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  • BroInChrist's Avatar
    3,110 posts since Dec '11
    • Originally posted by An Eternal Now:

      It is true in the sense that 'the weather is cool today'.

      It is false in the sense that there is no truly existing 'weather' to be 'cool' apart from an imputed convention.

      But the ultimate nature of weather as empty does not deny the appearance or experience of hotness, etc. It never denies appearance or experience. It just means an inherent, independent existence cannot be found or established.

      You can say that conventional truths are [ultimately] false, yet it is still a useful way to communicate things. So we do not need to reject them when dealing on the level of conventions. Weather is cool, I am fine, etc, are conventional statements. If you ask me 'are you ok?' I do not need to say 'there is no me to be fine'. I simply say I am fine.

      On a lighter note.

      If I ask "Are you OK?"

      You answer, "Who is asking?"

      If conventional truths are ultimately false, then by direct inference such conventional truths are false. Perhaps it is a bad choice of words to call it conventional truth and ultimate truth. Language is a tool of communication, and it can communicate truth. Otherwise all communication would fail. I subscribe to the correspondence theory of truth. Reality is what is. Truth is that which corresponds to reality, what is. So if the weather is cool, and I say "the weather is cool", then that is a true statement. 

  • BroInChrist's Avatar
    3,110 posts since Dec '11
    • Originally posted by An Eternal Now:

      No.. you are misunderstanding what I said.

      By the 'feeling' - actually feeling isn't a good term - I mean the experience. The experience is that of no subject-object division and no sense of self. There is no sense of a perceiver behind a perception. There is just a perception, and there is no sense of a center, no sense of separation, no sense of division, no sense of distance. Perception is being experienced where it is without any sense of a vantage point [an example of a commonly experienced vantage point would be to experience 'things' as a person inside the head that is the looker, looking outwards, just like in the standard diagram of cartesian dualism]. This is the experience.

      However, the experience is not the realization. Even athletes or ordinary people can have certain similar peak experiences where self-consciousness is temporarily suspended or transcended in an act of seeing something wonderful or doing something intense and concentrative.

      What I'm talking about is the realization of Anatta, the realization of no-self. It is about realizing the nature of reality as having always already been the case. Because of this act of realization [not experience], the false view or delusion fabricating the sense of self pretty much stops arising. Therefore, after this realization, the 'experience' as described above becomes almost perpetual and after full actualization of view and realization, the experience does become perpetual. A perpetual state of direct, gapless and self-releasing experience from moment to moment.

      As I wrote long time ago:

      First I do not see Anatta as merely a freeing from personality sort of experience as you mentioned; I see it as that a self/agent, a doer, a thinker, a watcher, etc, cannot be found apart from the moment to moment flow of manifestation or as its commonly expressed as ‘the observer is the observed’; there is no self apart from arising and passing. A very important point here is that Anatta/No-Self is a Dharma Seal, it is the nature of Reality all the time -- and not merely as a state free from personality, ego or the ‘small self’ or a stage to attain. This means that it does not depend on the level of achievement of a practitioner to experience anatta but Reality has always been Anatta and what is important here is the intuitive insight into it as the nature, characteristic, of phenomenon (dharma seal).

      To put further emphasis on the importance of this point, I would like to borrow from the Bahiya Sutta (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/ud/ud.1.10.irel.html) that ‘in the seeing, there is just the seen, no seer’, ‘in the hearing, there is just the heard, no hearer’ as an illustration. When a person says that I have gone beyond the experiences from ‘I hear sound’ to a stage of ‘becoming sound’, he is mistaken. When it is taken to be a stage, it is illusory. For in actual case, there is and always is only sound when hearing; never was there a hearer to begin with. Nothing attained for it is always so. This is the seal of no-self. Therefore to a non dualist, the practice is in understanding the illusionary views of the sense of self and the split. Before the awakening of prajna wisdom, there will always be an unknowing attempt to maintain a purest state of 'presence'. This purest presence is the 'how' of a dualistic mind -- its dualistic attempt to provide a solution due to its lack of clarity of the spontaneous nature of the unconditioned. It is critical to note here that both the doubts/confusions/searches and the solutions that are created for these doubts/confusions/searches actually derive from the same cause -- our karmic propensities of ever seeing things dualistically
      .



      Usually I don't talk about subjects like anatta/no-self, or emptiness, to people who are new to Buddhism, and I apologise if any of these sounds too deep or confusing due to my inability to express very clearly or simply. It is one of the more profound topics in Buddhism, though it is certainly a subject that is understandable and experiencable and realizable as your understanding and practice of the dharma matures.

      Realization and experience should be delineated. Realization does not arise out of mere feelings/experience but by penetrating the nature of experience in wisdom-awareness. However the experience [of having no sense of self] does become effortless after realization.

      In summary:

      1) realization of anatta (no self) is not the same as a mere [peak] experience of transcending the sense of self, rather it is discovering that anatta is always already the case as the nature of reality

      2) however, the experience of transcending the sense of self becomes effortless and later perpetual after the realization. Why? Sense of self is constructed/fabricated due to ignorance, so it is the arising of wisdom/realization --> removal of ignorance --> no more fabricating of sense of self in daily life

      Is it possible to have an experience without an "experiencer"? Sorry I am still trying to better grasp your views about no-self. It does seems to go against the grain of common day experience. Note though that I am not asking for a description or a justification of the experience or realisation. I am trying to evaluate the idea or belief in no-self.

       

  • BroInChrist's Avatar
    3,110 posts since Dec '11
    • Originally posted by kuji-in:

       

      i am against the use of animal sacrifices or human sacrifices because it is too cruel.

