• Wayfarer
    6.2k
    But I want to go further than that, because what I'm saying is that belief only has instrumental value. It is only a means to an end, not an end in itself; it's when it becomes an end in itself, belief for the sake of believing, that it tends to ossify into dogmatic belief systems.
  • 0 thru 9
    546
    There's a similar thought expressed in Alduous Huxley's Doors of PerceptionWayfarer

    I only borrow from the best! :yum:

    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.Wayfarer

    :up: Definitely. I think in general our awareness is both larger and deeper than our intellect. And as many large deep things often do, it gets buried and lost in the shuffle. What is the saying? Our awareness is as open, clear, empty, and large as the sky itself.

    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.Wayfarer

    Yes, completely agree. And I have far to go, much more progress can be made. But not much need for shame or pride. Just keep going. I think of spiritual-type knowledge as a support for the practice, and the practice as a support for life. Ignosticm and apophatic approaches (neither denying nor confirming) help me get out the head, and into the heart and soul. That’s were the action is. And the kingdom of God is spread out on the earth, even if we don’t see it. Whether a simple aphorism or a complex theory, the ideas that tend to enlighten me are the ones that run against the wind of our world, and yet are a breath of fresh air.
  • Janus
    5.4k


    I agree; it is analogous to the placebo effect. A placebo will not work unless you believe it will work, but the important thing is that it works, not whether what you believe is "true".. The same goes for religious and spiritual practice; if the aim is to bring about a transformation then the belief is only a means to bring that about. the transformation is the important thing; without that the belief is nothing more than a belief, like any other. If the transformations apparently effected by religious and spiritual belief and practice are authentic (that is, not merely "for show") then belief has a real value, independently of whether what is believed is "true". It really seems to be a kind of pragmatism.

    You can find the same kinds of beliefs operating in the arts, or even in sport. For example, some tennis players are superstitious and they develop little routines that ritualize their superstitious beliefs, and these beliefs apparently help them to attain the self-belief they need to win matches. It doesn't matter whether those superstitions are "true", all that matters is that they work to bring about the desired result.
  • Wayfarer
    6.2k
    :up:

    Just keep going.0 thru 9

    One of my favourite Zen anecdotes. One day a student finally had the long-awaited satori, a glimpse of the Original Nature. He excitedly awaited the next dokusan (formal interview with teacher) in which he told him about what had happened.

    'Very good', says the teacher.

    'Now what do I do?', says the student.

    'Apply in broad, even strokes, allowing some time to dry between coats.'

    :pray:
  • 0 thru 9
    546

    Ha, that’s good! Had not heard that one. Thanks.

    Another quote, I think from Joseph Campbell (could have been quoting someone else): Life will grind you, there’s really no escape from that. But depending on the angle we choose to take, life can either grind us down, or make us sharper.
  • 0 thru 9
    546
    The title of this thread reminds me of this song. The lyrics as I take it refer both to Jesus and the lyricist, who is trying to wake up. It is weary and tired. Like one of the more desolate Psalms: I am poured out like water, and all my bones are disjointed. My heart is like wax; it melts away within me.

  • boundless
    79
    And do you mean to say that it is not possible to communicate this discovery to others?Agustino

    Well, I think that it cannot be fully communicated. Of course, as @Wayfarer says, it is partially communicable. However, "insight" is a transformative experience and therefore one must see "it" for onself (that's why there is so much emphasis on practice).
    For example, in the "Dhamma-niyama sutta (AN 3.137)" the "Dhamma" is described as a sort of "Law of phenomena" that is valid whether or not there is the arising of Tathagathas. The Tathagathas are said to "awaken" to it. IMO, it is implicit that the "Dhamma" goes beyond what can be said verbally. See also the [url]http://"Garava sutta SN 6.2"[/url], where it is said that all Buddhas dwell "revering" the "Dhamma". I think it is another implicit reference to the fact that the Awakening is an experience of something that is "bigger", so to speak.

