jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Wed 18 Nov, 2009 07:00 pm
@Eudaimon,
Well not really 'scoffed'. It is true he declined to answer a set of questions that are typically associated with metaphysics. It is also true that there is no direct counterpart to what the West calls 'metaphysics' in the Buddhist teachings. But it would be a mistake to think that Buddhism does not encompass a metaphysic in the broader sense of that term. It is certainly not positivist and also the view that there is no life beyond this one is rejected on the basis that it is nihilistic and materialist.

It is true there is a lot of diversity within the Buddhist traditions, however there are also some common elements to be found in all of them.
0 Replies
 
FBM
 
  1  
Reply Wed 18 Nov, 2009 07:16 pm
@Eudaimon,
As far as I can tell, the Buddha avoided dogmatism insofar as possible. He seems to have asserted the 4NT, anatta, paticca samuppada and a revised version of kamma, but not much more. Seems he didn't get much stress relief out of pursuing ontology and the like, only more stress. I think I see a similarity in approach between Siddhartha and Pyrrho.
0 Replies
 
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Wed 18 Nov, 2009 07:21 pm
@Eudaimon,
Vacchagotta Sutta: With Vacchagotta (SN 44.8)

This is the Sutta where the 'questions not answered by the Buddha' are listed.

Very acute observation about Phyrro - according to The Shape of Ancient Thought by Thomas McEvilly, Phyrro traveled to India and learned from the Madhyamikas (= "Middle Path") school of Buddhism.

It is also true that the Buddha was a skeptic, in the true sense, rather than the sense that people understand the word today (which is that 'the sensory realm is the sole reality and spirituality sucks'.)
0 Replies
 
FBM
 
  1  
Reply Wed 18 Nov, 2009 07:30 pm
@Eudaimon,
Thanks for the title. Now I've got something else on my Amazon wishlist. From my reading so far, there's no proof that Pyrrho met Madhyamikas but the similarities are so striking that there's no better explanation, as far as I can tell.

Pyrrho, as the biographers describe, refused to declare anything that was not self-evident. I wonder if Siddhartha saw the 4NT, anatta, paticca samuppada and his revised version of kamma as self-evident? That's probably another imponderable...
0 Replies
 
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Wed 18 Nov, 2009 07:56 pm
@Eudaimon,
That book is a magnum opus. Well worth having.

I think the similarity in the approach is illustrated by the Skeptic practise of 'epoche' which is the 'suspension of judgement'. It is very similar to the idea of 'Nirodha', or 'cessation', which is a major empowering factor in the eightfold path.

The 'Middle Path' or Madhyamika school was mainly inspired by the work of the great sage Nagarjuna, who demonstrated that every form of constructive metaphysics was self-contradictory. It always referred back, in the end, to the 'Noble Silence' of the Buddha. This was in the context of the debate between the Buddhist Scholastics between themselves (there were 18 main schools of Buddhism at this time), who based their views on the Abhidhamma, and also with the Brahmins, who were based on the Vedic and Vedantic traditions.

Nagarjuna kind of 'blew the whistle' on the whole show. The main aim in Buddhism is always to gain liberation by actual insight, to see how things really are, and how the principles apply in your life. And the insight is not a matter of conceptual analysis - it is 'performative' not 'propositional'. Practise, practise, practise. That is very much what it is about.
0 Replies
 
prothero
 
  1  
Reply Thu 19 Nov, 2009 12:23 am
@Eudaimon,
I do not pretend to understand this but I am looking for some insight and clarity and some way to relate it to my more western orientation.
As I understand it.

The notion that there is a separate self or that one has an individual soul is an illusion. Any such notions are based on impermanence. There does lie within a connection with a deeper reality which is really a form of oneness or connectedness with all things. This inner connection can be reached through the process of meditation. It can only be experienced. It can not be described adequately with worlds or understood on the basis of someone else's experience. It is a sense of Oneness with the world and with this experience would come peace, contentment and understanding of the true nature of things.

Most of what we focus our attention on and experience is fleeting impermanence, illusion. It is as if reality is like the immensity of the ocean but all we see or pay attention to is the surface waves, the spray, the droplets, the white caps while remaining largely unaware of the immense depths beneath.(maya). Through mediation and focused attention one can become aware of the immense depths of reality beneath the surface illusion. Having achieved this awareness, this experience, this enlightenment, the illusion of separate self and individual soul ceases. One becomes aware of the oneness of all things, of the interconnectedness and this naturally leads to empathy compassion and harmony as enlightened self interest.

