• Wayfarer
    6.2k
    Agree with those blog posts.

    Incidentally in terms of cross-cultural analysis, see Buddhist Analogues of Sin and Grace: A Dialogue with Augustine John Makransky. It makes an interesting comparison between Augustine's teaching of the original sin (which has been immensely influential particularly in Latin Christianity) and the Buddhist teaching of 'avidya' (ignorance).

    In Christian terms, no action of human will in its fallen condition can restore humans to freedom from sin and to consistent love of the Good. Such capacities can only be restored by their Creator, through the transcendent power of His grace. As Augustine wrote, '... victory [over vice] cannot be sincerely and truly gained but by delighting in true righteousness, and it is faith in Christ that gives this. ... . Accordingly vices are then only to be considered overcome when they are conquered by the love of God, which God Himself alone gives... .” Augustine recognizes how serious is the problem of sin and vice, how hopeless it is for humans to solve it relying only upon their own devices. The solution must come from transcendent power.

    How have Buddhist thinkers engaged the parallel issues? In Buddhist terms, if our entire being were just the process of egoic conditioning that the Buddha had diagnosed, there could be no escape from the suffering of clinging, aversion, vice and consequent suffering. However, the Buddha also taught another dimension of being, an unconditioned dimension, Nirvāṇa: 'Oh, monks, there is an unborn, unarisen, and unconditioned. Were there were not an unborn, unarisen, and unconditioned, there would be no escape for those born, arisen and conditioned. Because there is the unborn, unarisen, unconditioned, there is escape for those born, arisen, and conditioned.
    ....

    Although...Buddhist anthropology differs considerably from Augustine’s, a Buddhist response to this problem is profoundly similar in one respect. For Buddhists, as for Augustine, there can be no freedom from bondage unless something transcendent intervenes. Only someone beyond such conditioning can point the way beyond it. Only someone who fully embodies that transcendent, unconditioned dimension of being could reveal it to others, and demonstrate the way for others to be released unto it.
  • 0 thru 9
    559
    I do not think that all mystical experiences are the same, but I think that there is some affinity between them. To borrow an analogy used by Wittgenstein, I think that there is a "family resemblance" between them. However, a very common element, IMO, even more common than "non-duality" is that of "something higher", that inspires respect and reverence. Non-duality too is widespread that there are many traditions where it is absent, or at least not very emphasized.
    Regarding the distinction between intellect and awareness, well, I agree. Immediate awareness is nonconceptual, one simply is "cognizant". Concepts arrive later, but conceptual knowledge is mediated, not immediate. I think that immediate awareness comes into degrees. Maybe, "mystical experience" are at the "high-end" of the scale, so to speak.
    boundless

    Thanks for the reply and further details! Good point about the “family resemblance” between mystical experiences. They do seem to cut across traditions and epochs. To me, there is a unmistakable similarity (not identical of course but similar) between Sufis, Christian mystics, Taoist sages, and even animist Aboriginal tribal shamans. They are not reducible to each other nor interchangeable. But there seems to me to be a thread that connects them all. It is probably the whole exoteric vs esoteric topic.

    And thanks for the Tricycle link. Will check it out. :up:
  • boundless
    79
    But, if, as you say, everyone could be mother, father, etc. then your current mother and father are, relatively speaking, devalued, aren't they? In other words, it is no longer a preferential kind of love, is it? If you expand the object of preference to include almost anybody, then you cannot claim to have a preference anymore - it defeats the purpose.Agustino

    I believe that here we should consider the duality between the "relative" and "ultimate" truth. At the "ultimate", love is non-preferential. But, at the relative level, we have special relationiships :smile:
    I think that Buddhism suggests us to love everybody, have "metta", "karuna" etc for everybody. Yet, I do not think that it devalues special relationships. Maybe it points to the fact that we should not neglect who are "outside" our preferences. We should also be "good" with our enemies.

    But the Gospel passage quoted is Jesus's answer. The message is that God's love is not preferential - or rather, that God's love is more than merely preferential. To further unpack this, God's love for each person is of the same intensity as the preferential love a father has for a child, but this does not, in any regard, diminish God's love for others.Agustino

    Now, let me ask you, in turn this question: is "preferential love" present in Heaven?

    43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
    (Matthew 5:43-48, source)

    35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend expecting back nothing, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful!
    (Luke 6: 35-36, source)

    I see a parallel between the "divine love" and "boundless heart" (see the "Metta Sutta") related to the "ultimate" in Buddhism. You are right that Christianity praises preferential love more than what Buddhism does, yet, I believe that Christianity too aspires to arrive at both and encourages people to strive to "imitate" God. What do you think about this?

