The problem of infinity in Buddhism

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
binocular
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Re: The problem of infinity in Buddhism

Post by binocular » Fri Jun 30, 2017 4:02 pm

Circle5 wrote:Indeed A.Brahmali was writing wrong things over there. Nowhere does it say there is a finite number of being in the universe.
Then that changes everything.

R1111 = rightviewftw
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Re: The problem of infinity in Buddhism

Post by R1111 = rightviewftw » Fri Jun 30, 2017 4:04 pm

Circle5 wrote:@R111 and Binocular: What you are writing there is not the historical Buddha position. The historical Buddha position is that we exist since forever. That there was another life before this, and another, and another going back to infinity. It is meant in exactly what you called "realist" way, not in some postmodernist way. This is what the historical Buddha view was.
Those are some rather categorical statements, seems like you know exactly what the Buddha meant and yet you are left speechless by the problem in OP. I think this will turn out in two ways 1) Buddha's teaching is easily disproved by scientific experiments as well as logic as demonstrated by OP 2) Your understanding of the doctrine is wrong.

If anybody is slandering the Tathagata it is you by making these categorical statements.
Circle5 wrote:What you are writing there is not the historical Buddha position.
Slander if wrong.
Circle5 wrote:The historical Buddha position is that we exist since forever. That there was another life before this, and another, and another going back to infinity. It is meant in exactly what you called "realist" way, not in some postmodernist way. This is what the historical Buddha view was.
Slander if wrong. It is obviously wrong too. Frankly i think your post is quite offensive so good luck with that.

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BasementBuddhist
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Re: The problem of infinity in Buddhism

Post by BasementBuddhist » Fri Jun 30, 2017 4:46 pm

Maybe what I'm proposing is too simple, but here we go:

Several comparisons have been made: Monkeys and Shakespeare, Aliens wiping us out, ect.

So in an infinite system these things will happen at some point, because infinity. But just because they can/will happen at some point, what says they have to have happened yet? So things have been going on for forever. Things can only arise when their conditions do. Things have been going on forever, yeah, but they still have forever to GO. Maybe they will happen in the part of infinity that comes after this part?

If we had our monkeys and their type writer, if they hadn't yet written shakespeare we'd be looking around going, "Man, infinity is broken, clearly this is messed up, these monkeys should have written shakespeare by now, they've only had forever."

What if they are going to hit on shakespeare by chance ten years from now, or 100? Why do we have to be enlightened by now just because we have infinity? Enlightenment might be really really hard to do. Maybe conditions haven't arisen for it yet in all the backwards time.

Also, did the buddha say infinity? He just said he looked backwards through his lives for as long as he cared to and found no beginning. That doesn't have to be infinity. Just a really long time.

R1111 = rightviewftw
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Re: The problem of infinity in Buddhism

Post by R1111 = rightviewftw » Fri Jun 30, 2017 5:19 pm

Brahmajala Sutta
III. Speculations about the Past (Pubbantakappika)
...
1. Eternalism (Sassatavāda): Views 1–4
...
"Herein, bhikkhus, some recluse or brahmin is a rationalist, an investigator. He declares his view — hammered out by reason, deduced from his investigations, following his own flight of thought — thus: "The self and the world are eternal, barren, steadfast as a mountain peak, standing firm like a pillar. And though these beings roam and wander (through the round of existence), pass away and re-arise, yet the self and the world remain the same just like eternity itself.'

"This, bhikkhus, is the fourth case.
...
36. "This, bhikkhus, the Tathāgata understands. And he understands: 'These standpoints, thus assumed and thus misapprehended, lead to such a future destination, to such a state in the world beyond.' He understands as well what transcends this, yet even that understanding he does not misapprehend. And because he is free from misapprehension, he has realized within himself the state of perfect peace. Having understood as they really are the origin and the passing away of feelings, their satisfaction, their unsatisfactoriness, and the escape from them, the Tathāgata, bhikkhus, is emancipated through non-clinging.
...
2. Partial-Eternalism (Ekaccasassatavāda): Views 5–8
...
"Herein, bhikkhus, recluse or a certain brahmin is a rationalist, an investigator. He declares his view — hammered out by reason, deduced from his investigations, following his own flight of thought — thus: 'That which is called "the eye," "the ear," "the nose," "the tongue," and "the body" — that self is impermanent, unstable, non-eternal, subject to change. But that which is called "mind" (citta) or "mentality" (mano) or "consciousness" (viññāṇa) — that self is permanent, stable, eternal, not subject to change, and it will remain the same just like eternity itself.'

