• Agustino
    11.1k


    Agreed, the spirit is somewhat similar (especially if one considers Mahayana Buddhism)!

    I want also to add that many "hard" expressions were typical in that cultural contexts. So, for example, the quote of the Gospel according to St. Luke provided by Janus:

    "If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters--yes, even their own life--such a person cannot be my disciple." (Luke 14:26)

    probably meant that, in order to follow the "vocation", one should be able to "let go" even of her/his family attachments. Problem is, IMO, that translations cannot capture the intended meaning nowadays. We need also commentaries and interpretations.
    boundless
    I actually disagree with you guys on this.

    'For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it'. Matt 16.Wayfarer
    This is non-attachment to one's life in favour of attachment to "lose [your] life for [his] sake". So it is still quite far from promoting non-attachment as a value in itself. Whereas Buddhism seems to promote non-attachment as a virtue. Christianity on the other hand promotes attachment to the right things as a virtue. There is an important difference over there.

    Same for the below:
    'If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me' Mark 10Wayfarer

    'Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that fail not, where no thief approaches, neither moth corrupts. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.' Luke 12Wayfarer

    'Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division: For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three. The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.' Luke 12Wayfarer

    So far from "non-attachment" being a basic theme of the New Testament, I would say the theme is rather attachment to the right things.

    "If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters--yes, even their own life--such a person cannot be my disciple." (Luke 14:26)

    probably meant that, in order to follow the "vocation", one should be able to "let go" even of her/his family attachments. Problem is, IMO, that translations cannot capture the intended meaning nowadays. We need also commentaries and interpretations.
    boundless
    To me, this means that you must love God more than anyone or anything else, and relative to your love of God, you hate brother, mother, sister, etc.

    In other words, I don't see this "let go" stuff to be the emphasis of the New Testament. The emphasis is rather "be attached to what matters most - God".

    Yet, according to Buddhism, to "escape" from samsara one must reduce attachments. On the other hand, in Christianity, Salvation is not "gained" by reducing attachments but by accepting God's Grace. Hence, in Christianity it is love is much more emphasized.boundless
    YES!
  • Wayfarer
    6.2k
    So far from "non-attachment" being a basic theme of the New Testament, I would say the theme is rather attachment to the right things.Agustino

    That's what 'non-attachment' is for - detach from what is unwholesome or deleterious so as to unite with what is in your ultimate best interest 'where moth and rust don't corrupt'. But of course if the superiority of Christianity over Buddhism is your fundamental point, then that is not something which is resolvable by debate.
  • Agustino
    11.1k
    That's what 'non-attachment' is for - detach from what is unwholesome or deleterious.Wayfarer
    And what should you attach to? And where is this referenced?

    But of course if the superiority of Christianity over Buddhism is your fundamental point, then that is not something which is resolvable by debate.Wayfarer
    :brow:
  • Agustino
    11.1k
    But for whoever is unable to "let go", thinking about the end of life is certainly painful and causes distress (meaning if one fears death, then death is certainly linked to suffering).boundless
    Depends. It's not just being unable to "let go" that causes the pain. There are other beliefs associated with it that are responsible for causing pain. For example, if someone isn't able to "let go" of their desires, then the end of life can be painful and cause distress SO LONG AS the person in question does not see a possibility to fulfil the said desires AFTER death. In this case, a Christian would believe that God will "wipe away every tear", and so they may not feel such pain and distress when death comes, even though they cannot let go of their desires.

    Also, Buddhists believe in rebirth and, for them, "death" is either Nirvana without remainder or leads to another life marked by old age, illness and so on (which, except for the case of a partially awakened one, means the continuation of a potentially endless cycle of rebirths and redeaths).boundless
    See, it's only when one sees the endless cylce of rebirths and redeaths as something negative that being unable to let go makes it painful.

    Personally, I would like to experience the state that you describe. But, IMO, this also means a reduction of "self concern" or more precisely a reduction of our tendency to strive to control things ("anatta", in a more experiential level, means "lack of control", see Anatta-lakkhana sutta (regarded to be the second discourse of the Buddha)). I think that the effect of "letting go" is roughly the state you describe.boundless
    I largely agree with this here - it's also what happens when you stop wishing that things were different than they are. But even that is not a great way to put it. Because it implies that you don't have any wants or preferences (such as preferring that there is no pain). But those wants and preferences, at least for me, still existed in that state. Just that I wasn't "troubled" by the pain. It's difficult to explain.

    I do not understand, however, how it can be reconciled with the "traditional" position that if there is no resurrection, faith is vain (of course, I am not saying that you have to agree with that perspective but I wonder how you "deal" with this) (see e.g. 1 Cor 15:32 link "If the dead do not rise, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!”"). In fact, there are a lot of Christian dogmas that I can find very hard to accept and, sadly, no one was able to give me a satisfactory answer to my doubts.boundless
    But the resurrection is itself a matter of faith. Afterall, even if you saw the risen Christ, you always have at your disposal alternative explanations. So if you lack faith, if you lack the will to believe, and are instead cursed by unbelief (it's a problem of the will), then regardless of what you see, you will not believe.

