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tariki

Interesting Blog Relevant To The Word "progressive"....and Oth

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I found the following interesting, especially from my own "Progressive Buddhist" ( :D ) perspective.

 

 

 

http://christophertitmussblog.org/there-are-religious-buddhists-who-claim-there-is-rebirth-there-are-secular-buddhists-who-claim-there-is-no-rebirth-are-they-extremists

 

 

What exactly IS "progess" in the sense used on this Forum re "Progressive" ?

 

 

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Progressive as to regressive?

 

For me the term means continually evaluating the direction of where we are going in terms of new understanding we have gained.

 

Whereas regressive (or more accurately static) is sticking to some past interpretation and resisting change. in truth regressive positions change too, but I might argue the change resembles Brownian motion.

 

 

As to the blog ... I am firmly convinced of dependent origination (arising). If this world view is true, then things like free will are hard to explain, yet Buddhists apparently appear to believe in free will.

 

Rebirth ... I do not believe in literal sense. I cannot help but think it is a nonsense - in this I have no choice. I can accept rebirth as a metaphor, I am being reborn every moment. Some events have much greater impacts on my rebirth than others. I don't require other beliefs.

 

The middle way ... I have seen some people use this as tool of persuasion. When two opposing views are proposed. One is asked to find a middle ground. What happens is the asker does not move to the middle ground only the askee is expected to move.

 

Not an expert on Buddhism. Occasionally follow Stephen Batchelor's ramblings.

Edited by romansh

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Hi Romansh,

 

Well, I DID ask the question! No idea just what Brownian motion is.........so may well Google it to get some kind of definitive answer when I can find the time. Yes, I too often try to follow Stephen Batchelor's "ramblings" and usually find them easier to follow than most explicit creeds and theologies - his book "Living with the Devil" was/is a worthwhile ramble to get lost in. At least, I thought so.

 

Myself, I was linking the blog to the other recent Thread on this Forum, re Identify crisis and lables etc etc, and circular motion rather then "progression", and finding some sort of "rest" in knowing things for the first time ( within the circle ) rather than in seeking to climb ladders; seeing with new eyes rather than seeking new places. But alas, I ramble, which is what grandchildren do to you......... :)

 

I would beware of all experts, except those who can change nappies one handed.

 

I seem to remember Thomas Merton on the Middle Way - apparently NOT a third position between two extremes but a third position that transcends both. Maybe the word "position" is a misguiding label?

 

There does seem to be "rebirth" and "reincarnation" and they are often confused or influence each other in our understanding with unfortunate consequences.

 

I see "free will" as a red herring.

 

Thanks

Edited by tariki

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At higher levels of Buddhist thought, the "middle way" refers to what Aristotle referred to as the "excluded middle". So, in Buddhism, there is neither birth nor death, neither existence nor non-existence. All is illusory, and simply the magical display of the primordial ground. There is an ineffable quality here and a mystery that can't be penetrated, except perhaps by the practice of Zen over countless eons (a really long time). Or, if we are lucky, it may happen in this very life.

 

Questions of rebirth become irrelevant. It was a belief long held in Indian culture at the time of the Buddha, and he was certainly a product of this environment. What made him different was the concept of "anatta", or non-self, as opposed to the Hindu tradition of his time.

 

Whether one takes rebirth as literal or metaphorical, I believe both miss the point. The middle path is the path of the excluded middle, or the pathless path, where mental elaborations are just that and no more.

 

It is said by Buddhists that the "victorious ones": have reached the realization of the "emptiness of inherent existence". Apparently, at that level, without a "self", questions such as rebirth, etc. are rather mundane.

 

Steve

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Thanks Steve,

 

Its interesting to link Aristotle with Buddhist thought. Rather than contrast the so called "east" and "west" many are now seeing an underlying unity. I was recently reading about certain pre-socratic Greeks whose writings sounded very "zen-like", Whether or not the word "higher" can be applied to such thinking is a moot point, at least if you spend as much time as I do playing Candy Crush.

 

 

"All is illusory, and simply the magical display of the primordial ground" ?

