Neurosurgeon's visit to heaven - proof of afterlife?

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
helparcfun
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Re: Neurosurgeon's visit to heaven - proof of afterlife?

Post by helparcfun » Sun Oct 21, 2012 12:14 pm

Rebirth is, to me, the most parsimonious, logical, and "safe" theory to adopt because it is the one that aligns best with the nature of the mind, which we can directly, scientifically see through meditation. Rebirth is the theory that we come to when we examine the mind with clear comprehension, make sense of the mechanisms at work, and then seek to find a consistent explanation for how those mechanisms function upon the breakup of the physical body.
Would you accept that this is rebirth to you because you are a practicing Buddhist? In other words, to a Christian, Jew, Hindu, Jain etc etc, who also have their own "versions" of rebirth, it would mean something a little different.

The point here is that different religions have vastly different views on many things and often contradict each other. The question is, they can't all be right, can they? How do you square that? One religion says this, another says, NO that's not right, this is true. This is the insurmountable problem I have with all religion so I choose no religion. But that's not to say I wouldn't meditate occasionally. I do it because I feel it's good for my mind to simply STOP for a while.

Now, I completely understand why some people may be drawn to a particular religion (although most are probably simply born into and indoctrinated by it). I was once attracted to Buddhism, but now I don't feel that I need to follow any particular religion. This is mainly because of my experiences and ironically also the fact that I am married to a Buddhist, but that's another story!

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LonesomeYogurt
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Re: Neurosurgeon's visit to heaven - proof of afterlife?

Post by LonesomeYogurt » Sun Oct 21, 2012 3:01 pm

helparcfun wrote:Would you accept that this is rebirth to you because you are a practicing Buddhist? In other words, to a Christian, Jew, Hindu, Jain etc etc, who also have their own "versions" of rebirth, it would mean something a little different.
But their versions are not logically consistent with the examination of the mind.
The point here is that different religions have vastly different views on many things and often contradict each other. The question is, they can't all be right, can they? How do you square that? One religion says this, another says, NO that's not right, this is true. This is the insurmountable problem I have with all religion so I choose no religion. But that's not to say I wouldn't meditate occasionally. I do it because I feel it's good for my mind to simply STOP for a while.
Well geez, scientists do the same. In 1860, some people were Darwinians, some were creationists, some were Lamarckans, etc. Not every one was right, but exploring with intellectual honesty and rigor revealed the correct answer, right?

Are you an anarchist just because there are a lot of types of government that contradict each other?
Now, I completely understand why some people may be drawn to a particular religion (although most are probably simply born into and indoctrinated by it). I was once attracted to Buddhism, but now I don't feel that I need to follow any particular religion. This is mainly because of my experiences and ironically also the fact that I am married to a Buddhist, but that's another story!
There's nothing wrong with that, and I hope your spiritual path is rewarding!
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

Stuff I write about things.

helparcfun
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Re: Neurosurgeon's visit to heaven - proof of afterlife?

Post by helparcfun » Sun Oct 21, 2012 4:19 pm

LonesomeYogurt ,
Oh dear, it appears you have either completely missed the point or chose to ignore it. It seems clear to me that you believe what you do because you are a Buddhist.

Who are you to say that "their versions are not logically consistent with the examination of the mind." That sounds pretty subjective to me. You ask a Hindu or a Jain and they may well disagree with you.

So before you were a Buddhist you "examined the mind" and came to the conclusion that Buddhism had all the right answers, right? Or could it have been that Buddhism attracted you for some reason and then you began to practice Buddhist ways and then, eureka! it all made sense! Sounds like circular reasoning to me.
Well geez, scientists do the same. In 1860, some people were Darwinians, some were creationists, some were Lamarckans, etc. Not every one was right, but exploring with intellectual honesty and rigor revealed the correct answer, right?
I cannot believe you are serious about this one! Science changes, religion generally doesn't - that was my point. To use the term "creationists" in the same sentence as "scientist" is really unforgivable! :shock: If we showed incontrovertible proof that the earth is 6 billion years old, many creationists would still believe what it tells them in the bible (only 6000 years old)! It apparently doesn't say specifically 6000 years in the bible but that's what many Christians adhere to.
Are you an anarchist just because there are a lot of types of government that contradict each other?
Err well, yes, an anarchist would not be a completely wrong description of me but lets not get into politics eh? Actually, as you may know, anarchism and Buddhism have a lot in common.