      Can the christians call themselves righteous by pushing the blame on an innocent being and then profiteering from the death of others?

      i would rather follow buddhism and avoid sinning rather than to follow christianity and use other people as sacrifice.

      Get it?

       

      You have misunderstood. It is not about pushing the blame on some animal or on Jesus. It is about atonement for sin to escape the wrath of a holy God who must judge sin. Animal sacrifices in the OT was a temporary provision for atoning for sins. Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins. That blood must be shed reflects the seriousness of sin. But Christ, being the perfect sinless Son of God, died once and for all. He laid down His life willingly for us. You may not like this but I would argue that one's likes or dislikes does not negate a truth.  Christians are to avoid sinning but when they do fall into sin, they can seek forgiveness in Christ's finished work on the cross. No more animal sacrifices, and neither does Christ need to die again.  

  • BroInChrist's Avatar
    3,110 posts since Dec '11
    • Originally posted by Weychin:

      “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want”. Each time when someone accept Christ, an repent his sins he/she is said to be reborn as, by Divine Grace all their sins, including the Original Sin is washed away! Yet despite accepting Christ, how many are still found wanting and be reborn to be a unsinner? So accepting Christ does’nt mean a person able stop temptations or stop commiting sins. When the pious succumbs and repents and succumbs, one develops a guilt complex. Suffering to others and oneself(inner torment) do not end until truly able to repent! Kinda make the reborn thing redundant!

      The Bible does not teach that being a Christian means that after that you are unable to sin. It teaches that sin no longer has the power over believers i.e. we are free from the penalty and power of sin. We are no longer cut off from God but reconciled to God. The Bible says that if we claim to have no sin then we are liars. But that if we sin, we have Jesus as an Advocate. In a fallen world, believers can still fall into sin. But a time is coming when sin will be no more, corruption is no more.

  • BroInChrist's Avatar
    3,110 posts since Dec '11
    • Originally posted by Dawnfirstlight:

      My understanding is in Christianity, it is believed that every human is born sinful because of the sin committed by Adam and Eve. They disobeyed the command of God, passes on to all human making them sinner by birth. So; “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners". It is not so much of the sins committed due to being immoral but the original sin or ancestral sin from Adam and Eve, the inheritance of sin. Jesus was crucified to save us from our original sin.

      The doctrine of original sin is that through the disobedience of Adam, corruption entered the perfect world God created. And because we are descendants of Adam, we are "in Adam" and thus inherit his guilt and corrupt nature. This explains why humans have the propensity to do evil. The Bible does not teach that Jesus died to save us from Adam's sin, but from our sins. We all have sinned, we are all sinners, and that's because we are all dead in Adam since we are his descendants. But we can be made alive in Christ.

  • BroInChrist's Avatar
    3,110 posts since Dec '11
    • Originally posted by Aik TC:

       

      Some schools of thought reject dualism. But what is the ultimate truth on this, dualism or monism?

      There will always be debates and arguments between different schools of thoughts in the same religion. Some feels that their interpretation of the teachings of the founder is more correct and representative of the founder. It is up to individual to decide for themselves which school they are more comfortable and at home with. Buddhism grows from a pluralistic form of teaching, then on to Absolutism, than Idealism and at the end stage in its history in India to Logic in its defense of the religion. In all these development, the core teachings of the Blessed One the Buddha is still there, except interpreted differently. It is a natural progression in the growth of the religion itself. If it has stay static in its original form, it would have attract only certain type of believers and the population of Buddhists in the world would certainly be smaller than it is now. As far as I am concern, there is no ultimate truth as to who is more correct. Pick the chose that one is comfortable with.

      Are you saying that there is no distinction between truth and error? Basically monism would imply that, since all is one reality.

      As pointed out in an earlier posting above, there is, in the conventional sense. Our thinking process is riddle with contradictions which is the way it works, it is dualistic in nature. Buddhist Absolutism implies that to know what reality is, one have to go beyond concepts and thoughts to intuitive experience and realization. That is where the Buddhist teaching of Emptiness comes in.

      Experience being an experience, I am sure there is a place of rational thought in all religions.

      Certainly, that is where all of us first started out from.

       My apology, change made from wording 'Monism' to 'Absolutism' in red above. 

       

      1. I agree that for any text, religious or not, there can be differing interpretations. But surely it cannot be the case that all interpretations are equally valid or true? It is the intended meaning of the author that is true, not the reader's. And to the extent that the reader has correctly discerned the intention of the author, the reader's interpretation is correct. If we get to pick and choose what beliefs we are comfortable with, or if we think that all views, no matter how different or even contradictory and mutually exclusive, are true, then it becomes relativism which is a self-refuting worldview.

      2. Please clarify again: are you saying that truth/error exists in terms of conventional sense but not in terms of ultimate sense i.e. the ultimate truth is that truth and error does not exist? Our thinking process should follow the rules or laws of logic, fundamental being the law of non-contradiction. It is because we are finite and fallible that many times we contradict ourselves or make contradictory claims, which we may or may not even be aware until someone points it out. Pardon me, but I thought Buddhism rejects absolutism? See http://newbuddhist.com/discussion/3070/buddhism-the-middle-way-between-absolutism-and-extreme-skepticism

      3. What I was trying to say that every religion has teachings, and these teachings contain truth claims. Such truth claims should be evaluated for logical consistency where possible. Experiences are personal to holder and cannot be evaluated in a similar manner.