    So St. Paul is right - if there is no resurrection, our faith (I read this as religion) is in vain.

    Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
    So the resurrection is something that is, by default, not seen. It is rather hoped for.

    1) I think that "attachment" means clinging to positive experience in our life, in such a way that we cannot accept negative situations (which in my mind means we feel aversion).boundless
    Right, so then attachment can be the opposite of aversion, and Buddha's way being the Middle Way would strive to neither attachment to the positive (pleasure, let's say), nor aversion for the negative (pain).

    So, an unattached love might mean that I can accept that, for example, my son chooses a way of life that I would not like for him and I can still love him.boundless
    Well, I think this centers around how we define love. See below.

    Or, that I can be able to have positive feelings even to my "enemies" (i.e.desiring for them happiness and so on...).boundless
    See, this I see as a problem. Love does not require positive feelings. I can be very upset at someone I love, or I can be disappointed with them, or even, why not, angry with them. All these feelings do not suggest in the least that I don't love them. Love is rather the choice, or better said, the will to like them REGARDLESS of how I feel. The will not to give up on them.

    So in the case of my enemies, I may still feel anger towards them, but only because they are doing wrong and destroying their own souls for example. Or in the case of my son, I may feel upset because he is harming himself. Or just like the Japanese Samurai, I can feel great compassion while slashing my enemies in half. All these actions do not necessitate the absence of love. Sometimes, it may be the loving thing to do to be angry at someone you love.

    Maybe a possible Buddhist answer is that, there is nothing wrong in it but unfortunately that (alone) will not save you from samsara (honestly, I find this answer as disturbing but unfortunately it has some truth in it...) and in order to "achieve" release from samsara you should accept to "let go" even loved ones without, of course, stopping to love them.boundless
    Why should being saved from Samsara be this important?

    A strong point of Christianity is that "love" is the highest virtue and there are various way for expressing it. Christianity has the strong point to be able to give meaning and value to suffering. Also, in Christianity we are not expected to change our condition and become somewhat "super-human", but we can give meaning and value to our experiences, actions and so on: something that everybody can do (in a way or an another depending on their possibilities...).boundless
    I agree.

    *see how Ananda is described here. I like him in particular, because unlike other famous disciples looks very "human" and I can relate to him much more than the others more "awakened" ones! :smile:boundless
    Yes, agreed!
  • boundless
    79


    Hi,
    thanks for raising again interesting points:-)!

    I am very sorry for the delay. Hopefully, I will answer later today!
  • boundless
    79
    Finally, I am here:

    To me, this means that you must love God more than anyone or anything else, and relative to your love of God, you hate brother, mother, sister, etc.

    In other words, I don't see this "let go" stuff to be the emphasis of the New Testament. The emphasis is rather "be attached to what matters most - God".
    Agustino

    Yes, here you are right :up: I wanted to stress that "renunciation" is present in both traditions. But, of course, in Christianity renunciation is "used" to avert the mind to "what matters most - God". In Buddhism, renunciation is a value in itself, so to speak.

    On the other hand, in Buddhism one should be attached to the Dharma (as well as the Buddha and the Sangha...): one should not get rid of the raft before ending the crossing. So, I think that in a way, there is still a possible (partial) similarity here: in Buddhism before achieving Nirvana, one should desire Nirvana, just like one, in Christianity one should desire God until one "enters" in communion with God. A very important difference is that, in Buddhism the Goal is achieved during life, in Christianity after death. But, you are right here. There is an undeniable difference!

    Also, in Mahayana there is the idea that the desire to help others will be fulfilled even after Awakening for "countless eons".

    Depends. It's not just being unable to "let go" that causes the pain. There are other beliefs associated with it that are responsible for causing pain. For example, if someone isn't able to "let go" of their desires, then the end of life can be painful and cause distress SO LONG AS the person in question does not see a possibility to fulfil the said desires AFTER death. In this case, a Christian would believe that God will "wipe away every tear", and so they may not feel such pain and distress when death comes, even though they cannot let go of their desires.Agustino


    Agreed! And here we have another important difference between Christianity and Buddhism. If desires will be fulfilled, then one should not fear death. In fact, I think that some biographies of Christian figures show people that are not afraid of death because they have faith. On the other hand, Buddhists Arahants do not fear death because they are "unattached".

    Yet, according to Buddhism, to "escape" from samsara one must reduce attachments. On the other hand, in Christianity, Salvation is not "gained" by reducing attachments but by accepting God's Grace. Hence, in Christianity it is love is much more emphasized.boundless

    See, it's only when one sees the endless cylce of rebirths and redeaths as something negative that being unable to let go makes it painful.Agustino

    But... that cycle is endless. Above all, it is endless in the sense that it is aimless. There is no purpose. I think that such a perspective is very distressing and frustrating. If it had an end (in both senses), I could accept to be reborn, to suffer and so on. But it is aimless and there is the idea that we are not in full control, and therefore, we will not be able to get reborn in intended conditions forever. So, even with the best intentions, the idea is that we will sometimes commit serious crimes. So, such a perspective is IMO extremely distressing. On the other hand, if it had at least a temporal end, one could try to remain in Samsara to help others.
    Of course, there is also the Mahayana that teaches that Bodhisattvas will be always help sentient beings. But, in Mahayana Bodhisattvas are awakened.