    To be complete, the sutra that Wayfarer quoted is not included in the Theravada Canon. It is a Mahayana sutra included among the "Tathagathagarba" sutras.

    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.0 thru 9

    I like the apophatic approach because gives me a sense of awe and reverence. It is also true that, unfortunately, I have a somewhat compulsive need to philosophize about the "ultimate". Anyway, I think that is very useful to find peace.

    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.0 thru 9

    Well, I think there is some truth in this view (even if I do not think that it is universal, despite being widespread) because, after all, our minds are accustomed with ordinary reality. On the other hand, "mystical experiences" can be very extra-ordinary, so I imagine that they can affect even our physical health somehow since I do not see mind and body as completely "separate".

    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.Wayfarer

    Agreed!

    Another quote, I think from Joseph Campbell (could have been quoting someone else): Life will grind you, there’s really no escape from that. But depending on the angle we choose to take, life can either grind us down, or make us sharper.0 thru 9

    I think that, for example, Christianity here has a good point. Suffering is very hard to bear if you consider it meaningless. But, in Christianity you can live suffering in a meaningful way, i.e. by loving in a way where your "suffering" can even become a sort of "gift" you give to yourself and to others. For example, Jesus felt abandoned at the Cross (Luke 22.42), he did not "endure" suffering in an equanimous way. However, through suffering Jesus was able to give us the "gift" of Love. In this sense, as @Agustino says, Christianity can be life-affirming and even give meaning to suffering itself: one can follow Jesus' teachings even without following a rigorous and ascetic spiritual practice (like the case, for example, of Buddhism, especially Theravada).
  • Agustino
    11.1k
    Also, in Mahayana, in a sense, "love" is eternal. But, again "anatta" makes that proclamation impossible.boundless
    Why do you say that in a certain sense, "love" is eternal in Mahayana? Love has different aspects - largely, we have two kinds of love: non-preferential love, and preferential love. Preferential love is the love you feel towards mother, father, children, wife/husband (and even here, love breaks down into multiple categories). Non-preferential love is the love of neighbour, the love of God, etc. Above we were talking about the kind of preferential love mentioned - I'm not sure if Buddhism talks positively about this love. For example, Buddhism often emphasises allowing the loved one to be free, but, for example, is allowing one's child to be free equivalent to allowing them to snort cocaine? Or is allowing one's wife/husband to be free the equivalent of allowing them to be unfaithful? How are we to draw the boundary? How does Buddhism propose to manage such cases, where the stock answer "compassion, letting go, etc." isn't a clear cut answer?

    Love cannot exist without the lover and the beloved, and so if anatta is true, and all things are non-self, then how can love be eternal?

    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.boundless
    Yes, I agree, I am aware of the story. However, even in this case, their love may be countless of lives, but how can it be eternal?

    Unfortunately, not everyone has faith :sad:boundless
    Do you think that not everyone can have faith? Faith, is really the will to believe. It's not a matter of intellect. You will not gain faith by more study, and more reasoning. The faithful know exactly the same as the unfaithful. But the faithful focus on the glimmer of light, whereas the unfaithful focus on the larger darkness.

    Faith is fundamentally a movement of the will. It's the will that must be changed, the will that must want to have faith, to cling onto God.

    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.boundless
    Do you think Love extends beyond Samsara?
  • wellwisher
    114
    God became flesh. He had himself crucified in order to redeem his own creation. It's the ravings of a lunatic.frank

    The Old Testament was based on law, while the New Testament is based on faith. The first mention of law originates in the Garden of Eden and was symbolized by the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Law is composed of a bunch of rules that breaks down human behavior into good and evil, with consequences for both.

    The tree knowledge of good and evil or law was populated by Satan, who was the left hand man of God during the Old Testament. Satan, who began as Lucifer, was in charge of the earth and was in heaven during the Old Testament. Arguments could b made that Satan was the intermediary to God during the Old Testament.