       

  • BroInChrist's Avatar
    3,110 posts since Dec '11
    • Originally posted by Aik TC:

       

      I suppose it won't be wrong to say that Buddhism's worldview is monism since there is apparently a rejection of dualism?

      Some Schools, not all.

      In what way is the distinction between truth and error a conventional truth i.e. a delusion?

      It is still based on dualistic thoughts.

       Got your point re the analogy's message. The existence of suffering (and death) will lead one to question the cause of suffering. It shouldn't be considered speculation.

      It is an experience.

       I understand that Buddhism believes in rebirth. I am sharing why in Christianity moral perfection is impossible.

      Noted

       

       

      1. Some schools of thought reject dualism. But what is the ultimate truth on this, dualism or monism?

      2. Are you saying that there is no distinction between truth and error? Basically monism would imply that, since all is one reality.

      3. Experience being an experience, I am sure there is a place of rational thought in all religions.

  • BroInChrist's Avatar
    3,110 posts since Dec '11
    • Originally posted by Aik TC:

      Would you like to clarify that further? It would seem that Buddhism holds that conventional truth can be false, but ultimate truth is..well...truth i.e. what is.

      In a nutshell, information that is collected by our senses in our everyday routine are constructed into mental pictures by our mind. There is duality, as our mind has already bifurcate what is seen, heard into a subject and an object. What is concluded and judgment passed on the object are already colored and influenced by our own mental capabilities, prejudices, inclination, biases, likes and dislikes etc. This form of conclusion and judgment are Conventional Truths. The above Wiki description is quite clear as to what is Conventional and Ultimate truth. Ultimate Truth is free from this duality of subject and object.

      In Christianity the distinction is between truth and error.

      In Buddhist term, the above distinction is just a ‘Conventional Truth’.

      Re the point about the arrow analogy, what would be the underlying message? It would seem to me that you may have taken an either/or approach, i.e. don't ask or get treatment. I think it can be a both/and approach.

      Being strike by an arrow is equated to the present state of existence we are in. The underlying message is that, we should be concentrating our time in the cultivation to attain to the cessation of suffering instead of spending the time speculating on things that are not in any way going to help us to achieve that attainment.

       

       In Christianity, moral perfection means that a person has never sinned against God throughout his entire life. Which is why I mentioned that it is impossible to attain moral perfection. The Bible also says that it is appointed for man to die once and after that to face judgement, so this means that there is no second chance at life, one life is all we have got.

       Buddhists believes in Rebirth.

       

      1. I suppose it won't be wrong to say that Buddhism's worldview is monism since there is apparently a rejection of dualism?

      2. In what way is the distinction between truth and error a conventional truth i.e. a delusion?

      3. Got your point re the analogy's message. The existence of suffering (and death) will lead one to question the cause of suffering. It shouldn't be considered speculation.

      4. I understand that Buddhism believes in rebirth. I am sharing why in Christianity moral perfection is impossible.

  • BroInChrist's Avatar
    3,110 posts since Dec '11
    • Originally posted by Singtaxi:

      I am just giving you an example of the questions I asked when somobody trying to preach to me.

      Oh I see. For the record I believe answers to these questions can be given. The issue is whether you wish to accept the answer. Speaking for myself, my style is to give answers based on what the Bible says, or what can be inferred from the Bible, and if the Bible does not explicitly teaches it, then my suggested answer must not contradict any part of the Bible. For example, your first question has an answer. In Colossians 1:15 it is written:

      "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation, for all things in heaven and on earth were created by him—all things, whether visible or invisible, whether thrones or dominions, whether principalities or powers—all things were create through him and FOR him."

      So this answer really answers the question, "Why is there anything rather than nothing?" Why create, not just man, but anything at all for that matter?

      I recommend this website which you can get many answers as well.

      http://www.gotquestions.org/why-did-God-create-us.html

  • BroInChrist's Avatar
    3,110 posts since Dec '11
    • Originally posted by Singtaxi:

      I am a simple man. My questions are simple questions.

      1. Why god created man? (No offence, but I am always curious as to why this actually happened)
      2. Why the supposedly almighty god created an imperfect man or rather a sinner?
      3. Why god need to sacrifice his only son to atone the sin of man if in the first place god created a perfect man?
      4. Why can't god create a man who will obey him and he live happily ever after?

      .....

      Can I request that you direct these questions to my forum at the link below?

      http://sgforums.com/forums/4245

      This is a Buddhist forum and out of respect to the Mods here I think it will not be appropriate to turn this into a Christian apologetics thread.

  • BroInChrist's Avatar
    3,110 posts since Dec '11
    • Originally posted by Singtaxi:

      I love the answer: "You cannot question god." when evangelist can't provide an answer to my question.

      That depends on what is your question. If I cannot answer your question my answer would be, I don't know. It won't be that you cannot question God.

      But then again I would say that it is true that you cannot question ultimate authority because that's what it means to be ultimate. If you can question authority or make that ultimate authority obligated to you and subjected to you, then you are the ultimate authority who cannot be questioned, because there is nothing above ultimate.

      Having said that, I am of the view you can ask questions to God, but what you can't demand from God is that He must answer you. God is God. God owes no man anything. You do not owe your creation an answer. The decision to answer is entirely your prerogative. Even if man does not have the satisfaction of an answer, God remains God. That should be the humble attitude of man, which Job finally realises as we read in the OT book of Job.

  • BroInChrist's Avatar
    3,110 posts since Dec '11
    • Originally posted by An Eternal Now:

      Yes but not conceptual knowledge. It is non-conceptual knowledge in a kind of meditative, intuitive, pre-conceptual Seeing of what is already the case.

