The problem of infinity in Buddhism

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
R1111 = rightviewftw
Posts: 1019
Joined: Thu Nov 12, 2015 4:17 am

Re: The problem of infinity in Buddhism

Post by R1111 = rightviewftw » Sun Jul 02, 2017 4:29 am

robertk wrote: warning: anymore insults and suspensions will be given out.
I am sorry it was inappropriate, maybe he does care about someone else's opinion i would not know if he did, but he certainly does not seem care about mine and has expressed what seems to be firm fixation in his view. Am i allowed to make that observation?

User avatar
robertk
Posts: 2929
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2009 2:08 am

Re: The problem of infinity in Buddhism

Post by robertk » Sun Jul 02, 2017 4:32 am

No doubt we all.have our opinions and rate the opinions of others high or low: it is to be expected.
best to just comment on the actual.ideas expressed.

R1111 = rightviewftw
Posts: 1019
Joined: Thu Nov 12, 2015 4:17 am

Re: The problem of infinity in Buddhism

Post by R1111 = rightviewftw » Sun Jul 02, 2017 5:03 am

I just think that it is problematic if someone is being proven wrong beyond doubt to keep propagating that view, at some point it will border to trolling or just madness. I think it incites conflict with no upside and is a drain on people's resource, a shame when people are genuinely try to help. At the very least we should be allowed to call people out on it.

Friend
Posts: 10
Joined: Sat Dec 24, 2016 7:04 am

Re: The problem of infinity in Buddhism

Post by Friend » Sun Jul 02, 2017 5:26 am

If dependent origination had to be described by analogy I'd say it's like a strange loop. No discernable beginning to samsara can be found because "to have a beginning" necessarily means fabrication. With no fabrication there is no discernable beginning.

If you're looking for the beginning or the end of the cosmos, you might be chasing your own tail, stuck in a "strange loop" of dependent origination.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XeNUO2mg_vE

The tragedy of samsara is that its worst victims are the most oblivious to being victims.
Last edited by Friend on Sun Jul 02, 2017 5:32 am, edited 1 time in total.

binocular
Posts: 5638
Joined: Sat Jan 17, 2009 11:13 pm

Re: The problem of infinity in Buddhism

Post by binocular » Sun Jul 02, 2017 8:14 am

Oh, how well this sound depicts the horrors of samsara!
Friend wrote:The tragedy of samsara is that its worst victims are the most oblivious to being victims.
On the grounds of what do you call them "victims"?
And how come you used the term "tragedy", given that it has several meanings?
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

justindesilva
Posts: 824
Joined: Wed Jul 27, 2016 12:38 pm

Re: The problem of infinity in Buddhism

Post by justindesilva » Sun Jul 02, 2017 5:09 pm

chownah wrote:If the universe is infinite and has existed for an infinite amount of time does that mean that eveything that everyone has imagined will happen or has already happened?

If the universe is infinite and has existed for an infinite amount of time couldn't something arise after an infinite amount of time has passed, persist for a finite length of time, and then cease to exist and never to arise again?

If the universe is infinite and has existed for an infinite amount of time does this mean that whatever is happening has happened before?....and will happen again?

If there was a cosmic wall which extends infinitely in both directions then the universe on one side would be infinite and the universe on the other side would be infinite in such a way that the two universes would never touch and be mutually unknowable.

Can a universe which is constrained to be within some fixed finite dimensions of space and time still be infinite?

Would a universe which has existed for an infinite lenght of time and then winked out of existence still be considered infinite?

Would a universe which started at some definite time and having finite dimentions when it started expand for an infinite length of time and thus be considered infinite in time and space?

Etc.
chownah
It is quite interesting. How can we address "ANICCA" or momentary changes in this infinite time. What existed say the earth eons ago ( millions of years ago) has changed each kshana (moment) and to day we live on a relatively new earth.
This is a question and not a suggestion.

User avatar
aflatun
Posts: 814
Joined: Fri Sep 16, 2016 2:40 pm
Location: Bay Area, CA

Re: The problem of infinity in Buddhism

Post by aflatun » Sun Jul 02, 2017 6:41 pm

Just my take:

There is no problem because infinity only exists as a transcendental ideal (a regulative structure of the understanding), not a transcendental real (something outside of experience)

An infinite time would lead to the conclusion that the present moment could not exist. This can't be coherently formulated. Both Zeno and Nagarjuna were quite hip to this, in different ways.

A time that is finite or bounded, i.e. has a beginning, can also not be coherently formulated because that concept (that is, "beginning") of necessity presumes another time within which that beginning happens, ad infinitum.

The same holds for space in exactly the same ways.