    Satan is not thrown from heaven, until Revelations, which was written years after the death of Christ. The main problem with law, was the Satan connection. Law can be perverted through loopholes, double standards and unneeded complexities.

    With that being said, the torture, death and rebirth of Jesus was a legal strategy that made law and therefore the old dispensation, void. Death is the ultimate penalty under the law. After you die at the hands of the state/law, you are no longer under the law since you have paid the highest penalty. The rebirth symbolism creates a reboot of the same person, who is now legally protected by double jeopardy, and therefore beyond law.

    This loophole causes a symbolic disruption in heaven, where Satan recruits his followers and is thrown out of heaven, since his authority in the hierarchy has been superseded by Jesus using this legal strategy. There after, the righteous man was to live by faith and not by the works of the law, since law is made obsolete to those who are reborn.

    The torture and death of Jesus showed everyone how the law can be perverted for political gain to do evil. Law had its day in the sun, but humanity needed to step on up higher. Faith brings one back to something close to natural instinct. With natural instinct and faith we become like the animal who has natural laws written in their hearts, with no need of man made ordinance contained in commandments carved in stone. Now the tree of life appears.
  • ibrust
    2
    Many people claim to be Christian, so clearly it isn't dead. I see people in here pronouncing it dead and regurgitating Nietzsche, citing the development of science and rationalism as a replacement for belief in God, but faith in God isn't rational.. Nietzsche was naive to assume rationalism would simply displace faith as if there is rough equivalency between them... Fact is it hasn't gone away and the statistics show that. Nietzsche's philosophy was never coherent - he argues that rationalism will displace faith then describes all the ways western civilization will fall into nihilism as a result - he only wound up illustrating the reasons people continue to cling to their beliefs and the reasons that rationalism falls short as a replacement. How he didn't see this is beyond me.
  • 0 thru 9
    546
    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.
    — 0 thru 9

    Well, I think there is some truth in this view (even if I do not think that it is universal, despite being widespread) because, after all, our minds are accustomed with ordinary reality. On the other hand, "mystical experiences" can be very extra-ordinary, so I imagine that they can affect even our physical health somehow since I do not see mind and body as completely "separate".
    boundless

    Thanks for your reply, as well as your other contributions to this thread. :up:

    I completely agree with your statement about mystical experiences and the interconnectedness of the body and mind. And I would say that likewise the faculties of the mind are intertwined. Lately, I’ve been wondering what the difference and relationship between one’s intellect and one’s awareness is. A mystical experience seems like it would be pure expanded awareness mostly (for lack of a better term). Some call it non-dual consciousness. Any intellectual sorting and naming would come later. Which is to be expected; no problem there. The intellect is an indispensable part of us.

    If I may go out even further on this limb... One could compare a mystical experience to unexpectedly seeing a herd of wild horses up close. They seem to come out of nowhere into your area. And they exude a strong life force that is hypnotic. In this example, this mostly would fall into the category of “awareness”. Where the intellect (and mostly the ego) might enter the picture is if the person then decided to capture all of the horses, either to keep or sell. Not judging the morality of such an action, but there is a clear difference between the experience and decision to possibly capture the horses.

    So I guess what I’m saying here is that awareness can be expanded. You would certainly agree with that, I imagine. There seem to be many practices in collective Buddhism that do so. And do so while perhaps temporarily “putting the brakes” on the intellect, the emotions, the ego, etc. Just giving the awareness a chance to grow by tending to it like a garden, watering it and pulling some weeds. The intellect and all the other mental powers we have are valuable. And any cautious approaches to such would be with the intention to make them even more valuable and useful to us. Like you said...