      Our moderator Thusness writes his realization here: http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.sg/2007/03/thusnesss-six-stages-of-experience.html

      Just clicked on the weblink above and what caught me was the "I AM" claim. I suppose you would know that in the Bible God called Himself "I AM" which is also known as the tetragrammaton, the name by which God revealed Himself to Moses on Mt Sinai. What you would call an experience would be what in Christianity be God Himself. Jesus even called Himself "I AM" which the religious leaders saw clearly as a claim to being God.

  • BroInChrist's Avatar
    3,110 posts since Dec '11
    • Originally posted by An Eternal Now:

      True in the conventional sense, false in the ultimate sense.

      For example we impute the label 'weather' but there is no really existing thing called 'weather' apart from everchanging clouds, rain, wind, lightning etc.

      'Weather' is a mere convention, an imputation, a label - it is not a 'thing' with a 'core' or 'essence' that can be pinned down. It is empty of any substantially existing entity to be pinned down or located anywhere.

      The same goes for 'self' or anything at all in the world.

      If something is false in the ultimate sense, then it is false, regardless of how one thinks it is true, or even if one calls it a conventional truth.

      From what you described, correct me if I am wrong but it seems that Buddhism tends to have a rather reductionistic view of existence.

  • BroInChrist's Avatar
    3,110 posts since Dec '11
    • Originally posted by An Eternal Now:

      Most people feel that they are an independent separate Self distinct from their experiences, perceptions and action. They feel alienated, self-contracted, distant from the world as a result and they become attached to the sense of I, me, and mine. This is a root cause of delusion and attachment.

      It can be realized that in reality, there never was a seer apart from the act of seeing/seen, a doer apart from an action, hearer apart from heard, etc.

      The experience is one of at-oneness with everything but there is not even an 'I' left to 'feel' the at oneness. Instead there is just one act of perception, one action, happening as crystal clarity without any self, separation or division.

      Athletes do sometimes feel this 'oneness' but only temporarily, even though intentionality is totally factored into their total exertion in action, there is no self consciousness but his entire being is exerted as that intentionality+action. After realization, that feeling can become sort of permanent. And total exertion becomes a natural path of practice.

      I can understand that sometimes people feel alienated or distant, but I think that's just how they are feeling. Feelings come and go and IMO are too flippant to reflect truth or reality. That said, regardless of such feelings I don't suppose people, when they do reflect during their sober moments, will separate their experiences from their very beings i.e. self.

      Re the point about experiencing at-oneness with everything. I think what needs to be established is really whether we are one with everything, some kind of monism? I think that sometimes some people do claim that they are experience "the moment" in time when everything seems to be "one" but again these would be personal-to-holder experiences. It's hard to quibble with experiences, if you know what I mean.

      I guess what I am trying to say is that feelings are not a good basis to judge the truth of a claim or belief.

  • BroInChrist's Avatar
    3,110 posts since Dec '11
    • Originally posted by An Eternal Now:

      True in the conventional sense, false in the ultimate sense.

      For example we impute the label 'weather' but there is no really existing thing called 'weather' apart from everchanging clouds, rain, wind, lightning etc.

      'Weather' is a mere convention, an imputation, a label - it is not a 'thing' with a 'core' or 'essence' that can be pinned down. It is empty of any substantially existing entity to be pinned down or located anywhere.

      The same goes for 'self' or anything at all in the world.

      Then how would you assess or know whether anything that is said in any statement is true in the conventional or ultimate sense? What is the criteria for judgment that is itself not subject to the conventional/ultimate truth distinction?

  • BroInChrist's Avatar
    3,110 posts since Dec '11
    • Originally posted by An Eternal Now:

      Yes. The sense of self is constructed, it is built. That deluded sense [not reality] of "Self" is formed out of delusion, out of a mental habit of referencing with what we mistakenly view as a 'substantial self' (I, me) and 'that which belongs to self' (mine). The sense of 'self' matures as a person grows up.

      As insight of anatta arises, we realize there never was a doer apart from a deed or a thinker apart from a thought or a seer apart from seeing/sight.

      Then action arises not out of self-consciousness, there is no self-consciousness of an entity apart from action but instead whole being is just action. There is still free flow of will and intentionality but not pertaining to any self.

      A couple of points to clarify.

      1. Re the point about never a doer apart from a deed etc. My understanding is that it is more a distinction between a noun and a verb. I don't mean to offend but why would that be regarded as some kind of insight or realisation?

      2. You mentioned that there is free flow of will and intentionality but not pertaining to any self. What does that mean? Wouldn't the mention of will and intentionality presupposes a self at the least?

  • BroInChrist's Avatar
    3,110 posts since Dec '11
    • Originally posted by An Eternal Now:

      No. It is not by personal works of merit that we gain liberation from samsara. Merits can only lead you as far as a rebirth in one of the higher planes including so called 'heaven' (which in Buddhist worldview are not eternal places despite their long life).

      Buddhism is far from being just a teaching about morality. Morality is just a part of it.

      The highest bliss of Nirvana which is achieved in the ending of all mental afflictions (craving, aversion/aggression and delusion) driving the mass of suffering or the cycle of rebirth in samsara, is achievable through the development of wisdom or insight.

      This is why Buddhist practice is more about Awareness, more about discovering the true nature of mind in meditation which leads to liberation. We become aware of the luminous/bright [vivid, aware, cognizant] and empty nature of our minds. We become mindful and aware of our every experience until we penetrate their impermanent, unsatisfactory, and not-self nature. This leads to dispassion and letting go.

