Why would a creator god need a creator god?

Casual discussion amongst spiritual friends.

Re: Why would a creator god need a creator god?

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Apr 07, 2014 11:05 pm

manas wrote:The creator god does indeed have a creator. To see him/her, just go to the bathroom and take a look in the mirror. As was said by Voltaire,
“If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him.”
Why?
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

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People live in one another’s shelter.

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Re: Why would a creator god need a creator god?

Postby binocular » Tue Apr 08, 2014 8:34 am

daverupa wrote:Why should we accept that definition? To be clear, we can accept it for purposes of conversation if we want to pursue the consequences of this claim's truth-value, but to take it as a piece of evidence for what we ought to believe is a step that does not yet have support.

Hold your horses!

but to take it as a piece of evidence for what we ought to believe is a step that does not yet have support.

Apart from some theists and their anti-theist counterparts, nobody is suggesting that.

Someone makes a claim, and you feel requested or even pressured to believe it or at least to seriously consider it?
??

It's moving from a specific argument about the existence of God to a broader discussion of the linguistic turn and what the consequences of that are for truth-claims generally (you reference pramana, but this topic is vast).

Not in my perspective, but from the perspective of a common-sense realist, it probably does ...

So, that's probably worth an OP. Discussing e.g. Early Buddhist Theory of Knowledge and so on would be quite interesting.

Absolutely! Buddhism via Western common-sense realism. That ought to be interesting!
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Re: Why would a creator god need a creator god?

Postby binocular » Tue Apr 08, 2014 8:45 am

Jetavan wrote:...or from a Mormon perspective.

Since Mormons do believe in eternal damnation, I'm not sure how open they are to the idea of there being a more authoritative god than the one they currently consider authoritative - given that a god that is more authoritative could undo the eternal-hell judgments of those gods with less authority. It's not clear how well this would sit with Mormons.


Goofaholix wrote:No doubt that's one of the reasons you're not a theist.

Well, yes.
I see that many theists _and_ atheists tend to follow the same lines of reasoning when it comes to God (the only difference being that they take opposing sides), while those lines of reasoning don't even occur to me. This puzzles me.


beeblebrox wrote:Does that interpretation of what I said make sense to you?

No.

tiltbillings wrote:"Why would a creator god need a creator god?" In reading through this fly-paper thread, I have yet to see an explanation of why there needs to be a god to explain anything.

I think that's a miguided request (ie. requesting an explanation for why there needs to be a god to explain anything). It's a request to explain a basic existential question. It's in the nature of basic existential questions that people whom the requester does not have absolute trust in, cannot answer them satisfactorily.


manas wrote:The creator god does indeed have a creator. To see him/her, just go to the bathroom and take a look in the mirror. As was said by Voltaire,
“If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him.”

Why??

You're quoting Voltaire - could you provide some context for that quote?
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Re: Why would a creator god need a creator god?

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Apr 08, 2014 9:32 am

binocular wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:"Why would a creator god need a creator god?" In reading through this fly-paper thread, I have yet to see an explanation of why there needs to be a god to explain anything.

I think that's a miguided request (ie. requesting an explanation for why there needs to be a god to explain anything). It's a request to explain a basic existential question. It's in the nature of basic existential questions that people whom the requester does not have absolute trust in, cannot answer them satisfactorily.
That is a non-answer.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

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Re: Why would a creator god need a creator god?

Postby binocular » Tue Apr 08, 2014 9:36 am

culaavuso wrote:So there seems to be three possible understandings:

1. The existence of a creator is an ontological proposition and the gratitude is a consequence of that, in which case it is worth investigating the grounds of the ontological claim. In this case, not thinking about the ontological proposition on its own does not help the validity of the claim, but rather constitutes willful ignorance.
2. The existence of a creator is a way to express gratitude in situations where a person to whom gratitude should be expressed is unknown. In this case, the idea of a "God" is a fiction invented to allow acting on a habit in circumstances where one of the necessary elements for the habitual action is not present. If this is the case, the idea of "God" is useful in allowing the habitual action to be acted out but it is not useful in terms of making decisions and predictions about cause and effect. In this case it is also a means for avoiding questioning the habitual behavior in the first place, since it is possible to feel appreciation without expressing gratitude to a person.
3. The expression of gratitude is taken as so fundamental to the nature of the universe that every feeling of appreciation must be followed by an expression of gratitude to a person, and that it is fundamentally impossible for a situation to arise where there is no person to whom gratitude can be expressed. In this situation, the existence of God is proven by feelings of appreciation which have no attributable personal source. In this case, the idea that gratitude is fundamental to the nature of the universe needs to be evaluated on its own if the conclusion is to be taken as a logically consistent truth.
binocular wrote:The idea of gratitude I'm working with just logically extends notions of gratitude back to what is regarded the first cause or the source, ie. God.

This seems to support the idea that #1 above is the case in discussion. If that's true, then it could be beneficial to investigate the question of why the universe itself can't be the first cause, which would eliminate the necessity of "God", or why there should be a first cause at all.

Are you able to feel gratitude to non-persons, to things?


If there is no concern about whether the concept of "God" is logically consistent or useful for understanding cause and effect, then there seems to be no purpose to the OP.

I'm trying to understand whence the notion of infinite regress in the issue of a creator god.