    I largely agree with this here - it's also what happens when you stop wishing that things were different than they are. But even that is not a great way to put it. Because it implies that you don't have any wants or preferences (such as preferring that there is no pain). But those wants and preferences, at least for me, still existed in that state. Just that I wasn't "troubled" by the pain. It's difficult to explain.Agustino

    I think that I agree here.

    But the resurrection is itself a matter of faith. Afterall, even if you saw the risen Christ, you always have at your disposal alternative explanations. So if you lack faith, if you lack the will to believe, and are instead cursed by unbelief (it's a problem of the will), then regardless of what you see, you will not believe.

    So St. Paul is right - if there is no resurrection, our faith (I read this as religion) is in vain.
    Agustino

    Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

    So the resurrection is something that is, by default, not seen. It is rather hoped for.
    Agustino

    Exactly! But I am still confused by what you said earlier, i.e.:

    The interesting thing on this point, is that I don't think there has to be a God. It is sufficient to have faith in Him. Faith transcends the rational, but is not thereby irrational. Having faith will still transform THIS LIFE.Agustino

    If there is no God, resurrection is not possible. So, Paul says that faith is vain if there is no resurrection. Hence, as I see it, Paul says that if there is no God, faith is vain.
    So, how can you say that faith is not vain if there is no God and, at the same time, be in agreement with Paul?

    Right, so then attachment can be the opposite of aversion, and Buddha's way being the Middle Way would strive to neither attachment to the positive (pleasure, let's say), nor aversion for the negative (pain).Agustino

    I think that they are opposites in the sense that they are two sides of the same coin. If one is attached to a particular pleasant experience, then when it ends and arises an unpleasant one, he/she experiences aversion. So, I see them as very connected. When attachment is absent, aversion too disappears.

    See, this I see as a problem. Love does not require positive feelings. I can be very upset at someone I love, or I can be disappointed with them, or even, why not, angry with them. All these feelings do not suggest in the least that I don't love them. Love is rather the choice, or better said, the will to like them REGARDLESS of how I feel. The will not to give up on them.

    So in the case of my enemies, I may still feel anger towards them, but only because they are doing wrong and destroying their own souls for example. Or in the case of my son, I may feel upset because he is harming himself. Or just like the Japanese Samurai, I can feel great compassion while slashing my enemies in half. All these actions do not necessitate the absence of love. Sometimes, it may be the loving thing to do to be angry at someone you love.
    Agustino

    OK! Let me explain better myself. I think that if you love them, then "at the bottom of your heart" you still desire, for them, the good. So, you might get angry but, at the same time, you want the best for them. When I wrote "positive feelings", I meant this. Sorry for the confusion.

    So, I mostly agreee with you. I think that only a "negative ethical" approach (i.e. do not do this, do not do that...) in our actions is not sufficient. We also need to develop compassion, love and so on. And, in order to express love we might also get angry.

    Regarding the example of the Japanese Samurai, well, that is a somewhat controverted point for me. I am not sure that in this particular example you are right. But I need some time to reflect upon this.

    Anyway, as you say, love is, in the highest sense of the word, a disposition where you always want the best for others (which IMO coincides with the full expression of metta (good-will), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion)). Sometimes, sadly, I feel that Buddhism, especially Theravada, is presented in a way in which the importance of metta, karuna and mudita is neglected. For example, in the absence of hate we can develop better compassion. But a presentation of Theravada that emphasizes ONLY the "absence of hate", without also give importance to compassion is very wanting. The "negative" and the "positive" sides are both needed. After all, the Dhammapada has the following verse (source: https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/dhp/dhp.14.budd.html):

    183. To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one's mind — this is the teaching of the Buddhas.

    I think that the same "unbalance" in giving ONLY importance to the "negative"/"absence" side is at the basis of the position that Nirvana is ONLY the absence of greed, hatred and delusion.

    But, of course, differences with Christianity remain also on this point.

    Why should being saved from Samsara be this important?Agustino

    Because it is aimless and endless. And, if Nirvana has a "positive reality" of sorts, also to experience the "highest bliss".
    In the "negativistic" interpretation of "Nirvana", the ONLY reason to leave Samsara is to avoid endless and (ultimately) aimless.
    In the Mahayana one also wishes to escape "samsara", also to be better help sentient beings.

    Anyway, I am happpy to see that we agree in many points!
  • Rank Amateur
    123
    Not sure if this helps on the attachment issue. Jesuits call it spiritual freedom. And in Ignatian Spirituality it is the described in the first principal and foundation - here below:

    God created human beings to praise, reverence, and serve God, and by
    doing this, to save their souls.

