Author Topic: Cycle of rebirth is impossible since there is a beginning  (Read 1718 times)

Offline VincentRJ

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Re: Cycle of rebirth is impossible since there is a beginning
« Reply #75 on: June 12, 2017, 08:14:42 pm »
There's a distinction to made between speculating on the existence of an Almighty Creator God  and speculating on the existence of less complicated, down-to-earth matters, such as the existence of an indivisible particle known as the atom,

Atoms are not indivisible.

Of course atoms are not indivisible. The reason atoms are called atoms is because they were thought to be indivisible when they first began to be discovered, named and quantified in the 18th century by scientists such as John Dalton.

Words in a language always have an etymology and an original meaning. As our understanding of issues changes we usually do not find it necessary to change the word that has been used throughout history to describe a particular object, in order to keep the meaning in line with its original meaning. If we were to do this we would be continually changing the names of things as our knowledge progressed, which would cause great confusion.

Whatever the word used, it's the concept or idea that's important.

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Buddhism postulates a "partless particle", but it cannot be found.

My understanding is that it is currently accepted that fundamental particles, or 'partless particles' which cannot be broken into smaller pieces have been identified. They are particles that don't appear to have any internal structure, such as quarks, electrons and photons. However. as science progresses we might discover these entities are not fundamental. Who knows?

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That's not such a big deal.  For decades, at least, science has known that we are only able to detect, with our eyes, a small fraction of the full spectrum of light that's actually there.  Put another way, we are mostly blind.  The illustration I saw showed all light as the empire state building and what we actually can see makes up part of one floor.

Crikey! How could you say such a thing. You sound as though you have no respect at all for the benefits of modern science. Would you actually prefer to live during the times of the Buddha, if you had a choice?  :wink1:

Our discovery of the electromagnetic spectrum, of which visible light is only a small part, has had tremendous benefits. Without such discoveries we wouldn't be be able to communicate via the computer, or watch TV, or have X-ray examinations to detect cancerous growths, and so on.

The hypothesis that 95% of the mass and energy of the universe is not detectable by any of our most modern instruments, certainly could be a big deal. However, at present we can't predict how it's discovery might be of use. We might find the forces of Karma there, or some of the invisible spiritual forces that allow clairvoyants to communicate with the dead, or we might find a way to use that massive amount of Dark Energy to revolutionize or step up our technology to the next level.

On the other hand, we might find that a modification of our existing theories can explain our observations of the behaviour of distant galaxies without the need for further speculation about the existence of Dark Matter and Energy. The main reason for the speculation about the existence of such Dark Matter and Energy is because our current theories, and all suggested modifications of our current theories so far, cannot satisfactorily explain the observations. The speculated existence of Dark Matter and Energy appears to be the best explanation so far. A future scientist with the genius of Albert Einstein might be able to modify our existing theories so we don't have to waste time searching for something which doesn't exist. Who knows?

Offline Rahul

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Re: Cycle of rebirth is impossible since there is a beginning
« Reply #76 on: June 12, 2017, 09:20:02 pm »
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I feel confident, considering the general state of knowledge 2,500 years ago, that the reason the Buddha chose not to answer such questions is that he really didn't know the answers to such questions. He was wise enough to know that he didn't know, and wise enough to understand that no purpose would have been served by admitting to his disciples that he didn't know, because doing so would undermine the belief and confidence in his teachings that his disciples needed in order to progress along the path of freeing themselves from suffering.

Have you, by chance, read Agganna Sutta? In some context, Buddha shared with his disciples his views on evolution of beings on earth. Broadly speaking, he mentioned that earth cooled down to have some surface, primordial beings were feeding on mud-like substance, then came mushroom like plants, then came plants with leafs flowers and seeds, then beings started manifesting genders for the first time, the details of forms of the beings emerged gradually, etc. That should compel us to rethink how much Buddha knew.

Some factors, of course, have corrupted the information about Buddha. There were no writing systems back then. For a couple of hundred years the information about his life and teachings were memorized and passed on from person to person. This meant lots of subjective interpretations and deviations. Later on, when information about his life and teachings started being recorded, the people in general had tendency to worship and glorify him, which of course further morphed the information.

You should also refer to some Buddhist monks 'philosophy' about atoms and particles: they stated that atoms or particles have no material substance; they are rather flashes of energy; and moved discretely - not continuously - in the space etc.