    I like the apophatic approach because gives me a sense of awe and reverence. It is also true that, unfortunately, I have a somewhat compulsive need to philosophize about the "ultimate". Anyway, I think that is very useful to find peace.boundless

    Completely agree. I think that as long as the “need to philosophize about the ultimate” is counterbalanced by awareness and the sense of awe you mentioned, one can proceed both cautiously and confidently. There is a verse from the Tao Te Ching that might be related:

    You can do what you like with material things. But only if you hold to the Mother of things will you do it for long. Live long by looking long. Have deep roots and a strong trunk.
  • frank
    1k
    Faith brings one back to something close to natural instinct.wellwisher

    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.
  • Agustino
    11.1k
    he loved women in every sense of the word.frank
    As far as I know, Augustine only loved ONE woman in every sense of the word.
  • IamTheFortress
    2
    Is it the dead religion? Absolutely not. I come from the country where lots and lots of people are extremely devoted to Roman Catholic Church, especially young people. They study The Bible, are parts of Christian associations and live accordingly by The Church rules. It is clear for me that this is important to them.
    But will it die in the future? It might. As I perceive those people I feel there is something... reactionary in their devotion. I live in a conservative country and the narration of mainstream media is very xenophobic. People are scared of many trends that come to us from Western Europe; they are scared of LGBT movement, of gender and sexual orientation-confusion and drama regarding it, they are scared by the existential crisis that comes from having too many options in life and having to decide how to live your life all by yourself, without any clear guidelines. They stick to religion because it seems familiar and therefore reassuring. It makes the world simpler as it deems some options as immoral and reduces the uncertainty.
    I think they need faith, because it lies within majority of people's needs to have faith. I grew up in atheistic/agnostic family and it was generating much anxiety for me even though the need to believe in something wasn't transmitted onto me from other people, so I think that at least some of us has the inborn need for faith. We do have such needs because the sense of safety is one of the most basic animal need. But once individual reaches certain level of self-awareness, they need to realise that every sense of safety in the material world is short-termed and delusional since everything ends with gradual decay and death. Since the solace from this fact cannot be pursued in the pragmatical sense (nothing can make us immortal) people resort to magical thinking or rituals to resort the sense of control and release the anxiety, to antropomorphising things that are beyond our power and control as 'God' (because if it's a person, we can engage in dialogue with it and we can please it and ask for its mercy) or to transferring their inborn archetype of "safe place" onto some conceptual other world or state of being (hence the concepts of "afterlife", "heaven", "nirvana") - since we still have the need for safety but are now smart enough to know it doesn't last for long in the material world. I think that most if not all religions' main purpose is to cater for those needs and that they are all pretty similar in the nutshell. Catholicism is more popular among my peers simply because it's there, it's familiar, it's been there for many generations. But I am not sure if it's the most optimal thing for the modern man to believe. I think that this religion is mainly anachronistic in its teachings. The Wisdom of New Testament was revolutionary in the times it has been created and that was certainly a milestone for humanity. Take the diversion from the preferential, selfish love into the non-preferential "love thy neighbour" type of love that has created the foundation for the concept of morality as something universal and utilitarian, rather than tribal. It must have been important and fresh for the people then, but now that we have absorbed this way of thinking about morality, digested it, raised few generations of children on it, I am not sure The Bible can teach us anything new by now. The same Jesus in the Gospel initially denies to heal the daughter of non-Jewish woman (saying that "dogs shouldn't eat from the table where children dine") or curses the fig tree to dry for it is fruitless in the time of the year when it is normal for it to be fruitless (I have always got the vibe from that parabola as if he didn't care if what he demands of his followers is above their abilities, his anger will fall at them if they fail anyway). Such fragments of The Bible annoyed me as I judged them from my modern mindset and that's why I think that XXI century's person has outgrown the figure of Jesus morally in the perception of "right" and "wrong" (whether the XXI century's person applies what they consider "right" and "wrong" to their everyday life is another thing, but well, that cannot be taught by any Holy Book I believe). Jesus is no moral authority anymore because he has nothing left to teach, what was universal and valuable in The Bible was absorbed by secular culture already and the rest is anachronistic - not fitting to the modern man's reality and problems.
    Someone before has stated that The Bible is alive, only the symbolism in it is too cryptic for modern people to decipher. Like the "lamb of God" symbolism that one had evoked strong emotional response from people who sometimes really had to sacrifice the lamb in order to sustain their families or save the herd from the wolves. What I am really wondering is if the symbolism of this scene can be as that important for the modern European person at all, even after translating to a more modern language. It is not the language that is the problem for me here, it is the fact that life conditions have changed. Most people from The Western countries have troubles in conceptualising such harsh life when your physical safety from predators or hunger is your main concern. They don't know the value of community in leading such life. Today people are more preoccupied in more "subtle" problems like identity and value crisis in the multicultural world, feeling of existential emptiness, the problems with growing competitiveness among people, with civilizational diseases. Such things Catholicism doesn't address as during the time that Catholicism was formed, people had other things to worry about. I think it's the main reason that Christianity is now blooming in Africa, while it is quite stiff in Europe - it's just Europeans don't deal with the same issues as first Christians did anymore.
    To sum up, I think people do need religion and always will need it but Catholicism is pretty much close to burning-out in Europe. I really hope it will get replaced or reformed as currently it promotes lots of prejudice, for example towards LGBT people. In my country we are one step from passing the bill that penalises the woman for trying to get an abortion (even due to medical reasons) - while I'm not pro-choice myself this is way overboard and it comes from religious fanaticism that doesn't even have anything in common with The Bible or with early Christianity.
  • boundless
    79
    Why do you say that in a certain sense, "love" is eternal in Mahayana? Love has different aspects - largely, we have two kinds of love: non-preferential love, and preferential love. Preferential love is the love you feel towards mother, father, children, wife/husband (and even here, love breaks down into multiple categories). Non-preferential love is the love of neighbour, the love of God, etc. Above we were talking about the kind of preferential love mentioned - I'm not sure if Buddhism talks positively about this love. For example, Buddhism often emphasises allowing the loved one to be free, but, for example, is allowing one's child to be free equivalent to allowing them to snort cocaine? Or is allowing one's wife/husband to be free the equivalent of allowing them to be unfaithful? How are we to draw the boundary? How does Buddhism propose to manage such cases, where the stock answer "compassion, letting go, etc." isn't a clear cut answer?Agustino

