Author Topic: Self and Re-incarnation  (Read 4347 times)

Offline Chaz

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Re: Self and Re-incarnation
« Reply #60 on: September 05, 2018, 05:36:17 am »
However, the gross and extremely obese 'Laughing Buddha' seems to mostly represent what Buddhism is fundamentally not about. That's my point.

To you, perhaps, and that's legit.  You get what you get from viewing forms with your particular mindset.  Where many will see it as an example of the benefits of great joy gained through kindness to others, others will see only ugliness.

Oh, and next time you see a Ho-Tai in a Chinese or Vietnamese restaurant, don't forget to rub his belly.  It bestows good luck!

Offline VincentRJ

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Re: Self and Re-incarnation
« Reply #61 on: September 05, 2018, 10:20:15 pm »
However, the gross and extremely obese 'Laughing Buddha' seems to mostly represent what Buddhism is fundamentally not about. That's my point.

To you, perhaps, and that's legit.  You get what you get from viewing forms with your particular mindset.  Where many will see it as an example of the benefits of great joy gained through kindness to others, others will see only ugliness.

Doesn't everyone view everything and anything with their own particular mindset? Isn't that fundamental to the Buddhist terachings, that sensory perceptions are actually, in realty, illusory?

The issue for me, however, is, 'how are such a views supported using rational criteria in accordance with what one understands to be true', which is a process the Kalama Sutta recommends.

I understand perfectly that for some people, even many people who could be considered a part of the ignorant masses, might interpret a symbolic representation of an extremely obese person with a wide smile, as an embodiment of wealth and happiness.
I understand that, and I can understand why the ignorant masses might accept that, which must be also part of the reason why so many people nowadays fall into the obese category, although nowadays obesity is not so much an indicator of wealth. In Australia, one can buy a litre of Ice Cream in the Supermarket for as little as $5, and/or Hamburger and Chips, which have much more calories than any standard meal one would buy in a restaurant at triple the price.

There might be certain studies that suggest that obese people can be happy, and sometimes even happier than many normal-weight people, but that's probably because obese people treat the eating of tasty, sugar-laden and fat-laden food, as a comfort. It's their main pleasure in life. Without the constant eating they would probably become depressed, which is why it's so difficult for most obese people to lose weight.

Buddhism addresses these fundamental problems of taking comfort, delight and happiness in sensory pleasures. When one is deprived of such pleasures, one begins to suffer. The suffering can be temporarily removed by engaging in yet more sensory pleasure, then more and more. It gradually escalates to addiction, whether food addition, sex addiction, wealth addiction, ego and vanity addiction, power addiction, and so on, by which time the consequent suffering will unavoidably rear its ugly head and be very difficult, if not impossible to dispel.

This is why I consider the Laughing Buddha to be unrepresentative of fundamental Buddhist teachings, and therefore a paradox.

Quote
Oh, and next time you see a Ho-Tai in a Chinese or Vietnamese restaurant, don't forget to rub his belly.  It bestows good luck!

I think I might be more concerned with the possible contamination of my hand, touching something that has been rubbed by thousands of ignorant people with unwashed hands.  :D

Offline Chaz

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Re: Self and Re-incarnation
« Reply #62 on: September 06, 2018, 07:08:12 am »


The issue for me, however, is, 'how are such a views supported using rational criteria in accordance with what one understands to be true', which is a process the Kalama Sutta recommends.

Not really.

The only criteria for evaluation of teaching, given by the Buddha is this:

Quote
..... These things are good; these things are not blamable; these things are praised by the wise; undertaken and observed, these things lead to benefit and happiness,' enter on and abide in them.

There is nothing there about established truth, fact, science, or rationale.  In fact to call it an endorsement of "free inquiry", as many do, seems a little silly to me.  Not free at all.

Offline VincentRJ

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Re: Self and Re-incarnation
« Reply #63 on: September 06, 2018, 11:05:07 am »


The issue for me, however, is, 'how are such a views supported using rational criteria in accordance with what one understands to be true', which is a process the Kalama Sutta recommends.

Not really.

The only criteria for evaluation of teaching, given by the Buddha is this:

Quote
..... These things are good; these things are not blamable; these things are praised by the wise; undertaken and observed, these things lead to benefit and happiness,' enter on and abide in them.

There is nothing there about established truth, fact, science, or rationale.  In fact to call it an endorsement of "free inquiry", as many do, seems a little silly to me.  Not free at all.

You missed out an essential part of that quote, Idlechatter. Here is the full quote:

"Kalamas, when you yourselves know: 'These things are good; these things are not blamable; these things are praised by the wise; undertaken and observed, these things lead to benefit and happiness,' enter on and abide in them."

