Critique of "jhana among Western converts"

The cultivation of calm or tranquility and the development of concentration
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tiltbillings
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Nov 29, 2012 8:46 am

KevinSolway wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:refusing to actually engage the central question I have raised.


You asked me to describe the continuation of a delusion (the "I") - which I did.
No, you did not, not even close. And I suspect that you really do not understand the question, not knowing the suttas well enough.


Inadequate tea cup analogy is still being used by you, even though it really does not work, as has pointed out by me


It's not an analogy. A teacup is a dependently arising thing, just like consciousness, and it follows the same rules.
You use the silly tea cup business to make a point: a broken tea cup is like consciousness at death.

If you think it is an analogy, or if you think the example of a teacup doesn't work, then you need to provide reasons it doesn't work.
I already have

If you think that consciousness is some special thing that has its own set of rules, different to everything else in the Universe, then you need to provide reasons why you believe this.
You can tell us the nature of causal continuity of the sense of continuity of the individual. It all unfolds from there, and then we can talk. You are going to have to dig deep here, you are going have to see why I said that the Ven Sumedho quote you gave was incomplete, that it did not reach far enough, and here will be your chance to show us what you have vis a vis the suttas. Do some work here for a change instead of your mere and repeated gainsaying.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

      >> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<<
      -- Proverbs 26:12

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tiltbillings
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Nov 29, 2012 8:47 am

KevinSolway wrote:
polarbuddha101 wrote:You cannot prove the doctrine of rebirth false using reason.


Yes I can.
You have not managed to do that so far. What is keeping you?
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

      >> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<<
      -- Proverbs 26:12

KevinSolway
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby KevinSolway » Thu Nov 29, 2012 8:48 am

Ñāṇa wrote:
KevinSolway wrote:Nevertheless consciousness can still be broken apart.

How?


Consciousness depends on many things. One of the things consciousness depends on is memory. Without memory there is can be no consciousness. If you take memory away, then consciousness cannot arise.

It's like taking the engine out of a car. If you take the engine out of a car, you no longer have a car, but merely the shell of a car.

I do not assert that, since it is not impossible that there can be a post-mortem arising of a momentary consciousness as a conditioned result of a previous momentary consciousness.


So in other words: You don't know.


There could be Unicorns dancing around in my garden right now. I don't know. There's no reason to think there are.


KevinSolway wrote:I don't specify that the "something" has to be a consciousness, since that would be speculation, and a very bad mistake. It would be a fantasy - a creation of a permanent identity.


So you reject the sutta interpretation and inferences used by Buddhaghosa, Dharmakīrti, et al, yet you cannot disprove their interpretations.


You are now speaking of your personal interpretation of other peoples interpretations of words translated between various languages, by various people, and orignally written by unknown people, of unknown wisdom, in a language the Buddha never spoke, and based on teachings, the source of which we cannot verify.

I have given you reasons, and the reasons are faultless. If you think you can find fault with the reasons then you should point out the where you think the faults are. It is definitely not a fault to differ with your interpretation of other people's interpretations, of other people's translations, etc, etc.

I accept where the suttas say that consciousness, and mental continuums, are conditioned arisings, and are not permanent, and can therefore die.
Last edited by KevinSolway on Thu Nov 29, 2012 9:17 am, edited 1 time in total.

danieLion
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby danieLion » Thu Nov 29, 2012 8:50 am

Did the Buddha teach that the suttas are a valid source of authority?

Corollary: are the suttas a proper object for a Buddhist to have faith in?

Add the rapidly growing body of historical-critical scholarship into the mix, and we have a sobering effect on those who believe in the authoritative nature of the texts.

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tiltbillings
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Nov 29, 2012 8:53 am

KevinSolway wrote:
rejecting the suttas as a valid source of authority


I reject faulty interpretations of suttas. And should there be false teachings in suttas, then I would reject those false teachings too.
But, as we have with the Sati story, you gave a clearly false interpretation of a sutta, it was pointed out to more than once, yet you persist with it.


Are you ever wrong, Solway? Do you ever change your mind in face of better reasoning and evidence?
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

      >> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<<
      -- Proverbs 26:12

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby KevinSolway » Thu Nov 29, 2012 8:56 am

tiltbillings wrote:a broken tea cup is like consciousness at death.


No, It follows exactly the same rules. It doesn't follow similar rules, or rules that are "like" the rules that consciousness follows. The rules are the very same.


Tell us the nature of causal continuity of the sense of continuity of the individual.