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LonesomeYogurt
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Re: Neurosurgeon's visit to heaven - proof of afterlife?

Post by LonesomeYogurt » Sun Oct 21, 2012 4:56 pm

helparcfun wrote:LonesomeYogurt ,
Oh dear, it appears you have either completely missed the point or chose to ignore it. It seems clear to me that you believe what you do because you are a Buddhist.
I believe what I do because I am Buddhist in the same way that you, a materialist, believe what you do because you are an Aristotelian; I doubt you have a religious devotion to Aristotle, but you think that he was right on many fundamental points because they agree with your own investigation, and thus fashion your belief system upon them. I am the same way. I think the Buddha "got it right."
Who are you to say that "their versions are not logically consistent with the examination of the mind." That sounds pretty subjective to me. You ask a Hindu or a Jain and they may well disagree with you.
Yes, they might. So? It doesn't matter what they think, or what I think. What matters is what the evidence itself argues for, and I'm confident that objective, first-hand research into the functioning of the mind presents a preponderance of evidence for a base of experience separate from the physical functioning of the brain and in accordance with Buddhist theory. The Jain or Hindu approaches to reincarnation are not consistent with observable reality, and I would happily defend that position using empirical examinations of the observable world.

Let me state this another way: A persistent unsolved question in physics relates to how the universe is going to end. Common theories include a Big Freeze, a Big Rip, a Big Crunch, a Big Bounce, and an infinitely recurring cyclic model. Many people disagree on this issue. I believe that the evidence supports an infinitely recurring cyclic model, and thus I believe that a Big Rip, for example, is not logically consistent with objective examination of our physical universe. Now, if I asked someone who was a proponent of the Big Freeze model, they would disagree. Does that mean that both our ideas are wrong, or that it is impossible to know either? No, it means we go to the evidence and have an honest, frank discussion about where it leads. I'd be happy to do that with you, but I'm not interested in having such a discussion until you can admit that the Buddhist method of examining the mind through meditation is as valid a way of gathering evidence about the mechanisms that drive mental activity as any scientific method of doing the same.
So before you were a Buddhist you "examined the mind" and came to the conclusion that Buddhism had all the right answers, right? Or could it have been that Buddhism attracted you for some reason and then you began to practice Buddhist ways and then, eureka! it all made sense! Sounds like circular reasoning to me.
Buddhism attracted me because it offered a sound, reasonable explanation of the mechanisms at work in the mind - mechanisms which showed themselves to be directly verifiable.
I cannot believe you are serious about this one! Science changes, religion generally doesn't - that was my point. To use the term "creationists" in the same sentence as "scientist" is really unforgivable! :shock: If we showed incontrovertible proof that the earth is 6 billion years old, many creationists would still believe what it tells them in the bible (only 6000 years old)! It apparently doesn't say specifically 6000 years in the bible but that's what many Christians adhere to.
Buddhism does change and adapt as science advances - do you see many Buddhists arguing that Mount Meru really exists anymore?

My point, as I made above, was that many people hold many different views, but that doesn't mean that there isn't a right one out there. I believe that the "right one" is an experience-based model of consciousness that migrates as propelled by craving, and I believe it because of evidence gathered through methods and assumptions as philosophically and scientifically rigorous as any Western psychology.
Err well, yes, an anarchist would not be a completely wrong description of me but lets not get into politics eh? Actually, as you may know, anarchism and Buddhism have a lot in common.
I err on the anarchic side as well; my point, however, was that you seem content to throw out all non-physical explanations of consciousness simply because some are definitely not empirically sound, whereas you would never take such an approach when it comes to any other philosophical position.
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

Stuff I write about things.