    God created all other things on the face of the earth to help fulfill this
    purpose.

    From this it follows that we are to use the things of this world only to
    the extent that they help us to this end, and we ought to rid ourselves
    of the things of this world to the extent that they get in the way of this
    end.

    For this it is necessary to make ourselves indifferent to all created
    things as much as we are able, so that we do not necessarily want
    health rather than sickness, riches rather than poverty, honor rather
    than dishonor, a long rather than a short life, and so in all the rest, so
    that we ultimately desire and choose only what is most conducive for
    us to the end for which God created us.
  • Agustino
    11.1k
    I will comment in more detail soon, but for now:
    If there is no God, resurrection is not possible. So, Paul says that faith is vain if there is no resurrection. Hence, as I see it, Paul says that if there is no God, faith is vain.
    So, how can you say that faith is not vain if there is no God and, at the same time, be in agreement with Paul?
    boundless
    As I explained, when Paul refers to "faith" in that quote, I read him as referring to the Christian religion. When I said that even if there is no God, faith in Him is sufficient to grant all that one needs for THIS LIFE, I use faith with a different sense. The sense I quoted:

    Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

    So in summary, I agree, if there is no Resurrection, then there can be no Christian religion (faith in one sense). But the Resurrection is itself a matter of faith (different sense here), and it cannot be any other way.

    In the "negativistic" interpretation of "Nirvana", the ONLY reason to leave Samsara is to avoid endless and (ultimately) aimless.boundless
    But then, in the negativistic interpretation, Nirvana becomes the real suicide. Shooting yourself in the head is not a real suicide, because you will reincarnate, and in a much worse state than before, it will take you much longer until you can get to the human stage again, from where you can commit the real suicide (Nirvana). I see this interpretation as the essence of the life-denying, impotent, impulse.

    Because it is aimless and endless.boundless
    But... that cycle is endless. Above all, it is endless in the sense that it is aimless. There is no purpose. I think that such a perspective is very distressing and frustrating.boundless
    But... if that cycle had a purpose, then it would have an end. And an end means precisely a death. There can be no end without death, for how can life, whose very nature is change, suddenly come to a halt without ceasing to be life?

    So I don't think that the perspective of an endless Samsara, which contains both pain and pleasure is necessarily distressing and frustrating. It is like an adventure - you never know what you will find the next time around. It is sort of exciting - once you get to see the big picture, and you stop anchoring yourself merely in your present condition as if this was all that there will ever be. In a way, an eternal Samsara is a good thing - it means that all pain (and pleasure alike) will ultimately come to an end. So if you are suffering now... fret not, it too will end.

    If desires will be fulfilled, then one should not fear death. In fact, I think that some biographies of Christian figures show people that are not afraid of death because they have faith. On the other hand, Buddhists Arahants do not fear death because they are "unattached".boundless
    Yes.
  • boundless
    79
    So in summary, I agree, if there is no Resurrection, then there can be no Christian religion (faith in one sense). But the Resurrection is itself a matter of faith (different sense here), and it cannot be any other way.Agustino

    Ok! I think it is more clear now, thanks :smile:

    I will certainly read with interest your more detailed explanation!

    But then, in the negativistic interpretation, Nirvana becomes the real suicide. Shooting yourself in the head is not a real suicide, because you will reincarnate, and in a much worse state than before, it will take you much longer until you can get to the human stage again, from where you can commit the real suicide (Nirvana). I see this interpretation as the essence of the life-denying, impotent, impulse.Agustino

    Yeah, that's why I think the negativistic interpretation is wrong. Seeking Nirvana, in this negativistic view, is seeking solely the ending of suffering (which, in turn, leads to the "end of life"). Personally, despite the fact that in modern times many think that "oblivion=Nirvana", I think that there is enough evidence to say that in ancient times it was a minority interpretation and, therefore, it is more a modern phenomenon. Of course, this does not mean that it wrong by default.
    Nowadays, you can read claims (both by critics and by Buddhist themselves) that it is the "orthodox" Theravadin view. I think that they are wrong: the negativistic view was rejected explicitily by Buddhagosa (who, apparently, built the (real) "orthodox" view of the school). Anyway, there are in the commentarial part rare "positive" descriptions of Nirvana, like in that part of the Kathavattu I linked the other day. You can find a translation of a nearly identical "positive" description here at the end of this article: Timeless (Jayarava Raves' blog) (like the other passage, Nirvana is said to be "eternal" here - AFAIK Jayarava is a "modernist" of sorts who does not believe in all supernatural elements). So, unless these descriptions are later interpolations, you actually find somewhat "positive" characterizations of Nirvana. And in the suttas, Nirvana is said to be "beyond reasoning" (in the passage of the Itivuttaka hat I linked earlier) and, frankly, oblivion is not "beyond reasoning" IMO.