    You are right, to some extent. Buddhism emphasizes much more the "non-preferential" kind of love. At the same time, however, I do not think that it speaks negatively about the "preferential" one. In fact, in the paper I mentioned, if I recall correctly, the contemplation that "it is not easy to find a being that was not a mother, a father etc" leads to both non-attachment but also to the devolepment of compassion etc for all sentient beings because they might have been our father, mother etc in the long time of samsara. It sounds, actually reminiscent of this passage of the Gospel:

    48 He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49 Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. 50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”
    (Matthew 12:48-50 source: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+12%3A46-50&version=NIV)


    The problem is that the “love” you describe requires essential selves: “I will love you forever”, taken literally, sense implies that there is an unchanging “I” that will love “forever” an unchanging “you”. This is true if and only if there are “permanent selves” in the two lovers or if there is a Higher Power that is able to render them permanent. In both cases, according to Buddhism we have an “eternalistic view” (a “partial eternalism” in the second case). So, I think that the “eternal” romantic love you have in mind is incompatible with Buddhist notion of anatman also because it requires an ability to control forever the events, whereas anatman denies that. I think that in some Mahayana schools the mindstreams never cease and so in a “metaphorical” sense the promise might be justified.



    Regarding the real-life examples you are providing, I think that, in order to be compassionate, one should try to stop his son for consuming cocaine and for “good-will” a wife/husband should try to be faithful!


    Do you think that not everyone can have faith? Faith, is really the will to believe. It's not a matter of intellect. You will not gain faith by more study, and more reasoning. The faithful know exactly the same as the unfaithful. But the faithful focus on the glimmer of light, whereas the unfaithful focus on the larger darkness.