This is the criterion for acceptance that something is true; personal knowledge and understanding, rather than unquestioningly accepting whatever is stated in the scriptures, or by a teacher or by some renowned authority.

Likewise, the criterion for rejection is as follows:

"Kalamas, when you yourselves know: 'These things are bad; these things are blamable; these things are censured by the wise; and you have undertaken and observed that these things lead to harm and ill,' abandon them."

Now it's true that the Sutta does not go into great detail about the analytical processes that should be employed by these Kalamas in order to get their knowledge, or understanding, that certain types of behaviour have good or bad consequences. However, it seems clear to me that the broad recommendation is to exercise a free and unbiased inquiry into the subject under consideration, whenever there is reason for some doubt about the truth of certain claims.

Offline Chaz

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Re: Self and Re-incarnation
« Reply #64 on: September 06, 2018, 01:03:52 pm »


You missed out an essential part of that quote, Idlechatter. Here is the full quote:

"Kalamas, when you yourselves know: 'These things are good; these things are not blamable; these things are praised by the wise; undertaken and observed, these things lead to benefit and happiness,' enter on and abide in them."

Dude.

What you added is not "essential", but regardless, it changes nothing.  Remember it's "when you, yourself know:"  that's a colon on the end.  It means that in this case, what follows is what you need to know.  You don't need to know anything else, apart from those 4 things.  No other criteria is needed.  Doesn't matter what science says.  Does it conform to those criteria?  If it does, you're gold.

You don't have to, nor should you go off on a tear as to what sciences, or philosophies, or histories say about a teaching such as those we discuss here.

Another person can tell you how a teaching conforms, but the truth is, if you follow that you're kind of dumb.  You make the determination based on your own analysis.  It's simply common sense.  So  what you do or don't do is secondary to how you should analyse.

People seem to think that the KS gives them license to analyse the Dharma by whatever standard suits them.  That's not what the Buddha taught.
« Last Edit: September 06, 2018, 02:02:11 pm by IdleChater »

Offline VincentRJ

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Re: Self and Re-incarnation
« Reply #65 on: September 06, 2018, 09:52:48 pm »


You missed out an essential part of that quote, Idlechatter. Here is the full quote:

"Kalamas, when you yourselves know: 'These things are good; these things are not blamable; these things are praised by the wise; undertaken and observed, these things lead to benefit and happiness,' enter on and abide in them."

Dude.

What you added is not "essential", but regardless, it changes nothing.  Remember it's "when you, yourself know:"  that's a colon on the end.  It means that in this case, what follows is what you need to know.  You don't need to know anything else, apart from those 4 things.  No other criteria is needed.  Doesn't matter what science says.  Does it conform to those criteria?  If it does, you're gold.

You don't have to, nor should you go off on a tear as to what sciences, or philosophies, or histories say about a teaching such as those we discuss here.

Another person can tell you how a teaching conforms, but the truth is, if you follow that you're kind of dumb.  You make the determination based on your own analysis.  It's simply common sense.  So  what you do or don't do is secondary to how you should analyse.

People seem to think that the KS gives them license to analyse the Dharma by whatever standard suits them.  That's not what the Buddha taught.

Well, I'll try to do my best to explain the glaring contradiction in your above response, in case other readers get confused, (and because I'm so compassionate, of course.  :wink1: )

As I understand, from the story in the Pali Canon, the Kalamas, a group of villagers in Kessaputta, had experienced numerous ascetics, gurus, brahmans and so-called religious teachers of various sects (and perhaps even 'cults'  :wink1: ),  passing through their village, declaring their own teaching to be the correct and the right one, and sometimes denouncing other gurus who had previously passed through the village expressing a different doctrine.

When Gautama Buddha arrived on the scene, the Kalamas thought, "Oh! Here's another one, probably promoting his own doctrine which will likely be different again to the teachings expressed by those previous wandering ascetics who have passed through our village."

However, on this occasion, the villagers confronted Gautama with this problem they had in determining which of the different doctrines that had been expressed by different gurus, was correct.

In my view, the Buddha's response to the concerns of these villagers was quite admirable. If Gautama had replied along the lines that you have expressed above, ie. (You don't need to know anything else, apart from those 4 things. No other criteria is needed. Doesn't matter what science says. Does it conform to those criteria? If it does, you're gold."), then the Kalamas' questions would not have been answered. The Kalamas could have replied to the Buddha, 'But you are just again dogmatically expressing a different doctrine, as all the other gurus have, who have passed through our village.'

Do you really not see the contradiction? Know for yourself, rather than unquestioningly accepting the authority of others, is the fundamental message of the Kalama Sutta.