    BTW, I approached Buddhism because of the "apophatic" approach on Nirvana. I really liked the "negative" language used. Reading the suttas, I was really fascinated by this approach.It gave me a sense of awe and mystery. Theravada Buddhism struck me as the most "rigorous" apophatic approach. Then, when I read that many Buddhists actually interpret the very same passages as suggesting that Nirvana is oblivion, I was somewhat dismayed. Now, I am still a student of Buddhism and I began last year to practice vipassana. I do not consider myself a Buddhist, though.

    But... if that cycle had a purpose, then it would have an end. And an end means precisely a death. There can be no end without death, for how can life, whose very nature is change, suddenly come to a halt without ceasing to be life?Agustino

    I see! Let me ask a question, however: do you see Christian Heaven as "timeless"? If so, you can see an "end" as something that is blissful. But, also, note that I was thinking to the "end" of a particular mode of existence, samsara. If samsara ends and, after that, a different (and more blissful) existence starts, then we do not end with a death, but with a "life" with less misery! (of course, I am speculating! No religions that I know have this view).

    So I don't think that the perspective of an endless Samsara, which contains both pain and pleasure is necessarily distressing and frustrating. It is like an adventure - you never know what you will find the next time around. It is sort of exciting - once you get to see the big picture, and you stop anchoring yourself merely in your present condition as if this was all that there will ever be. In a way, an eternal Samsara is a good thing - it means that all pain (and pleasure alike) will ultimately come to an end. So if you are suffering now... fret not, it too will end.Agustino

    Well, at times I have similar musings about samsara (well, it is the "lightness" given by impermanence)! After all, now I do not remeber my past lives (assuming that samsara is real). Hence, even if I will suffer in the future, then I will forget it and, maybe, I will be reborn temporarily in a blissful abode. Then, again, I will fall from it. But, with time I will forget it again. So, without memory it seems an adventure. On the other hand, if I had memories of such a long time, then maybe I will get somewhat bored and annoyed from the cycle. I think that the 15th chapter of the Samyutta Nikaya explains it very well. Unfortunately, you will continue to suffer and cause others suffering. Hence, an escape from such a state will be desired. And if I remembered all my crimes, all the enormous amounts of suffering that I caused to myself and to others and so on, I would like to stop it, if there is no way to "control" the whole thing. Again, in such a situation, if we accept that Nirvana has a positive reality, Buddhism is not "nihilistic". In this case, "Nirvana" might be seen as a satisfying end to our "beginingless" stories. Things change, however, if the "negativistic" view is held.

    On the other hand, Christianity posits a sure end for all Creation. We do not have to seek a "satisfying end". It will surely end. What we have to do is to "use rightly" the time we have in this lifetime. I think that the view about time and "history" conditiones all others teachings.



    Edit: regarding Christianity there are some dogmas that I (for now) cannot accept. For example, the idea of an original/ancestral sin really disturbs me and seems to me very implausible.
  • Sapientia
    5.6k
    It's not dead, but it's as good as dead to me, and should be so to all those who are of a truly philosophical bent, those who care more about the truth than filling gaps, and those who wish to forge their own path rather than follow the herd.
  • Wayfarer
    6.2k
    in the negativistic interpretation, Nirvana becomes the real suicide.Agustino

    Nirvāṇa is not non-existence, but the extinction of ego. The meaning is very similar to the Biblical injunction 'He who looses his life for My sake will be saved.'

    “Śāriputra, foolish ordinary beings do not have the wisdom that comes from hearing the Dharma. When they hear about a Tathāgata’s entering nirvāṇa, they take the wrong view of cessation or extinction. Because of their perception of cessation or extinction, they claim that the realm of sentient beings decreases. Their claim constitutes an enormously wrong view and an extremely grave, evil karma.

    Furthermore, Śāriputra, from the wrong view of decrease, these sentient beings derive three more wrong views. These three views and the view of decrease, like a net, are inseparable from each other. What are these three views? They are the view of cessation, which means the ultimate end; the view of extinction, which is equated to nirvāṇa; the view that nirvāṇa is a void, which means that nirvāṇa is the ultimate quiet nothingness. Śāriputra, in this way these three views fetter, hold, and impress [sentient beings]. 1

    So there is a 'negativistic' view of Nirvāṇa, but it is mistaken.
  • Janus
    5.4k
    boundless: If desires will be fulfilled, then one should not fear death. In fact, I think that some biographies of Christian figures show people that are not afraid of death because they have faith. On the other hand, Buddhists Arahants do not fear death because they are "unattached". — boundless

    Yes.
    Agustino

    So, the occult aim of all religion is to achieve a state of equanimity wherein death is no longer feared; we cannot really live until we have authentically conquered (as opposed to inauthentically distracting ourselves from) the fear of death, because the fear of death is equally a fear of life.

    Really, the actuality of, as opposed to the faith in, the afterlife is irrelevant because we have no way of knowing what it will be. So the only way to compare religions, or philosophies for that matter, with one another is in terms of their efficacy in enabling people to conquer death-fear and thus to be able to live fully. It is arguable that attachment in the negative sense is ultimately resultant from death-fear, as are hatred, envy, jealousy, pride, the inability to love oneself and others, and so on; in short all of the so-called "negative" anti-life emotions.