Please see Kant's antinomies for further clarification. These antinomies are just some of the reasons naive realism cannot be stated without contradiction. In brief the the problem occurs when we try to take space and time as features of "things in themselves" (how things are independent of our experience of them) as opposed to what they actually are, i.e. our forms of intuition. No mind --> no space, no time, no causality.

As far as I can tell the Buddha didn't answer these kinds of questions (imponderables) for at least two reasons:

1) They're irrelevant to the path

2) They rest on sakkaya ditthii, and hence Contact, and therefore belong in the metaphysical poop can of DN1
Professor Peter Harvey wrote:The Buddha was frequently asked a set of ten 'undetermined (avyiikata) questions' (Para.1.8}, four of which are on the 'world' (loka): is it eternal, not eternal, finite or infinite? The Buddha 'set aside' all such questions, saw them as improper, or met them with silence. He clearly saw them as a timewasting distraction from the spiritual life (M.I.429), but also as linked to the Self-illusion. This can be seen from S.IV.395, where he says that others give answers to the undetermined questions because they have some kind of 'view on the existing group' (sakkaya-ditthi): a view which sees a Self as somehow or other related to the personality-factors; he does not answer them as he has no such view. Likewise, the monk lsidatta says that the views enshrined in the questions cannot exist without such Self-views (S.IV.287). Clearly, the questions are asked by those who projected the concept of Self onto the ideas of 'world', 'life- principle' and 'tathagata'. Their questions are about the nature of 'Selfs world', 'Life-principle-Self' and 'tathagata-Self', even though 'Self' is a baseless concept. As such, no answer can be given to the questions, just as an innocent man cannot answer either 'yes' or 'no' to 'have you stopped beating your wife?'
The Selfless Mind, 84-85
"People often get too quick to say 'there's no self. There's no self...no self...no self.' There is self, there is focal point, its not yours. That's what not self is."

Ninoslav Ñāṇamoli
Senses and the Thought-1, 42:53

"Those who create constructs about the Buddha,
Who is beyond construction and without exhaustion,
Are thereby damaged by their constructs;
They fail to see the Thus-Gone.

That which is the nature of the Thus-Gone
Is also the nature of this world.
There is no nature of the Thus-Gone.
There is no nature of the world."

Nagarjuna
MMK XXII.15-16

User avatar
Coëmgenu
Posts: 1821
Joined: Mon Jun 13, 2016 10:55 pm
Location: Whitby, Canada

Re: The problem of infinity in Buddhism

Post by Coëmgenu » Sun Jul 02, 2017 6:52 pm

aflatun wrote: There is no problem because infinity only exists as a transcendental ideal (a regulative structure of the understanding), not a transcendental real (something outside of experience)
:goodpost:

The wordage is strong with this one.
世尊在靈山會上拈華示眾眾皆默然唯迦葉破顏微笑世尊云
The Lord dwelt at the Vulture Peak with the assembly and plucked a flower as a teaching. The myriad totality were silent, save for Kāśyapa, whose face cracked in a faint smile. The Lord spoke.
吾有正法眼藏涅槃妙心實相無相微妙法門不立文字教外別傳付囑摩訶迦葉。
I have the treasure of the true dharma eye, I have nirvāṇa as wondrous citta, I know signless dharmatā, the subtle dharma-gate, which is not standing on written word, which is external to scriptures, which is a special dispensation, which is entrusted to Mahākāśyapa.

नस्वातोनापिपरतोनद्वाभ्यांनाप्यहेतुतः

User avatar
aflatun
Posts: 814
Joined: Fri Sep 16, 2016 2:40 pm
Location: Bay Area, CA

Re: The problem of infinity in Buddhism

Post by aflatun » Sun Jul 02, 2017 6:54 pm

Coëmgenu wrote:
aflatun wrote: There is no problem because infinity only exists as a transcendental ideal (a regulative structure of the understanding), not a transcendental real (something outside of experience)
:goodpost:

The wordage is strong with this one.
I'm a lightweight compared to you! :heart:

PS: Please keep going with your Dharmakaya thread !
"People often get too quick to say 'there's no self. There's no self...no self...no self.' There is self, there is focal point, its not yours. That's what not self is."

Ninoslav Ñāṇamoli
Senses and the Thought-1, 42:53

"Those who create constructs about the Buddha,
Who is beyond construction and without exhaustion,
Are thereby damaged by their constructs;
They fail to see the Thus-Gone.

That which is the nature of the Thus-Gone
Is also the nature of this world.
There is no nature of the Thus-Gone.
There is no nature of the world."