There are many such instances, which you may either consider as 'lucky guesses' or 'pure coincidences', or you may be open to a possibility that somehow they had found answers.

The point of not indulging in such speculations, as I understand, is that speculations are never ending and do not lead to insights. But according to Buddha there is a path, following which, one can find the answers by direct insight. Then it is wiser to invest time in trying that path, instead of investing it in speculations that are less likely to give you answers in your lifetime.

Offline VincentRJ

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Re: Cycle of rebirth is impossible since there is a beginning
« Reply #77 on: June 13, 2017, 12:38:10 am »
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I feel confident, considering the general state of knowledge 2,500 years ago, that the reason the Buddha chose not to answer such questions is that he really didn't know the answers to such questions. He was wise enough to know that he didn't know, and wise enough to understand that no purpose would have been served by admitting to his disciples that he didn't know, because doing so would undermine the belief and confidence in his teachings that his disciples needed in order to progress along the path of freeing themselves from suffering.

Have you, by chance, read Agganna Sutta? In some context, Buddha shared with his disciples his views on evolution of beings on earth. Broadly speaking, he mentioned that earth cooled down to have some surface, primordial beings were feeding on mud-like substance, then came mushroom like plants, then came plants with leafs flowers and seeds, then beings started manifesting genders for the first time, the details of forms of the beings emerged gradually, etc. That should compel us to rethink how much Buddha knew.


That's not knowledge. That's mere speculation. It might be a slightly less ludicrous explanation than the Adam and Eve story in the Bible, but way off compared with our modern understanding of our origins.

Here's an excerpt from the Agganna Sutta, or an introduction to it.

"At the beginning known as world contraction, the human ancestry started with the living beings born from the Abhassara Brahmas. ( the same as said in the Abhidhamma) After some long period feeding on the earth soils, the Brahma lost their body radiance and slowly changed in their body features. Then, the sun and moon started to appear in the firmament to start day and night time on earth. Then, every one looks the same; there was no gender, only asexual. Later, after some long period, sex organs were formed on their body. And the women became excessively preoccupied with the men, and the men with the women. Owing to this excessive preoccupation with each other, passion was aroused, and their bodies burnt with lust. And later because of this burning, they indulged in sexual activity. Trees appeared and rice was available freely."

This description of the beginning of mankind is absurd in relation to the modern theory of human evolution. Every religion has its creation story, and I find it quite natural that early humans with their developed brains and capacity for language would speculate on such matters. But this description in the Agganna Sutta is not knowledge, just like the Adam and Eve story is not knowledge.

The idea that the sun and moon started to appear after the human ancestry started, is sheer nonsense.

Offline Rahul

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Re: Cycle of rebirth is impossible since there is a beginning
« Reply #78 on: June 13, 2017, 01:29:59 am »
That's not knowledge. That's mere speculation. It might be a slightly less ludicrous explanation than the Adam and Eve story in the Bible, but way off compared with our modern understanding of our origins.

Here's an excerpt from the Agganna Sutta, or an introduction to it.

"At the beginning known as world contraction, the human ancestry started with the living beings born from the Abhassara Brahmas. ( the same as said in the Abhidhamma) After some long period feeding on the earth soils, the Brahma lost their body radiance and slowly changed in their body features. Then, the sun and moon started to appear in the firmament to start day and night time on earth. Then, every one looks the same; there was no gender, only asexual. Later, after some long period, sex organs were formed on their body. And the women became excessively preoccupied with the men, and the men with the women. Owing to this excessive preoccupation with each other, passion was aroused, and their bodies burnt with lust. And later because of this burning, they indulged in sexual activity. Trees appeared and rice was available freely."

This description of the beginning of mankind is absurd in relation to the modern theory of human evolution. Every religion has its creation story, and I find it quite natural that early humans with their developed brains and capacity for language would speculate on such matters. But this description in the Agganna Sutta is not knowledge, just like the Adam and Eve story is not knowledge.

The idea that the sun and moon started to appear after the human ancestry started, is sheer nonsense.

It is not advisable to take up a rough translation and pass on our judgement. The word 'human ancestry' is too wild a translation. And let us say if Buddha meant ancestors of human, can't primordial life be considered as ancestors?