    When it comes to religion the stumbling block for many is the inability to believe dogmas for which there is no tangible evidence. I think that being committed to any religion is, in the final analysis, a matter of faith; I guess it's just bad luck for those who lack the capacity to believe with enough conviction and consistency to bring about the transformation.
  • Janus
    5.4k
    Deleted
  • Agustino
    11.1k
    For example, the idea of an original/ancestral sin really disturbs me and seems to me very implausible.boundless
    Why not? How is "original sin" different from the beginningless Avidya (or Samsara) in Buddhism? The presence of evil in the world makes it most clear that the world is fallen - something is not right.

    Now there are multiple interpretations of Original Sin. The Eastern Orthodox view is that while we're not "guilty" of the sin of Adam and Eve, we are born in a corrupt world. So while we are a clean mirror at birth (free of sin), it's very easy for dirt to get stuck on us, since we're born in the mud so to speak. So there is always a very strong tendency towards sin.

    https://oca.org/questions/teaching/original-sin

    Nirvāṇa is not non-existence, but the extinction of ego. The meaning is very similar to the Biblical injunction 'He who looses his life for My sake will be saved.'Wayfarer
    Okay, thanks for sharing that. So what is left after the extinction of ego? Is the personality wiped away?

    On the other hand, if I had memories of such a long time, then maybe I will get somewhat bored and annoyed from the cycle.boundless
    Bingo. That's the point, Osho raised the same point too. But the point only resonates with one who does have such memories. The fact that nature wipes away the memories makes Samsara bearable, so to speak. One does not feel any urgency to escape.

    Anyway, as you say, love is, in the highest sense of the word, a disposition where you always want the best for others (which IMO coincides with the full expression of metta (good-will), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion)). Sometimes, sadly, I feel that Buddhism, especially Theravada, is presented in a way in which the importance of metta, karuna and mudita is neglected.boundless
    I agree with you. There is another important point of difference with regards to love I think. In the Christian approach to romantic love (between a husband and a wife) and the Buddhist one. Kierkegaard writes very well with regards to the Christian POV in his Works of Love (an amazing book).

    Namely, the love between a man and his wife opens up an area of Being that is otherwise closed. It brings up some unique problems that one cannot use the same stock answers against. For example, ever lover, as Kierkegaard states, needs to proclaim that their love for the beloved is eternal. Now the question is, how can such a proclamation be made in good faith? Because if it can't, then the lover is doomed from the very beginning. And Kierkegaard answers from the Christian side that this proclamation and vow is made in good faith when the two lovers swear their love not by themselves, but by the third, God. It is only when their love is anchored in the eternal, that it can take on the character of the eternal.

    This is one issue. Another issue is how Buddhism and Christianity would deal with things like "becoming one flesh". It is clear that in a romantic relationship, two people form a spiritual bond - indeed, in some regards, they become one, where the distinction/boundary between the one and the other starts to vanish. Christianity would claim that each one has authority and ownership over the other.

    The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife. — 1 Corinthians 7:4

    And yet, Buddhism I think would be unable to negotiate this kind of relationship to achieve this level of intimacy or merging of the two together. The common answer, it seems, is that because of anatta, any such merger is a form of attachment, that will surely bring about great sadness. To me though, this seems something that again would block some important, life-affirming possibilities. What's your take?
  • Wayfarer
    6.2k
    So what is left after the extinction of ego?Agustino

    That is what has to be discovered. Don’t forget the origin of the word ‘person’, which is from ‘persona’, the masks worn by dramatists classical Greece. (Although, that said, there was an influential early Buddhist school called the Pudgalavada, where ‘pudgala’ means ‘person’ and ‘vada’ is ‘way’. This is actually quite similar to the modern philosophy of personalism, although it is nowadays regarded as an heretical movement by most other Buddhist schools.)

    But again, ‘dying to the self’ is not something unique to Buddhism:

    O Man, as long as you exist, know, have, and cherish,
    You have not been delivered, believe me, of your burden.
    — Angelus Silesius

    You’re right about the fact that Buddhism is not particular interested in marriage. But, that said, Mahāyāna is not particularly bound to monasticism, as a bodhisattva can appear in any kind of guise - or persona! - ‘for the benefit of sentient beings’.
  • Agustino
    11.1k
    That is what has to be discoveredWayfarer
    And do you mean to say that it is not possible to communicate this discovery to others?

    Don’t forget the origin of the word ‘person’, which is from ‘persona’, the masks worn by dramatists classical Greece.Wayfarer
    Fair enough, I actually agree with that, but only because we are who we are by choice. Therefore, "in essence" we are nothing - meaning we decide who to be, what mask to wear. On the other hand, what we decide does say something about who is behind the mask so to speak.

    dying to the selfWayfarer
    It really depends on what you mean by "self". Do you think the "self" is always something negative? I mean, as far as I see it, lots of things in life require a STRONG self. Going on the example below, romantic love, for example, requires a sense of self who is relating with another. Without a sense of self, how can you even relate to another? Who is relating to who?