    I find this notion very strange and unclear. Do we have free will? If we have free will, then presumably, we are able to control some things, such as who we love. So if love is such a choice that we make, it doesn't require our selves to be unchanging, but rather merely our choice to remain unchanging. It becomes, once again, a matter of the will, doesn't it?Agustino

    I think that we have free will. And choices are a matter of will. And, maybe, Buddhists might agree on this point. Yet, I have reservations that our choices are unchanging (see below).

    It's also not clear to me what an "unchanging self" would even be. Buddhists reject the Hindu notion of atman. But what exactly is rejected still remains mysterious. I mean, phenomenologically speaking, what is the difference between an unchanging self, and a changing one? We live life, and sometimes our preferences change. Does that mean our self has changed? If the phenomena are anatta (empty of self), then there can be no question of our self changing when phenomena (thoughts, desires, etc.) change.Agustino

    BINGO! Well, we know that Buddha denied that any of the five aggregates (consciousness included) could be taken as "me, mine, my self (atman)". He also denied that "Nirvana" could be the "atman".

    Personally, I think that he even denied an "impermanent" self. There were "ascetics and brahmins" that thought that "the body is the self". The body, of course, is impermanent, subject to illness, uncontrolled changes and so on. Therefore the Buddha, IMO, denied a "changing" self, too.
    I think that he denied all possible "objectification" of the self, i.e. he denied that we could say that "my self is this", or even "my self is indescribable" (the position of the Pudgalavadins, apparently). At MN 2 (Ven. Thanissaro translation) we find:

    “This is how he attends inappropriately: ‘Was I in the past? Was I not in the past? What was I in the past? How was I in the past? Having been what, what was I in the past? Shall I be in the future? Shall I not be in the future? What shall I be in the future? How shall I be in the future? Having been what, what shall I be in the future?’ Or else he is inwardly perplexed about the immediate present: ‘Am I? Am I not? What am I? How am I? Where has this being come from? Where is it bound?’

    “As he attends inappropriately in this way, one of six kinds of view arises in him: The view I have a self arises in him as true & established, or the view I have no self … or the view It is precisely by means of self that I perceive self … or the view It is precisely by means of self that I perceive not-self … or the view It is precisely by means of not-self that I perceive self arises in him as true & established, or else he has a view like this: This very self of mine—the knower that is sensitive here & there to the ripening of good & bad actions—is the self of mine that is constant, everlasting, eternal, not subject to change, and will endure as long as eternity. This is called a thicket of views, a wilderness of views, a contortion of views, a writhing of views, a fetter of views. Bound by a fetter of views, the uninstructed run-of-the-mill person is not freed from birth, aging, & death, from sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair. He is not freed, I tell you, from suffering & stress.

    Hence, all "definitions" and descriptions are to be "transcended". Note the paradoxical language of this sutta. I think that Buddhism points even beyond the position that "there is no self". In fact, it stops completely identification. I read somewhere that "shunyata" is nowadays translated as "openness", meaning that "anatman/anatta" points to have no "self", i.e. having no reference point.

    What would you say is the relationship between anatta and will?Agustino

    Difficult question! Personally I believe that there is free will (I never saw a convincing argument for the view that moral responsibility is meaningful without free will). If anatta is true, I believe that it is a sort of "undeterminate question". In fact, I think that it is very puzzling (tha author of the blog post you linked here, indeed, has a point!).

    I disagree. The events could lead to the two lovers becoming separate, for example. But this cannot affect their will, all by itself. Love is anchored in their will. Is their will not under their control?Agustino

    Maybe not. In fact, I think that this is one of the important points of the anatman teaching, i.e. that, if unawakened, we cannot even have the "right intentions" forever (if that was possible a perpetual succession of blissful rebirths would be possible). It is IMO an important point. Our "fallen" nature (see also the quote provided by Wayfarer in his latest post) prevents us to control forever our will. Isn't it reminiscent to the Christian tenet that we need God's Grace to save ourselves from sinning? Of course, in Buddhism, one "gets free" from this fallen nature by "awakening" rather than Grace. But, here, I think we have a similarity.

    Can you detail what you mean?Agustino

    I would have put it differently, being a wild speculation of mine (of course everything I write is a wild speculation, but that was especially the case). Anyway, what I meant is that if mindstreams continue forever AND if such mindstreams are full of "positive qualities", for example the "loving" quality, then mindstreams will radiate love forever, so to speak. So, in some sense, mindstreams of awakened beings will always love. The "metaphor" part was meant to include in what I tried to say, the Buddhist tenet of anatman. I hope that it is clearer now. But, I admit that it might be not XD

    So you do have a nature (or a self)?Agustino

    Yes! Maybe it is not as "real" as I take it to be :yikes:

    I agree.Agustino

    Excellent!

