Social Action

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation

Re: Social Action

Postby Buckwheat » Thu Jan 05, 2012 12:17 am

tiltbillings wrote:As for when a sense of self develops at 2? Says who?

I would say we can't really know for sure, but psychological research definitely suggests there may not be a sense of self for the first few years of development. They call it the "mirror test". http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mirror_test

Maybe this is why yogis and arahants tend to suggest we should act more like children?
Last edited by Buckwheat on Thu Jan 05, 2012 12:19 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Social Action

Postby contemplans » Thu Jan 05, 2012 12:18 am

tiltbillings wrote:But we are still waiting to learn if the soul you are advocating can act, hear, think, etc. You are doing a lot of avoiding of that question.


You tell me. Are you like a rock, lifeless, or do you act, hear, think, etc?

It is not a matter of abstracting. It is a matter of experience, and you neatly make my point. These things, soul and a god (an omniscient, permanent, independent, unique cause of the cosmos that acts within history) cannot be known in their essence. They are naught more than intellectual and emotional structures that are imposed upon reality. They are not necessary.


Knowing their essence, and knowing they exist are two different things. Do you think we can have any knowledge of ineffable things through things which are to be put into words? Does this statement seem to you to be worthless: Nibbana is the foremost ease?

Since the first object of our human knowledge is material things,

Probably not. Likely the first thing known is: “I am hungry.” It may not be understood via those words, but unquestionably the “I” is central in that.


My statement is in contrast to the statement that we know immaterial things directly.

And the intellectual soul is naught more than a conceptual construct. What does it actually refer to?


I return then to the concept/paradox of ineffability.

"Apophatic mysticism, put roughly, claims that nothing can be said of objects or states of affairs which the mystic experiences. These are absolutely indescribable, or 'ineffable.' Kataphatic mysticism does make claims about what the mystic experiences."


Solutions presented

1. Avoid speech altogether and remain silent about what is revealed in experience.

2. Distinguish first-order from second-order attributions, where “ineffability” both is a second-order term and refers solely to first-order terms. To say, then, that something is “ineffable” would be to assert that it could not be described by any first-order terms, “ineffability” not being one of them.

3. Say, for example, that “X is ineffable” is really a statement about the term ‘X,’ saying about it that it fails to refer to any describable entity.

4a. Negate ongoingly whatever is said about X, ad infinitum, in what Michael Sells has called an infinite “unsaying” or taking back of what has been said. An example of unsaying can be found in the endless negations in some Madyamika and Zen Buddhist meditative consciousness. Since the truth about reality – as it is – lies outside of our conceptualizations of it, we cannot say that truth, only experience it. Hence, when we say, “Reality is not reality,” that is, that reality as it is differs from what we take it to be conceptually, we must also say that “Reality is not - not reality.” Otherwise we will have been caught in conceptualizing about reality (saying about it that it is not what our conceptualizations say it is). We must then immediately negate the latter saying by saying that reality is neither not-reality nor not not-reality. And so on.

4b. A second, theistic, example of this approach is in the negative theology of (Pseudo) Dionysius (c.500) for whom God was “a most incomprehensible absolute mystery,” about which we can only say what it is not. Such continuing negation points beyond discourse to experience.

5. William Alston's observation that mystics professing the utter unknowability of God have had much to say about their experiences and about God. Alston maintains, therefore, that when mystics talk about ‘indescribability’ they refer to the difficulty of describing in literal terms, rather than by metaphor, analogy, and symbols. This is not a peculiar mark of mysticism, demurs Alston, since quite common in science, philosophy, and religion. Alston's position, however, may not square well with the explicitly “unsaying” trends in mysticism.

6. Richard Gale and Ninian Smart have argued that ‘ineffability’ is (merely) an honorific title marking the value and intensity of an experience for a mystic. Similarly, Wayne Proudfoot argues that mystics could not know that what they experienced could not be expressed in any possible language, because they do not know every possible language. He concludes that the ineffability - claim only prescribes that no language system shall be applicable to it, and is not a descriptive claim. The word ‘ineffable’ serves to create and maintain a sense of mystery. These positions beg the question against the possibility of there being mystical experience so different in kind from what humans otherwise know that it cannot be expressed by ordinary human language. Against Proudfoot it may be said that: because mystics could not know that a mystical object was indescribable in any possible language, it does not follow they would not, in their enthusiasm, make a claim beyond their knowledge. In any case, mystics might reasonably believe that since languages known to them cannot describe what they experienced, in all likelihood no other human language could describe it either. Some philosophers think that a stress on ineffability signifies an attempt to consign mysticism to the “irrational,” thus excluding it from more sensible human pursuits. Grace Jantzen has advanced a critique of the emphasis on ineffability as an attempt to remove mystical experiences from the realm of rational discourse, placing them instead into the realm of the emotions. Others have staunchly defended the “rationality” of mysticism against charges of irrationalism. The issue of ineffability is thus tied into questions of the epistemic value of mystical experiences.