    Mahāyāna is not particularly bound to monasticism, as a bodhisattva can appear in any kind of guise - or persona! - ‘for the benefit of sentient beings’.Wayfarer
    Okay, I agree.
  • 0 thru 9
    546
    The apophatic approach mentioned by @boundless seems to be most helpful here. A useful device to have in the mental toolbox. At least to me, it is like the eraser for the blackboard or the brakes on a car. Going back to the uncarved block... at least once in a while.

    We as humans may get glimpses of “unfiltered reality” or pure gnosis or the like. I think the (arguably) widespread view of mystics or maybe theologians is that we can’t handle it for very long. Which is completely and totally OK. No offense to the human mind, but Pure Isness blows our circuits within seconds. Maybe sooner. We think the summer sun at noon is intense. How about going beyond the earth’s atmosphere and then feeling and looking at the sun? A picture of a shadow of a reflection on the cave wall may disappoint Plato. But if it gives us the gist, and we keep in mind that it is a copy of a copy, then hopefully we will not go too far astray.

    We take tiny nibbles of our dinner, which is made even smaller by the digestive system. We smile (or try to repress laughter) at the small child who tries to eat the PB&J sandwich in one bite, so they can go back outside to play. And when they then drop it on the floor and cry because now it is gone forever. And completely irreplaceable.

    Could it be similar to a philosophical disclaimer that says “Please proceed with caution. Most or all of the following or preceding mentioned concepts are just that- concepts. They are made out of sentences made out of words, which are formed from letters. Consider them to be etched in Silly Putty. Even for as accurate, factual, or inspirational a statement as ever been made. This is not a pipe, the map is not the territory, and my doodlings may or may not be a very accurate map. For entertainment and educational purposes only. This password will only be valid for the next 15 minutes. Carry on. Keep your feet on the ground, and keep reaching for the stars. Peace.” ?

    Of course, this disclaimer applies to this particular post of free association. (Not too surprisingly).
  • boundless
    79
    Why not? How is "original sin" different from the beginningless Avidya (or Samsara) in Buddhism? The presence of evil in the world makes it most clear that the world is fallen - something is not right.Agustino

    I agree in a sense! I think that our condition is "fallen", but I do not know what this "fall" is!

    Now there are multiple interpretations of Original Sin. The Eastern Orthodox view is that while we're not "guilty" of the sin of Adam and Eve, we are born in a corrupt world. So while we are a clean mirror at birth (free of sin), it's very easy for dirt to get stuck on us, since we're born in the mud so to speak. So there is always a very strong tendency towards sin.

    https://oca.org/questions/teaching/original-sin
    Agustino

    Thank you a lot for this! I did not know that Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodox held such different views about original sin. When I said that "I cannot accept" the original sin dogma I had in mind the Roman Catholic version, i.e. that we are born "guilty". The Eastern Orthodox version is much better!

    Bingo. That's the point, Osho raised the same point too. But the point only resonates with one who does have such memories. The fact that nature wipes away the memories makes Samsara bearable, so to speak. One does not feel any urgency to escape.Agustino

    Well, yes, I feel more or less the same. I am fascinated by Buddhism but I do not feel a strong urgency to "escape" from Samsara. So, I am trying to use Buddhists teachings to have a better understanding of my experience, to live a more "ethical" life (sadly, I am not very good in this) and also I think that Buddhism, both Theravada and Mahayana, has at least some understanding of the "ultimate". That's why I like it.

    I agree with you. There is another important point of difference with regards to love I think. In the Christian approach to romantic love (between a husband and a wife) and the Buddhist one. Kierkegaard writes very well with regards to the Christian POV in his Works of Love (an amazing book).Agustino

    Never read it. But it seems indeed a very interesting work (I add it on my list!)

    Namely, the love between a man and his wife opens up an area of Being that is otherwise closed. It brings up some unique problems that one cannot use the same stock answers against. For example, ever lover, as Kierkegaard states, needs to proclaim that their love for the beloved is eternal. Now the question is, how can such a proclamation be made in good faith? Because if it can't, then the lover is doomed from the very beginning. And Kierkegaard answers from the Christian side that this proclamation and vow is made in good faith when the two lovers swear their love not by themselves, but by the third, God. It is only when their love is anchored in the eternal, that it can take on the character of the eternal.Agustino

    Indeed a very good point. Indeed, in Christianity this is possible, because it is emphasized that "love is eternal" (e.g. the famous "Hymn of love" of 1 Cor 13). If love, as Kierkegaard, is anchored in the eternal, then, as you say, the proclamation can be done in good faith. Again, it shows the importance of Faith!

    Also, in Mahayana, in a sense, "love" is eternal. But, again "anatta" makes that proclamation impossible.

    This is one issue. Another issue is how Buddhism and Christianity would deal with things like "becoming one flesh". It is clear that in a romantic relationship, two people form a spiritual bond - indeed, in some regards, they become one, where the distinction/boundary between the one and the other starts to vanish. Christianity would claim that each one has authority and ownership over the other.