    You might like "The stages of Christian mysticism and Buddhist purification" by Lance Cousins, a very rare comparative study between Christianity and Theravada Buddhism.

    As an aside, on the "everything is impermanent" view, check Ven. Yuttadhammo's answer to this question on Buddhism stackexchange (also, I found useful his youtube videos on meditation).

    Thanks for the reply and further details! Good point about the “family resemblance” between mystical experiences. They do seem to cut across traditions and epochs. To me, there is a unmistakable similarity (not identical of course but similar) between Sufis, Christian mystics, Taoist sages, and even animist Aboriginal tribal shamans. They are not reducible to each other nor interchangeable. But there seems to me to be a thread that connects them all. It is probably the whole exoteric vs esoteric topic.

    And thanks for the Tricycle link. Will check it out.
    0 thru 9

    Well, in those traditions you mention the idea of "union with the Absolute" is central (well, I am not very familar with Sufism and I do not know anything about Aboriginal spirituality but I trust you!). The "unity motif", so to speak, is very widespread around the world. Buddhists are generally cautious in speaking of "unity" or "oneness", but the idea is IMO far from being absent, especially in East Asian (Mahayana) Buddhism. For example, there is a school, the Hua-yan (known as "Hwaeom" in Korea and as "Kegon" in Japan) that teaches that all phenomena "interpenetrate" (I think that I already linked in this thread the IEP article on Fazang, the third patriarch of this school). But it is also present in the Tiantai (in Japanese Tendai) school as you can see in the SEP article about that school. But I think that the teaching of interpenetration is present also in Chan/Zen Buddhism (the modern teacher Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh speaks of "interbeing" which is related to interpenetration and interdependence). Maybe this "flavor" of Buddhism may be very interesting for you.

    Another family resemblance is that of the "ephemeral" vs "permanent" (both in the sense of everlastingness and timeless). Again, many Buddhists are reticent to speak of the "permanent", but I think that this "ephemeral"/"permanent" thing is also present in early Buddhism. Check, for example, the Dhamma-niyama sutta which seems to suggest that the "Dharma" is a "truth" that stands all times, yet no every Buddhist agrees on this (also there are some texts of the Theravada schools that seldom refer to "Nirvana" as "permanent" but you find some controversy here. Even in the article about Tiantai that I linked before you find that, according to the author, Early Buddhism says that everything is impermanent. But IMO it is only the interpretation of the author [see, for example, the link to the answer of Ven. Yuttadhammo that I provided at the end to my answer to Agustino in this very post]).

    Then, we have the "experience" of a "relationship", i.e. being loved. Again, it is pretty widespread, especially in religions that believe in a Personal Deity.
  • boundless
    79
    I forgot to anwer to these questions, sorry!

    Okay, but how far should one go to stop their son from consuming cocaine?Agustino

    Well, independently of Buddhism or Christianity, I cannot give you a precise answer on this. To be honest, I tried to give you a response here, but I failed. So, please do not take it as due to a lack of effort.

    Well, just for curiosity, how would you answer to your question?

    What do you mean for "good will"?Agustino

    IMO "good-will" means willing to do what is good for the other. Being faithful is doing what is good here.
  • Agustino
    11.2k
    I believe that here we should consider the duality between the "relative" and "ultimate" truth. At the "ultimate", love is non-preferential.boundless
    On the Christian world-view, I think I would disagree with this assertion. Christian love, at its highest, is both preferential and non-preferential.

    Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. — 1 Corinthians 9:24

    In Christianity too, only ONE gets the prize. This isn't meant to suggest that God doesn't love all men, but rather that God loves all men as individuals, one-to-one. So God's Love is both preferential and non-preferential at the same time. In front of God, each human being is the chosen one. And at the same time, this does not stop God from loving all men, even though he prefers each one as individual.

    Maybe it points to the fact that we should not neglect who are "outside" our preferences. We should also be "good" with our enemies.boundless
    But there are cases where sacrifices are required, since we cannot please everyone as human beings. We are not God - we are finite creatures, and as such we cannot love the way God does. So it's true, that we should love all men. But what do we do when the love of all men, comes in conflict with the love of our wife, or our child, etc.?

    Now, let me ask you, in turn this question: is "preferential love" present in Heaven?boundless
    I would say so - every man has a preferential relationship with God.

    43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
    Sure, I agree that we must love all men. At the same time, it is evident that our preferential love will sometimes come into conflict with our non-preferential love. My position is that, in such cases, one should choose their preferential love. This is similar to Abraham's willingness to sacrifice Isaac when commanded by God.

    You are right that Christianity praises preferential love more than what Buddhism does, yet, I believe that Christianity too aspires to arrive at both and encourages people to strive to "imitate" God. What do you think about this?boundless
    I agree with you that Christianity aspires to both.