      In addition to 'doing good, avoiding evil', the rather unique teaching of Buddhism is that it stresses also or even more on the 'purification of mind'. But this 'purification of mind' is not an endless endeavor or a kind of 'work'. Rather, purification of mind happens through the arising of wisdom, so it is awareness that naturally leads to the purification of mind and not through mental efforts or acts of suppression. Liberation in Buddhism is not by works or by grace, but by wisdom.

      Not only has the Buddha achieved liberation, thousands of his students then have achieved liberation, and countless until today have also achieved liberation.



      p.s. if you achieve Nirvana, it is also impossible that you will commit an immoral act, not because you uphold precepts/rules very well, but simply because the mental afflictions driving immorality: craving, aggression/ill-will, and delusion, has been ended in Wisdom-Awareness. Morality becomes secondary, albeit also important, and is actually automatically fulfilled as your path of wisdom grows.

      Interesting. So in Buddhism it is neither salvation by works or grace, but by wisdom.

      I take wisdom to mean proper application of knowledge leading to good results.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wisdom

  • BroInChrist's Avatar
    3,110 posts since Dec '11
    • Originally posted by An Eternal Now:

      No-self does not deny self. It just means the self is a convention, check this out:

      http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.sg/2012/06/eternalism-nihilism-and-middle-way.html

      Eternalism, Nihilism and the Middle Way

      Posted by: An Eternal Now

      The Buddha rejected the extremes of eternalism and nihilism and taught the middle way which is free from extremes. This post examines what each of these mean with pictorial aid.

      Water

      Eternalism
      There is a water. Water truly exists. Hydrogen and oxygen are attributes of the water.

      Nihilism


      The water does not exist. OR The water that exists now annihilates later.

      Middle Way


      Co-dependently arisen hydrogen and oxygen are empty of water, but is conventionally called water. Hydrogen and oxygen are not attributes of an entity "water" (no such thing can be pinned down), not contained by an entity called "water", nor is there a "water" that is "made up of" hydrogen and oxygen. Rather, two hydrogen and one oxygen atoms co-dependently arising ARE what is conventionally imputed as water.

      Self

      Eternalism


      Self view is the held position that there is a self. Self truly exists. Self may be seen as attributeless (as some attributeless pure consciousness as in advaita), or a self that owns or contains attributes, or an agent that manifests, owns, observes, or controls, its aggregates. The precise view of self varies from eternal, partially eternal, to nihilistic (for a lengthy discourse by Buddha on the numerous "thicket of views", refer to http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/dn/dn.01.0.bodh.html). From an eternalist perspective, the self remains unchanged despite the changes in life. It remains unchanged even after bodily death. It is either seen as the unchanging self [as an individual soul], or the Self [as an infinite Self or Presence] that is unaffected by the passing aggregates or phenomena.

      Nihilism


      The self does not exist. OR The self in this life annihilates upon death. There is no karma, cause and effect, or rebirth.

      Middle Way


      Co-dependently arisen five aggregates are empty of self, but is conventionally called self. Seeing is not a self seeing, but is simply the experience being seen. Volition is not via a doer, but is simply action-activity-process, co-dependently arisen. Consciousness is not a self, it is simply auditory consciousness manifested dependent on ear, sound and attention, so on and so forth. Taste of chocolate has nothing to do with a taster but is simply the process or seamless activity of biting, tongue touching chocolate, consciousness of taste, etc. Ultimately, whatever dependently originates is also empty of any true existence (five aggregates are also empty) - but appearances are not denied.



      Now replace "water" or "self" with anything - mind, matter, Buddha-nature, Truth, awareness, cars, houses, atoms, universe, etc. All applies the same way.

      Diamond Sutra: "Subhuti, all dharmas are spoken of as no dharmas. Therefore they are called dharmas."

      Anuradha Sutta: "And so, Anuradha — when you can't pin down the Tathagata as a truth or reality even in the present life — is it proper for you to declare, 'Friends, the Tathagata — the supreme man, the superlative man, attainer of the superlative attainment — being described, is described otherwise than with these four positions: The Tathagata exists after death, does not exist after death, both does & does not exist after death, neither exists nor does not exist after death'?"

      Ted Biringer: "...According to Dogen, this “oceanic-body” does not contain the myriad forms, nor is it made up of myriad forms – it is the myriad forms themselves. The same instruction is provided at the beginning of Shobogenzo, Gabyo (pictured rice-cakes) where, he asserts that, “as all Buddhas are enlightenment” (sho, or honsho), so too, “all dharmas are enlightenment” which he says does not mean they are simply “one” nature or mind."

      Thusness (2008): The key is in "emptiness" so that there is complete non abiding and (non-)staying (thus avoiding eternalism) and "luminosity" so that there is aliveness and clarity without falling into nihilism.


      Note: does that mean that conventionally self truly exists? No. Conventional truths are not in fact true nor existing but are merely deluded projections as a result of ignorance. Five aggregates are deludedly conceived as a self. Such a self may conventionally be considered true, yet there is actually no truth to it. It is merely a false name used by the enlightened for pragmatic purpose, but taken to be true and existing by the ignorant. Nagarjuna: "Since the Jina proclaims that nirvana alone is true, what wise person would not reject the rest as false?"

      The diagrams are inspired by Julian Baggini's speech on Ted talk: http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.sg/2012/05/is-there-you.html

      Labels: Anatta, Dependent Origination, Emptiness 11 comments | |

      Thanks for the article.