I have refrained from making any claims. Instead, I have made a point that there are several such examples which should compel us rethink about how much they knew. 2500 years ago, when the humanity was speculating about which power created humans, if someone comes up with an explanation that life evolved from asexual creatures, and that plant life evolved from mushroom like fungus to elaborate plants with leaves and flowers etc... it is surprising at least, and hard to believe that this was a wild guess.

One should refrain from claiming that Buddha knew/didn't know without having any concrete proof.

Offline VincentRJ

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Re: Cycle of rebirth is impossible since there is a beginning
« Reply #79 on: June 13, 2017, 02:27:21 am »
That's not knowledge. That's mere speculation. It might be a slightly less ludicrous explanation than the Adam and Eve story in the Bible, but way off compared with our modern understanding of our origins.

Here's an excerpt from the Agganna Sutta, or an introduction to it.

"At the beginning known as world contraction, the human ancestry started with the living beings born from the Abhassara Brahmas. ( the same as said in the Abhidhamma) After some long period feeding on the earth soils, the Brahma lost their body radiance and slowly changed in their body features. Then, the sun and moon started to appear in the firmament to start day and night time on earth. Then, every one looks the same; there was no gender, only asexual. Later, after some long period, sex organs were formed on their body. And the women became excessively preoccupied with the men, and the men with the women. Owing to this excessive preoccupation with each other, passion was aroused, and their bodies burnt with lust. And later because of this burning, they indulged in sexual activity. Trees appeared and rice was available freely."

This description of the beginning of mankind is absurd in relation to the modern theory of human evolution. Every religion has its creation story, and I find it quite natural that early humans with their developed brains and capacity for language would speculate on such matters. But this description in the Agganna Sutta is not knowledge, just like the Adam and Eve story is not knowledge.

The idea that the sun and moon started to appear after the human ancestry started, is sheer nonsense.

It is not advisable to take up a rough translation and pass on our judgement. The word 'human ancestry' is too wild a translation. And let us say if Buddha meant ancestors of human, can't primordial life be considered as ancestors?


I can only comment or make judgement on information that is provided. I can speculate that the Buddha's words have been misconstrued in the first writings after 400 years of memory transfer, but that's no more than speculation.

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The word 'human ancestry' is too wild a translation. And let us say if Buddha meant ancestors of human, can't primordial life be considered as ancestors?

Of course. My point was that such speculations can be valuable as an inspiration to later generations to continue the speculations in the light of a greater understanding. The Indian Kanada's concept of the atom seems closer to the truth than the Agganna Sutta's description of evolution.

Such speculative concepts inspire further thought which eventually leads to a more complete understanding. However, the idea expressed in the Agganna Sutta that the sun and moon appeared after the formation of the first forms of life, however primitive that life was, is ludicrous.
Maybe this was a mistranslation or a mis-memory of what the Buddha said. Who knows?

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I have refrained from making any claims. Instead, I have made a point that there are several such examples which should compel us rethink about how much they knew. 2500 years ago, when the humanity was speculating about which power created humans, if someone comes up with an explanation that life evolved from asexual creatures, and that plant life evolved from mushroom like fungus to elaborate plants with leaves and flowers etc... it is surprising at least, and hard to believe that this was a wild guess.

It was a deduction based upon imaginative speculation which was presumably also based upon observations of nature. Some of the speculations seem fairly close to the truth, as we now understand it, but many other speculations are clearly way off the mark.

If I had the time, I could analyse all the points made about the origins of life in those times, and separate those points which are broadly close to the truth from those which are far from the truth. I suspect that those which are far from the truth would predominate. Wouldn't you agree?

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One should refrain from claiming that Buddha knew/didn't know without having any concrete proof.

In that case, we're both in the same category. You are claiming that the Buddha knew about such matters. I'm claiming that he very likely didn't know. No concrete proof is available, nor likely to be ever available. We can only use our nous and accept what's reasonable, as the Kalama Sutta advises.  :wink1:

Offline Rahul

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Re: Cycle of rebirth is impossible since there is a beginning
« Reply #80 on: June 13, 2017, 02:47:49 am »
In that case, we're both in the same category. You are claiming that the Buddha knew about such matters. I'm claiming that he very likely didn't know. No concrete proof is available, nor likely to be ever available. We can only use our nous and accept what's reasonable, as the Kalama Sutta advises.  :wink1:

You are missing the point. Throughout the comments, I have always refrained from making any claims about how much Buddha knew. I made a point that we must rethink about how much Buddha knew.