    The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife. — 1 Corinthians 7:4
    Agustino

    I see. Same as above. On this point, however, I would like to note that a somewhat similar idea is found in Buddhism. I think that in a sutta it is said that a husband and a wife, in order to live again in a future life, should both behave virtously, be faithful to each other and so on. So, the idea of the "bond" is IMO present, in a more limited sense, in Buddhism.

    And yet, Buddhism I think would be unable to negotiate this kind of relationship to achieve this level of intimacy or merging of the two together. The common answer, it seems, is that because of anatta, any such merger is a form of attachment, that will surely bring about great sadness. To me though, this seems something that again would block some important, life-affirming possibilities. What's your take?Agustino

    You indeed have raised very good points and I agree with them. And also, I think that you showed also that these "life-affirming" possibilities depend on being "anchored" in the Eternal, and hence they depend on "faith". If there they are not anchored, such proclamations and vows of an eternal "bond" risk to be tainted by bad faith. Unfortunately, not everyone has faith :sad:

    I think that regarding the importance of Love, Christianity and Mahayana Buddhism share many similarities. The greatest difference is due to the different views about Samsara and the self.

    So what is left after the extinction of ego?Agustino

    The Mystery, Unknown etc :wink:

    It really depends on what you mean by "self". Do you think the "self" is always something negative? I mean, as far as I see it, lots of things in life require a STRONG self. Going on the example below, romantic love, for example, requires a sense of self who is relating with another. Without a sense of self, how can you even relate to another? Who is relating to who?Agustino

    I think that this is another interesting point, isn't it? In a Mahayana context, for example, how I can reconcile compassion (e.g. work for the benefit of all sentient beings) with the idea of anatman? I think that this is another "mystery" in Buddhism. In the Mahayana, I think that in a sense "bonds" are very real. You might find this article interesting. I think that in Buddhism, it is important to note that there are two truths, not one. Probably only an "awakened" one can really know the answers of your questions. But, I think that from a buddhist point of view they are very useful answer in order to avoid to fall in a nihilistic trap.

    Also, there is the idea that one need to cultivate a strong self in order to "let go" ("take yourself as your refuge")!
  • Wayfarer
    6.2k
    And do you mean to say that it is not possible to communicate this discovery to others?Agustino

    That was what the Buddha spent around forty years of his life doing, so in one sense it can be communicated. But there is a saying that ‘the Buddha only points the way, the student has to walk it'. [Hence my forum name!] There’s a sense in which it has to something that you find for and in yourself.

    The whole point about genuine insight, is that it is a form of knowledge which is itself transformative. It's something that can only be learned 'in the first person', so to speak.

    Do you think the "self" is always something negative?Agustino

    It's really more a matter of seeing through it, or beyond it. In one sense, a healthy sense of one's own abilities and obligations is obviously needed just to get along, but on the other hand, I think we all have to get over the instinctive sense of being the centre of our own universe.

    The other thing to notice about the Buddhist use of language in this respect, is that 'anatta' (not-self) is invariably used adjectively, that is, 'all phenomena' have the three characteristics of being anatta, dukkha, anicca. So no-self is not really saying 'there is no self'; the whole focus of Buddhist teaching is to understand how everything arises dependent on causes and conditions. Asserting that there is, or is not, 'a self', is itself a dogmatic belief. But that's a subtle point (and an endless cause of locked threads on Buddhist forums.)

    We as humans may get glimpses of “unfiltered reality” or pure gnosis or the like. I think the (arguably) widespread view of mystics or maybe theologians is that we can’t handle it for very long. Which is completely and totally OK. No offence to the human mind, but Pure Isness blows our circuits within seconds.0 thru 9

    There's a similar thought expressed in Alduous Huxley's Doors of Perception. But on the other hand, the insights that arise from mindfulness practice are often quite subtle and not at all spectacular. There are of course aha! moments, but not that many.

    Actually there is a thought I wanted to share on the general theme of religious belief. It has to do with psychodynamics. I think the purpose of belief is to snap you out of an habitual mode of understanding and awaken you to a totally different relationship with your fellows and with the world. But the point is, for that to happen, you really do have to commit to it; it can't be just a hypothetical question. You need to have a commitment, 'skin in the game', so to speak. And obviously the Christian faith can provide that - if you take it seriously, if it really means something to you. Not as a 'set of propositions' or a half-assed pseudo-scientific theory, which is how atheists generally construe it. But for it to work, you have to believe it, otherwise the ego will always find a way to turn it into yet another means for maintaining itself (which happens all the time.) I think driving home this understanding is the role of the spiritual preceptor, teacher or guru.
  • Janus
    5.4k
    But for it to work, you have to believe it,Wayfarer

    This is true; belief is absolutely the mainstay of all religions. Anyone who cannot genuinely (that is in more than a merely 'lip service' way) believe what they can have no tangible evidence for is simply not suited to religious practice.
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