      Correct me if I am wrong, the article seems to affirm that conventional truths are in fact delusions, i.e. false.

  • BroInChrist's Avatar
    3,110 posts since Dec '11
    • Originally posted by Aik TC:

       

      What would be the difference/distinction between conventional truth and ultimate truth in Buddhism? If the self is an illusion, then any perception of it as being real would be some form of delusion, wouldn't it?

      There are many articles available on the internet on this Buddhist subject. Here is one. If you do have the time, you can read up on it. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Two_truths_doctrine

      Regarding the analogy of the man shot by an arrow, it is an interesting one. While it is more pertinent that one gets treatment for the wound, it doesn't necessarily render irrelevant who shot the arrow and where the arrow comes from, and if the arrow is poisoned, knowing such details would certainly help in getting the right antidote. And even if the wounded person eventually dies, knowing such information will further the cause of justice.

      That is not the underlying message

      The Christian does not say there is no good in man. But it says that being good is not good enough to be saved. One needs to be morally perfect. But since moral perfection is impossible, we cannot save ourselves. We cannot purify ourselves. We need a "cleansing agent", i.e. the blood of Christ.

      Moral perfection is not an impossibility to Buddhists. Granted that most of us may never be able to do so in just one lifetime. In Buddhism, we have the 3 path of purifications to work on to arrived at it. Moral purification is just one of the paths which have to be practiced in conjunction with the other 2 path of purifications. Of course, we also do have the more detail form of the 6 Perfections which do lead to moral perfection.    

       

       

      Wiki says that the conventional truth may be interpreted as "obscurative truth" or "that which obscures the true nature" as a result. It is constituted by the appearances of mistaken awareness. Conventional truth would be the appearance that includes a duality of apprehender and apprehended, and objects perceived within that. Ultimate truths, are phenomena free from the duality of apprehender and apprehended.

      Would you like to clarify that further? It would seem that Buddhism holds that conventional truth can be false, but ultimate truth is..well...truth i.e. what is.

      In Christianity the distinction is between truth and error.

      Re the point about the arrow analogy, what would be the underlying message? It would seem to me that you may have taken an either/or approach, i.e. don't ask or get treatment. I think it can be a both/and approach.

      In Christianity, moral perfection means that a person has never sinned against God  throughout his entire life. Which is why I mentioned that it is impossible to attain moral perfection. The Bible also says that it is appointed for man to die once and after that to face judgement, so this means that there is no second chance at life, one life is all we have got.

  • BroInChrist's Avatar
    3,110 posts since Dec '11
    • Originally posted by Aik TC:

       

      Hi BrolnChrist .......

       

      Can you clarify if my understanding of Buddhism in this aspect is correct? Or is it something like for Buddhism the self prima facie exists, but in reality it does not i.e. just an illusion?

      The Self is very real in our everyday life. In Buddhist term it is just a conventional Truth. It is an illusion in the Buddhist teaching of Ultimate Truth.  

      If I am not wrong, the article says that the Buddha set aside the question of whether the self exists or not, i.e. refuses to answer because the answer will lead to suffering and stress. Personally I would take issue with a refusal to answer because the consequences of the answer (whether leading to stress or suffering or not) is distinct from the answer itself. One can always answer a question with a yes or a no, provided one knows the answer.

      No, it goes on to said more than that. By the way, there are 14 inexpressibles which the Buddha refused to assent to as it is dialectical. It would raise more questions and lead on to more metaphysical speculation without any definite conclusion. That is not what the Buddha teaches, which is the cessation of suffering. To the Buddha, it is like a man struck by an arrow and instead of asking for treatment, he want to know where the arrow come from, what is it make of and more. He would likely be dead before he received any treatment.

      I understand that Buddhism denies that salvation is by grace but that it is by some personal works of merit, something that one has to attain to. However, this is the part where Christianity says that works-salvation cannot be reached, simply because there is nothing we can do (since we have a sinful nature) to get right with a holy God.

      To the Buddhists we are not just sinful by nature, there are also goodness in us. Sinful nature can be purified.

      When the Bible says that salvation is by grace and not by works so that none may boast it means that no one can say that he did it on his own i.e. that he earned his salvation by doing such and such. Salvation is a gift. No one earns a gift, it is simply given to him by the sender to be freely accepted or rejected. Thus when the sinner repents and receives the free gift of salvation by grace alone through faith alone, the Bible says that he is a new creation.

      Again to the Buddhist, salvation is not a gift that can just be given. We have to work towards attaining it.

      Thanks anyway for providing us here with some of your Christian thoughts. Appreciate it.

      I appreciate the time you take to dialogue with me over this.

      1. What would be the difference/distinction between conventional truth and ultimate truth in Buddhism? If the self is an illusion, then any perception of it as being real would be some form of delusion, wouldn't it?

      2. Regarding the analogy of the man shot by an arrow, it is an interesting one. While it is more pertinent that one gets treatment for the wound, it doesn't necessarily render irrelevant who shot the arrow and where the arrow comes from, and if the arrow is poisoned, knowing such details would certainly help in getting the right antidote. And even if the wounded person eventually dies, knowing such information will further the cause of justice.

      3. The Christian does not say there is no good in man. But it says that being good is not good enough to be saved. One needs to be morally perfect. But since moral perfection is impossible, we cannot save ourselves. We cannot purify ourselves. We need a "cleansing agent", i.e. the blood of Christ.

      4. I think we both appreciate the contrary views regarding how one can be saved. For Christianity it is salvation by grace not works, for Buddhism it is salvation by works not grace. For Christianity salvation is a gift, for Buddhism salvation is a reward, so to speak.