    Maybe not. In fact, I think that this is one of the important points of the anatman teaching, i.e. that, if unawakened, we cannot even have the "right intentions" forever (if that was possible a perpetual succession of blissful rebirths would be possible).boundless
    Okay, yes I see. I see your point, and I agree. However - potentially - we could have "right intentions" forever if we are awakened. So given two lovers who both become enlightened, what will happen to their love? Their love cannot fail to be eternal - that seems the only plausible answer. It is true that in Buddhism, because of ignorance, we cannot act rightly 100% of the time. But what happens if we dispel the ignorance?

    This is what one of the blog posts I linked to says:
    Reacting vs Responding
    Reactions are conditioned – they are based on habits or things we have done repeatedly to condition that reaction.
    Responses on the other hand can be carefully thought out and planned, weighing up the situation to see what the best course of action would be.
    Responses are done with intention – you insert your intention in to solve the situation. Reactions are not.

    If you say that everything is conditioned by what happened before it – then life would just be a series of pure chain reactions in the same way that inanimate objects would react to each other with no ability to change things – like dominoes falling one after the other. But the crucial difference is that we are not the dominoes that have no choice in the matter. Rather, we are more like the creator of how the dominoes formations are shaped, we are the creator of how far apart the dominoes are from each other, we are the creator of when the first domino falls – if we want them to fall at all – so we have all these freedoms!

    So we have our own free will, we make our own choices. We are not inanimate things which have no free will – and so, they have no choice but to follow the course of what came before it. For us, we can be influenced by something, but we are not bound to follow along with that influence.
    I agree with this difference. We start out in life in the unenligthened state, where we mostly react, instead of respond, to what is happening around us. We are the slaves of our instincts, and so on. But, as we approach enlightenment, we cease reacting, and start responding more and more. When we finally become enlightened, we no longer react, we are no longer part of the stream so to speak. Everything we do becomes a response, that is freely chosen, and not compelled.

    The "metaphor" part was meant to include in what I tried to say, the Buddhist tenet of anatman. I hope that it is clearer now. But, I admit that it might be not XDboundless
    Well, is it really the case, or not? Does the metaphor bit suggest that this is a "relative" truth?

    You might like "The stages of Christian mysticism and Buddhist purification" by Lance Cousins, a very rare comparative study between Christianity and Theravada Buddhism.boundless
    Thanks, I will look into it! :)

    Well, just for curiosity, how would you answer to your question?boundless
    I would say it depends on the means one has at one's disposal. I would say that it's fine to use a degree of coercion in order to prevent a greater evil in this case. What coercion would consist in, depends on the circumstances. It could be some form of financial pressure, not giving your son something else he desires, etc.

    IMO "good-will" means willing to do what is good for the other. Being faithful is doing what is good here.boundless
    Hmmm... but in a love relationship wouldn't what is good for the other, also be good for you?
  • Wayfarer
    6.2k
    Buddhists reject the Hindu notion of atman. But what exactly is rejected still remains mysterious.Agustino

    The Buddha criticized the Brahmin teaching on many grounds, one of which was just this unclarity. The way ātman is depicted in the Vedas and the Upaniṣads is often contradictory and vague. The soul might travel to the Sun, or to space, or beneath the earth, or re-appear as an animal or even a plant. It was actually typical of much of the speculation about death that was found in many of the ancient cultures of that time.

    Secondly, when the Buddha criticized 'eternalism', it was a specific rejection of the idea that there was a permanent, self-existent and inherently real self or subject, that would continue to be reborn in perpetuity. Given that there were ascetics who believed that they could recall their previous lives, this was not an outlandish thing to believe. In fact, even Guatama is said to have recalled all his previous lives, at the penultimate stage just prior to realising final Nirvāṇa. So the belief in 'eternalism' was the belief that there is an unchangeable self or subject, which transmigrates from life to life, and which is never subject to change; two of the similes given is that it is like 'a post set fast' or 'a solitary mountain peak'.There is a dialogue on 'Sati the Fisherman's Son', who is a character who believes that consciousness transmigrates from life to life, who is so recalcitrant in his mistaken view, that all the Buddha can do is hold him up as an example of pernicious error.

    All of these views are laid out in a text called the Brahmajāla Sutta, which details the 64 kinds of wrong views - said to be the complete list - that ascetics fall into. But if you take a very high level view, they're all variations of either 'ceasing to exist', which is nihilism, or 'continuing to exist', which is eternalism. The 'middle path' is neither! That is the entry-point to Nāgārjuna - those who say "it is", are eternalist, those who say "it is not" are nihilist. (According to the commentary that I read on the Brahmajāla the majority of people today tend towards nihilism, although many don't realise it.)