"This, bhikkhus, is the fourth case.

50. "It is on these four grounds, bhikkhus, that those recluses and brahmins who are partial-eternalists proclaim the self and the world to be partly eternal and partly non-eternal. Whatever recluses and brahmins there may be who proclaim the self and the world to be partly eternal and partly non-eternal, all of them do so on these four grounds or on a certain one of them. Outside of these there is none.

V. The Round of Conditions and Emancipation from the Round
1. Agitation and Vacillation (Paritassitavipphandita)

....
130 (143). "When those recluses and brahmins who are speculators about the past, speculators about the future, speculators about the past and the future together, who hold settled views about the past and the future, assert on sixty-two grounds various conceptual theorems referring to the past and the future — that too is conditioned by contact. That they can experience that feeling without contact — such a case is impossible.
All that ultimately exist is Contact. Contact at sense bases. Reality as we experience it is made up of a sequence of Sense-Consciousnesses, this is what arises and ceases.
Sammaditthi Sutta: The Discourse on Right View
42....With the cessation of contact there is the cessation of feeling.
...
45. "When, friends, a noble disciple understands contact, the origin of contact, the cessation of contact, and the way leading to the cessation of contact, in that way he is one of right view... and has arrived at this true Dhamma.
There is no need to speculate about these things.

Circle5
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Re: The problem of infinity in Buddhism

Post by Circle5 » Fri Jun 30, 2017 7:52 pm

seems like you know exactly what the Buddha meant
Guess why ? Because I've read more than 1 sentence about what he had to say about the problem. To be more exact: I've read the "without discoverable beginning" subchapter from SN. And what would be the point of reading what he had to say if I wouldn't understand it ? What would be the point of B.Bodhi doing such efforts translating the sutta pitakka in English ? Why do that when we can just put words in Buddha mouth and claim that's what he said ?
and yet you are left speechless by the problem in OP.
You have read only the first paragraph of my OP.
I think this will turn out in two ways 1) Buddha's teaching is easily disproved by scientific experiments as well as logic as demonstrated by OP
Again, you have read only the first paragraph of my OP. How can I have a conversation with you if you only read the first paragraph of what I say in a rush ? Why not take it slowly and read the whole post ?

This is what you need to read: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Almost_surely

Circle5
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Re: The problem of infinity in Buddhism

Post by Circle5 » Fri Jun 30, 2017 8:02 pm

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?
No
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?
Yes. You don't even need an infinite universe for that. Things arise, persist and then cease all the time.
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?
No
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.
There is no question mark in this paragraph
Can a universe which is constrained to be within some fixed finite dimensions of space and time still be infinite?
It is finite in terms of space, infinite in terms of time. Just like the universe we live in right now.
Would a universe which has existed for an infinite lenght of time and then winked out of existence still be considered infinite?
Technically yes. This depends on semantics. In such a case we should chose a new term: infinite that ceases or something like that.
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?
In time yes, in space it depends.

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Re: The problem of infinity in Buddhism

Post by R1111 = rightviewftw » Fri Jun 30, 2017 9:08 pm

Ill just say again that you are ignoring the teachings on Contact and the The Aggregates, you are assuming that time is a linear thing that actually exists.
Circle5 wrote:The historical Buddha position is that we exist since forever.
The Buddha would never say this.
"What do you think, Anuradha: Is form constant or inconstant?"
"Inconstant, lord."
"And is that which is inconstant easeful or stressful?"
"Stressful, lord."
"And is it proper to regard what is inconstant, stressful, subject to change as: 'This is mine. This is my self. This is what I am'?"
"No, lord."
"Is feeling constant or inconstant?"
"Inconstant, lord."...
"Is perception constant or inconstant?"
"Inconstant, lord."...
"Are fabrications constant or inconstant?"
"Inconstant, lord."...
"Is consciousness constant or inconstant?
"Inconstant, lord."
"And is that which is inconstant easeful or stressful?"
"Stressful, lord."
"And is it proper to regard what is inconstant, stressful, subject to change as: 'This is mine. This is my self. This is what I am'?"
"No, lord."
"What do you think, Anuradha: Do you regard form as the Tathagata?"
"No, lord."
"Do you regard feeling as the Tathagata?"
"No, lord."
"Do you regard perception as the Tathagata?"
"No, lord."
"Do you regard fabrications as the Tathagata?"
"No, lord."
"Do you regard consciousness as the Tathagata?"
"No, lord."
"What do you think, Anuradha: Do you regard the Tathagata as being in form?... Elsewhere than form?... In feeling?... Elsewhere than feeling?... In perception?... Elsewhere than perception?... In fabrications?... Elsewhere than fabrications?... In consciousness?... Elsewhere than consciousness?"
"No, lord."
"What do you think: Do you regard the Tathagata as form-feeling-perception-fabrications-consciousness?"
"No, lord."
"Do you regard the Tathagata as that which is without form, without feeling, without perception, without fabrications, without consciousness?"
"No, lord."