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gavesako
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Re: Neurosurgeon's visit to heaven - proof of afterlife?

Post by gavesako » Sun Oct 21, 2012 8:33 pm

Something on this topic:
Extended interview with Rupert Sheldrake, a Cambridge scientist, including new ideas about out-of-the-body experiences and other well-reasoned ideas. He talks about the limitations of current science which adopts the materialist dogma and limiting consciousness to the brain. There is no funding for so-called para-normal research because this is decided by small committees and reflecting their views. The evidence for psychic phenomena is systematically dismissed because it does not fit in. Science is far from 'objective' but influenced by people's prejudices. Materialist dogmas are a kind of superstition as well.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=frJpThIims8" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Bhikkhu Gavesako
Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

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Mawkish1983
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Re: Neurosurgeon's visit to heaven - proof of afterlife?

Post by Mawkish1983 » Sun Oct 21, 2012 9:11 pm

gavesako wrote:There is no funding for so-called para-normal research because this is decided by small committees and reflecting their views. The evidence for psychic phenomena is systematically dismissed because it does not fit in. Science is far from 'objective' but influenced by people's prejudices. Materialist dogmas are a kind of superstition as well.
You are wrong.

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gavesako
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Re: Neurosurgeon's visit to heaven - proof of afterlife?

Post by gavesako » Sun Oct 21, 2012 9:18 pm

This is a quote from Sheldrake in the interview. Very interesting talk about the limitations of the materialistic view of science which holds that consciousness is inside the brain. Instead, consciousness can be seen as field phenomena which stretch out beyond the brain. The dream body and being able to influence external reality in lucid dreams. Transfer of memories from past lives to another body might be due to morphic fields which shape our body after birth and might also explain birthmarks in some children.

'We know that our dreams are very influenced by our preoccupations, by our fears, our desires, we can have nightmares which are usually about being trapped or being chased by some destructive force like a monster. All these things may happen after we are dead, and it might be like being in a dream from which you cannot wake up. It is much better to start from our experience rather than from brain physiology when we are investigating the afterlife.'
Bhikkhu Gavesako
Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

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daverupa
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Re: Neurosurgeon's visit to heaven - proof of afterlife?

Post by daverupa » Sun Oct 21, 2012 10:12 pm

gavesako wrote:It is much better to start from our experience rather than from brain physiology when we are investigating the afterlife.'
MN 2 wrote:"This is how he attends inappropriately: ...Shall I be in the future? Shall I not be in the future? What shall I be in the future? How shall I be in the future? Having been what, what shall I be in the future?'
It is better not to engage that particular inquiry in the first place, isn't it?

Inappropriate attention leads to wrong view...

(see also my signature; kammapatha includes right view, which is had by attending appropriately to the four truths and dukkha for the sake of the destruction of the asavas - not 'the afterlife')
  • "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

whynotme
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Re: Neurosurgeon's visit to heaven - proof of afterlife?

Post by whynotme » Mon Oct 22, 2012 3:33 am

Mawkish1983 wrote:
gavesako wrote:There is no funding for so-called para-normal research because this is decided by small committees and reflecting their views. The evidence for psychic phenomena is systematically dismissed because it does not fit in. Science is far from 'objective' but influenced by people's prejudices. Materialist dogmas are a kind of superstition as well.
You are wrong.
Yes, even intelligence agencies like CIA or KGB were interested in this so called para normal research. But as I see, the bridge between physical and metal worlds can't be well understood, i.e the hard problem of consciousness
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whynotme
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Re: Neurosurgeon's visit to heaven - proof of afterlife?