    (That is why, by way of a footnote, that Madhyamika is sometimes compared to Pyrrhonian scepticism, to which it is sometimes compared, as it amounts to a 'suspension of judgement' or radical un-knowing. See Sunyata and Epoche, Jay Garfield, and Pyrrho and the East, Edward Flintoff. However in our cultural context, it is very difficult to understand such religiously-oriented scepticism, as we're inclined to equate scepticism with [scientific] realism.)
  • boundless
    79
    This isn't meant to suggest that God doesn't love all men, but rather that God loves all men as individuals, one-to-one. So God's Love is both preferential and non-preferential at the same time. In front of God, each human being is the chosen one. And at the same time, this does not stop God from loving all men, even though he prefers each one as individual.Agustino

    Good point!

    I would say so - every man has a preferential relationship with God.Agustino

    Well, another good point.

    But there are cases where sacrifices are required, since we cannot please everyone as human beings. We are not God - we are finite creatures, and as such we cannot love the way God does. So it's true, that we should love all men. But what do we do when the love of all men, comes in conflict with the love of our wife, or our child, etc.?Agustino

    Sure, I agree that we must love all men. At the same time, it is evident that our preferential love will sometimes come into conflict with our non-preferential love. My position is that, in such cases, one should choose their preferential love. This is similar to Abraham's willingness to sacrifice Isaac when commanded by God.Agustino

    Well, I think that here there is some controversy, both in Buddhism and in Christianity. Taken literally, the passages quoted above about "love your enemies" imply that Christians should abstain from all violence. Yet, it seems that violence is sometimes even necessary. A Gandhian approach might be effective with some enemies but if the enemies are the nazies, then a Gandhian approach would be equal to an assured massacre. In Buddhism there are differing views on this point, too. The first precept is to abstain from killing. And, you find passages like:

    Monks, as low-down thieves might carve one limb from limb with a double-handled saw, yet even then whoever sets his mind at enmity, he, for this reason, is not a doer of my teaching.
    (MN 21 I.B. Horner translation)

    which are extremely similar to the "turn the other cheek" in the Gospels. But what about the case a loved one, say a son/daughter is in peril? Is it "right" to not act? Or in order to save others one should act? (maybe as an act of compassion). Personally, I agree with you. Sometimes, sadly, violence seems impossible to avoid. Yet, maybe most Buddhists might disagree. For example, among the Theravadins, check the view of Bhikkhu Bodhi (which, however was criticized by other Buddhist figures like Thanissaro bhikkhu).

    On the other hand, I cannot understand the example you give of Abraham. In my understanding, it seems the exact opposite, i.e. that Abraham was seen as "righteous" by being faithful to God even to the point of sacrificing his son. Yet, last year a catholic priest made a point that this was not the correct reading of the episode. Unfortunately, I cannot remember his reasoning in saying this. So, why do you think that this episode is an example of the importance of preferential love?

    Okay, yes I see. I see your point, and I agree. However - potentially - we could have "right intentions" forever if we are awakened. So given two lovers who both become enlightened, what will happen to their love? Their love cannot fail to be eternal - that seems the only plausible answer. It is true that in Buddhism, because of ignorance, we cannot act rightly 100% of the time. But what happens if we dispel the ignorance?Agustino

    Good questions! In "non-Mahayana" schools (i.e. Theravada and other "early" Buddhist schools) I think that their love cannot continue forever, simply due to the fact that Nirvana without remainder also implies the cessation of "good qualities". On the other hand, in the Mahayana the situation is much more complicated. If the mindstreams are really endless, they continue forever even when purified by ignorance and other "defilements". Providing that this is the case, however, I think that the love is "non-preferential".

    But still, you have that the arhat Sariputra went to save his mother just before his death. So, I am not even sure that preferential love is absent in awakened ones.

    I agree with this difference. We start out in life in the unenligthened state, where we mostly react, instead of respond, to what is happening around us. We are the slaves of our instincts, and so on. But, as we approach enlightenment, we cease reacting, and start responding more and more. When we finally become enlightened, we no longer react, we are no longer part of the stream so to speak. Everything we do becomes a response, that is freely chosen, and not compelled.Agustino

    I mostly agree with this. However, you need a qualitative and irreversible change, meaning that in order to achieve that state you need to get awakened/enlightened.

    Well, is it really the case, or not? Does the metaphor bit suggest that this is a "relative" truth?Agustino

    Yes, I meant that. And I think that in order to understand what it means, we should fully know the relation between the relative and the ultimate truth. Which in turn means that we should be awakened :lol:

    Thanks, I will look into it!Agustino

    I found it very interesting. Most comparative studies are devoted to Mahayana, and many of them rely only on Meister Eckhart writings. I find it extremely interesting because it is a comparison between the work of a saint, St. Theresa of Avila, with the "traditional" Theravada commentary by Buddhaghosa. I never found anything similar to that.

