little lies, big lies

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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tiltbillings
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Re: little lies, big lies

Post by tiltbillings » Wed Aug 10, 2011 4:30 am

kirk5a wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:The question is, in term of what Death said, where is compassion or wisdom?
I don't accept the terms of Death's reduction. Ever helped anyone in need?
So, you are saying compassion is an existing thing out there somewhere?
>> 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

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

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kirk5a
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Re: little lies, big lies

Post by kirk5a » Wed Aug 10, 2011 4:35 am

tiltbillings wrote:So, you are saying compassion is an existing thing out there somewhere?
I'm asking whether you have compassion or not. If not, that's interesting. If yes, "where is it"?
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230

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tiltbillings
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Re: little lies, big lies

Post by tiltbillings » Wed Aug 10, 2011 4:38 am

kirk5a wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:So, you are saying compassion is an existing thing out there somewhere?
I'm asking whether you have compassion or not. If not, that's interesting. If yes, "where is it"?
Actually, it was and is my question to you, where is it?

Maybe Death's statement, 'YOU NEED TO BELIEVE IN THINGS THAT AREN'T TRUE. HOW ELSE CAN THEY BECOME?' is to the point.
>> 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

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

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kirk5a
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Re: little lies, big lies

Post by kirk5a » Wed Aug 10, 2011 4:46 am

tiltbillings wrote:Actually, it was and is my question to you, where is it?

Maybe Death's statement, 'YOU NEED TO BELIEVE IN THINGS THAT AREN'T TRUE. HOW ELSE CAN THEY BECOME?' is to the point.
To... what point? Compassion is an untruth that we need to "believe in" in order for it to be?

As far as "where" it is - I would say it is an aspect of the mind. Do you think it is a lie?
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230

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tiltbillings
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Re: little lies, big lies

Post by tiltbillings » Wed Aug 10, 2011 4:51 am

kirk5a wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:Actually, it was and is my question to you, where is it?

Maybe Death's statement, 'YOU NEED TO BELIEVE IN THINGS THAT AREN'T TRUE. HOW ELSE CAN THEY BECOME?' is to the point.
To... what point? Compassion is an untruth that we need to "believe in" in order for it to be?

As far as "where" it is - I would say it is an aspect of the mind. Do you think it is a lie?
It is a lie that it is a self-existant thingie that is part ofthe universe, and it "becomes" because we bring it about.
>> 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

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

alan
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Re: little lies, big lies

Post by alan » Wed Aug 10, 2011 4:52 am

I still don't get that quote. It seems to be all over the place. what is the underlying philosophy here?
Last edited by alan on Thu Aug 11, 2011 3:29 am, edited 2 times in total.

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kirk5a
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Re: little lies, big lies

Post by kirk5a » Wed Aug 10, 2011 5:01 am

tiltbillings wrote:It is a lie that it is a self-existant thingie that is part ofthe universe, and it "becomes" because we bring it about.
Who is advocating that compassion is a "self-existant thingie that is part of the universe" ? Not me.

I thought Death's point was that it is a lie period. A useful fiction we believe in, and so there it is. Like Texas. A mere convention.
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230

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tiltbillings
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Re: little lies, big lies

Post by tiltbillings » Wed Aug 10, 2011 5:24 am

kirk5a wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:It is a lie that it is a self-existant thingie that is part ofthe universe, and it "becomes" because we bring it about.
Who is advocating that compassion is a "self-existant thingie that is part of the universe" ? Not me.
I did not say you were; rather, I am just trying to get at the nature of such things as justice and compassion.
I thought Death's point was that it is a lie period. A useful fiction we believe in, and so there it is. Like Texas. A mere convention.
Well, yes, but I think Death said a bit more than that in his last statement.
>> 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

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

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Kim OHara
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Re: little lies, big lies

Post by Kim OHara » Wed Aug 10, 2011 7:38 am

Hi, kirk5a,
I'm with Tilt on this - perhaps because I also have read the book and can put the quote in context. Your approach seems to be too literal ... one might ask where a single molecule of Fantasy or Fable is to be found when a text is ground down to its tiniest components :smile:
In fact, Death is suggesting that abstractions like Justice and Compassion are real (and have real effects in the real world) but only become real through us - people - and that a reductionist (literalist) approach will not only fail to find them but will (therefore) deny their very existence; further, that if the reductionist approach dominates a culture, those abstractions will cease to exist, and that would be a disaster.
It's rather a lot of heavy philosophy to fit into a brief conversation in a fantasy novel but, as I said, Pratchett is a clever bloke.