I already have. The nature of the causal continuity is that "the sense of continuity of the individual" has effects. Those effects represent the causal continuity - whatever those effects might be.

As I've already said, if you want to know something more specifically, then you'll need to be more specific with your question.

danieLion
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby danieLion » Thu Nov 29, 2012 8:56 am

tiltbillings wrote:
KevinSolway wrote:
polarbuddha101 wrote:You cannot prove the doctrine of rebirth false using reason.


Yes I can.
You have not managed to do that so far. What is keeping you?

Because he'd have to first demonstrate that a rebirth hypothesis is testable and falsifiable, which is impossible. I'd still be interested to see what he has in mind, though.

Kevin, I'm with Tilt on this. I call your bluff. Show us your hand or fold. You're on the clock.
Last edited by danieLion on Thu Nov 29, 2012 8:57 am, edited 1 time in total.

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tiltbillings
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Nov 29, 2012 8:57 am

danieLion wrote:Did the Buddha teach that the suttas are a valid source of authority?

Corollary: are the suttas a proper object for a Buddhist to have faith in?

Add the rapidly growing body of historical-critical scholarship into the mix, and we have a sobering effect on those who believe in the authoritative nature of the texts.
Off topic here, though an interesting question. Quite frankly, if anything the historical-critical/text-critical studies have only increased my estimation of what remarkable body of literature the suttas are. This question, however, is better served in a new thread if anyone wish to pursue it.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

      >> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<<
      -- Proverbs 26:12

danieLion
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby danieLion » Thu Nov 29, 2012 9:00 am

tiltbillings wrote:
danieLion wrote:Did the Buddha teach that the suttas are a valid source of authority?

Corollary: are the suttas a proper object for a Buddhist to have faith in?

Add the rapidly growing body of historical-critical scholarship into the mix, and we have a sobering effect on those who believe in the authoritative nature of the texts.
Off topic here, though an interesting question. Quite frankly, if anything the historical-critical/text-critical studies have only increased my estimation of what remarkable body of literature the suttas are. This question, however, is better served in a new thread if anyone wish to pursue it.

Good idea. Maybe I'll do that (I agree with your estimation and respect the suttas tremendously; I just don't think they're inerrant or a "Canon").

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tiltbillings
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Nov 29, 2012 9:02 am

KevinSolway wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:a broken tea cup is like consciousness at death.


No, It follows exactly the same rules. It doesn't follow similar rules, or rules that are "like" the rules that consciousness follows. The rules are the very same.
It is an analogy, of course. Follow the same rules? Yes, however, there is also a radical difference that you have yet to address.


Tell us the nature of causal continuity of the sense of continuity of the individual.


I already have. The nature of the causal continuity is that "the sense of continuity of the individual" has effects. Those effects represent the causal continuity - whatever those effects might be.
And so you say you already have shown the nature of causal continuity of the sense of continuity of the individual, and then you proceed to show us that you have not a clue as to the issue at hand in that question. Where is your "direct knowledge?"
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

      >> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<<
      -- Proverbs 26:12

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tiltbillings
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Nov 29, 2012 9:02 am

danieLion wrote: I just don't think they're inerrant or a "Canon").
And on that we agree.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

      >> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<<
      -- Proverbs 26:12

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Nyana » Thu Nov 29, 2012 9:13 am

KevinSolway wrote:Consciousness depends on many things. One of the things consciousness depends on is memory. Without memory there is can be no consciousness. If you take memory away, then consciousness cannot arise.

This reply doesn't demonstrate the breaking apart of consciousness. Nor does it demonstrate that the physical death of a sentient being has any direct correlation to the breaking of a teacup.

KevinSolway wrote:I have given you reasons, and the reasons are faultless.

You've already acknowledged that you don't know whether or not there's a post-mortem continuum of consciousness, here:

KevinSolway wrote:
Do you assert that there is a post-mortem arising of a momentary consciousness as a conditioned result of a previous momentary consciousness


I assert that there is a post-mortem arising of something as a conditioned result of a previous momentary consciousness. I don't specify that the "something" has to be a consciousness, since that would be speculation, and a very bad mistake. It would be a fantasy - a creation of a permanent identity.

Since consciousness, and streams of consciousness, are conditioned arisings that can die, then we cannot say that the conditioned result of a momentary consciousness must be consciousness.


[. . .] or do you assert that there cannot be a post-mortem arising of a momentary consciousness as a conditioned result of a previous momentary consciousness and mental concomitants in the same deluded mental continuum?