In my more Western somewhat mystical orientation it is to see the spiritual world which infuses, pervades and lies beneath the material world of sensory perception and physicalism. It is the meaning of Jesus saying "the kingdom lies within you" or "the kingdom lies before you, but you do not see". It is the eastern approach to the truth of the material world as an emanation of spirit or a manifestation of the divine.

In the western tradition one understands sin to be separation or alimentation from god. This does not seem too different from the eastern notion of ignorance and illusion as separating one from enlightenment or true reality. I am one who sees all the great religious traditions as pointing to the same truth. Each tradition is using those symbols, those practices which are appropriate to their society, history and culture. There is no single path up the mountain but many routes and many approaches all leading to the same summit.
0 Replies
 
Pangloss
 
  1  
Reply Thu 19 Nov, 2009 12:56 am
@Eudaimon,
Well, all of the routes may lead to the same summit, if that's what you want to see. But really, Buddhism and Christianity are fundamentally different in many ways.

The Buddha never really taught any doctrine of "Oneness" or interconnectedness. All things impermanent are dukkha, but the Buddha never taught that there was a permanent self or "spirit" that we may come to know. Nibbana means "blowing out"; it is the cessation of clinging, and refers to that which is unconditioned.

Even the highest states of jhana, including infinite consciousness, are still dukkha. Jesus' Father and kingdom of heaven is nothing at all like nibbana. Anatta means "no-soul", and some other idea of oneness, infinite consciousness, absolute spirit, or whatever you may call it, existing in Buddhism, is a common Western misconception of Buddhist teachings. The Buddha never taught it; he specifically dismissed such questions, saying they were not useful for the attainment of enlightenment.
FBM
 
  1  
Reply Thu 19 Nov, 2009 04:41 am
@Pangloss,
[QUOTE]
Anatta means "no-soul", and some other idea of oneness, infinite consciousness, absolute spirit, or whatever you may call it, existing in Buddhism, is a common Western misconception of Buddhist teachings. The Buddha never taught it; he specifically dismissed such questions, saying they were not useful for the attainment of enlightenment.
[/QUOTE]

Not to put too fine a point on it, but 'Buddha-mind', 'Buddha-nature', etc, are Mahayana concepts that originated in the Orient, and they strongly imply images of infinite consciousness, permanent trancendental being, etc. It seems to me to be functionally, if not in name, indistinguishable from the concepts of Brahma, transmigration and an eventual return to the 'One'. If there are any Mahayanists out there, they may correct me on this. That's just the feeling I get from the Buddhist monks around here (S. Korea).
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Thu 19 Nov, 2009 05:10 am
@Eudaimon,
I don't think there is any discussion about 'soul' in Buddhism. So I don't agree that 'the Buddha says we have no soul'. I think that is a bad intepretation resulting from a cultural clash. 'Soul' is actually a very specific term to the Western religious tradition. (I think it is derived from the Jewish term for 'breath'). I personally believe in the reality of soul and think it signifies an aspect of the being beyond the purely personal. It is something rather like character, but somewhat deeper, and particularly connected to the qualities of empathy and beauty in life. Maybe it is not even an entity but a quality, 'soulfulness' - however I am sure it is real. But it is junior to Spirit which is the light of the divine within us (i.e. Eckhardt) and the 'ultimate principle' or ground of being (i.e. Tillich). (This is not Buddhist teaching but it is the view of many of the perennial philosophers and I endorse it.)

The question of the meaning of the teaching of no-self is often vexed. There is no complete unanimity in the Buddhist tradition about this topic. My interpretation of the teaching is 'every perceivable phenomenon is not self'. This does not actually say there is no self. It says that every perception or experience is not self (anatta).

So every arising perception or sensation is not-self (and also impermanent, and 'dukkha' - these are the 'three marks' of experience). But it should be interpreted carefully. It is not really an intellectual or ontological theory in the sense that Western philosophy would like. It is more an observation about the nature of our experience, or a 'critique of experience per se'. And it is something you can learn to see. The purpose of Buddhist meditation is to see this directly. You do notice that when you have learned this skill, you are much less prone to being 'hijacked by emotions' because you recognise them instead of just letting them take over.


