I ask questions, but I don't get answers. Is this because when answered, cognitive dissonance arises?
Earlier I asked: "Are you, then, suggesting that the Buddha is teaching that an individual *should* only care about their own suffering?"
"Do you, then, disagree that in the lists of 'virtuous behavior' acts that will harm others predominate? The only exception I can think of offhand is 'wrong view' which might seem internal on the surface, but wrong view leads to all the other bad behaviors -- it is wrong view that is their ultimate cause. So, really, the point of wrong view is really that it leads to bad behavior that harms others."
I asked these questions because seeing the Buddha's teaching as being *about rebirth* tends to push one in the direction of thinking in terms of oneself, but I see plenty of indicators that that wasn't the Buddha's aim -- he wasn't intending to set up a teaching that results, even inadvertently, in us thinking about how to make our own rebirths/futures better. We have the example of his life (he thought about how troublesome it would be to teach -- knew how much easier his life would be if he just went off to be a complete recluse -- but he chose to help others). We have the lists of things to refrain from which all affect others. We have his talks about how holding views dogmatically causes argument and divisiveness -- something that affects not just the divider but upsets the divided. And then there's MN 117, in which the Buddha actually *says* in plain words that holding those beliefs results in "acquisitions" which means, as Bhikkhu Bodhi puts it:
Bhikkhu Bodhi wrote:
Now we come to right view. This is where it becomes more interesting. We see this distinction, “Right view, I say, is two-fold. There is right view that is affected by taints…” Here the Pali expression is simpler, “sasava” that is literally, “with the asavas”, with these (I don’t like “taints”) “with these influxes” or “corruptions”. “Partaking of merit.” Now we have an expression a little obscure, the translation is “ripening in the acquisitions”: “upadhivepakkà”. What is meant here by “the acquisitions”, that is the word “upadhi”, [which] has several shades of meaning, but the relevant meaning here would be “the five aggregates that constitute personal existence”. And so meritorious right view, ripens in the acquisitions, in that it leads to acquiring a new set of five aggregates in the future...
-- http://bodhimonastery.org/a-systematic- ... ikaya.html
lecture on the Mahācattārīsaka Sutta dated 9/28/2004 clip begins at 20:58
These corrupted right views that "partake of merit" have as their fruit (vepakka) a new set of aggregates.
And then I asked rowboat: "I find it interesting that so many people think the Buddha meant that *his view* comes with effluents, and results in acquisitions. Is that what you, personally, believe? That the Buddha wants you to adopt a view that comes with effluents and results in acquisitions?"
Rather than an answer, rowboat came back with an aside that didn't address my point.
This is my point: the words on the page state the Buddha's thoughts on what these belief systems do for us. Belief systems that involve sacrifice and oblations, and concern with fruit and results, thinking about this world and the next, about folks who claim to have gone there, and so on are corrupted (they come to us *with* corruptions), concern themselves with merit, and result in -- he uses the word that means "the fruit of that planting is..." -- more of the bits that we mistake for self. It results in more of what passes for self. It is a *selfish* point of view.
It is difficult to read that bit of MN 117 and accept, in light of what the traditions say the Buddha is teaching about rebirth, that it could mean what it actually says, what even Bhikkhu Bodhi says it says. Cognitive dissonance arises, and off we go looking for some explanation that can soften those words. And we're human beings, so we'll find them. And we'll take the word of the scholars that the words on the page don't mean what they actually say, they mean something else. I call this "faith and confidence in scholars" not "faith and confidence in the Buddha". I believe what the Buddha says there is very precisely stating exactly what he means -- I put my confidence in the Buddha's skill with words -- in part because I can see it for myself in the world around me: that a concern with one's rebirth (no matter how fancily explained) results in focusing on one's own future (it's selfish) rather than on a far more selfless, compassionate concern for others. The debate I keep having over whether the Buddha's teachings focus just on one's own liberation or on actions that will reduce dukkha for all demonstrates this point.