdensome, not to being unburdensome': You may categorically hold, 'This is not the Dhamma, this is not the Vinaya, this is not the Teacher's instruction.'

    "As for the qualities of which you may know, 'These qualities lead to dispassion, not to passion; to being unfettered, not to being fettered; to shedding, not to accumulating; to modesty, not to self-aggrandizement; to contentment, not to discontent; to seclusion, not to entanglement; to aroused persistence, not to laziness; to being unburdensome, not to being burdensome': You may categorically hold, 'This is the Dhamma, this is the Vinaya, this is the Teacher's instruction.'"

    https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an08/an08.053.than.html


    One could reflect this way and act accordingly, over and over again, day in day out. With nothing further, in terms of doctrinal points.
    It's a kind of actionable religious/spiritual meta-minimalism that I haven't seen in any other religion/spirituality that I know of.

    I am not interested in early Buddhism any more than Kierkegaard is interested in Christendom.
    I look to its essential features, and by essential I mean what is conducive to liberation and enlightenment, the brass ring of all Eastern philosophy.
    For this, you'd actually need to know what Early Buddhism is, which you don't seem to.

    I am trying to accommodate baker, but he wants Buddhism to stay in the comfort of the 650 BCE's. This is an extraordinary time, granted, and but there was a deficit in interpretative language to explain it.
    No, rather it's that you simply don't know the suttas. You're dismissing something without even knowing what it is. You're tailoring Early Buddhism after Christianity. I'm trying to show that it's not like it.

    IT being meditation and the place of realization deep in the interior of the self.
    Further evidence that you don't know the suttas, yet are dismissing them.
    You're devising your own parallel Buddhism, and I don't quite see the point in doing that.

    I lean more toward Hinduism.
    In fact you do, with your implicit dogmatism, in the way you approach religious epistemology.

    As I see it, there is only one basis for belief in reincarnation, and that is the metaethical argument that I have tried make clear several times here and there. Put briefly, the world is ethically impossible without something like reincarnation and samsara. It is a complex argument, but it is a metaphysical one that moves from the world to what must be the case given the way the world is, adn the world demands an explanatory extension where observation cannot go. Pretty simple, really: Why, are we born to suffer and die? is a question that haunts us. The question then goes to suffering and I have put this forth earlier elsewhere more than once. If you like, because it IS after all THE issue of the world and the self, we can discuss this.
    This is actually more like what cradle Buddhists in traditionally Buddhist countries (and similarly, cradle Hindus) believe about rebirth/reincarnation and karma -- that it's a kind of grand metaphysical justice system which also provides people with the purpose and meaning of life and makes all the suffering seem worthwhile.
    It's an unreflected, dogmatic approach to the issue, typical for religions and for people who were born and raised into a religion. Issues of karma and rebirth become metaphysical when they are treated in a dogmatic manner.

    A more reflexive approach would be like this:

    Things are simply the way they are. They don't give us suffering. Like a thorn: Does a sharp thorn give us suffering? No. It's simply a thorn. It doesn't give suffering to anybody. If we step on it, we suffer immediately.

    Why do we suffer? Because we stepped on it. So the suffering comes from us.

    https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai/chah/insimpleterms.html

    Or like this:

    Look at the affairs of your body and mind. Now that we're born, why do we suffer? We suffer from the same old things, but we haven't thought them through. We don't know them thoroughly. We suffer but we don't really see suffering. When we live at home, we suffer from our wife and children, but no matter how much we suffer, we don't really see suffering — so we keep on suffering.
    https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai/chah/shapeofacircle.html

    Or like this:

    In formulating a question on the first level, you create the frame of a sentence and leave part of the frame blank. The important feature of the blank is that it’s not an amorphous hole. It’s more like the shape of a missing piece of a puzzle.
    Only a piece that matches the shape and the pattern of the puzzle will fit. If you ask, “Why am I suffering?” and are told, “42,” you won’t be satisfied with the answer, for it’s not just a wrong piece from the right puzzle. It’s from the wrong puzzle entirely.

    https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/skill-in-questions.pdf
  • baker
    583
    The Snow ManCiceronianus the White
    Reminds me of this:

    "Rahula, develop the meditation in tune with earth. For when you are developing the meditation in tune with earth, agreeable & disagreeable sensory impressions that have arisen will not stay in charge of your mind. Just as when people throw what is clean or unclean on the earth — feces, urine, saliva, pus, or blood — the earth is not horrified, humiliated, or disgusted by it; in the same way, when you are developing the meditation in tune with earth, agreeable & disagreeable sensory impressions that have arisen will not stay in charge of your mind.