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/mysticism/#3


tiltbillings wrote:And let me add:

contemplans wrote:whereas sense of self or soul, even if based on weak delusion, can at least give us a basis to start to observe some form of virtue.
The Buddha does not agree with this:

    Bhikkhus, you may well cling to that doctrine of self that would not arouse sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, and despair in one who clings to it. But do you see any such doctrine of self, bhikkhus?” “No, venerable sir.” MN i 137


I didn't say it was an end, but it is a means to start observing some form of virtue. I would reckon that it is a stronger foundation than the opposite view. People who actually hold that there is no self at all must run through hoops to figure out what the point of even starting the path is. At least a sense of self can start off by saying, I wish myself well.





Kim O'Hara wrote:'Analogical thinking' seems to me to be dangerously close to wishful thinking. I'd love to hear how they can be distinguished.


Wishful thinking:

Not reasoning but wishing.
I can make things appear out of nothing.
I can become someone else.
Things spontaneously come to be.
If I just positively think about something, it will happen.
If I do nothing, I will become awakened.
or, for Christians, if I just believe in Jesus, I'm saved.


Analogical thinking (including dissimilarity):

Reasoning from effect to causes. (Inductive reasoning.)
I am not like a rock. I eat, I grow, and I procreate. Therefore, there must be something more to me than a mere gathering of elements.
Healthy can be used to refer to medicine and human, but medicine produces health in the human body. One is health giving, and the other health receiving.
In the realm of the immaterial, every positive perfection of created being has its transcendental analogue in the first cause (i.e., God).
We can look portrait of a beautiful woman, or the living original, and say of both literally that she is beautiful. The portrait is not her, but the likeness (analogy) is sufficient to justify the literal statement, even though the two are not exactly the same. So the collection of colored paint arranged on a canvas is analogously beautiful to the living woman who is the "perfect" object.

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01449a.htm
(see Analogy as a method in theodicy)


Take care, both of you.
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Re: Social Action

Postby David N. Snyder » Thu Jan 05, 2012 12:54 am

contemplans wrote:Reasoning from effect to causes. (Inductive reasoning.)
I am not like a rock. I eat, I grow, and I procreate. Therefore, there must be something more to me than a mere gathering of elements.


So do animals. They eat, grow, procreate. What does your religion say about a soul in animals?
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Re: Social Action

Postby Kenshou » Thu Jan 05, 2012 1:32 am

Oh, nevermind, my grumps aren't going to do any good. Entertaining thread, in any case.
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Re: Social Action

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Jan 05, 2012 1:47 am

contemplans wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:But we are still waiting to learn if the soul you are advocating can act, hear, think, etc. You are doing a lot of avoiding of that question.


You tell me. Are you like a rock, lifeless, or do you act, hear, think, etc?
You, being the soul advocate, the question falls to you answer. Let me put it directly to you:

A] Is the soul unchanging?

B] Does the soul act?

C] Does the soul have feelings, emotions?

D] Does the soul perceive -- see, hear, taste, touch?

E] Does the soul think?

F] Is the soul conditioned?

G] Does the soul condition what is not soul about us?

H] Does the soul have knowledge?

I] Can the soul learn?

J] If soul does not change, how can it be aware or know or act?

It is not a matter of abstracting. It is a matter of experience, and you neatly make my point. These things, soul and a god (an omniscient, permanent, independent, unique cause of the cosmos that acts within history) cannot be known in their essence. They are naught more than intellectual and emotional structures that are imposed upon reality. They are not necessary.


Knowing their essence, and knowing they exist are two different things. Do you think we can have any knowledge of ineffable things through things which are to be put into words? Does this statement seem to you to be worthless: Nibbana is the foremost ease?
Unlike the supposed soul and a god, nibbana is fully knowable, and there is no “essence” to it. As has been pointed out to you, using the Buddha’s words, and you are continuing to ignore what has been said, nibbana is not some-thing. Certainly the soul and god exist as mental constructs, but by your own admission, it would seem, we can never really experience either. So, what is their point? None that you have shown.

And the intellectual soul is naught more than a conceptual construct. What does it actually refer to?


I return then to the concept/paradox of ineffability.