Nagarjuna
MMK XXII.15-16

User avatar
Circle5
Posts: 898
Joined: Wed May 31, 2017 2:14 am

Re: The problem of infinity in Buddhism

Post by Circle5 » Sun Jul 02, 2017 7:05 pm

aflatun wrote:Just my take:

An infinite time would lead to the conclusion that the present moment could not exist.
Why ? Why in the world would an infinite time lead to the conclusion that present moment could not exist lol ?
As far as I can tell the Buddha didn't answer these kinds of questions (imponderables) for at least two reasons:
The fact that we, as beings, exist since forever and have been reborn again and again since forever is not one of the imponderables. It is a clearly stated fact and important part of buddhist doctrine.
In brief the the problem occurs when we try to take space and time as features of "things in themselves" (how things are independent of our experience of them) as opposed to what they actually are, i.e. our forms of intuition. No mind --> no space, no time, no causality.
Here is my simple answer to such postmodernist type of thinking. There are 2 possibilities:

1) There does not exist such a thing as a chair. It's just an illusion that it exists based on our perception of it and the language we use to describe it. In reality, there is only the language and perception and not the chair itself.

2) There does exist such a thing as a chair. And we, as beings, have the ability to perceive this chair that exists though our sense bases. Not only are we able to perceive it, but we can also describe it to other beings through the use of commonly accepted terms used to describe such a thing, through language. Other beings such as dolphins for example even have the ability to visually transmit this information to one another (though sonar), but we as humans can only use language and not visual systems such as the dolphins.

My question for postmodernist is this: How do you prove the first posibility of these two options is correct and not the second ? You have to prove these things, you can't just state them and say "This is how it is". You need to prove them. Otherwise it's equal to saying "the world was made by a spagette monster"

User avatar
PuerAzaelis
Posts: 62
Joined: Thu Jun 02, 2016 12:44 pm

Re: The problem of infinity in Buddhism

Post by PuerAzaelis » Sun Jul 02, 2017 7:35 pm

@ aflatun bravo.
Generally, enjoyment of speech is the gateway to poor [results]. So it becomes the foundation for generating all negative emotional states. Jampel Pawo, The Certainty of the Diamond Mind

User avatar
robertk
Posts: 2929
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2009 2:08 am

Re: The problem of infinity in Buddhism

Post by robertk » Sun Jul 02, 2017 9:37 pm

:Which do you think is the more: the flood of tears, which weeping
and wailing you have shed upon this long way-hurrying and hastening
through this round of rebirths, united with the undesired, separated
from the desired this, or the waters of the four oceans?
Long time have you suffered the death of father and mother, of sons,
daughters, brothers, and sisters. And whilst you were thus
suffering, you have, verily, shed more tears upon this long way than
there is water in the four oceans.
Which do you think is the more: the streams of blood that, through
your being beheaded, have flowed upon this long way, or the waters
in the four oceans?
Long time have you been caught as dacoits, or highwaymen, or
adulterers; and, through your being beheaded, verily, more blood has
flowed upon this long way than there is water in the four oceans.
But how is this possible?
Inconceivable is the beginning of this Samsara; not to be discovered
is any first beginning of beings, who, obstructed by ignorance, and
ensnared by craving, are hurrying and hastening through this round
of rebirths.
And thus have you long time undergone suffering, undergone
torment, undergone misfortune, and filled the graveyards full; verily,
long enough to be dissatisfied with all the forms of existence, long
enough to turn away, and free yourselves from them all."

User avatar
aflatun
Posts: 814
Joined: Fri Sep 16, 2016 2:40 pm
Location: Bay Area, CA

Re: The problem of infinity in Buddhism

Post by aflatun » Sun Jul 02, 2017 10:17 pm

When asked whether any beginning can be seen,
The Able One answered in the negative.
Cyclic existence has no beginning or end;
There is no before and there is no after. [XI.1]

When something has neither beginning nor end,
How could it possibly have a middle?
Therefore, cyclic existence cannot
Be either sequential or simultaneous. [XI.2]

If birth came first
And aging and death followed later,
There would be birth without aging and death,
As well as birth without anyone having died. [XI.3]

If birth occurred later,
And aging and death before,
How could this causeless aging and death
Happen to someone who was never born? [XI.4]

Birth, aging, and death
Cannot occur simultaneously,
For the one being born would then be dying,
And both would be lacking their cause. [XI.5]

As it is impossible for them to occur
In sequence or simultaneously,
Why would anyone think
In terms of birth, aging, and death? [XI.6]

Not only does cyclic existence
Have no beginning,
But also cause and effect,
Characteristics and their bearers, [XI.7]

Feelings and those that feel—
Whatever there may be.
The same applies to all things;
None have a beginning. [XI.8]

Acharya Nagarjuna, MMK XI

Mabja Jangchub Tsondru. Ornament of Reason: The Great Commentary to Nagarjuna's Root of the Middle Way.
"People often get too quick to say 'there's no self. There's no self...no self...no self.' There is self, there is focal point, its not yours. That's what not self is."