    I would say it depends on the means one has at one's disposal. I would say that it's fine to use a degree of coercion in order to prevent a greater evil in this case. What coercion would consist in, depends on the circumstances. It could be some form of financial pressure, not giving your son something else he desires, etc.Agustino

    Well, I agree with all this!

    Hmmm... but in a love relationship wouldn't what is good for the other, also be good for you?Agustino

    Yes :wink:

    (That is why, by way of a footnote, that Madhyamika is sometimes compared to Pyrrhonian scepticism, to which it is sometimes compared, as it amounts to a 'suspension of judgement' or radical un-knowing. See Sunyata and Epoche, Jay Garfield, and Pyrrho and the East, Edward Flintoff. However in our cultural context, it is very difficult to understand such religiously-oriented scepticism, as we're inclined to equate scepticism with [scientific] realism.)Wayfarer

    Another point to be stressed here is that this "un-knowing" limits itself only at the "ultimate" level. In the relative level, I would be VERY hesitant to call Madhyamaka a "Pyrhonism". As an obvious example, there is the belief in rebirth, karma, that dependent origination is the best relative truth and so on.


    As an example of the "reverence" idea among Theravadins, check this writing of Buddhadasa bhikkhu, ABC of Buddhism. Also, I forgot to mention the comparative religion article about that I linked to Agustino yesterday, i.e. http://www.academia.edu/4364149/The_stages_of_Christian_mysticism_and_Buddhist_purification.
  • Wayfarer
    6.2k
    I would be VERY hesitant to call Madhyamaka a "Pyrhonism". As an obvious example, there is the belief in rebirth, karma, that dependent origination is the best relative truth and so on.boundless

    I said the two are 'sometimes compared', and I think there's a very good argument for that relationship. See also Pyrrhonism: How the Ancient Greeks Reinvented Buddhism (Studies in Comparative Philosophy and Religion), Adrian Kuzminski, http://a.co/fk9cJQF.
  • wellwisher
    117
    I agree with that. Augustine is well-known for having struggled to find a doorway into Christianity. Instinct actually blocked his path: he loved women in every sense of the word. It was the physical aspect of that which put him in opposition to faith. So there's a convoluted story in there for someone who might want to explore it.

    And Christianity is dead as a worldview. Calling it a living religion is perhaps a nod to the possibility of its being absorbed into a new world religion as it once absorbed all the dead worldviews in its cradle.
    frank

    If we lost our sense of sight, in the short term, we would become disorientated. But as time goes on our others senses would become enhanced. The brain will gradually reroute resources, so we are able to function under the new constraints of no sight. If you repress the extroverted and materialistic aspects of sexuality, using will power and choice, a similar thing will occur, with the brain rerouting aspects of the brain's operating system.

    One common affect of repressed desire is active imagination and fantasy. This is a gateway to the operating system of the brain. The personality firmware, associated with sexuality, will become more conscious, via fantasy and symbolism, as a way for it to get the ego involved to help it remove the dam, so the energy can flow. But if the dam persists, pressure builds behind the dam, and the potential finds new ways around.

    These induced brain dynamics are the reason many, if not most religions, often deny aspects of the physical self. It was about a rewiring of the brain away from instinctive pathways of animal man. Born again is similar to a system update. But like any update, the brain first has to uninstall the old, which is a destructive process which can get stressful.

    Bible prophesies, such as Revelations, appears to discuss a major update of the operating system of the human brain. The final human left are very different. The materialists will see an extroverted dynamics that occur outside themselves; materialistic and physical dynamics in cultural reality. But those who live in the gateway, due to the willful repression, witness an internal dynamics that requires a certain amount of willpower and choice to maintain sufficient potential for initiation.

    The firmware of the brain first needs to be updated to accept the larger update of the operating system. The gateway to the firmware is connected to the new inner world beyond the dam.

    An analogy is an older PC or Mac, may not accept the latest operating system, because some parts of the mother board first need to be updated. This may require a new computer or tablet unless one replaces the motherboard. The human brain is pliable and we can update the mother board, in situ, in advance, to accept the latest update in the operating system.

    You don't want to try the update too early on an older computer, since the old operating system will be lost and the new not installed properly. Natural man can't accept the update. However, an updated version of natural man will appear after the update. Where faith comes in is an acceptance of the changes from the initial rewiring, then to uninstall, then to reinstall, so you don't corrupt the files. The Saints who appear, were like human dynamos.

    But also the warnings are there to make sure you do all the steps or it will lead to your own destruction. This is where the motherboard is not prepared properly before uninstall.
  • frank
    1.1k
    Condemnation of slavery to sexual desire has been an aspect of Christianity since its early days. Some scholars say it was an attack on the Roman system of patronage. Some note that women might have been attracted to Christianity because of the emancipatory effect of this condemnation.