"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."

"Very good, Anuradha. Very good. Both formerly & now, it is only stress that I describe, and the cessation of stress."
It is improper to declare ultimate existence of a being in the present life, after death or in the past.
Last edited by R1111 = rightviewftw on Fri Jun 30, 2017 9:21 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Circle5
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Re: The problem of infinity in Buddhism

Post by Circle5 » Fri Jun 30, 2017 9:19 pm

It is improper to declare ultimate existence of a being in the present life, after death or in the past.
It is improper to declare that about the Tahagatha after death. About everything else, it is proper.

Please read: SN 22.94 https://suttacentral.net/en/sn22.94

I have seen some gross sutta twisting in my life, but this one about tathagata after death twisted to apply to everything else is just too much. This is what happens when we read like 20 suttas out of 10.000 pag of sutta pitakka, and then try to fill the gap with our own imagination. This is what happens when we try to fully understand buddhism by reading just 20 suttas. This is why I recommend a more in-depth read of the nikayas before forming strong opinions about what Buddha taught.

We read that thing about an arahant after death and say it applies to everything else. We read that Buddha said somewhere that "samsara is without discoverable begining" and based on this single sentence we conclude that he never said we exist since forever, that it's just a semantic problem.

We will never understand Buddhism by reading random phrases or random half suttas out of context. And not to mention you have not even read my OP but did had a lot of opinions about my OP without even reading it.
Last edited by Circle5 on Fri Jun 30, 2017 9:28 pm, edited 2 times in total.

R1111 = rightviewftw
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Re: The problem of infinity in Buddhism

Post by R1111 = rightviewftw » Fri Jun 30, 2017 9:24 pm

"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?
And when you could not pin it down in the present is it proper to pin it down in the past?

What that passage is clearly saying is that it is improper even in this life, let alone after death. As i was saying you do not understand the teachings on Aggregates and Contact, i say this to point out where you go wrong and only that.
Last edited by R1111 = rightviewftw on Fri Jun 30, 2017 11:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.

befriend
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Re: The problem of infinity in Buddhism

Post by befriend » Fri Jun 30, 2017 11:08 pm

Infinity or eternity does not mean endless time it means that time is just a notion. In Buddhism there is no concept of time so the idea of there being a beginning does not apply.
rest

Circle5
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Re: The problem of infinity in Buddhism

Post by Circle5 » Fri Jun 30, 2017 11:23 pm

befriend wrote:Infinity or eternity does not mean endless time it means that time is just a notion. In Buddhism there is no concept of time so the idea of there being a beginning does not apply.
Why is Buddhism the only religion that has such ideas about it floating around ? You never hear people saying that kind of things about christianity or islam.

Buddhism is a religion started by Buddha Gautama. He taught a specific set of things. Buddhism is not some form of empty word where you can just throw wathever ideas or philosophies you want in it and claim it's buddhism. Maybe that can happen in mahayana or tibetan where you generally can just throw all kind of ideas or philosophies or gods or new age stuff etc. and make a big soup out of it all. But Theravada buddhism follows the teachings of the historical Buddha.