No intelligent person needs to be taught that bad things are bad and should be avoided, or that good things are good and should be embraced. That message is fundamental to the meaning of the words.
The important question is, why and/or how are certain actions harmful or beneficial. How does one determine that? The answer in the Kalama Sutta suggests that one should observe and experiment in as unbiased a manner as possible.

However, you make a good point when you write:
Quote
People seem to think that the KS gives them license to analyse the Dharma by whatever standard suits them. That's not what the Buddha taught.

I agree with this point. Bias can be a problem for all of us. It's sometimes very easy to delude oneself that one is being rational and logical when a particular view resonates with one's own feelings.
An example that springs to mind is the argument sometimes presented by overweight people. In order to justify their continuation of excessive consumption of food, and avoid uncomfortable fasting and diet restrictions in order to lose weight, such people will often claim that their overweightedness or obesity is due to their genes and there's nothing they can do about it.

The specious reasoning they sometimes use is that they have observed certain friends and acquaintances eating the same amount of food as they do, if not more, but who are not overweight. Using such observations, the overweight person can rationalize that the amount of food eaten is not the problem, and that they are being very logical when they arrive at the conclusion that it's all about their genes.

The major principle such people miss as a result of such specious reasoning, is that it's possible for some people to eat too much and not become overweight (because of their genes), but it's not possible for a person to become overweight without eating too much, whatever their genes.

No-one has yet discovered how to create something from nothing. The excess fat of the Laughing Buddha, if he's really representative of an actual person in history, was created by excessive consumption of food. If that excess of food had been given instead to undernourished or starving people, those starving people would have benefited and the Laughing Buddha would also have benefited. He would have become healthier and would have lived longer.

This problem of bias is addressed by the Buddha's advice in the Sutta, 'to not follow specious reasoning which might appear to be logical because it resonates with one's own feelings.'
Any view or belief should be tested by the results it yields when put into practice.
In order to guard against the possibility of bias or the limitations of one's understanding, the Buddha also recommended that such beliefs should be further checked against the experiences of people who are considered to be wise.

The ability to question and test one's beliefs in an appropriate way is called appropriate attention.

Thus endeth the lesson.  :wink1:


Offline Chaz

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Re: Self and Re-incarnation
« Reply #66 on: September 09, 2018, 05:34:39 am »
Do you really not see the contradiction? Know for yourself, rather than unquestioningly accepting the authority of others, is the fundamental message of the Kalama Sutta.

But it's not a contradiction.  "When you know for yourself" those 4 things.  "When you know for yourself" is not an independnt statement.  It relates to those 4 things and literally, nothing else.  Simple sentance structure that most of us learned in grade school.

Is this the statement that so many people rely on to evaluate the Buddha's teachings so wrecklessly?

Offline Dharma Flower

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Re: Self and Re-incarnation
« Reply #67 on: November 26, 2018, 12:52:33 pm »
If there is no 'fixed, permanent self' then what gets re-incarnated?

Buddha-nature, not the ego-self, passes on from life to life.

Offline paracelsus

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Re: Self and Re-incarnation
« Reply #68 on: November 26, 2018, 02:05:21 pm »
  Where many will see it as an example of the benefits of great joy gained through kindness to others, others will see only ugliness.

Oh, and next time you see a Ho-Tai in a Chinese or Vietnamese restaurant, don't forget to rub his belly.  It bestows good luck!
[/quote]

Funny you should say this about the Ho-Tai's belly. My grandmother had a beautiful brass Ho-Tai, large and heavy and we children were told that to rub his belly would bring good luck. I did. A few days later, returning on a boat trip on a local lake, aged about twelve I sat on the engine box cross legged in a golden bliss sat as a buddha all the way back to the launching ramp. It took a few years to actually connect with the Dharma and begin real practice but my connection started back there. I don't think I could have been much luckier.

That is of course only a story, a true story but only a story, and proves nothing except perhaps that if we connect with a positive mind we will find beauty and joy and if we criticise with a negative mind we will miss the opportunity. In this life maybe that determines our rebirth, moment by moment.

Anyone tried going back into the past? One minute ago is the land of the dead.

Zen art and literature is full of pebbles and frogs. It doesn't have to be a golden buddha that wakes us up.




Offline Dairy Lama

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Re: Self and Re-incarnation
« Reply #69 on: November 27, 2018, 04:09:35 am »
Buddha-nature, not the ego-self, passes on from life to life.

This sounds much the same as the Hindu idea of a soul passing from life to life.  Do you think of Buddha-nature in that way?
« Last Edit: November 27, 2018, 04:15:10 am by Dairy Lama »
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