This is such an important topic! I think many people nowadays are annihilationists, but in the traditional way of doing things in Buddhism, the door to the Dhamma seems to be mostly closed to/on them. I don't think this needs to be so, though.
daverupa wrote:Anyone else have ideas about where we might find (post-)annihilationist folk in the Suttas?
Possibly there wherever the Buddha's instructions are about things to be done here and now and things to be attained in the here and now.
(Ie. instructions about issues where the instruction circumnavigates the problems of annihilationism/eternalism.)
If we assume that some annihilationists hold the annihilationist view primarily on the grounds of aversion (to how life is usually lived), this would mean that the suttas that deal with undoing aversion are at least implicitly directed at those annihilationists.
Then instructions like in MN 2 about attending inappropriately: "This is how he attends inappropriately: 'Was I in the past? Was I not in the past? What was I in the past? How was I in the past? Having been what, what was I in the past? 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?' Or else he is inwardly perplexed about the immediate present: 'Am I? Am I not? What am I? How am I? Where has this being come from? Where is it bound?'" -- This indirectly addresses annihilationism.
daverupa wrote:The weight of the evidence seems to indicate that an annihilationist wanderer would not need (nor be told) to accept rebirth in order to practice, even up to non-return.
The Kalamas aren't told to accept rebirth either, and presumably they can practice, and even attain the four assurances.
daverupa wrote:An approach to the Dhamma for skeptics & this-life-only folk, in general; people who simply can't be bothered to accept ancient cosmologies, psychic powers, flying monks, and who dismiss the Four Truths as a result.
I don't know if Gotami was an annihilationist, but the instructions given to her seem to be ones that an annihilationist can act on -- and they are said to be such that following them one can discern what is the Dhamma and what isn't.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
daverupa wrote:It can for some; the main point here is that it is a starting point
Sure, especially if the particular annihilationist connects his annihilationist view with what are actually elements of samvega.
To go with Thanissaro Bhikkhu's explanation
of samvega, samvega consists of three clusters of feelings:
1. the oppressive sense of shock, dismay, and alienation that come with realizing the futility and meaninglessness of life as it's normally lived;
2. a chastening sense of our own complacency and foolishness in having let ourselves live so blindly;
3. and an anxious sense of urgency in trying to find a way out of the meaningless cycle.
It seems to me that some annihilationists connect their annihilationist view to the first and possibly the third cluster (with the proviso that one feels the urgency to find a way out of the day-to-day meaninglessness).