I think the aim of the non-self teaching is to allow us to overcome, or see through, the reflexive identification we all have with passing phenomena, our entanglement with everything. Instinctively we are always clinging to things, experience and sensation without being aware that we are doing that. This is the 'ignorance' being referred to. We are deeply habituated without being aware. So we wonder why we suffer when things don't turn out or aren't pleasing to us - but deep down, we are responsible, because of the way we have 'constructed' (=vikalpa) our sense of reality. We cling, and then things get taken away. This is what is meant by attachment. Our sense of 'who we are' is deeply embedded in our situation, and while everything is going along OK, it is satisfactory, but then, as the teaching has it, everyone is prone to loosing what they like, getting what they don't like, suffering, illness, old age and death. That is the human situation.

The Buddha does not deny the reality of worldly happiness, of the ordinary joys of life, of making a living and raising a family. But there is something beyond all of that, too, something much greater to aspire to.

So spiritually, this is really not so distant from many aspects of the Christian spiritual tradition, although I agree that it is a mistake to equate 'nibanna' with 'the kingdom of heaven', and of course the religious outlook of Christianity and Buddhism are quite different. (But there are intriguing parallels too, and some very interesting inter-faith dialogs and teachings, like an entire sub-tradition of Catholic Zen. Check out Ama Samy and Ruben Habito, both Jesuits and Zen Masters.)

I think the Eastern faiths and Christianity, however, are one in saying that egotism, selfishness, me first, or call it what you will, are the source of most of the suffering in the world. We have a deep expectation about the way things are, based on our notion of ourselves.

As for the 'sin' vs 'ignorance' distinction, I actually believe (and this is most unfashionable) that there is such a thing as sin, in fact I agree with some churchmen that the greatest trick of the devil was to convince the world that it doesn't exist any more. But at the same time, the concept of sin is not, in the parlance of modern self-awareness, particularly empowering. The Dhammapada: 'by oneself one is purified; by oneself one is defiled'. This is a very characteristic Buddhist teaching.

Perhaps the idea of sin is a trap, because it makes it like a malignant external force, whereas the origin of it, if you look very closely, might actually be inattention or lack of self-awareness. But I know it is a very difficult and sensitive issue, and would not like to be in the least prescriptive about it. Certainly some people benefit from a sense of being helped. It depends a lot on the type of person. At the end of the day, however, in Buddhism, the agency of real change in life is clear and direct awareness. This is in line with Christ's teaching 'Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free'. I don't think there is a sense of the Buddha 'taking on your karmic burden'. His last words were, according to tradition, 'all manifest reality is subject to decay. Work out your own salvation with diligence'.

I hope that is helpful.
0 Replies
 
Pangloss
 
  1  
Reply Thu 19 Nov, 2009 11:29 am
@FBM,
FBM;104442 wrote:


Not to put too fine a point on it, but 'Buddha-mind', 'Buddha-nature', etc, are Mahayana concepts that originated in the Orient, and they strongly imply images of infinite consciousness, permanent trancendental being, etc. It seems to me to be functionally, if not in name, indistinguishable from the concepts of Brahma, transmigration and an eventual return to the 'One'. If there are any Mahayanists out there, they may correct me on this. That's just the feeling I get from the Buddhist monks around here (S. Korea).


Sure, there are some Buddhists who believe in such things. I was referring to the actual teachings of the Buddha, and not some metaphysical doctrines that were invented by Monks years later. The Pali Canon is the best record we have of what the Buddha really taught, and you will find no such teachings in its suttas.

Jeeprs, you have an interesting interpretation of this doctrine, but again, I don't think it would be a correct interpretation of the Buddha's actual teachings on not-self. He specifically taught against such ideas in the canon. Of course, this is fine, and you can believe whatever you want.
0 Replies
 
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Thu 19 Nov, 2009 02:54 pm
@Eudaimon,
Well the exact interpretation of the anatta doctrine is still a question of interpretation. I personally think many people seriously misunderstand the teaching in such a way as to avoid 'owning their experience', or tending towards nihilism, an attitude which many think characterises Buddhism, but which is definitely not true. In fact I think you will find the following passage supports the interpretation I put forward, namely, that the doctrine does not say there IS no self, but that NOTHING IS self, which actually means quite different things. (My emphasis in passage below.)

From Infopedia:
Quote:
"Atman is a Sanskrit word (Pali: Attan), translated as 'Self', however, due to some similarities with western soul, it is also sometimes translated as "soul". In Buddhist sutra, the Atman is the "light (dipam), the only refuge" [DN 2.100]. As contrasted to the 5-aggregates, which are anatman (Pali: anatta), are not the Soul, are "na me so atta" (are not my Self).