    You're talking about spiritual transformation. Spiritual and social transformations might go hand in hand.
  • boundless
    79


    Yeah, sorry that remark was not adressed to you :-)You are right, there are indeed affinities (and thank you for the suggestioni)! I had other people in mind who take the similarities to imply that Buddhism suspends judgement on everything.
  • Wayfarer
    6.2k
    Krishnamurti was a sceptic in the same sense. When the Dalai Lama first came to India, he was told about Krishnamurti (this is in the late 50's), and exclaimed 'Aha! A Nāgārjuna!' (This anecdote is related in Pupul Jayakar's bio of K.)
  • Agustino
    11.2k
    Taken literally, the passages quoted above about "love your enemies" imply that Christians should abstain from all violence. Yet, it seems that violence is sometimes even necessary.boundless
    It would entail abstaining from all violence so long as we assume that love can never be expressed through violence. Because remember, to love one is different than to do what they would want you to do.

    On the other hand, I cannot understand the example you give of Abraham. In my understanding, it seems the exact opposite, i.e. that Abraham was seen as "righteous" by being faithful to God even to the point of sacrificing his son. Yet, last year a catholic priest made a point that this was not the correct reading of the episode. Unfortunately, I cannot remember his reasoning in saying this. So, why do you think that this episode is an example of the importance of preferential love?boundless
    "Preferential love" is another way of saying that there is a hierarchy in love. In this case, Abraham's love for God is prefered relative to Abraham's love for his son. A man's love for his wife is preferred over his love for his neighbour. And so on so forth. So when one comes in conflict with the other, the preferred one is chosen. But it's important to note at this point that preferential love is always built on top of non-preferential love.

    Will be answering the rest tomorrow, too tired now!
  • Bitter Crank
    5.9k
    Taken literally, the passages quoted above about "love your enemies" imply that Christians should abstain from all violence. Yet, it seems that violence is sometimes even necessary.boundless

    It gets worse. Paul adds...

    "If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen."

    and

    "Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him."

    Not only must you not be violent, you must not even harbor unexpressed hate. The bar is set very high. For Christian pacifists, Jesus provides clear and unequivocal guidance: Love your enemies, turn the other cheek, and so on. "Your convenience isn't the point," Jesus said to me in a private note.

    Only the utterly resolute can attempt absolute pacifism (this is different than conscientious objection to war). Those who are not so resolute will have to define what is necessary violence and what is not. One might decide that violence in defense of one's self, one's spouse, and one's children (maybe pets?) is legitimate. But then, "How much violence is necessary?" Where between a slap on the hand and death does one draw the line?

    If one is willing to defend one's self, spouse, and children, perhaps one should extend one's protective circle to the neighbors' children... You can see where this ends. One is prepared to defend one's interests, which is a much broader permission to be violent than merely defending one's self and one's spouse or children.

    I did at one time, but I I can not now defend pacifism. I am not willing to accept any degree of abuse without defending myself IF I CAN. If I am unable to defend myself, then I will have to accept whatever happens. "Accepting whatever happens" is not "loving one's enemies". And calling in the categorial imperative, if I claim my own right to defense, I can't deny someone else defending themselves.
  • boundless
    79

    Interesting anedocte :up:



    I think I mostly agree with you on this point.
    Removal of hatred, violent tendencies and so on from our minds is indeed a good thing. Yet, sometimes, even non-violence seems excessive!

    Only the utterly resolute can attempt absolute pacifism (this is different than conscientious objection to war). Those who are not so resolute will have to define what is necessary violence and what is not. One might decide that violence in defense of one's self, one's spouse, and one's children (maybe pets?) is legitimate. But then, "How much violence is necessary?" Where between a slap on the hand and death does one draw the line?Bitter Crank

    Well, I think this is the point. Rigorous pacifists would answer that violence is never necessary. But, frankly, I find such a position quite extreme.

    After all, if by doing nothing we know that others might get harmed, are we "in the right" if we abstain from action when by acting we know that we can save them?

    Violence should, I think, be used when all other possible solutions are ineffective and even if violence is employed, it should be done without the intention of killing (but rather for saving) and without cruelty. If possible, violence should have the purpose to change the mind of the aggressor. But, of course, I am speaking of the "ideal".


    If one is willing to defend one's self, spouse, and children, perhaps one should extend one's protective circle to the neighbors' children... You can see where this ends. One is prepared to defend one's interests, which is a much broader permission to be violent than merely defending one's self and one's spouse or children.Bitter Crank

    I think that I partly agree. On the other hand, however, I think that one should try to extende as much as one can good-will, compassion etc (by wanting to do too much, one risks to cause more trouble than anything else).