But you should consider another aspect that whatever present day scientific information is available, and especially the ones where Buddhism is not aligned with them, you are considering them all as truth. And using these as basis to evaluate Buddhist concepts. What will you do when tomorrow, those deviations are declared to be misunderstandings or inaccuracies of science, and are generalized and then they become aligned with Buddhist concepts?

I repeat: I am not in favor or against science/Buddhist concepts. But while many people declare others irrational based on their 'scientific' knowledge, how much of verification of 'scientific' facts they have done?

Before the advent of quantum mechanics, Buddhist concepts that particles have no solid/inherent existence and that movement is not continuous, were of course ridiculed.

To conclude, a seeker must keep their mind open: to both Buddhism practices for finding truth, and to scientific methods. How many of Buddhism facts have I verified personally? Not much. How much of scientific facts, for example about origin of life etc., have you verified to ascertain their validity?

No one is in a position to make any claims.

Offline Solodris

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Re: Cycle of rebirth is impossible since there is a beginning
« Reply #81 on: June 13, 2017, 04:33:18 am »
I have concluded my understanding of this discussion to be inconclusive.
« Last Edit: June 13, 2017, 05:11:23 am by Solodris »

Offline VincentRJ

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Re: Cycle of rebirth is impossible since there is a beginning
« Reply #82 on: June 13, 2017, 05:17:21 am »
In that case, we're both in the same category. You are claiming that the Buddha knew about such matters. I'm claiming that he very likely didn't know. No concrete proof is available, nor likely to be ever available. We can only use our nous and accept what's reasonable, as the Kalama Sutta advises.  :wink1:

You are missing the point. Throughout the comments, I have always refrained from making any claims about how much Buddha knew. I made a point that we must rethink about how much Buddha knew.

But you should consider another aspect that whatever present day scientific information is available, and especially the ones where Buddhism is not aligned with them, you are considering them all as truth. And using these as basis to evaluate Buddhist concepts. What will you do when tomorrow, those deviations are declared to be misunderstandings or inaccuracies of science, and are generalized and then they become aligned with Buddhist concepts?

I repeat: I am not in favor or against science/Buddhist concepts. But while many people declare others irrational based on their 'scientific' knowledge, how much of verification of 'scientific' facts they have done?

Before the advent of quantum mechanics, Buddhist concepts that particles have no solid/inherent existence and that movement is not continuous, were of course ridiculed.

To conclude, a seeker must keep their mind open: to both Buddhism practices for finding truth, and to scientific methods. How many of Buddhism facts have I verified personally? Not much. How much of scientific facts, for example about origin of life etc., have you verified to ascertain their validity?

No one is in a position to make any claims.

I don't think I'm missing the point. I think you need to distinguish between a hypothesis and a theory. Prior to the development and articulation of the scientific method, a mere few hundred years ago, all speculations about the nature of our environment, our evolution as a species, the origins of the universe, the nature and size of our universe, and so on, were mere hypotheses or speculation unsupported by sound evidence, and based upon imagination and tradition.

The philosophy of Buddhism relates to an examination of one's own mind through processes of meditation and attempts to still one's mind and eliminate suffering. That's what it's about. It's not about examining in detail the processes of nature, matter and energy, and the universe.

However, there are certain broad concepts in Buddhism that seem to resonate with our understanding of modern science, and that is impressive, but also not really surprising. Just as there's a biological evolution of species, there's also an evolution of ideas and concepts. After scientific investigation, some ideas are scrapped because they cannot be supported by the evidence, and other ideas are confirmed as being very broadly true or provisionally true. If they were all completely wrong there could be no progress. We stand on the shoulders of others who were at least partially right.

Some of the precepts of Buddhism that impress me, and seem very close to the findings of modern science, are the concepts of 'dependent origination', 'cause and effect', 'impermanence', and the illusory nature of our experience and perception of our surrounding environment as observed or detected through our senses.

However, degrees of impermanence vary wildly. The lifespan of the electron is claimed to be 5 quintillion times the age of the universe. In practical terms that's permanent. There are many other particles that are virtually permanent. Gold and diamonds are prized because of their relative permanence. The permanence of living organisms is much less but varies considerably. The Mayfly has a lifespan of just 24 hours whereas the Bowhead whale can have a lifespan of over 200 years. Certain species of tree can have a lifespan of 5,000 years or more.