I do not assert that, since it is not impossible that there can be a post-mortem arising of a momentary consciousness as a conditioned result of a previous momentary consciousness.

And here:

KevinSolway wrote:Those effects represent the causal continuity - whatever those effects might be.

You simply don't know.

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby polarbear101 » Thu Nov 29, 2012 9:20 am

KevinSolway wrote:
polarbuddha101 wrote:You cannot prove the doctrine of rebirth false using reason.


Yes I can.


Rebirth is logically possible


Literal rebirth is logically impossible, because it depends on things that cannot possibly exist.


You criticize the candle flame analogy from Nagasena as if it purports to be a full explanation of cause and effect.


1. I haven't criticized it. 2. I haven't used it. and 3. I don't necessarily believe it's an analogy.


just because the physical death of one human may have many effects does not entail that one event of consciousness cannot trigger just one new event of consciousness, even post mortem.


All actions, all events, have countless, simultaneous effects. It's not impossible that one of those effects might be a postmortem event of consciousness. It's also not impossible that there might be a billion postmortem events of consciousness, and its also not impossible that there might be no postmortem events of consciousness.


The fact is that one cause can create many effects and many causes can result in one effect.


Any action always has countless simultaneous effects. This is because things are dependently arising. Things are not isolated from one another. If you affect one thing, then you automatically affect other things too.

The only good argument against rebirth is the plethora of evidence that consciousness is an emergent property of the brain


I spent four years at University studying biology, so I am fully aware of that argument.

Mind and body are interdependent, and I do believe that all the evidence points towards consciousness being an emergent property of the brain.


rejecting the suttas as a valid source of authority


I reject faulty interpretations of suttas. And should there be false teachings in suttas, then I would reject those false teachings too.


1) Put forth your premises and conclusion. Don't just say yes I can.

2) What are the things that cannot possibly exist that you are speaking of. Mind you, the things that cannot possibly exist in order to entail the LOGICAL impossibility of rebirth must themselves be logically impossible, such as round squares, and/or the relationship assumed between these things must be logical impossible and you have proven neither. Just because something is physically impossible does not mean that it is logically impossible. Given that you claim to be a philosopher of sorts I would think that you would realize that. If you would actually provide a decent philosophical argument then I might show your argument some respect being a philosophy major myself but you have failed to do such.

3) First, you have used the candle analogy plenty of times in this thread as well as in your video from men of the infinite. Second, you've consistently used it as a straw man and then criticized it. Third, the candle is explicitly an analogy used by Nagasena to explain how rebirth works to King Milinda so it is an analogy whether you think so or not. Nagasena's analogy is frequently used by theravadins and that is why you've used it. I admit the analogy breaks down rather swiftly but that is tangential to my point.

All actions, all events, have countless, simultaneous effects. It's not impossible that one of those effects might be a postmortem event of consciousness. It's also not impossible that there might be a billion postmortem events of consciousness, and its also not impossible that there might be no postmortem events of consciousness.


4) The first sentence seems to be a bit of an epistemological stretch given that the assertion is literally impossible to verify, not to mention that distinguishing between cause and effect when dealing with simultaneously arisen events is arbitrary, its better off saying events can cause each other to be sustained through a relationship of simultaneous arising, If you lean two playing cards against each other you can't say that one specific card is causing both of them to stand, they are both causing each other to stand due to the relationship between them. Of course there is a second reading of your first sentence which says that an event causes, as in after the event has arisen, a bunch of effects to arise at the same time which is true but also too simplistic since every event is accompanied by other events occurring at the same time which also are a part of conditioning/causing a new series of simultaneous events. I concede to you the second point but since you have admitted that an event, such as an event of consciousness, could cause a billion new events of consciousness or one or none is possible it defeats your earlier assertion that literal rebirth is logically impossible unless you wish to argue that it is impossible that the post mortem event of consciousness could lead to another embodied event of consciousness. And to concede your point further, although one event of consciousness can conceivably cause one event of consciousness to arise, even post mortem, we've agreed on that according to your above writing, does not mean that that event of consciousness which led to a new post mortem event of consciousness directly after the first event subsided does not mean that it did not also cause a multitude of other effects not relating to consciousness at all.

