Imo, what Christopher is pointing at here is _very_ important - and worth serious consideration as we attempt to understand the recorded so-called "Buddhist" teachings in these confused modern times which are best described as the era of "I don't know".christopher::: wrote:...and it would make sense (to me) if there is really only ONE of us here, cause then anything anyone does is something "we" are doing. It makes sense if everything terrible that happens is something we are all responsible for, that we all must help as best as we can, cause karma doesn't "belong" to anybody, its just happening cause of situations set into motion by "our" collective ignorance, and we do our best to assist...
The contemporary meme of the primacy of the individual is a relatively new mental construct in human history and self-perception - a meme that is taken for granted to the point of delusion by _all_ modern people (you, too) to an unrecognizable depth - this view affects how we see/interpret everything - premodern recollections and wisdom knowledge (suttas) included.
The "individual" is unconsciously (without thought) presumed to be the center of all existence by all modern people - most of us are cognitively jailed by this perception. So, what would happen if we were to "hear" the suttas without the filter of "I" that we unconsciously take for granted, and with which we unconsciously read the suttas? Most premodern societies went to great lengths, even extreme lengths, to de-emphasis an "individual" sense of existence, and vigorously brought to the foreground of perception the idea of a collective sense of existence. An example of this is the many years of enforced migration recorded in the early Hopi chronicles - ritualistic hardship that was designed to burn-out the disease of individuality through decades of uncertainty and constant change. Also, many premodern cultures required an extreme adulthood initiatory experience of community-inflicted pain in order to drive home the perception of the primacy of the human collective existence. Community members would inflict the physical/emotional pain - ranging from intense scarification coupled with emotional belittlement, to enforced deprivation, which were symbolically representative of human vulnerability in a dangerous Earth - and then the community would heal it, driving home the message that humans are vulnerable and need each other in order to survive and thrive in the present, and assumed/implicit in any manifestation of the future. What if we were to read the suttas the same way?
The underlying message was always that the tendency to see ourself as separate was a pernicious dis-ease that needed to be guarded against with extreme measures - viewed with clarity, we are one eusocial organism. The tendency that humans have toward perceptual "separateness" was viewed as an illness that needed strong community intervention. Implicit in this view is the understanding that the needs of the human colony override individual reactive desires.
This perception of a collective human organism (yes, like an ant colony) was pervasive in premodern people - and is quite inconsistent with the modernly perceived idea (nowhere contemporarily illustrated better than in the modern understanding of Buddhist sutta) that seems to place emphasized importance on an individual existence that moves from life to life, at the negative/positive effect of individualistic behavior/thoughts.
I've wondered for decades about the presumed emphasis on the individual "I" in terms of kamma and rebirth in the suttas. It should be obvious by now for all thinking people that the teachings aren't individualistically literalistic. I find it very interesting to read the suttras "queered" by the idea that there was no perceived individual in them...that rebirth and kamma are part of a collective perception that would correspond to our contemporary understanding of dna/genomics and "rebirth" (re-creation) in the context of the organismic existence of the human community. What we individually think/effect through our thoughts/actions in turn affects our collective genetic presence - our individual genetic presence is the forerunner of all human collective genetic existence - the collective quality of mind being determined by individual quality of mind.
What if rebirth and kamma were meant to be understood within a view of a collective human genetic colony, rather than so-called human "individuality? The idea that any premodern thought was interested in "personal" evolution is kinda absurd. Bluntly stated, the quality of our mind now - creates the quality of future collective existence.
What do you think? Is mind the forerunner of all things?