    I did at one time, but I I can not now defend pacifism. I am not willing to accept any degree of abuse without defending myself IF I CAN. If I am unable to defend myself, then I will have to accept whatever happens. "Accepting whatever happens" is not "loving one's enemies". And calling in the categorial imperative, if I claim my own right to defense, I can't deny someone else defending themselves.Bitter Crank

    I am quite conflicted on this point, actually. As I said, one should try to defend oneself and others by non-violent means. If that does not work, one can try to use some coercion trying to stop the aggressor trying to cause less harm as possible.
    In the "real world", however, this is really hard to do.
    If we consider "harming" as bad and "saving" as good, then, IMO, we can see that harming for self-defence (or to save others) is a very particular "kind" of violence. If we look at intentions involved, for example, we are very likely to find an intention to "save" simultaneous to an intention to "harm". So, even to a pacifist, it might be regarded as a "neutral" (or rather, so to speak, "mixed") action.

    (P.S. As an aside, the Biblical quotes you provided are from the first letter of John. Yet Paul himself says something similar "14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse" and "17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." found at Chapter 12 of the Epistle to Romans, link)

    It would entail abstaining from all violence so long as we assume that love can never be expressed through violence. Because remember, to love one is different than to do what they would want you to do.Agustino

    I might agree with that, if we make a clarification (well, I am not sure of what you mean here).

    I highly doubt that having the intention of harming or killing are expression of love. Rather, I can see "violence" motivated by compassion when one tries to save others or oneself by violent actions. At the best, there is the case when you want to stop them with the intention of "saving" them (and hoping that they later ). But, for example, I doubt that you can "express" your "love" to your aggressor by killing him or her. So, a bit of coercion might express love (like in the example of cocaine), but I cannot easily see how one can express love to another by seriously harming (intentionally) or even klling (intentionally) him/her. At best, such actions can be done for benefit for others (or oneself), certainly not for the one seriously harmed or killed (except, maybe, the case where one seriously harms another to avoid that he/she will be killed).

    Anyway, I am not really sure that the Gospels allow violence as an expression of love. I mean, in the same discourses where love to enemies is mentioned, it is said to who do evil, to turn the other cheek, to not resist to an evil person etc (the same is said more or less by Paul "14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse" and "17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." Chapter 12 of Epistles to Romans, link). Personally, the "pacifistic" reading is strongly supported by these passages.

    Actually, a pacifist might say that it is not possible to "resist evil" and "express love" at the same time. But, at the same time it is true that doing nothing can, for example, cause a massacre in certain situations. The issue is extremely controversial and I think that many Christian thinkers struggled on this point and allowed violence only in some cases. Yet, I cannot see how a literal reading of such passages can be reconciled with violence.

    Also, another problem here. Even if it could be possible to do violence with a loving disposition, this is not the case for everybody. Some might not be able to do that. In this case, if one seeks to always act lovingly, then s/he will abstain completely from violence.

    EDIT:

    "Preferential love" is another way of saying that there is a hierarchy in love. In this case, Abraham's love for God is prefered relative to Abraham's love for his son. A man's love for his wife is preferred over his love for his neighbour. And so on so forth. So when one comes in conflict with the other, the preferred one is chosen. But it's important to note at this point that preferential love is always built on top of non-preferential love.Agustino

    Thanks for the explanation. Maybe next week I will be able to ask to that my friend about the interpretation of this biblical passage. In that case, I will let you know his interpretation of the passage!


    P.S
    I inform you that I will not be able to answer until Tuesday, I think.
  • wellwisher
    117
    When the brain writes memory to the cerebral matter, an emotional tag is added by the limbic system in the core region of the brain as it writes to the cerebral. Our final memory has both content, as was well an emotional tag. Our strongest memories always have the strongest emotional tagging.

    The value of this schema is our memory can be triggered in two ways; via the content or via the emotional tag of the memory. I can look at my favorite food and starts to feel hungry due to the previous emotional tagging, Or I can start to get hungry and images of my favorite food will appear in my imagination. This is also due to previous memory.

    When you love your enemy, you are tricking the brain into adding a love tag to a memory that the brain will normally; instinctively or collectively, tag with fear and hate. If successful love tagging occurs, due to willower and choice, one is much less stressed in life.

    Love integrates us internally and externally. When you are in love everything seems better. Hate and fear attempts to divide us internally and externally. Hate isolates us. Therefore if you increase the proportions of love tagging in your memory, and decrease the proportion of fear and hate tagging, your mind becomes more integrated and 3-D. It is a path for human evolution.

    The ancient prophets did not have a materialist explanation for the brain, but they understood how the brain software worked. Jesus was trying to upgrade, via choices and willpower.
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