However, it's true that during the lifetime of any organism there are continual changes taking place within the organism, so I would agree that the concept of impermanence is largely true with just a few exceptions such as the proton and electron.  :wink1:

Offline Solodris

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Re: Cycle of rebirth is impossible since there is a beginning
« Reply #83 on: June 13, 2017, 06:02:40 am »
No one is in a position to make any claims.

Then this is how Buddha ascertained human knowledge. By claiming he was only seeking the ultimate truth in the sense of what the collective can agree upon? Even though it necessarily doesn't have to be ultimate truth, since this is not the goal of Buddhism?

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Re: Cycle of rebirth is impossible since there is a beginning
« Reply #84 on: June 13, 2017, 10:07:08 am »
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VincentRJ:  "However, it's true that during the lifetime of any organism there are continual changes taking place within the organism, so I would agree that the concept of impermanence is largely true with just a few exceptions such as the proton and electron.  :wink1:"


Yes.  Interesting facts about the electron and proton duration of life, but it has no relevance as to Buddha's teachings.  He was clear that he taught only about the fact of suffering (dukkha) as being the normal condition for the living, the cause of suffering, that suffering could be ended, and that there was a sure-fire means to end suffering.  He made this clear in  The Simsapa Sutta.

source:  http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn56/sn56.031.than.html
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"What do you think, monks: Which are more numerous, the few simsapa leaves in my hand or those overhead in the simsapa forest?"

"The leaves in the hand of the Blessed One are few in number, lord. Those overhead in the simsapa forest are more numerous."

"In the same way, monks, those things that I have known with direct knowledge but have not taught are far more numerous [than what I have taught]. And why haven't I taught them? Because they are not connected with the goal, do not relate to the rudiments of the holy life, and do not lead to disenchantment, to dispassion, to cessation, to calm, to direct knowledge, to self-awakening, to Unbinding. That is why I have not taught them.

"And what have I taught? 'This is stress... This is the origination of stress... This is the cessation of stress... This is the path of practice leading to the cessation of stress': This is what I have taught. And why have I taught these things? Because they are connected with the goal, relate to the rudiments of the holy life, and lead to disenchantment, to dispassion, to cessation, to calm, to direct knowledge, to self-awakening, to Unbinding. This is why I have taught them.

"Therefore your duty is the contemplation, 'This is stress... This is the origination of stress... This is the cessation of stress.' Your duty is the contemplation, 'This is the path of practice leading to the cessation of stress.'"

What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

Offline VincentRJ

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Re: Cycle of rebirth is impossible since there is a beginning
« Reply #85 on: June 13, 2017, 06:21:45 pm »
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VincentRJ:  "However, it's true that during the lifetime of any organism there are continual changes taking place within the organism, so I would agree that the concept of impermanence is largely true with just a few exceptions such as the proton and electron.  :wink1:"


Yes.  Interesting facts about the electron and proton duration of life, but it has no relevance as to Buddha's teachings.  He was clear that he taught only about the fact of suffering (dukkha) as being the normal condition for the living, the cause of suffering, that suffering could be ended, and that there was a sure-fire means to end suffering.  He made this clear in  The Simsapa Sutta.

source:  http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn56/sn56.031.than.html



Yes, of course. That's a perfectly rational position to take. If I visit a doctor because I have a pain in my knee, I don't expect the doctor to give me a piano lesson, or discuss the latest theories about the origins of the universe. Nor would I assume that the doctor was an expert on playing the piano or on the latest cosmological theories, but he might be. All teachers will likely have some knowledge of matters outside the range of their teaching subject.

My point is, I think it is reasonable to suppose that the Buddha was wise enough to realize that he didn't have any clear understanding of many imponderable issues such as the origins of the universe and the existence of a Creator God, and that it wouldn't have served any purpose for him to have admitted or emphasised that he didn't know because explanations of such imponderables were a part of the existing Vedic religious culture of the times, and he was wise enough to realize that such an admission would have created problems of faith for his disciples.

The Agganna Sutta sounds very mythical to me. Richard Gombrich is of the view that the Sutta was conceived as a satire of the Vedic "Hym of the Cosmic Man", in order to debunk the divine nature of the caste system.

One might cherry-pick certain phrases in the Sutta, such as the concept of an expanding and contracting universe, and think how prescient that concept was considering our modern theory of the Big Bang. However, our latest observation of the outer reaches of the universe imply, or at least raise the possibility, that the universe might continue to expand forever.