 

Not really happy with that. For me Reality is Reality. The word "iillusory" seems inappropriate within non-dualism, seeming to point to a non-illusory realm elsewhere. I'm more comfortable with those such as D T Suzuki who speak of becoming once again the Tom, Dicks or Harrys we have always been.

 

Thanks

 

Derek

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A couple of interesting posts, I thought.

 

What do we mean by non duality ... philosophically this landscape can be divided into pluralism, dualism, monism and nihilism? I tend to lean toward monism myself though I can see a reasonable argument for nihilism. Having said that dualism and pluralism can have there uses. If someone were to ask directions to a street I would definitely give my instructions in dualistic language. The scientific method tends to be pluralistic, isolating systems and studying them. Having said that the resulting theories (at the bleeding edge) tend to be monistic or nihilistic.

 

I am comfortable with "illusory" ... if we believe our illusions then it becomes delusory.

 

The division between life and non life, I see as a continuum on some chemistry scale where arbitrary divisions are placed so that it is easier to schedule class times [tongue in cheek]. Astrobiologists have a hard time defining life. We can get extremely crude definitions pointing to the problem ... eg systems that are far from thermodynamic equilibrium.

 

Rebirth ... there is also the interpretation where we are being reborn every moment. This leads to the concept of there being no intrinsic self (not self, I presume). If there is no intrinsic self, dependent origination is true then free will is difficult to defend. While it may be a red herring, but so long as we continue to see the world in hues of good and evil then I for one think it is worthy of further exploration.

 

Well I used to be Tom Dick and Harry, then I started thinking about existence. Struggling to get back to being Tom Dick and Harry.

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Just to say that as far as I can understand it, non-dualism has no opposite. Both dualism and pluralism "exist" within Reality-as-is.

 

Well, I came back to being Dick.......very confusing for a Derek.

 

Thanks

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Perhaps "higher level thought" is a poor choice of phrases, but some words and phrases just become "pounceable" when written or spoken. I always thought Michael Jordan played basketball at a higher level than anyone else, Jeff Beck played guitar at a higher level, and Albert Einstein's thinking was at a higher level of accomplishment than most other people. Maybe those analogies leave something to be desired, but if we were to always stick with quantitative assessments of things, we could only say these individuals were statistical anomalies. What I'm getting at here is more along the lines of innate capacity for certain types of accomplishments, obviously enhanced by intensely practicing that which already comes very naturally. But, its "all good" in so far as what appears to us.....it is all somehow perfectly appropriate in its own right.

 

As far as the use of "illusory", well, that's a word often used in Buddhism, but it may not be captured quite right in English. By "illusory", it is not meant that some object is not there, or that it only exists in one's mind, Clearly, what we conventionally refer to as "reality" or "existence" appears to us. It is the nature of what appears to the perceiver as that which is perceived, that is called into question.

 

But back to rebirth. The hypothetical speculation that humans and animals may exprerience rebirth is only relevant if it becomes "personal" to us. So. it is "I" that experiences rebirth, it is "my" rebirth, and so on. It is this belief in an inherent, enduring concept of a grasping "self" that desires something for the "I", something that is beyond physical death, such as heaven, or a god realm. Without that self-obsessive concept, rebirth is just something that is part of our conceptual awareness, and leaves without any remaining trace of hope or fear.

 

If existence is contngent, as the Buddha claimed, then birth and death are nothing more than a continuation of the cyclical nature of dependent origination. The way out, from a Buddhist perspective, is to break the chain of ignorance, which is the illusory view of a "self" which grasps objects as inherently real and substantial.

 

Incidentally, this doesn't have to be a "Buddhist" view of things. I think many non-Buddhists come to this realization given the right circumstances.

 

Steve

Edited by SteveS55

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Just to say that as far as I can understand it, non-dualism has no opposite. Both dualism and pluralism "exist" within Reality-as-is.

 

Well I must admit I am having problems here. The word is turning into something like transcendence (beyond all categories of thought). For me a pointless concept.