Post by whynotme » Mon Oct 22, 2012 3:56 am

helparcfun wrote:
Rebirth is, to me, the most parsimonious, logical, and "safe" theory to adopt because it is the one that aligns best with the nature of the mind, which we can directly, scientifically see through meditation. Rebirth is the theory that we come to when we examine the mind with clear comprehension, make sense of the mechanisms at work, and then seek to find a consistent explanation for how those mechanisms function upon the breakup of the physical body.
Would you accept that this is rebirth to you because you are a practicing Buddhist? In other words, to a Christian, Jew, Hindu, Jain etc etc, who also have their own "versions" of rebirth, it would mean something a little different.

The point here is that different religions have vastly different views on many things and often contradict each other. The question is, they can't all be right, can they? How do you square that? One religion says this, another says, NO that's not right, this is true. This is the insurmountable problem I have with all religion so I choose no religion. But that's not to say I wouldn't meditate occasionally. I do it because I feel it's good for my mind to simply STOP for a while.

Now, I completely understand why some people may be drawn to a particular religion (although most are probably simply born into and indoctrinated by it). I was once attracted to Buddhism, but now I don't feel that I need to follow any particular religion. This is mainly because of my experiences and ironically also the fact that I am married to a Buddhist, but that's another story!
It is the problem of you, not the problem of religion

There are people tell the truth, and people tell the lie, then you hear both of them then you see they contradict each other and choose to not believe anyone, so that is the problem of you, not the problem of the truth.

The wise one will think, these people contradict each other, maybe all of them are lying, maybe some of them speak the truth. If one of them speak the truth and I reject them all, I will lose the benefit of the truth can bring to me. So he example each version and find if the truth is there.

I don't know what is your background, but in science, in fields relate to practice like biology, medicine or applied science, there is no black and white, true or false, but theories are based on possibility, approximation, even sometimes scientists use phenomena they don't understand well, e.g room temperature superconductor.. So true science spirit is very open, and it is quite normal to said there is evidence of rebirth like remember past life, it has possibility. Based on what you said and the way you see the world, I believe you have never worked deep on science, you just use science as a tool to reject everything you don't like. Feel free to do so.

I tell you this, maybe there are many people came to Buddhism as tradition, culture, or just they like it. But the core of Buddhism is for the elite, the wise, the Buddha said that, and it is normal for you that you don't understand the Buddhism spirit and see it as every other religion.

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gavesako
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Re: Neurosurgeon's visit to heaven - proof of afterlife?

Post by gavesako » Mon Oct 22, 2012 6:09 pm

daverupa wrote:
gavesako wrote:It is much better to start from our experience rather than from brain physiology when we are investigating the afterlife.'
MN 2 wrote:"This is how he attends inappropriately: ...Shall I be in the future? Shall I not be in the future? What shall I be in the future? How shall I be in the future? Having been what, what shall I be in the future?'
It is better not to engage that particular inquiry in the first place, isn't it?

Inappropriate attention leads to wrong view...

(see also my signature; kammapatha includes right view, which is had by attending appropriately to the four truths and dukkha for the sake of the destruction of the asavas - not 'the afterlife')

I think what Sheldrake was talking about is that using the first person perspective, i.e. looking at life from the "inside" rather than an objectified "outside", is much more helpful for actually understanding it. This is similar to Ven. Thanissaro's description here:
Samsara literally means “wandering-on.” Many people think of it as the Buddhist name for the place where we currently live. But in the early Buddhist texts, it’s the answer, not to the question, “Where are we?” but to the question, “What are we doing?” Instead of a place, it’s a process: the tendency to keep creating worlds and then moving into them. As one world falls apart, you create another one and go there. At the same time, you bump into other people who are creating their own worlds, too. ...
It’s true that the Buddha likened the practice for stopping samsara to the act of going from one place to another: from this side of a river to the further shore. But the passages where he makes this comparison often end with a paradox: the further shore has no “here,” no “there,” no “in between.” From that perspective, it’s obvious that samsara’s parameters of space and time were not the pre-existing context in which we wandered. They were the result of our wandering.
http://mettarefuge.wordpress.com/2010/0 ... t-a-place/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Bhikkhu Gavesako
Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

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Alex123
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Re: Neurosurgeon's visit to heaven - proof of afterlife?