5) You say you reject faulty interpretations of suttas yet you admit that we could not have known what the buddha actually taught, or that he even existed, and thus it is certainly a reasonable interpretation to assume that when suttas appear to be explicitly talking about literal rebirth that they are, just like it is reasonable to assume that the bible is explicitly asserting the existence of god and not some metaphorical statement about the nature of the human mind. In fact, I would argue that the interpretation, if you really want to call it that, that the suttas are talking about literal rebirth when they seem to be obviously doing so is the much more rational interpretation to make, not because it accords with science, but because it makes the texts much more consistent and avoids the rather ridiculous amount of over interpretation that would be required to turn every sutta about rebirth and kamma induced post mortem vipaka into a metaphor.

6) I obviously agree that any teachings in the suttas that are not true should be discarded, after all, arriving at truths is the purpose of philosophy, natural or otherwise, and contemplative practices, the premise being that when one arrives at a full understanding of the truth that it leads to wisdom which leads to peace. In buddhism that means you see the world for how it really is and this induces dispassion which severs craving which ends dukkha.

However, another point to remember is that in order to be proper seekers of truth one cannot utterly deny the existence of something just because they have not found evidence for it unless of course that something is logically impossible, like round squares.
"I don't envision a single thing that, when developed & cultivated, leads to such great benefit as the mind. The mind, when developed & cultivated, leads to great benefit."

"I don't envision a single thing that, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about such suffering & stress as the mind. The mind, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about suffering & stress."

KevinSolway
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby KevinSolway » Thu Nov 29, 2012 9:31 am

Ñāṇa wrote:
KevinSolway wrote:Consciousness depends on many things. One of the things consciousness depends on is memory. Without memory there is can be no consciousness. If you take memory away, then consciousness cannot arise.

This reply doesn't demonstrate the breaking apart of consciousness.


It does, since memory can be considered a component of consciousness. Remove that component and consciousness is broken.


Nor does it demonstrate that the physical death of a sentient being has any direct correlation to the breaking of a teacup.


Both are deaths, brought about by causes and conditions. In that respect they are identical.


You've already acknowledged that you don't know whether or not there's a post-mortem continuum of consciousness


There could be fairies dancing at the bottom of my garden for all I know. I don't have any reason to think that there are. Likewise with post-mortem continuum of consciousness. It's not impossible.

There are people who are currently working on ways to make a copy of our consciousness and memories, with the hope of being about to transfer that to another body (or bodies) when the current body becomes unserviceable. This may be possible one day.

Post-mortem continuum of consciousness, however, is not the same as literal rebirth.

Post-mortem continuum of consciousness can mean a billion, simultaneous consciousnesses.

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Nov 29, 2012 9:43 am

KevinSolway wrote:Post-mortem continuum of consciousness can mean a billion, simultaneous consciousnesses.
So you assert, but as of yet, you have given no real "reasoned" argument to support it. You have yet to real nail down your definition of "continuum of consciousness." You are still seriously missing giving an answer to the question of the nature of causal continuity of the individual, around which all this revolves.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

      >> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<<
      -- Proverbs 26:12

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby polarbear101 » Thu Nov 29, 2012 9:46 am

KevinSolway wrote:
Ñāṇa wrote:
KevinSolway wrote:Consciousness depends on many things. One of the things consciousness depends on is memory. Without memory there is can be no consciousness. If you take memory away, then consciousness cannot arise.

This reply doesn't demonstrate the breaking apart of consciousness.


It does, since memory can be considered a component of consciousness. Remove that component and consciousness is broken.


Nor does it demonstrate that the physical death of a sentient being has any direct correlation to the breaking of a teacup.


Both are deaths, brought about by causes and conditions. In that respect they are identical.


You've already acknowledged that you don't know whether or not there's a post-mortem continuum of consciousness


There could be fairies dancing at the bottom of my garden for all I know. I don't have any reason to think that there are. Likewise with post-mortem continuum of consciousness. It's not impossible.

There are people who are currently working on ways to make a copy of our consciousness and memories, with the hope of being about to transfer that to another body (or bodies) when the current body becomes unserviceable. This may be possible one day.

Post-mortem continuum of consciousness, however, is not the same as literal rebirth.

Post-mortem continuum of consciousness can mean a billion, simultaneous consciousnesses.


1) Nobody ever said that memory was not transferred post mortem, it may have been forgotten rather quickly that isn't the point. Also, consciousness is a concept used to describe a multitude of mental processes so breaking a concept isn't the same thing as the utter dissolution of all mental processes. Consciousness is actually one of the most ill defined terms in the english language, which is why philosophy of mind is such a problem. People tend to reify concepts too much.

2) Mental death need not logically occur with physical death, hence the teacup argument only applies to the body since we know that it does indeed 'break' and then decompose.