The nikayas have 10.000 pages. They cover every possible misunderstanding that can appear, no matter how subtle, let alone gross ones. The way this world works is very specific, it's like engineering not like politics. "Whether there is a Tahagata in the world or not, the world will still work the same". This is why the teachings are very specific and very in detail. Buddhism is not some form of New Age religion where you just throw stuff into it and everything is cool.

chownah
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Re: The problem of infinity in Buddhism

Post by chownah » Sat Jul 01, 2017 3:57 am

I think that the infinite number of monkeys for an infinite lengh of time is misunderstood.....it has already happened. As the universe evolved monkeys arose and after awhile there was a monkey named shakespeare who wrote the entire works of shakespeare.
chownah
(Footnote: of course there is alot of evidence that not even shakespeare could write the entire works of shakespeare.)

Garrib
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Re: The problem of infinity in Buddhism

Post by Garrib » Sat Jul 01, 2017 7:11 am

Hi Everyone,

Just read this on the Bhavana Society's website - an excerpt from SN 35:

“Therefore, Mālunkyaputta, remember what I have left undeclared as undeclared, and remember what I have declared as declared. And what have I left undeclared? ‘The world is eternal’—I have left undeclared. ‘The world is not eternal’—I have left undeclared. ‘The world is finite’—I have left undeclared. ‘The world is infinite’—I have left undeclared. ‘The soul is the same as the body’—I have left undeclared. ‘The soul is one thing and the body another’—I have left undeclared. ‘After death a Tathāgata exists’—I have left undeclared. ‘After death a Tathāgata does not exist’—I have left undeclared. ‘After death a Tathāgata both exists and does not exist’—I have left undeclared.
‘After death a Tathāgata neither exists nor does not exist’—I have left undeclared. “Why have I left that undeclared? Because it is unbeneficial, it does not belong to the fundamentals of the holy life, it does not lead to disenchantment, to dispassion, to cessation, to peace, to direct knowledge, to enlightenment, to Nibbāna. That is why I have left it undeclared. “And what have I declared? ‘This is suffering’—I have declared. ‘This is the origin of suffering’—I have declared. ‘This is the cessation of suffering’—I have declared. ‘This is the way leading to the cessation of suffering’—I have declared. “Why have I declared that? Because it is beneficial, it belongs to the fundamentals of the holy life; it leads to disenchantment, to dispassion, to cessation, to peace, to direct knowledge, to enlightenment, to Nibbāna. That is why I have declared it. Therefore, Mālunkyaputta, remember what I have left undeclared as undeclared, and remember what I have declared as declared.”

Hopefully this helps!

-Brad

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Re: The problem of infinity in Buddhism

Post by justindesilva » Sat Jul 01, 2017 8:04 am

:goodpost:
befriend wrote:Infinity or eternity does not mean endless time it means that time is just a notion. In Buddhism there is no concept of time so the idea of there being a beginning does not apply.
:goodpost:
And may I add that " Rohitassa sutta " explains much of the riddle. When Rohitassa suggested to Lord budda about walking through the cosmos to find its end, Lord Budds explsined:
"Never may world's end be reached by walking
No release is there from ill till that end is reached.
There fore that wise one, the knower of the world,
Is the one who has reached the end of the world.
Consummate in him is the holy life.
Knowing the world's end that sage serene
Yearns not for this world nor for the other."
In the same it is explained
" I tell you friend , that it is not possible by travelling to know or see or reach a far end of the cosmos where one does not take birth, age, die, pass away or reappear"
In fact from this sutra it is evident that time and space is present within this panchendriya and manendriya. Space and time appears only attached to the consciousness with defilements. When defilements, Loba and Dosa has been overcome by developing aloha, and Adosa the space and time does not appear.
One can experience the factor of time and space with simple anapana sati meditation , here and now.
Infinity , space and time are developed only with defilements (Klesha) within our mind.
With Metta
No matter what the western philosophies and sciences cannot answer the question of infinity.

justindesilva
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Re: The problem of infinity in Buddhism