At no time or location in the Nikayas is the Atman rejected. What has Buddhism to say of the Self? "That's not my Self" (na me so atta); this, and the term "non Self-ishness" (anatta) predicated of the world and all "things" (sabbe dhamma anatta; Identical with the Brahmanical "of those who are mortal, there is no Self/Soul", (anatma hi martyah, [SB., II. 2. 2. 3]). [KN J-1441] "The Self is the refuge that I have gone unto". For anatta is not said of the Self but what it is not. There is never a 'doctrine of no-self', but a doctrine of what the Self is not (form is anatta, feelings are anatta, etc.).

In the Nikaya sutras, the Atman is the "light (dipam), the only refuge" [DN 2.100]. As contrasted to the five aggregates, which are anatman (Pali: anatta), are not the Self, are "na me so atta" (are not my Self).

What do the Nikayas have to say of the Self? "That's not my Self" (na me so atta); this, and the term "non Self-ishness" (anatta) predicated of the world and all "things" (sabbe dhamma anatta; Identical with the Brahmanical "of those who are mortal, there is no Self", (anatma hi martyah, [SB., II. 2. 2. 3]). [KN J-1441] "The Self is the refuge that I have gone unto". For anatta is not said of the Self but what it is not. There is never a 'doctrine of no-Self', but a doctrine of what the Self is not (form is anatta, feelings are anatta, etc.).

Contextual doctrinal examples being: "The Self (Attan) is Charioteer"[J-2-1341]. "Ananda, dwell with the Self (attan) as your Light, with the Self as your refuge, with none other as refuge." [SN 5.154, DN 2.100, SN 3.42, DN 3.58, SN 5.163]. "The Self (Attan) is ones True-Nature (Svabhava)" [Mahavagga-Att. 3.270] "The Self is the refuge that I have gone unto; it is the Light, that very same sanctuary, that final end goal and destiny. It is immeasurable, matchless, that which I really am, that very treasure; it is like unto the breath-of-life, this Animator."[KN J-1441 Akkhakandam]


In the Mahayana schools:

Quote:
0 Replies
 
Pangloss
 
  1  
Reply Thu 19 Nov, 2009 03:36 pm
@Eudaimon,
Well, as opposed to resorting to Wikipedia and other online sources that are obviously incorrect, I will post here excerpts from the PTS translation of the nikayas, and some of Walpola Rahula's commentary...

The Buddha has said that a being is only composed of the Five Aggregates, and nothing more. He also categorically denied the existence of Atman or Self within an individual, or anywhere else.

Ven. Dr. Walpola Rahula wrote:
"According to the doctrine of "Conditioned Genesis" and the grouping of being into the Five Aggregates, the idea of an immortal substance in man or outside, whether it is called Atman, 'I', Soul, Self, or Ego, is considered only a false belief, a mental projection...

It is better to say frankly that one believes in an Atman or Self. Or one may even say that the Buddha was totally wrong in denying the existence of an Atman. But certainly it will not do for anyone to try to introduce into Buddhism an idea which the Buddha never accepted, as far as we can see from the extant original texts."


The Dhammapada, Verse 279 wrote:
"All dhammas are without self"


Dhamma is the widest Buddhist term, including all conditioned and unconditioned things and states; including Nibbana. Meaning: there is no permanent Self or Atman.

Alagaddupama-sutta wrote:
"O bhikkus, accept a soul-theory in the acceptance of which there would not arise grief, lamentation, suffering, distress and tribulation. But, do you see, O Bhikkhus, such a soul-theory in the acceptance of which there would not arise grief, lamentation, suffering, distress and tribulation?"

"Certainly not, Sir."

"Good, O bhikkhus. I, too, O bhikkus, do not see a soul-theory, in the acceptance of which there would not arise grief, lamentation, suffering, distress and tribulation."


As if this is not clear enough, the Buddha continues in the same sutta:

Alagaddupama sutta wrote:
"O bhikkhus, when neither self nor anything pertaining to self can truly and really be found, this speculative view: 'The universe is that Atman; I shall be that after death, permanent, abiding, ever-lasting, unchanging, and I shall exist as such for eternity'-- is not wholly and completely foolish?"


This teaching of Anatta is not annihilistic...it is just another false belief that needs to be understood before Nibbana is realized. Truly all of the Buddha's teachings on clinging and attachment mean nothing if any type of Self continues to exist-- this should be quite obvious. The thought of "I" can not work with the rest of the teachings, whether it is a small individual "I", or an infinite, wholly conscious "I". The very idea of "I AM" is contrary to what Buddha taught.