3) The transference of memory and consciousness to machines while neat is overblown. We are nowhere near towards knowing how to do that, we barely even understand how the brain works and memory is stored throughout the brain instead of being conveniently located in one area. It may very well turn out impossible to clone someone's mind and indeed I think it probably will turn out that way given the complexity of the brain. In terms of personal continuity, I think nanobots being used to replenish our cells' ability to reproduce themselves without defect, thus keeping us indefinitely young, is the better bet in terms of science providing individuals with indefinite lifespans.

4) It could mean a billion consciousnesses, it could also mean one and the latter seems, for obvious reasons, much more likely than the former.
"I don't envision a single thing that, when developed & cultivated, leads to such great benefit as the mind. The mind, when developed & cultivated, leads to great benefit."

"I don't envision a single thing that, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about such suffering & stress as the mind. The mind, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about suffering & stress."

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby suttametta » Thu Nov 29, 2012 10:01 am

KevinSolway wrote:No I'm not. I'm using it in the literal sense, to signify a non-conscious, non-biological life.


There is absolutely no such thing as a non-conscious non-biological life. You have basically set up the definition of life to be the opposite of life, aka dead matter.

Also you failed to notice the crucial factor of dependently arisen objects: the conscious being. You have this deal completely ass-backwards. And now you are a broken record. Aren't you tired of being this phony?

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Nyana » Thu Nov 29, 2012 10:01 am

KevinSolway wrote:It does, since memory can be considered a component of consciousness. Remove that component and consciousness is broken.

A teacup doesn't have any component of memory or any component similar to memory, therefore your direct correlation isn't established. BTW, it's possible for a human being to have both anterograde amnesia and retrograde amnesia, yet still be conscious.

KevinSolway wrote:Likewise with post-mortem continuum of consciousness. It's not impossible.

Indeed, it's not impossible. Which is why it's prudent to practice the teachings of the Buddhadhamma. AN 6.20 Dutiyamaraṇassati Sutta:

    Here, monks, as day departs and night sets in, a monk reflects: ‘The [possible] causes of my death are many. A snake, scorpion, or centipede may bite me. My death could occur because of that. That would be an obstacle for me. I may stumble and fall down; the food I have eaten may trouble me; my bile may be disturbed; my phlegm may be disturbed; my [internal] winds may be disturbed. My death could occur because of that. That would be an obstacle for me.’

    Then, monks, a monk should reflect: ‘Are there any worthless, unskillful qualities that I have not given up that would be an obstacle for me if I were to die tonight?’

    If, monks, upon reflecting in this way, the monk knows that ‘There are worthless, unskillful qualities that I have not given up that would be an obstacle for me if I were to die tonight,’ then he should engender extra desire, effort, diligence, energy, zeal, mindfulness, and full awareness for the abandoning of those very same worthless, unskillful qualities.

    Just as, monks, if someone’s turban or head was burning, they would engender extra desire, effort, diligence, energy, zeal, mindfulness, and full awareness to extinguish the fire; in the same way, the monk should engender extra desire, effort, diligence, energy, zeal, mindfulness, and full awareness for the abandoning of those very same worthless, unskillful qualities.

    But if, monks, upon reflecting in this way, the monk knows that ‘There are no worthless, unskillful qualities that I have not given up which would be an obstacle for me if I were to die in the night,’ then he should abide in joy and gladness, training day and night in skillful qualities.

KevinSolway wrote:Post-mortem continuum of consciousness, however, is not the same as literal rebirth.

I never said it was. And the phrase "literal rebirth" merely serves to set up a straw man argument in the context of this discussion.

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby KevinSolway » Thu Nov 29, 2012 10:43 am

polarbuddha101 wrote:What are the things that cannot possibly exist that you are speaking of.


For one thing, a mental continuum (or continuum of consciousness), separate and permanently identifiable from other continuums.

This includes a unique isolated effect of actions - an individual "future life".


Mind you, the things that cannot possibly exist in order to entail the LOGICAL impossibility of rebirth must themselves be logically impossible, such as round squares


Yes, indeed. (noting that I only say that literal rebirth is logically impossible, and not rebirth)

The logical impossibility of literal rebirth is the same as the logical impossibility of self existent things.

This logical impossibility applies to "mental continuums" or "continuums of consciousness" or "karmic streams" or "karmic seeds", or an "atma" or "self" which transmigrates from one life to the next, etc.

Such things are logically impossible.