:namaste:
Kim

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Re: little lies, big lies

Post by m0rl0ck » Wed Aug 10, 2011 12:07 pm

tiltbillings wrote:Actually, it might be interesting to consider the OP in terms of the Buddha's teachings.
I dont think im the target audience. I tend to think that beleifs are at best a means to an end, maybe an antidote for bad thinking or maybe a way to conform to cultural norms and not really of much use otherwise. My buddhism is empirical and as much as possible i look to intuition to determine my actions. i try to follow the precepts because i can see that not doing so adversly affects my practice (and i dont do as good a job as id like) the only principle i adhere to as such, if i had to articulate it, would i guess be the golden rule, but i dont really think much about that either. I cant see that thinking about ideals is any different than thinking about anything else, its just thinking. Its what you do when the occaision arises for action in the world that makes a difference.
“The truth knocks on the door and you say, "Go away, I'm looking for the truth," and so it goes away. Puzzling.” ― Robert M. Pirsig

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kirk5a
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Re: little lies, big lies

Post by kirk5a » Wed Aug 10, 2011 1:59 pm

Kim O'Hara wrote:Hi, kirk5a,
I'm with Tilt on this - perhaps because I also have read the book and can put the quote in context. Your approach seems to be too literal ... one might ask where a single molecule of Fantasy or Fable is to be found when a text is ground down to its tiniest components :smile:
In fact, Death is suggesting that abstractions like Justice and Compassion are real (and have real effects in the real world) but only become real through us - people - and that a reductionist (literalist) approach will not only fail to find them but will (therefore) deny their very existence; further, that if the reductionist approach dominates a culture, those abstractions will cease to exist, and that would be a disaster.
It's rather a lot of heavy philosophy to fit into a brief conversation in a fantasy novel but, as I said, Pratchett is a clever bloke.

:namaste:
Kim
Hi Kim. Thanks for the expansion on that. It still says though, that compassion is an "abstraction." I disagree. Even if everyone was a die-hard reductionist, they would find, to their consternation, that compassion arose from time to time anyway. :console:
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230

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Kim OHara
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Re: little lies, big lies

Post by Kim OHara » Thu Aug 11, 2011 2:57 am

Hmmm - I'll split that into two parts which don't necessarily have a lot to do with each other.
(Apologies to Tilt - didn't mean to hijack the thread!)
kirk5a wrote:Hi Kim. Thanks for the expansion on that. It still says though, that compassion is an "abstraction."
"It"? My expansion or the original quote? I'm not sure it matters, anyway, since it seems to me that (in Buddhist terms) an 'abstraction' is as real as a brick - one comes through the mind sense-door and one through other sense-doors (touch, sight, etc).
And Terry Pratchett's terms are not so different: he says we make our own reality and that Justice is exactly as real as we make it.
(There is another story, by a different author, which makes the same point in reverse. In it, a subway train is hijacked by the Devil and pulls into Hell Central Station. Passengers are herded towards the Gates of Hell, weeping and wailing ... until one guy says, 'this is totally unbelievable' and manages to laugh at it, whereupon Hell falls to pieces in front of their eyes and everyone finds themselves back on the train and, soon, pulling into London Central Station. So far so good, but the same guy looks at the grand public buildings of London and starts to laugh again ... and London starts falling to bits in the same way.)
kirk5a wrote:Even if everyone was a die-hard reductionist, they would find, to their consternation, that compassion arose from time to time anyway. :console:
If I refuse to recognise my evil side, refuse to feed its impulses by acting on them, they will dwindle away. So we are taught.
Similarly, if I refuse to acknowledge the existence of compassion, it will dwindle away. In such ways do human monsters (Hannibal Lectors, for instance) create themselves.

But, quite independently of that reasoning, we could also go straight back to Mr Pratchett and the first part of my answer and acknowledge that Justice (or Compassion) does only exist for so long as we believe in it.

:namaste:
Kim

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tiltbillings
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Re: little lies, big lies

Post by tiltbillings » Thu Aug 11, 2011 3:04 am

Kim O'Hara wrote:Hmmm - I'll split that into two parts which don't necessarily have a lot to do with each other.
(Apologies to Tilt - didn't mean to hijack the thread!)
No hijacking at all. This is very much the conversation I was looking for, and I greatly appreciate your insightful comments. Good stuff.
>> 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

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

alan
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Re: little lies, big lies

Post by alan » Thu Aug 11, 2011 3:39 am

I'm going to argue that justice and compassion are not abstractions, but are necessary attributes without which we could never have evolved.

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Re: little lies, big lies

Post by alan » Thu Aug 11, 2011 3:56 am

It is a kind of perverse anti-philosophy that states that ideas are our creations and therefore they have no merit. This is a Nihilist perspective, which the Buddha refuted.

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