    Faith is fundamentally a movement of the will. It's the will that must be changed, the will that must want to have faith, to cling onto God.
    Agustino


    I agree that faith is a matter of will. One chooses to believe. Problem is, however, that people are Christians (or Buddhists, or whatever) for various reasons. Some, like Saint Paul converted because of a mystical experience, some remain attached to their tradition, some convert to the religion of his/her lover and so on. It is a matter of will. Personally, I am trying to see which religion looks to me more reasonable, so to speak, since I chose to “question everything”, to be skeptical, problematic, and so on. But this choice actually reflects my nature (or at least I think and hope). Hence, probably in my case for both “natural” and voluntary reasons I have more diffiulty to “have faith” in whatever religion. Maybe it is only egoism on my part for refusing to choose a tradition, but I think that it I am following my “nature”. Again, I choose to see it in this way. So, the answer for your question is “no”, everyone can have faith. Yet, at the practical level, for some having faith and believing is much more simple than for others (in my case, of course, it might be simply egoism).

    Do you think Love extends beyond Samsara?Agustino

    I think that for Mahayana Buddhism the answer may be “yes”. Buddhas are already “outside” (in the sense of being “trascending and immanent”) and yet they are full of compassion etc. The "mindstreams" of the awakened beings are always present to help countless sentient beings in countless eons. If samsara will be completely emptied, I think that there are at least some schools of Mahayana that do not accept an end of the "mindstreams". Since, the mindstreams of awakened beings are full of "positive qualities", then you can argue that some kind of relational love is endless.

    Since I am agnostic (but actively seeking to "find out the truth") about "Samsara", I can only say that I recognize that our world is "fallen" and some kind of "Love" (which I have no problems to call "divine") transcends the this world.

    Of course, becoming a Buddha means that one "transcends" the human condition. On the other hand, in Christianity there is no need to do that (in fact, and I agree with it, Christianity teaches that there are serious risks for those interested in "transcending" the human condition. After all, it is very easy to get conceited in the process)


    Thanks for your reply, as well as your other contributions to this thread.0 thru 9

    Thanks! I am happy that you have appreciated. Anyway, thank you for yours! :wink:

    I completely agree with your statement about mystical experiences and the interconnectedness of the body and mind. And I would say that likewise the faculties of the mind are intertwined. Lately, I’ve been wondering what the difference and relationship between one’s intellect and one’s awareness is. A mystical experience seems like it would be pure expanded awareness mostly (for lack of a better term). Some call it non-dual consciousness. Any intellectual sorting and naming would come later. Which is to be expected; no problem there. The intellect is an indispensable part of us.0 thru 9

    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.

    You might like this article on "Trycicle". It is about the Tibetan Buddhist position that "cognizance" and "emptiness" are fundamental qualities of the mind.

    If I may go out even further on this limb... One could compare a mystical experience to unexpectedly seeing a herd of wild horses up close. They seem to come out of nowhere into your area. And they exude a strong life force that is hypnotic. In this example, this mostly would fall into the category of “awareness”. Where the intellect (and mostly the ego) might enter the picture is if the person then decided to capture all of the horses, either to keep or sell. Not judging the morality of such an action, but there is a clear difference between the experience and decision to possibly capture the horses.0 thru 9

    I agree, at least for some mystical experiences.

    So I guess what I’m saying here is that awareness can be expanded. You would certainly agree with that, I imagine. There seem to be many practices in collective Buddhism that do so. And do so while perhaps temporarily “putting the brakes” on the intellect, the emotions, the ego, etc. Just giving the awareness a chance to grow by tending to it like a garden, watering it and pulling some weeds. The intellect and all the other mental powers we have are valuable. And any cautious approaches to such would be with the intention to make them even more valuable and useful to us. Like you said...