Post by justindesilva » Sat Jul 01, 2017 8:08 am

:goodpost:
befriend wrote:Infinity or eternity does not mean endless time it means that time is just a notion. In Buddhism there is no concept of time so the idea of there being a beginning does not apply.
:goodpost:
And may I add that " Rohitassa sutta " explains much of the riddle. When Rohitassa suggested to Lord budda about walking through the cosmos to find its end, Lord Budds explsined:
"Never may world's end be reached by walking
No release is there from ill till that end is reached.
There fore that wise one, the knower of the world,
Is the one who has reached the end of the world.
Consummate in him is the holy life.
Knowing the world's end that sage serene
Yearns not for this world nor for the other."
In the same it is explained
" I tell you friend , that it is not possible by travelling to know or see or reach a far end of the cosmos where one does not take birth, age, die, pass away or reappear"
In fact from this sutra it is evident that time and space is present within this panchendriya and manendriya. Space and time appears only attached to the consciousness with defilements. When defilements, Loba and Dosa has been overcome by developing alobha, and Adosa the space and time does not appear.
One can experience the factor of time and space with simple anapana sati meditation , here and now.
Infinity , space and time are developed only with defilements (Klesha) within our mind.
With Metta
No matter what the western philosophies and sciences cannot answer the question of infinity.

Circle5
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Re: The problem of infinity in Buddhism

Post by Circle5 » Sat Jul 01, 2017 1:29 pm

justindesilva wrote: :goodpost:
And may I add that " Rohitassa sutta " explains much of the riddle. When Rohitassa suggested to Lord budda about walking through the cosmos to find its end, Lord Budds explsined:
[...]
In fact from this sutra it is evident that time and space is present within this panchendriya and manendriya. Space and time appears only attached to the consciousness with defilements. When defilements, Loba and Dosa has been overcome by developing aloha, and Adosa the space and time does not appear.
One can experience the factor of time and space with simple anapana sati meditation , here and now.
Infinity , space and time are developed only with defilements (Klesha) within our mind.
With Metta
No matter what the western philosophies and sciences cannot answer the question of infinity.
How can one possibly interpret that sutta in such a way ? One could very well say that Buddha was speaking about Jesus or about aliens in that sutta and that would make much more sense. Here is the sutta:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Buddha is asked if one can reach Nibbana through walking until reaching the end of the cosmos. Like, if we walk to the end of the cosmos, what will we find there ? Will we find Nibbana ? And he says that no, it is not possible to reach Nibbana like that.

justindesilva
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Re: The problem of infinity in Buddhism

Post by justindesilva » Sat Jul 01, 2017 6:19 pm

Circle5 wrote:
justindesilva wrote: :goodpost:
And may I add that " Rohitassa sutta " explains much of the riddle. When Rohitassa suggested to Lord budda about walking through the cosmos to find its end, Lord Budds explained:

Buddha is asked if one can reach Nibbana through walking until reaching the end of the cosmos. Like, if we walk to the end of the cosmos, what will we find there ? Will we find Nibbana ? And he says that no, it is not possible to reach Nibbana like that.
Then why does Lord Buddha declare that " it is in this very fathom long physical frame with its perceptions and mind that, I declare , lies the world, and the arising of the world, and the cessation of the world, and the path leading to the cessation of the world" ; as in Rohitassa sutta.?

Friend
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Re: The problem of infinity in Buddhism

Post by Friend » Sat Jul 01, 2017 10:04 pm

justindesilva wrote:Then why does Lord Buddha declare that " it is in this very fathom long physical frame with its perceptions and mind that, I declare , lies the world, and the arising of the world, and the cessation of the world, and the path leading to the cessation of the world" ; as in Rohitassa sutta.?
In this sutta the "far end of the cosmos" is an allusion to a place "where one does not take birth, age, die, pass away or reappear" which is also an allusion to nibbana and tacitly equates "the cosmos" with dukkha. This sutta says that dukkha, its cause, its cessation (i.e.: dependent origination) is immediate and reachable with this human body, but not by any sort of ordinary travel.

Circle5
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Re: The problem of infinity in Buddhism

Post by Circle5 » Sun Jul 02, 2017 12:21 am

I declare , lies the world, and the arising of the world, and the cessation of the world,
You first need to learn what "the world" means in Buddha discipline.

justindesilva
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Re: The problem of infinity in Buddhism

Post by justindesilva » Sun Jul 02, 2017 3:04 am

Circle5 wrote:
I declare , lies the world, and the arising of the world, and the cessation of the world,
You first need to learn what "the world" means in Buddha discipline.
Please note that I know this subject.and that there are 31 realms of worlds . Ven Walpole Rahula thero who is well versed has explained the worlds well and also the fact that it all lies within the consciousness .
It is bad to treat others as fools when we wish to share our knowledge.

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