It used to be thought that the universe was static, then it was discovered through observation of a 'red shift', that the universe was expanding, but at an increasingly slower rate so that eventually the expansion would come to a halt and the universe would begin to contract upon itself. Then recently, through the increased power of the Hubble telescope, it was observed that the expansion of the universe is actually accelerating.

For all we know, the universe might expand forever and eventually result in a 'Big Freeze'. The most distant galaxies might already be travelling faster than the speed of light, which means we might never be able to detect them.

Speculating on such matters during the times of the Buddha would have been pointless, I agree. They didn't even have a basic, optical telescope in those days. However, speculating or hypothesising about such matters in our modern society, using increasing sophisticated instruments, is a different kettle of fish. There have been many instances in the past when purely theoretical investigations into matters, of no immediate practical use, have resulted in great benefits later as new understandings arise which can be put to practical use.

As the Buddha would have said, 'Everything is connected.'  :wink1:

Offline Rahul

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Re: Cycle of rebirth is impossible since there is a beginning
« Reply #86 on: June 13, 2017, 08:34:57 pm »
The philosophy of Buddhism relates to an examination of one's own mind through processes of meditation and attempts to still one's mind and eliminate suffering. That's what it's about. It's not about examining in detail the processes of nature, matter and energy, and the universe.

Is that all you can say about Buddhism? If it's all about just eliminating suffering, what about the concepts of anatta, anicca, sunnatta? What about Madhyamica school of philosophy, what about Abhidhamma Pitaka? To save your time, let me tell you that a great deal of Buddhist literature and practices are centered towards understanding the 'phenomena' around us.

However, there are certain broad concepts in Buddhism that seem to resonate with our understanding of modern science, and that is impressive, but also not really surprising. Just as there's a biological evolution of species, there's also an evolution of ideas and concepts.

So someone talks about cosmic contractions and expansions and evolution of plants from mushrooms and evolution of animals from gender-less primordial beings, etc. 2500 years ago and you can confidently give your verdict that it was 'wild guess/speculation' without evidences. How close was this 'speculation' to the Adam-Eve and 'God created all' kind of stories of that time, or how does it even fit in this 'evolution' of ideas of origins? Or, to being with, what kind of hypotheses were prevalent in that period?

I am not claiming that he knew it all. But it is totally irrational to call it a speculation or a part of the 'evolution of hypotheses' in the history of mankind.

It would be biased to declare Buddha's description of origins of Earth 'nonsense'. What facts have we (not just you, but yes specifically you) verified about origins of the earth? So someone read a few scientific articles and took it to be true and then goes around evaluating other theories 'right' or 'wrong'? What happens if tomorrow scientists find new clues and come to a conclusion that earth was a stray planet, and the heat from the core of the earth gave birth to primordial microbes, and later on the sun caught up with the earth?

Even the very scientists who concluded theory of origination of the earth and the life are open minded to the fact that new evidences may change their thinking. But at least they studied, experimented and verified whatever data they had before coming to their present day conclusion. What have we verified to take it as a yard-stick to evaluate other ideas?

Even if we just indulge in declared scientific facts, you should know that there was life on earth more than 1 billion years BEFORE the photosynthetic microbes came into existence. Does that give you a hint that life could have emerged without Sun as a necessity?

Offline VincentRJ

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Re: Cycle of rebirth is impossible since there is a beginning
« Reply #87 on: June 13, 2017, 10:48:14 pm »
The philosophy of Buddhism relates to an examination of one's own mind through processes of meditation and attempts to still one's mind and eliminate suffering. That's what it's about. It's not about examining in detail the processes of nature, matter and energy, and the universe.

Is that all you can say about Buddhism? If it's all about just eliminating suffering, what about the concepts of anatta, anicca, sunnatta? What about Madhyamica school of philosophy, what about Abhidhamma Pitaka? To save your time, let me tell you that a great deal of Buddhist literature and practices are centered towards understanding the 'phenomena' around us.

These are all concepts about the person and the illusion of self, and are related to the elimination of suffering through control of the mind.

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So someone talks about cosmic contractions and expansions and evolution of plants from mushrooms and evolution of animals from gender-less primordial beings, etc. 2500 years ago and you can confidently give your verdict that it was 'wild guess/speculation' without evidences. How close was this 'speculation' to the Adam-Eve and 'God created all' kind of stories of that time, or how does it even fit in this 'evolution' of ideas of origins? Or, to being with, what kind of hypotheses were prevalent in that period?