    I like the apophatic approach because gives me a sense of awe and reverence. It is also true that, unfortunately, I have a somewhat compulsive need to philosophize about the "ultimate". Anyway, I think that is very useful to find peace. — boundless


    Completely agree. I think that as long as the “need to philosophize about the ultimate” is counterbalanced by awareness and the sense of awe you mentioned, one can proceed both cautiously and confidently. There is a verse from the Tao Te Ching that might be related:

    You can do what you like with material things. But only if you hold to the Mother of things will you do it for long. Live long by looking long. Have deep roots and a strong trunk.
    0 thru 9

    I completely agree (as it happens, I really like the early Taoist writings! They really give inspiration, awe and a sense of freedom rarely found elsewhere. I say "early", simply because I am not very familar (not even by readins secondary literature) with more recent writings than the Liezi).
  • Agustino
    11.1k
    At the same time, however, I do not think that it speaks negatively about the "preferential" one.boundless
    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.

    It sounds, actually reminiscent of this passage of the Gospel:boundless
    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.

    The problem is that the “love” you describe requires essential selves: “I will love you forever”, taken literally, sense implies that there is an unchanging “I” that will love “forever” an unchanging “you”.boundless
    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?

    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.

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

    So, I think that the “eternal” romantic love you have in mind is incompatible with Buddhist notion of anatman also because it requires an ability to control forever the events, whereas anatman denies that.boundless
    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?

    I think that in some Mahayana schools the mindstreams never cease and so in a “metaphorical” sense the promise might be justified.boundless
    Can you detail what you mean?

    one should try to stop his son for consuming cocaineboundless
    Okay, but how far should one go to stop their son from consuming cocaine?

    for “good-will” a wife/husband should try to be faithful!boundless
    What do you mean for "good will"?

    But this choice actually reflects my nature (or at least I think and hope).boundless
    So you do have a nature (or a self)? :P

    I think that for Mahayana Buddhism the answer may be “yes”. Buddhas are already “outside” (in the sense of being “trascending and immanent”) and yet they are full of compassion etc. The "mindstreams" of the awakened beings are always present to help countless sentient beings in countless eons. If samsara will be completely emptied, I think that there are at least some schools of Mahayana that do not accept an end of the "mindstreams". Since, the mindstreams of awakened beings are full of "positive qualities", then you can argue that some kind of relational love is endless.

    Since I am agnostic (but actively seeking to "find out the truth") about "Samsara", I can only say that I recognize that our world is "fallen" and some kind of "Love" (which I have no problems to call "divine") transcends the this world.

    Of course, becoming a Buddha means that one "transcends" the human condition. On the other hand, in Christianity there is no need to do that (in fact, and I agree with it, Christianity teaches that there are serious risks for those interested in "transcending" the human condition. After all, it is very easy to get conceited in the process)
    boundless
    I agree.
  • frank
    1k
    As far as I know, Augustine only loved ONE woman in every sense of the word.Agustino

    I guess you're saying that out of all the women he had sex with he only truly loved one of them?

    Which one and why do you think that?
  • boundless
    79


    Thanks for the reply. I will answer back tomorrow.

    Also, thank you for the links. Very interesting site, indeed.

    BTW, there is a scholar, prof Alexander Wynne that makes similar criticism on the "orthodox" "no self" doctrine. See e.g. these two articles (maybe also @Wayfarer is interested in reading them):

    The atman and its negation. A conceptual and chronological analysis of early Buddhist thought and Early evidence for the "no self" doctrine? A note on the second anatman teaching of the Second Sermon

    Well, personally I do not believe that the "anatman" teaching was misunderstood in the last two thousand years. But, both the link you provided and these articles are very interesting.
    My view about "anatman", however, is that in some sense it is true that it means that there is no "self" (and also that in some extent Buddhism can be said to be reductionistic). However, I think it is a teaching that can be easily misunderstood as implying that there is no free will, that we do not exist at all, that the private experience is illusory, no "real" moral responsibility etc (I think that the teachers quoted in the articles when they denied the "self" they did not imply that we do not exist at all). Anyway, maybe there is too much emphasis on the "no self" thing (after all, as these links and Wayfarer noted previously, "anatta" is mostly used as an adjective. This makes sense, considering that "anatta" is a property that is to be investigated in analytical and meditative experience).
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