  • BroInChrist's Avatar
    3,110 posts since Dec '11
    • Originally posted by Aik TC:

      As far as Buddhism is concerned, by grace alone salvation cannot be reached. It can only be attained not just by faith alone but through the purification of body, mind and the development of wisdom. When one have attained to such state there is nothing to be boast about.

       

        

      I understand that Buddhism denies that salvation is by grace but that it is by some personal works of merit, something that one has to attain to. However, this is the part where Christianity says that works-salvation cannot be reached, simply because there is nothing we can do (since we have a sinful nature) to get right with a holy God.

      When the Bible says that salvation is by grace and not by works so that none may boast it means that no one can say that he did it on his own i.e. that he earned his salvation by doing such and such. Salvation is a gift. No one earns a gift, it is simply given to him by the sender to be freely accepted or rejected. Thus when the sinner repents and receives the free gift of salvation by grace alone through faith alone, the Bible says that he is a new creation.

  • BroInChrist's Avatar
    3,110 posts since Dec '11
    • Originally posted by Aik TC:

      Only a perfect sinless man can make that perfect sacrifice that forever satisfy the holiness and justice of God. Which is why the Bible teaches that salvation is by grace and not by works, so that no one can boast.

       

      As far as Buddhism is concerned, by grace alone salvation cannot be reached. It can only be attained not just by faith alone but through the purification of body, mind and the development of wisdom. When one have attained to such state there is nothing to be boast about.

       

       

      Perhaps you can further clarify on what Buddhism teaches as I think I am hearing different views here. It seems that there are three views in Buddhism, Self, No-Self, and Not-Self?

       

      ‘Self’ as I have pointed out above is the 5 aggregates that make up the physical and mental constitutions all human being. It is impermanent and in a constant state of changes. It is just a conventional interpretation. No Self or Not Self? Read this explanation if it is of interest to you.

       

      No-self or Not-self?

      by

      Thanissaro Bhikkhu

      © 1996–2011

      <!-- robots content="none" --><!-- #H_meta --><!-- #H_billboard --><!-- /robots -->One of the first stumbling blocks that Westerners often encounter when they learn about Buddhism is the teaching on anatta, often translated as no-self. This teaching is a stumbling block for two reasons. First, the idea of there being no self doesn't fit well with other Buddhist teachings, such as the doctrine of kamma and rebirth: If there's no self, what experiences the results of kamma and takes rebirth? Second, it doesn't fit well with our own Judeo-Christian background, which assumes the existence of an eternal soul or self as a basic presupposition: If there's no self, what's the purpose of a spiritual life? Many books try to answer these questions, but if you look at the Pali canon — the earliest extant record of the Buddha's teachings — you won't find them addressed at all. In fact, the one place where the Buddha was asked point-blank whether or not there was a self, he refused to answer. When later asked why, he said that to hold either that there is a self or that there is no self is to fall into extreme forms of wrong view that make the path of Buddhist practice impossible. Thus the question should be put aside. To understand what his silence on this question says about the meaning of anatta, we first have to look at his teachings on how questions should be asked and answered, and how to interpret his answers.

      The Buddha divided all questions into four classes: those that deserve a categorical (straight yes or no) answer; those that deserve an analytical answer, defining and qualifying the terms of the question; those that deserve a counter-question, putting the ball back in the questioner's court; and those that deserve to be put aside. The last class of question consists of those that don't lead to the end of suffering and stress. The first duty of a teacher, when asked a question, is to figure out which class the question belongs to, and then to respond in the appropriate way. You don't, for example, say yes or no to a question that should be put aside. If you are the person asking the question and you get an answer, you should then determine how far the answer should be interpreted. The Buddha said that there are two types of people who misrepresent him: those who draw inferences from statements that shouldn't have inferences drawn from them, and those who don't draw inferences from those that should.

      These are the basic ground rules for interpreting the Buddha's teachings, but if we look at the way most writers treat the anatta doctrine, we find these ground rules ignored. Some writers try to qualify the no-self interpretation by saying that the Buddha denied the existence of an eternal self or a separate self, but this is to give an analytical answer to a question that the Buddha showed should be put aside. Others try to draw inferences from the few statements in the discourse that seem to imply that there is no self, but it seems safe to assume that if one forces those statements to give an answer to a question that should be put aside, one is drawing inferences where they shouldn't be drawn.

      So, instead of answering "no" to the question of whether or not there is a self — interconnected or separate, eternal or not — the Buddha felt that the question was misguided to begin with. Why? No matter how you define the line between "self" and "other," the notion of self involves an element of self-identification and clinging, and thus suffering and stress. This holds as much for an interconnected self, which recognizes no "other," as it does for a separate self. If one identifies with all of nature, one is pained by every felled tree. It also holds for an entirely "other" universe, in which the sense of alienation and futility would become so debilitating as to make the quest for happiness — one's own or that of others — impossible. For these reasons, the Buddha advised paying no attention to such questions as "Do I exist?" or "Don't I exist?" for however you answer them, they lead to suffering and stress.