"Apophatic mysticism, put roughly, claims that nothing can be said of objects or states of affairs which the mystic experiences. These are absolutely indescribable, or 'ineffable.' Kataphatic mysticism does make claims about what the mystic experiences."
Since god and soul are essentially ineffable, they can explain nothing and really, when pressed, offer nothing. The theist ends up with: “It is all a mystery. You just have to believe.” If that works for you, fine, but it is, as the Buddha pointed, ultimately unsatisfactory.

Solutions presented. . . .
That is all very interesting but really has not a thing to do with the Buddha’s Dhamma, but it does point to the serious and fatal problematics of a theistic approach.

contemplans wrote:. . . but it is a means to start observing some form of virtue. I would reckon that it is a stronger foundation than the opposite view. People who actually hold that there is no self at all must run through hoops to figure out what the point of even starting the path is. At least a sense of self can start off by saying, I wish myself well.
The problem with much of what you are presenting here is a caricature of the Buddha’s teaching. It might behoove to listen and learn from Buddhist here rather than telling them they have their own tradition wrong.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Social Action

Postby DarwidHalim » Thu Jan 05, 2012 2:21 am

I read through some of the reply and I can sense that there is a notion that Buddhist practice doing meditation and this meditation separating them from social life. There is a sense because of this your involvement in society is a some sort of fake.

One of my teacher who is Christian, one time told me, what is the use for Buddhist to practise meditation in the mountain? Meditation is dangerous. Selfish act just for themselves.

:rofl:

Well, it all happens because you see Buddhism from the skin.

We do a meditation or whatever practise they are to conquer ourself, to eliminate all the defilements inside us, to see how is this reality really looks like.

Once we realize that, we go to the society to show them this.

Look, you are all looking for happiness. But the way you find happiness instead of bringing you happiness, they just bring you suffering. If you want to find the true happiness, this is the way.

This is the true contribution to the society. Although we help the poor by giving food, this is not the main aim.

We cannot do all this if we ourself is also deluded. We are not helping the society. We are even make this society looks worse. Short term it looks good. It looks good to be able to give food to the poor. But, in the long term giving food will not bring that person happiness.

The act of Mother Theresa is excellent and beautiful, but there are good only for a short while. But, from Buddhist point of view, it has less value because you will come back again in this samsara with full ignorance, and you start again this cycle or happiness and sadness.

Social action is definitely where are going after we trained so hard to make ourself really someone who know how truly benefiting this society.

And the ultimate Buddhist action is to stop all this cycle for all society wherever they are.

We are not teaching them to see Buddha as a creator,
We are not teaching them to deify Buddha.

Just showing them, look this is reality.
This is impermanent. Look at it. Save yourself from this cycle of samsara.

Free from God and unrealistic hope such as the kingdom of god or nirvana or whatever it is.
Last edited by DarwidHalim on Thu Jan 05, 2012 2:41 am, edited 2 times in total.
I am not here nor there.
I am not right nor wrong.
I do not exist neither non-exist.
I am not I nor non-I.
I am not in samsara nor nirvana.
To All Buddhas, I bow down for the teaching of emptiness. Thank You!
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Re: Social Action

Postby contemplans » Thu Jan 05, 2012 6:09 am

David N. Snyder wrote:
contemplans wrote:Reasoning from effect to causes. (Inductive reasoning.)
I am not like a rock. I eat, I grow, and I procreate. Therefore, there must be something more to me than a mere gathering of elements.


So do animals. They eat, grow, procreate. What does your religion say about a soul in animals?


They have souls, albeit dependent on their bodies, and die when they die. The human soul, however, is reckoned to have a power which transcend its corporeal nature (reason). Descartes I think is the one who stated that animals did not have souls.
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Re: Social Action

Postby chownah » Thu Jan 05, 2012 7:22 am

contemplans,
I still have no idea what this soul thing is that you keep talking about. I have never had any experience that has shown me a soul and so far you haven't really said much about how one could go about expereinceing the soul ....you just keep making unsupported conjecture on what you think are various aspects of it. So for me, "soul" is sort of like "rebirth" in that I have never had an expereince that indicates that either one exists so I just sort of let go of the concepts until some expereince arises which gives some insight into them. Have you ever had an experience that led you to believe that a soul exists?....and what exactly does the idea of "soul" have to do with social action?
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Re: Social Action

Postby danieLion » Thu Jan 05, 2012 8:34 am

chownah wrote:contemplans,
I still have no idea what this soul thing is that you keep talking about.... And what exactly does the idea of "soul" have to do with social action?
chownah

:rofl:
From WIilliam James' The Principles of Psychology (Ch. VI, "The Mind-Stuff Theory):
THE SOUL THEORY