I'm not going to go into detail here about why self-existent things are impossible. I will assume you know the logical reasons.


You have used the candle analogy plenty of times in this thread as well as in your video from men of the infinite.


The teaching about the candle is my own teaching. It's not anyone elses teaching.


Second, you've consistently used it as a straw man and then criticized it.


I don't know what you're talking about here. I've never used my own teaching as a straw man and then criticized it.


Third, the candle is explicitly an analogy used by Nagasena to explain how rebirth works to King Milinda


Nagasena has his own teaching and I have mine.

I'm only responsible for my own teaching, which I believe is subtly different to that of Nagasena.

I can't answer for Nagasena.


All actions, all events, have countless, simultaneous effects.


The first sentence seems to be a bit of an epistemological stretch given that the assertion is literally impossible to verify, not to mention that distinguishing between cause and effect when dealing with simultaneously arisen events is arbitrary


My point is that effects cannot be isolated.

For example, let's say that the government can't afford to pay public servants, and so prints a trillion dollars. We can't say that the only effect is that there will be more money in circulation.

In the same way literal rebirth fails because it is overly simplistic - too unrealisitic - too fanciful.


Since you have admitted that an event, such as an event of consciousness, could cause a billion new events of consciousness or one or none is possible it defeats your earlier assertion that literal rebirth is logically impossible


Not so, because the literal rebirth doctrine claims a lot more than that an event of consciousness might possibly cause a postmortem event of consciousness.

If the literal rebirth doctrine only claimed that, then it wouldn't be straying from the truth, and it wouldn't be unrealistic and fanciful.

And to concede your point further, although one event of consciousness can conceivably cause one event of consciousness to arise, even post mortem, we've agreed on that according to your above writing, does not mean that that event of consciousness which led to a new post mortem event of consciousness directly after the first event subsided does not mean that it did not also cause a multitude of other effects not relating to consciousness at all.


That's a long, complicated sentence. The thing is that we can't possibly know how many effects there are relating to consciousness. We can't possibly know whether there is one postmortem event of consciousness, or ten, ten trillion, or none at all. Such things are untraceable because of the complexity of cause and effect.

So when the literal rebirth doctrine says that there is only one and exactly one (future life) then it is being fanciful and unrealistic.

It is certainly a reasonable interpretation to assume that when suttas appear to be explicitly talking about literal rebirth that they are


The problem is that different people exist in different realms. Some people exist in the human realm, some in the animal realms, some in the heavenly realms, and some may be Buddhas.

All these people see things in a different light and will naturally interpret things differently.

The way that a Buddha interprets something will be different to how someone from the animal realms interprets something.

That which is obvious and explicit to one is not obvious and explicit to the other.


It is reasonable to assume that the bible is explicitly asserting the existence of god and not some metaphorical statement about the nature of the human mind.


When I read the bible I interpret the word "God" to mean "the All" - all that exists ("The alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end"). So my interpretation is very different to that of a fundamentalist Christian. It is not at all obvious that the fundamentalist's interpretation is the correct one.


. . . over interpretation that would be required


It's not "over interpretation", but simply a different interpretation. It's not like you have to do any more thinking. It's just different thinking.
Last edited by KevinSolway on Thu Nov 29, 2012 11:03 am, edited 1 time in total.

KevinSolway
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Joined: Thu Nov 03, 2011 10:10 am

Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby KevinSolway » Thu Nov 29, 2012 11:00 am

Ñāṇa wrote:A teacup doesn't have any component of memory or any component similar to memory, therefore your direct correlation isn't established.


I've never argued that a teacup is identical to a human being, or that it is identical to consciousness. I've only said that it works by the same rules, and that it's life and death happens in accordance with the same rules.

There's nothing special that happens in the case of consciousness that sets it fundamentally apart from any other thing.


It''s possible for a human being to have both anterograde amnesia and retrograde amnesia, yet still be conscious.


When a human being loses ALL memory, then they will lose consciousness. Logic, reason, identification, etc, depend on memory.


KevinSolway wrote:Likewise with post-mortem continuum of consciousness. It's not impossible.


Indeed, it's not impossible. Which is why it's prudent to practice the teachings of . . .


That's like saying that it's not impossible that there are fairies dancing at the bottom of my garden, so I should daily leave them tea and biscuits.

The reason I choose to live a moral life is so that I won't do harm to others, who represent my future.

For this reason I don't need to believe that consciousness gives rise to postmortem consciousness. It is needless speculation. It is sufficient to understand continuity through cause and effect.


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