 

But I suspect the word may point to something like this:

 

When I say tree, I might be pointing to concept or perhaps an individual tree. Regardless that tree is made up of a huge number of atoms and that tree is doing all sorts of things. It is bringing in carbon dioxide through its leaves, nutrients and water through its roots. It is photosynthesizing light, carbon dioxide and water in to sugar. Which in turn gets converted in to a variety of products which are used for growth and replication. The tree is fighting off parasites and infection. In the roots there is a huge symbiotic community that help take part in helping the tree do its thing. There is not single "tree bit" within the tree.

 

We treat trees as a noun, Whereas in reality they are a collective verb. They are a bit of the universe unfolding in unison.

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Well I must admit I am having problems here. The word is turning into something like transcendence (beyond all categories of thought). For me a pointless concept.

 

 

 

You think YOU have problems! :D

 

Anyway, there is a Buddhist Dictionary that tells us that the central and unique concept/teaching in Buddhism is "anatta" - not-self, and that not understanding this means not being able to understanding anything. And as far as Buddhism is concerned, "understanding" means experience of, not conceptual or intellectual grasp. (otherwise, how could a little child ever lead them?)

 

Nevertheless, seeking some sort of conceptual grasp, it needs to be asked just HOW anything can BE transcendent when there is no self to transcend. The totality just IS.

 

As said above, Buddhism - and I would say ANY faith worth its salt - is concerned with experience rather than just the affirmation of creeds or belief in them. Buddhism seeks to teach a path that leads to the replication of the Buddha's experience beneath the Bodhi Tree.

 

Getting back to labels, as I see it ALL words are labels and are liable - or have the potential - to mislead, simply because they will always be only a part of reality, and Reality cannot speak of itself. A knife cannot cut itself. Therefore all treading of the path involves being content with paradox.

 

I remember many moons ago (or as my dear little Grandchild would say, "many sleeps ago") asking on a Buddhist Forum:- in the light of anatta, not-self, just WHO is it that walks the path? This in relation to the oft quoted words, "Buddha's only point the way, each has to walk the path themselves". The answers I got became messy! Which is the nature of the case, each of us being unique.

 

In the Christian tradition Thomas Merton speaks of the very same paradox in theistic language.........how far have I to go to find You in whom I have already arrived

 

My own path involves and revolves around trust and "unknowing" - to be honest, far more so than speaking of non-dualism and suchlike. But often on various forums when I seek to tell it like it is FOR ME I hear such responses as "hocus pocus" and "mumbo jumbo". So I try to fall in line.

 

Thanks

Derek

  • Upvote 1

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"When I say tree, I might be pointing to concept or perhaps an individual tree. Regardless that tree is made up of a huge number of atoms and that tree is doing all sorts of things. It is bringing in carbon dioxide through its leaves, nutrients and water through its roots. It is photosynthesizing light, carbon dioxide and water in to sugar. Which in turn gets converted in to a variety of products which are used for growth and replication. The tree is fighting off parasites and infection. In the roots there is a huge symbiotic community that help take part in helping the tree do its thing. There is not single "tree bit" within the tree.

 

We treat trees as a noun, Whereas in reality they are a collective verb. They are a bit of the universe unfolding in unison."

 

I really enjoyed this explanation of duality in unity. Romansh, Thank you for the gem.

Edited by soma

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Steve, my apologies for missing your last post. I received an email informing me that a post of my own had been quoted, clicked the link and responded,,,,,,,,,and completely missed your own which had been above. Anyway, did I pounce? :D Apologies again if I did. As you imply, context is everything. As I see it, much - if not everything - comes down to our capacity for empathy, for mercy, for love and compassion, both towards ourselves and others. It seems that such are often beyond our knowledge and grasp of "higher" levels of thought, not to mention beyond any allegiance to a particular belief system.

 

We are obviously on the same page, and again as far as "illusory" is concerned.

 

Many seem to like there "isms" and "ologies", not to mention "ainities", creating divisions were there are none.

 

Thanks

 

Derek

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No need for apologies, Derek. No harm done. I too have grown tired of the ism's and ology's. They are a starting point, at least they have been for me. But, some people attempt to "transcend" these belief systems and reach some kind of a synthesis. It's kind of like the saying about leaving the boat behind when you have reached the other shore. I have taken rides in many boats, and there are probably more rides to come!

 

Peace.

Steve

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