But is this my last word? By no means. Many readers have certainly been saying to themselves for the last few pages: "Why on earth doesn't the poor man say the Soul and have done with it?" Other readers, of antispiritualistic training and prepossessions, advanced thinkers, or popular evolutionists, will perhaps be a little surprised to find this much-despised word now sprung upon them at the end of so physiological a train of thought. But the plain fact is that all the arguments for a 'pontifical cell' or an 'arch-monad' are also arguments for that well-known spiritual agent which scholastic psychology and common-sense have always believed. And my only reason for beating the bushes so, and not bringing it in earlier as a possible solution of our difficulties, has been that by this procedure I might perhaps force some of these materialistic minds to feel the more strongly the logical respectability of the spiritualistic position. The fact is that one cannot afford to despise any of these great traditional objects of belief. Whether we realize it or not, there is always a great drift of reasons, positive and negative, towing us in their direction. If there be such entities as Souls in the universe, they may possibly be affected by the manifold occurrences that go on in the nervous centres. To the state of the entire brain at a given moment they may respond by inward modifications of their own. These changes of state may be pulses of consciousness, cognitive of objects few or many, simple or complex. The soul would be thus a medium upon which (to use our earlier phraseology) the manifold brain-processes combine their effects. Not needing to consider it as the 'inner aspect' of any arch-molecule or brain-cell, we escape that physiological improbability; and as its pulses of consciousness are unitary and integral affairs from the outset, we escape the absurdity of supposing feelings which exist separately and then 'fuse together' by themselves. The separateness is in the brain-world, on this theory, and the unity in the soul-world; and the only trouble that remains to haunt us is the metaphysical one of understanding how one sort of world or existent thing can affect or influence another at all. This trouble, however, since it also exists inside of both worlds, and involves neither physical improbability nor logical contradiction, is relatively small.

I confess, therefore, that to posit a soul influenced in some mysterious way by the brain-states and responding to them by conscious affections of its own, seems to me the line of least logical resistance, so far as we yet have attained.

If it does not strictly explain anything, it is at any rate less positively objectionable than either mind-stuff or a material-monad creed. The bare PHENOMENON, however, the IMMEDIATELY KNOWN thing which on the mental side is in apposition with the entire brain-process is the state of consciousness and not the soul itself. Many of the stanchest believers in the soul admit that we know it only as an inference from experiencing its states. In Chapter X [The Consciousness of Self], accordingly, we must return to its consideration again, and ask ourselves whether, after all, the ascertainment of a blank unmediated correspondence, term for term, of the succession of states of consciousness with the succession of total brain-processes, be not the simplest psycho-physic formula, and the last word of a psychology which contents itself with verifiable laws, and seeks only to be clear, and to avoid unsafe hypotheses. Such a mere admission of the empirical parallelism will there appear the wisest course. By keeping to it, our psychology will remain positivistic and non-metaphysical; and although this is certainly only a provisional halting-place, and things must some day be more thoroughly thought out, we shall abide there in this book, and just as we have rejected mind-dust, we shall take no account of the soul. The spiritualistic reader may nevertheless believe in the soul if he will; whilst the positivistic one who wishes to give a tinge of mystery to the expression of his positivism can continue to say that nature in her unfathomable designs has mixed us of clay and flame, of brain and mind, that the two things hang indubitably together and determine each other's being, but how or why, no mortal may ever know[/u].

(my bolds and underlines; caps and italics are James')
Daniel :heart:
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Re: Social Action

Postby Kim OHara » Thu Jan 05, 2012 12:10 pm

chownah wrote:contemplans,
I still have no idea what this soul thing is that you keep talking about.
....and what exactly does the idea of "soul" have to do with social action?
chownah

Hi, Chownah,
I think the original topic was abandoned a couple of pages ago. People still seem to be having fun, though, so who cares?
:shrug:

:namaste:
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Re: Social Action

Postby Khalil Bodhi » Thu Jan 05, 2012 1:11 pm

Good point Kim. Let us get this thread back to topic lest it be closed. :focus:
To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one's mind — this is the teaching of the Buddhas.
-Dhp. 183

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Re: Social Action

Postby contemplans » Thu Jan 05, 2012 1:27 pm

I said that plunging the depths of the arahant's soul was difficult, and someone then said, What soul? And on it went from there. I originally said the statement to refer to his inmost thoughts and desires.
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Re: Social Action

Postby Khalil Bodhi » Thu Jan 05, 2012 9:12 pm

Time to close up shop and start another thread if everyone insists on talking about the theory of Soul.
To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one's mind — this is the teaching of the Buddhas.
-Dhp. 183

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