Ninoslav Ñāṇamoli
Senses and the Thought-1, 42:53

"Those who create constructs about the Buddha,
Who is beyond construction and without exhaustion,
Are thereby damaged by their constructs;
They fail to see the Thus-Gone.

That which is the nature of the Thus-Gone
Is also the nature of this world.
There is no nature of the Thus-Gone.
There is no nature of the world."

Nagarjuna
MMK XXII.15-16

User avatar
Circle5
Posts: 898
Joined: Wed May 31, 2017 2:14 am

Re: The problem of infinity in Buddhism

Post by Circle5 » Sun Jul 02, 2017 10:53 pm

There are subtle sutta twistings and gross sutta twistings. But there are also instances where people simply write nonsense on a piece of paper, as is the case over here. Let's analyse it verse by verse:
When asked whether any beginning can be seen,
The Able One answered in the negative.
Cyclic existence has no beginning or end;
There is no before and there is no after.
It has an end, Nibbana is the end. (if it happens, cause it could very well not happen for a particular person, as the statistics presented here also show) From the fact that the round of rebirth has no beginning, that it is happening since forever, he concludes that there must be no end to the round of rebirth.

And from this, he concludes there is no before and there is no after. He could have well concluded Pizza has the color blue and purple. It's not like the conclusion has to do with the premises. You can just conclude things out of the blue.
When something has neither beginning nor end,
How could it possibly have a middle?
When pizza has the color blue and purple, how could it have the color green ?
If birth occurred later,
And aging and death before,
How could this causeless aging and death
Happen to someone who was never born? [
Causless aging and death, things happening to people never born....

Here, we are completely leaving the buddhist frame of referrence. We are not even trying to make any kind of sense whatsoever. We are simply elucubrating nonsese bigger than the postmodernist generator can create. As that book title says, "fashionable nonsense".

There is one thing to twist suttas and make a case for postmodernism. (or monism in this case) There is another thing to simply write nonsese. Someone should create a buddhist nonsense generator one day like this one: http://www.elsewhere.org/pomo/
Birth, aging, and death
Cannot occur simultaneously,
For the one being born would then be dying,
An insight that only an enlightened one could have. But at least there is something that makes sense in this sea of nonsense.
And both would be lacking their cause.
Boom. A verse like a hammer in the head. Has anyone tried to tell him about this option ? : Birth is the cause of aging and death.
I know, I know, I'm a genius.
As it is impossible for them to occur
In sequence or simultaneously,
We already established that. Same as we established pizza has the color blue and purple.
Why would anyone think
In terms of birth, aging, and death?
Cause they're stupid and unenlightened. Doooh.
Not only does cyclic existence
Have no beginning,
But also cause and effect,
Characteristics and their bearers, [XI.7]

Feelings and those that feel—
Whatever there may be.
The same applies to all things;
None have a beginning.
Sure, if Nagarjuna says so of course it applies to all things. For example this computer I am writing right now has no beginning. It was never created, there was never a point when it didn't exist. But hey, I'm just a random guy, I'm not a genius like Nagarjuna.

In the past I have called Nagarjuna an ancient postmodernist. From this poem he looks more like a monist. But the fact that he's writing totally nonsensical stuff makes him qualify as a postmodernist too. Someone needs to create a buddhist nonsense generator some time cause we seem to be lacking this kind of stuff in modern days. Or we could start a topic and try to write this kind of stuff ourselves.

About this stuff having anything to do with what the historical Buddha taught.... Do we even need to bring that up? He's even against conditionality lol

This is not even a half-good attempt to argument monism. It's maybe a half-baked attempt. As I've said, Buddhism is not some kind of New Age religion where we can just throw any random ideas there and make a big soup out of it all. And then say "if this soup works for me (whatever that might mean), then it's good". Buddhism is not like that. The world works in a specific way. "Weather there is a buddha or not, the world will still work the same". This religion was founded by the Buddha who had a certain view about this world. It's not a New Age type of religion. Imagine people writing this kind of stuff and saying it's christianity or it's islam, how would christians and muslims feel ? I feel the same way seeing this kind of stuff with the label "buddhist" put on it. Just chose another name for your religion, don't borrow the "buddhist" label.

R1111 = rightviewftw
Posts: 1019
Joined: Thu Nov 12, 2015 4:17 am

Re: The problem of infinity in Buddhism

Post by R1111 = rightviewftw » Mon Jul 03, 2017 12:03 am

R1111 wrote:
"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'?"
"No, lord."
Circle5 wrote:It is improper to declare that about the Tahagatha after death. About everything else, it is proper.
So when you can't pin down the Tathagata's existence in the present life it is proper to declare the Existence in the present life?
If it is proper to declare the existence in this life even tho it cant be pinned down, why is not proper after death.

Adress this

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot], budo, kroyakor, rightviewftw, Vitor_N, Volovsky, Zom and 101 guests