      To avoid the suffering implicit in questions of "self" and "other," he offered an alternative way of dividing up experience: the four Noble Truths of stress, its cause, its cessation, and the path to its cessation. Rather than viewing these truths as pertaining to self or other, he said, one should recognize them simply for what they are, in and of themselves, as they are directly experienced, and then perform the duty appropriate to each. Stress should be comprehended, its cause abandoned, its cessation realized, and the path to its cessation developed. These duties form the context in which the anatta doctrine is best understood. If you develop the path of virtue, concentration, and discernment to a state of calm well-being and use that calm state to look at experience in terms of the Noble Truths, the questions that occur to the mind are not "Is there a self? What is my self?" but rather "Am I suffering stress because I'm holding onto this particular phenomenon? Is it really me, myself, or mine? If it's stressful but not really me or mine, why hold on?" These last questions merit straightforward answers, as they then help you to comprehend stress and to chip away at the attachment and clinging — the residual sense of self-identification — that cause it, until ultimately all traces of self-identification are gone and all that's left is limitless freedom.

      In this sense, the anatta teaching is not a doctrine of no-self, but a not-self strategy for shedding suffering by letting go of its cause, leading to the highest, undying happiness. At that point, questions of self, no-self, and not-self fall aside. Once there's the experience of such total freedom, where would there be any concern about what's experiencing it, or whether or not it's a self?

       

      It is either true that the Self exists or it does not. In Christianity it is not the liberation from self that is the issue, but the liberation from sin.

       

      It would be best if you can elaborate for me more on what exactly is the ‘Self’ in the Christian concept, otherwise we will just be going about speaking on thing each of us interpreted very differently.

       

      If I am not wrong, the article says that the Buddha set aside the question of whether the self exists or not, i.e. refuses to answer because the answer will lead to suffering and stress. Personally I would take issue with a refusal to answer because the consequences of the answer (whether leading to stress or suffering or not) is distinct from the answer itself. One can always answer a question with a yes or a no, provided one knows the answer.

      For the Christian, the self is simply the "I", as in myself, yourself, himself, herself. It refers to the self-aware and self-conscious individual, the person. It is really not that complicated. It is the everyday usage of the meaning.

  • BroInChrist's Avatar
    3,110 posts since Dec '11
    • Originally posted by Aik TC:

       

      It is precisely that there is such a wide fundamental difference and contradiction between the Buddhist and Christian (Based on BrolnChrist comments) in the interpretation and understanding on the subject of ‘Self’ that I have to raised the Buddhist point of views.

      The Christian affirms the existence of Self.

      The Buddhist denies the existence of Self.

      Can you clarify if my understanding of Buddhism in this aspect is correct? Or is it something like for Buddhism the self prima facie exists, but in reality it does not i.e. just an illusion? 

  • BroInChrist's Avatar
    3,110 posts since Dec '11
    • Originally posted by Dawnfirstlight:

      There's a Chinese saying "子不教,父之过“。 Meaning it is the fault of the father when his son goes astray.

      I think the correct Chinese saying is

      养不教,父之过。教不严,师之惰。子不学,非所宜。幼不学,老何为。

      The meaning is that just feeding but not teaching would mean that the father is at fault. Teaching without discipline is the laziness of the teacher. Children not learning is not right. Not learning from young then what will become of old?

       

  • BroInChrist's Avatar
    3,110 posts since Dec '11
    • Originally posted by Aik TC:

      In Christianty, the root cause of suffering is not Self, but Sin. The Bible teaches that sin has separated man from God, and apart from God man is a lost creature. So Jesus is the bridge between a holy God and sinful man.

       

      So man can never and will not be able to remove this ‘Sin’ that is in or committed by himself? Only the beliefs in Jesus and God can help one to redeem oneself from this ‘Sin’ after death? We are certainly lost and helpless creatures!

       

       

      God created man in His own image. Man is a person, there is a self. That's how God made us. There is no requirement to negate self or to obliterate the self.

       

      The Buddha analysis the personality to be composed of the five aggregates of form, feeling, perception, mental formation and consciousness. This is of course the so called ‘self’ that make up any existent person. Buddhists do not deny, negate or obliterate this ‘self’. What the Blessed One the Buddha pointed out is that, these physical and mental constitutions are impermanent and are in a state of constant changes. The whole purpose of this analysis especially during meditation will give rise to the wisdom of not-self. We then start to look at the world not as constructed around the idea of a self but in as processes, in term of impersonal functions, which will help to create an attitude of equanimity which should help us overcome emotional disturbances of hope and fear.  

       

       

      There is no love or hatred to speak of if there is no self to speak of.

       

      It is when there is not ‘self’ to speak of, that love, compassion, and loving kindness become  unconditional and hatred would not even feature in such state.

       

       

      In Christianity it is not about detachment from self, but attachment or rather reconciliation to God.

       

      In Buddhism it is the realization of the non-attachment and non existence of the ‘Self’ that one attained to the cessation of suffering and final deliverance from the cycle of Birth and Death. When there is still the feeling of reconciliation to a higher Being, there is still duality in thoughts and the notion of a self, liberation is still not final.

       

       

      1. You have understood correctly! Yes, on his own man can NEVER earn enough merit to be made right with God. That's the reason why sacrifices are required throughout the OT. Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins. Another being must take your sins and atone for them so you can live. But the blood of bulls and sheep are only temporary and a shadow. Only a perfect sinless man can make that perfect sacrifice that forever satisfy the holiness and justice of God. Which is why the Bible teaches that salvation is by grace and not by works, so that no one can boast.

      2. Perhaps you can further clarify on what Buddhism teaches as I think I am hearing different views here. It seems that there are three views in Buddhism, Self, No-Self, and Not-Self?

      3. By my understanding, love, compassion and mercy can only come from self-conscious and self-aware beings. It is either true that the Self exists or it does not. In Christianity it is not the liberation from self that is the issue, but the liberation from sin.