Post by Alex123 » Mon Oct 22, 2012 7:06 pm

Bhante,
gavesako wrote:There is no funding for so-called para-normal research because this is decided by small committees and reflecting their views.
Maybe it because that current evidence is so against para-normal that we do not study it just like we don't allocate funds to see if Zeus exists or tortoises on which earth swims in universal ocean.
"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."

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gavesako
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Re: Neurosurgeon's visit to heaven - proof of afterlife?

Post by gavesako » Mon Oct 22, 2012 8:58 pm

It is also because we are so used to objectification rather than using the phenomenological approach:
Modern philosophy has a term for thinking in this way: radical phenomenology. The term “phenomenology” is a little daunting, but you probably had your first taste of what it refers to when you were small. At some time during childhood you probably stopped to wonder whether your experience of blue is the same as another person’s experience of blue. You and other people can point to an object and agree that it’s blue, but you can’t get into their experience to see if blue looks the same to them as it does to you. Similarly, they can’t check your experience of blue to compare it with theirs. And neither of you can get outside your experience to see what the blue object “really” looks like. You simply have to accept your sense of blue as the phenomenon it is and leave it at that. That’s phenomenology. In formal terms, it’s the analysis of how experience is directly experienced as phenomena, without getting involved with the questions of whether there is a world “out there” or a self “in here” lying behind those phenomena. It looks at experience “from the inside,” while making the fewest possible assumptions about what lies outside or behind it.

This sort of analysis would be something of an idle issue–how you experience blue is rarely a problem–if it were not for the fact that pain and suffering are also phenomena, and definitely are a problem. And it’s right here that the Buddha focused his attention. He discovered that if you adopt the phenomenological approach to the problem of suffering, you can bring suffering to an end. This is where his teaching differs from modern phenomenology. He doesn’t adopt this perspective simply for the sake of analyzing or describing the experience of phenomena. He puts this perspective to use, manipulating factors directly present to experience to provide a total cure for the primary problem of direct experience: suffering and stress.
...

The tendency to read the categories of objectification into dependent co-arising continues to the present day. Modern-day materialists–who reject the idea that there is a self or soul in the body, and prefer to explain mental events as mere side-effects of biochemical processes–interpret dependent co-arising, with its lack of reference to a self, as compatible with their ideas. This, however, ignores the huge gulf that separates the factors of dependent co-arising from those of a materialist view of the world.

To begin with, the materialist view deals in the categories of objectification. It identifies a person as a being existing in a particular world. It takes the physical world “out there” as real, and regards the processes of the body that can be measured by people or instruments “out there” as the real causes for what is directly experienced to awareness. As for events as they are directly experienced to awareness, the materialist view relegates them to a purely subjective realm, in which the idea of causation from within awareness is regarded as purely illusory. You may think that you’re choosing one course of action over another, for instance, but the choice was actually determined by the chemistry in your body. What you actually are is limited to what people outside, along with their instruments, can measure. In terms of an old debate from the Buddha’s time, materialism maintains that the soul is the same thing as the body. When the body dies, that’s it.

What this means is that–unlike phenomenology, which looks at experience from the inside–materialism looks at it from the outside and holds as real only the aspects of consciousness that can be explained from the outside. This puts materialists in a peculiar position. On the one hand, because they hold that consciousness is simply the by-product of chemical processes, they call into question the idea that consciousness can have an accurate view of the world outside, for–after all–how can the occurrence of a chemical process guarantee that it conveys true knowledge of anything? Yet, on the other hand, they claim that their knowledge of those chemical processes is a proven fact. Where does this knowledge come from, if not from the world outside their consciousness? And when they convey this knowledge to us in their writings, what has it come through if not through their consciousness, whose reality and ability to know they have called into question?