Majjhima-Nikaya III wrote:
"I have taught you, O bhikkhus, to see conditionality everywhere in all things."
0 Replies
 
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Thu 19 Nov, 2009 04:04 pm
@Eudaimon,
yes I am familiar with all the arguments. I will take my chances thanks.
0 Replies
 
Pangloss
 
  1  
Reply Thu 19 Nov, 2009 04:26 pm
@Eudaimon,
Well, you should try reading the nikayas instead of westernized Buddhist writings that very much misinterpret the teachings. There are many arguments, but some are much better than others. Some are just plain wrong. For example, in that infopedia article you posted, it claims,

Quote:
"At no time or location in the Nikayas is the Atman rejected."
Yet, this is directly refuted by the passages I have posted. Also, there's no reason you can't "own your experience" when understanding Anatta. When speaking conventionally, we, and the Buddha do recognize a "self" that is illusion, but still a necessary part of our existence. In fact, the Buddha taught once that our body is much more like any "self" we will ever have in the mind, because the mind and our thoughts change so drastically and rapidly, that none of it could be called a "self", while the body is at least more permanent and recognizable, here in our conventional existence.
0 Replies
 
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Thu 19 Nov, 2009 05:05 pm
@Eudaimon,
I own and regularly read the Bikkhu Bodhi edition of the Nikayas and studied the Walpole Rahula text as part of my degree studies in Comparitive Religion. Note that the material I have quoted refers to the scriptural sources also. It is not spurious.

The views of the Mahayana are somewhat at variance with those expressed by the Theravadins in regards to some aspects of doctrine and philosophy. Furthermore scholars from all schools of Buddhism will frequently redact the texts in such a way as to support this or that interpretation. The exact meaning, or, might I say, the ultimate implication, of the anatta doctrine, has been a contentious topic in Indian philosophy for millenia.

However I will maintain the viewpoint that to assert that 'nothing is self' or that 'everything is not self' is not the same as to assert 'there is no self' in the sense of 'the ground of being'. But I do agree that the Buddhist doctrine does not depend on, or encourage the student, to 'seek the Self' as does the Vedanta teaching, such as espoused by Shankara, Ramana Maharishi and Nisigardatta. So in this sense, the Buddhist doctrine is certainly not an 'Atman Doctrine'.

The later 'tathagatagharba' sutras and the doctrine of the triple-body of the Buddha as taught by the Mahayana do provide a counterpart to what has been understood as a 'transcendent identity' or 'supreme identity' in other schools of perennial philosophy, even though it is quite different in some respects from the characteristic Vedanta depiction of the Atman.

But I don't accept the interpretation of Buddhism which insists that is almost like an early form of positivism, rejecting any concept of transcendent identity whatever.

And at the end of the day, what is more important from the practical viewpoint is to understand and practise the precepts and meditation, if your interest is practical.

---------- Post added 11-20-2009 at 10:43 AM ----------

I will add, from a perspective outside that of Buddhism, that discussion of transcendent realities such as the 'true nature of being' and so on, all refer to matters beyond 'yes/no', existence/non-existence' and 'is/is not'. I believe this applies to any such 'idea' as 'God', 'supreme reality' and so on. This is implicit in the term 'non-dualism' which is used by both Buddhist and Hindu teachers.

So strictly speaking, what we are considering is beyond the power of speech and signification. This gets us back to the 'noble silence' of the Buddha. But there is a different meaning implicit in the silence of the Buddha, than there is when secular philosophy says 'there is nothing to talk about' or 'any such talk has no referent, there is nothing there'. So we are up against here the rather delicate consideration of the different meanings of 'nothing'.

My understanding is that here we are considering the meaning of the term 'spiritual realisation'. This actually might be a term which has no counterpart in Western philosophy. It has a subtle meaning, and one which can only really be appreciated by experience. But that is also something to be careful about. The nature of such experiences are such that these too can be very misleading. People might have such experiences, and think 'this is a realisation' but actually be deluding themselves. I have no doubt that this happens a lot in popular eastern spiritual movements. Nevertheless, if you persist with practise, and at this point in history, many people actually have, you do have what is called 'genuine realisation'. But for reasons that ought to be clear from the above, I am coming to realise that this is something outside the scope of what we now consider as 'philosophy'.
0 Replies
 