One of the unfortunate states of affairs that inhibits certainty and a full understanding about the evolutionary progression of ideas, is the lack of written evidence from the distant past, especially in India.

I suspect the foundations of Buddhism go back a few millennia to the time of the Indus Valley Civilization which flourished in the region which is now Pakistan and West India. This civilization appears to have been very egalitarian, very advanced for the times, very peaceful in the sense there is no evidence of kingly palaces and fighting among war lords of different tribes.

The caste system which the Buddha was clearly opposed to, was introduced by the Aryans from Eastern Europe. We don't have any clear evidence of fighting between the invading Aryans and the Indus Valley people, but we do have evidence that climate change caused people to disperse and spread further afield around 1900 BC, about 1400 years prior to the times of the Buddha.

There's also archaeological evidence in the form of statues which look like Hindu Yogis sitting in the 'lotus pose' meditating. My own feeling is that the ideas and concepts from this civilization would have been passed on through word of mouth, for many centuries, in opposition to the ideas of the invading Aryans and their caste system, and would have indirectly influenced the thinking of the Buddha.

It's also interesting to note that the Indus Valley civilization, or Harappan Civilization, seems to have created a written text with many different symbols. Nobody has yet been able to decipher it. It might not even be a fully formed written language. Nobody knows, but there are certainly enough different symbols to form a written language.

The lack of a written language in India for long periods before the times of the Buddha, and for a couple of centuries after the times of the Buddha, makes it difficult to be certain about anything.
One can only go by what makes sense, as the Kalama Sutta advises. What makes sense to me might not make sense to you. I accept that. The best I can do is explain my position and the reasons behind it.

Offline IdleChater

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Re: Cycle of rebirth is impossible since there is a beginning
« Reply #88 on: June 14, 2017, 03:36:57 pm »
The permanence of living organisms is much less but varies considerably. The Mayfly has a lifespan of just 24 hours whereas the Bowhead whale can have a lifespan of over 200 years. Certain species of tree can have a lifespan of 5,000 years or more.

There ya go again, saying something egregiously incorrect.

I'm an amateur entomologist, specializing in insects found in cold-water environments.  This includes Mayflies.

Mayflies have a complete lifespan that lasts from several months to about a year depending on species.  In a number of cases, it's longer.

It's the winged phases of that cycle don't last very long - from a an hour or two, to a couple days.  It's interesting to note that winged adults have no mouth parts or digestive tract.  These adults exist only to reproduce.

For someone who touts science and scientific method, you sure do play fast and loose with fact when trying to make a point.

Offline VincentRJ

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Re: Cycle of rebirth is impossible since there is a beginning
« Reply #89 on: June 14, 2017, 05:36:08 pm »
The permanence of living organisms is much less but varies considerably. The Mayfly has a lifespan of just 24 hours whereas the Bowhead whale can have a lifespan of over 200 years. Certain species of tree can have a lifespan of 5,000 years or more.

There ya go again, saying something egregiously incorrect.

I'm an amateur entomologist, specializing in insects found in cold-water environments.  This includes Mayflies.

Mayflies have a complete lifespan that lasts from several months to about a year depending on species.  In a number of cases, it's longer.

It's the winged phases of that cycle don't last very long - from a an hour or two, to a couple days.  It's interesting to note that winged adults have no mouth parts or digestive tract.  These adults exist only to reproduce.

For someone who touts science and scientific method, you sure do play fast and loose with fact when trying to make a point.

Thanks for the correction. However I don't see how that diminishes the point I was making in relation to the issue I raised, which is the great variability of the degree of permanence of both animate and inanimate substances?

As I now understand, the Mayfly as a recognizable fly has a lifespan of around 24 hours. However, it's complete life cycle, from initial fertilization till death is longer, as you point out.

Should we now discuss the difference in meaning between lifespan and life cycle, or discuss whether your use of the term 'egregiously incorrect' is egregiously inappropriate within the context?

Should we modify our estimate of the human lifespan as being approximately 100 years, and claim that is egregiously incorrect because we can now freeze human sperm and embryos for long periods of many decades, thus increasing the potential life cycle of certain humans?  :wink1:

 


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