Dependent co-arising, however, takes a very different approach. Instead of taking a stand on whether the soul is the same as the body or something different, it explains experience in terms of processes “right here.” For instance, it sees the experience of the world “out there”–which the Buddha equates with the processes of the six sense spheres (SN 35:82)–as the result of mental processes such as ignorance and fabrication as they are immediately experienced. And as for the experience of the material body, dependent co-arising shows how that, too, depends on mental processes. Even the birth of this body, it describes in non-objectified form, not as requiring a soul independent of the body, but as the result of acts of craving and clinging, which feed acts of consciousness at the same time they feed off acts of consciousness, as they pass from the experience of one life “right here” in consciousness to the experience of the next life (SN 44:9), also “right here.

In other words, from the point of view of dependent co-arising, consciousness is not merely the result of physical processes. It’s what allows the experience of physical processes to occur. At the same time, the craving and clinging dependent on acts of consciousness are what allow for acts of consciousness to experience those processes in a new body after an old body dies.

What’s more, dependent co-arising focuses primary attention on a problem that cannot be detected by people or instruments “out there”: namely, the problem of suffering. No one outside can detect your mental pain. They may know that certain physical processes are accompanied by pain, but only if you report the pain to them. The actual pain is a phenomenological issue.

At the same time, dependent co-arising treats suffering as a problem that can be cured in a phenomenological way: not through the manipulation of biochemical processes, which can’t be directly experienced–you can’t directly detect which chemicals are combining in your brain–but through mental factors such as intention, attention, and perception, which can be directly detected, or as the Buddha says in MN 18, “delineated” as steps in a process. This is a fact of great consequence. The main problem of experience–the suffering that comes from craving, clinging, becoming, and birth into one confining puddle after another–is caused by factors directly present to experience, and can also be solved by factors directly present to experience, without having to look outside of direct experience to material or other causes hidden behind it.
http://www.theravada-dhamma.org/blog/?p=9567" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Bhikkhu Gavesako
Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

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Mawkish1983
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Re: Neurosurgeon's visit to heaven - proof of afterlife?

Post by Mawkish1983 » Tue Oct 23, 2012 3:49 am

That wall of text doesn't explain to me why I should consider experience as 'evidence' or 'proof' of anything, as per the OP; especially if that experience belongs to someone else.

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Kim OHara
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Re: Neurosurgeon's visit to heaven - proof of afterlife?

Post by Kim OHara » Tue Oct 23, 2012 11:31 am

Mawkish1983 wrote:That wall of text doesn't explain to me why I should consider experience as 'evidence' or 'proof' of anything, as per the OP; especially if that experience belongs to someone else.
Hi, Mawkish,
I'm with you so far as rejecting any one person's subjective experience as 'evidence' or 'proof' of anything beyond the news that they have had the experience.
But one part of that 'wall of text' builds on that very rejection to cast grave doubt on the strictly materialist position you seem to favour:
What this means is that–unlike phenomenology, which looks at experience from the inside–materialism looks at it from the outside and holds as real only the aspects of consciousness that can be explained from the outside.
This puts materialists in a peculiar position.
On the one hand, because they hold that consciousness is simply the by-product of chemical processes, they call into question the idea that consciousness can have an accurate view of the world outside, for–after all–how can the occurrence of a chemical process guarantee that it conveys true knowledge of anything?
Yet, on the other hand, they claim that their knowledge of those chemical processes is a proven fact. Where does this knowledge come from, if not from the world outside their consciousness? And when they convey this knowledge to us in their writings, what has it come through if not through their consciousness, whose reality and ability to know they have called into question?
Have you any way around this difficulty?

:namaste:
Kim

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