    "Develop the meditation in tune with water. For when you are developing the meditation in tune with water, agreeable & disagreeable sensory impressions that have arisen will not stay in charge of your mind. Just as when people wash what is clean or unclean in water — feces, urine, saliva, pus, or blood — the water is not horrified, humiliated, or disgusted by it; in the same way, when you are developing the meditation in tune with water, agreeable & disagreeable sensory impressions that have arisen will not stay in charge of your mind.

    "Develop the meditation in tune with fire. For when you are developing the meditation in tune with fire, agreeable & disagreeable sensory impressions that have arisen will not stay in charge of your mind. Just as when fire burns what is clean or unclean — feces, urine, saliva, pus, or blood — it is not horrified, humiliated, or disgusted by it; in the same way, when you are developing the meditation in tune with fire, agreeable & disagreeable sensory impressions that have arisen will not stay in charge of your mind.

    "Develop the meditation in tune with wind. For when you are developing the meditation in tune with wind, agreeable & disagreeable sensory impressions that have arisen will not stay in charge of your mind. Just as when wind blows what is clean or unclean — feces, urine, saliva, pus, or blood — it is not horrified, humiliated, or disgusted by it; in the same way, when you are developing the meditation in tune with wind, agreeable & disagreeable sensory impressions that have arisen will not stay in charge of your mind.


    https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.062.than.html
  • baker
    583
    The question is, what practical good is there in virtuous behavior regarding liberation and enlightenment?Constance
    In that one cannot meaningfully hope to become free from suffering (ie. become enlightened) if one occasionally or regularly drinks alcohol or smokes pot. Or robs banks. Or kill animals for sport. And so on.

    The idea that one can have a glass of wine with one's dinner, and still be(come) enlightened is a decadent Western invention. As are many others.

    And here it is the eight fold path: right view, right resolve, right speech, right conduct, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right meditation. Well, there are a hundred ways I can think of to direct a person to a disciplined life, but the bottom line is not the virtuous behavior, is it?
    The value of virtuous behavior is something one needs to experience for oneself.

    The point is not this. It is liberation. How this is achieved is not a singular path, though all paths are of the same nature, which is a turning away from the many engagements towards a rather mystical unity.
    To the best of my knowledge, there is no religion or spirituality that actually contains the tenet "All paths lead to the top of the mountain. All paths are equally good." Rather, this is a bit of ecumenical meta-religious/meta-spiritual doctrine that no existing religion/spirituality supports.

    That term mystical is mine, and is one reason I don't care to ask the Buddha if it is authorized: when one turns away from everydayness, one takes normal standards of interpreting the world away as well.
    This is awfully general. It works for, say, Nazi ideology as well: that, too, was a turning away from everydayness.

    One can rightly say, there is only one virtue, and that is achieving the extraordinary state of mind, not to put too fine a point on it, achieved by the Buddha.
    That's a bit like saying, "Oh, just get your own jumbo jet!"


    If the Buddha was an extraordinary phenomenologist (your linked essay) then why not just do what phenomenologists do with Buddhism in the world and forget what is natural or foreign?
    My reasons for distancing myself from Buddhism are several, and complex, and have nothing per se to do with Early Buddhism.
  • Constance
    177
    For the listener, who listens in the snow,
    And, nothing himself, beholds
    Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.
    Ciceronianus the White

    I'll let Wallace Stevens have the final world on this. Only to add that the final two lines is the consummation of all that went before, for how can nothing behold anything, and poeticize it? You may find this odd, but this "nothing" is at the very heart of existential thought. It is the essence of our freedom.
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