FBM
 
  1  
Reply Thu 19 Nov, 2009 07:53 pm
@Eudaimon,
@Pangloss: Yep. That's why I'm not very interested in Mahayanist philosophy or, for that matter, the Abhidhamma Pitaka. I've collected almost all the Sutta Pitaka (the Dhammapada doesn't do much for me) and all the Vinaya, but neither the Abhidhamma nor anything from later developments. I do want to make it clear, however, that I'm not dissing Mahayanists; only that I can't find much of interest in their doctrine.
0 Replies
 
prothero
 
  1  
Reply Thu 19 Nov, 2009 08:19 pm
@Eudaimon,
So, I am confused.
Is the concept of oneness and the interconnectedness, interrelatedness of all things a Buddhist concept or not?
Is the notion of the other as self, and serving the other as enlighted "self-interest" not part of the tradition?
Does the "enlightened one" still have an identity (a self) which is separate from "ultimate reality"?
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Thu 19 Nov, 2009 08:21 pm
@Eudaimon,
"Buddha's teaching is adjusted to the need of the taught as the medicine of a skilled physician is to the malady of the patient. He does not ...prescribe one remedy to all and sundry. He corrects those with nihilistic tendency by affirming the self, as there is continuity of karma and its result; to those addicted to the dogmatic belief in a changeless substantial Atman and who cling to it, he teaches the 'no-self' doctrine as an antidote; his ultimate teaching is that there is neither self nor non-self as these are subjective devices. The Real as the Indeterminate (sunya) is free from conceptual construction (vikalpa)." T.R.V. Murti, The Central Philosophy of Buddhism, Unwin Paperbacks, 1980, p 207.

---------- Post added 11-20-2009 at 01:25 PM ----------

I do understand your confusion, Prothero. It is an abstruse argument. The post #69 above is the one in which I really tried to address your concerns, the subsequent 'doctrinal dispute on atman' is really tangential to the main thrust of what I am trying to get at.

Central to the whole of Buddhism is seeing through the 'illusion of otherness' and awakening to a sense of compassion for all beings. That is what it is about for me. Most of the rest of it is just various aspects of the philosophy of Buddhism in relation to various other philosophies.

---------- Post added 11-20-2009 at 01:38 PM ----------

as to the question of the identity of the Enlightened One, a specific honorific is 'The Tathagata', namely, 'One who has gone thus'. This reflects that the Buddha has indeed transcended the sense of purely personal identity. However 'the person' of the Buddha is still quite visible in the dialogs within the Pali canon for example, towards the end of his teaching career, he compares his body with that of an old cart, which has been patched up but is reaching the end of its useful life.

As the Mahayana movement developed around the 1st Century BCE, the nature of the Tathagata was considerably elaborated, and some would say, almost deified, to the extent that there was an idea of the 'Adi-Buddha', a primordial being of which Guatama was as emanation.

But the attitude of the Theravada was that the Buddha is not a god, nor an ordinary person, but 'one perfected by himself' (samasambuddhasa), teacher of Gods and men, the perfectly enlightened one.
FBM
 
  1  
Reply Thu 19 Nov, 2009 08:50 pm
@Eudaimon,
For me, paticca samuppada was instrumental in helping me understand better. All phenomena are conditioned by innumberable previous phenomena and give rise to innumberable other phenomena. Amongst all that, there is no clear line one can draw that accurately separates this from that. Individual identity as a discrete phenomenon, or even set of phenomena, blurs into meaninglessness and self-contradiction. There is the apparent self, but it's only a passing convention. I recently read that every atom of one's present body will have been replaced in 7 years. Sensations, thoughts and perceptions certainly aren't constant. But there does certainly appear to be something going on, so the Buddha rejected nihilism. Some point to this lack of a clear distinction for individual identity to be functionally equivalent to a statement of non-dualism, the fundamental one-ness of the universe. But that has its own problems...
0 Replies
 
prothero
 
  1  
Reply Thu 19 Nov, 2009 08:52 pm
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;104575 wrote:

Central to the whole of Buddhism is seeing through the 'illusion of otherness' and awakening to a sense of compassion for all beings. That is what it is about for me. .
And I would say I see that as the central ethical thrust of all the great enduring religious traditions. Compassion is the basis of ethics not reason and not logic. Jesus preached love over law, and inner spirituality over external piety, the reality of a spiritual world which lies within and beyond the material world which consumes most of our effort and energy. All the religious savants it seems to me had a similar message at their core which is almost invariably distorted, dissected, confused and twisted by later attempts to "clarify" their "true" meaning.
0 Replies
 
 

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