But I think I'm operating here with one factor that people typically don't operate with when talking about the topic of "God"; that is, I'm focusing on the socio-psychological and ethical contexts of discussing this topic to begin with.
Like I wondered above - "Someone makes a claim, and you feel requested or even pressured to believe it or at least to seriously consider it?"

I find it odd that so much of the usual discourse on the topic of God takes place among strangers or people who are mere acquaintances, but generally in interpersonal interactions where there does not exist absolute trust. In fact, it seems to be a mark of being educated and civilized to be able and willing to discuss "God" with just about anyone, anytime.

Whether true or false, claims about God on principle address basic existential issues, issues that potentially touch every aspect of one's life, and as such, can only be meaningfully and without wasting time and other resources discussed between people who have absolute trust in one another. When such trust is not there, there's going to be some waste, some reactance, some ego defense mechanisms at work and then the consequences of that; ie. less or more suffering, bewilderment.

This seems like a no-brainer to me; but I'm puzzled since it doesn't seem like one to many other people.
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Re: Why would a creator god need a creator god?

Postby binocular » Tue Apr 08, 2014 9:38 am

tiltbillings wrote:
binocular wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:"Why would a creator god need a creator god?" In reading through this fly-paper thread, I have yet to see an explanation of why there needs to be a god to explain anything.

I think that's a miguided request (ie. requesting an explanation for why there needs to be a god to explain anything). It's a request to explain a basic existential question. It's in the nature of basic existential questions that people whom the requester does not have absolute trust in, cannot answer them satisfactorily.
That is a non-answer.

Your reply is as expected, since you don't have absolute trust in me.

:shrug:
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Re: Why would a creator god need a creator god?

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Apr 08, 2014 9:46 am

binocular wrote:Your reply is as expected, since you don't have absolute trust in me.
I trust that you will play words games and not give straight forward answers to straight forward questions, but if "absolute trust" -- whatever that might mean -- is required for communication then no one person can reasonably talk with anyone else, and no one could possibly understand another. It -- absolute trust -- is a silly expecatation.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

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Re: Why would a creator god need a creator god?

Postby binocular » Tue Apr 08, 2014 10:23 am

tiltbillings wrote:I trust that you will play words games and not give straight forward answers to straight forward questions

And I trust that you will continue to play power games and continue to place responsibility for your beliefs on other people ...

, but if "absolute trust" -- whatever that might mean -- is required for communication then no one person can reasonably talk with anyone else, and no one could possibly understand another. It -- absolute trust -- is a silly expecatation.

I was talking about absolute trust in regard to basic existential questions, not to any and all communication.
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Re: Why would a creator god need a creator god?

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Apr 08, 2014 10:32 am

binocular wrote:
, but if "absolute trust" -- whatever that might mean -- is required for communication then no one person can reasonably talk with anyone else, and no one could possibly understand another. It -- absolute trust -- is a silly expecatation.

I was talking about absolute trust in regard to basic existential questions, not to any and all communication.
And that was a rather poor way of not answering the question, but it -- absolute trust -- certainly seems to be a meaningless expectation, stopping any sort of objection to what you are claiming. Basically, it reads as a way of dodging actually engaging a discussuion.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

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Re: Why would a creator god need a creator god?

Postby Mindstar » Tue Apr 08, 2014 10:54 am

As far as i know according to the Buddhas statement at the end of a physical universe beeings move either to a second jhana level or hell realm until a new physical universe forms in an automatic process. (Dont have a sutta reference here but it would make more sense to me if they simply moved to another parallel universe if such one does exist)

The firstborn being that appears in the Brahma realm of a new universe however (the first inhabitable realm) usually thinks of itself as the maker/creator because other beings just appear (fall out of the 2nd Jhana realm) and he asumes that he is the creator of them simply because of his wish for not being alone.
According to that statement it wouldnt make much sense that a creator creates another creator.

From MN49:
There is, brahma, the body named Abhassara (Radiant/Luminous) from which you fell away & reappeared here.[4] From your having lived here so long, your memory of that has become muddled. That is why you don't know it, don't see it, but I know it, I see it. Thus I am not your mere equal in terms of direct knowing, so how could I be inferior? I am actually superior to you.

It does however not answer the question on how much this "Baka Brahma" has created in terms of the content of the universe and if he is also able to create beeings within the universe.
According to the suttas it would be something the Buddha must have known but did never clearly talk about it or was not recorded?
From MN49:
"Then Mara, the Evil One, taking possession of an attendant of the Brahma assembly, said to me, 'Monk! Monk! Don't attack him! Don't attack him! For this Brahma, monk, is the Great Brahma, the Conqueror, the Unconquered, the All-Seeing, All-Powerful, the Sovereign Lord, the Maker, Creator, Chief, Appointer and Ruler, Father of All That Have Been and Shall Be.


"'Well, monk, how do you discern my sphere, how do you discern my splendor: "Baka Brahma has this much great power. Baka Brahma has this much great might. Baka Brahma has this much great influence"?'
"'As far as suns & moons revolve, shining, illuminating the directions, over a thousand-fold world your control holds sway. There you know those above & below, those with lust & those without, the state of what is as it is, the state of what becomes otherwise, the coming & going of beings.
Wherever he goes, there he is unafraid.. Wherever he sleeps, there he is unalarmed!
The nights and days does neither touch nor burn him. He sees nothing in this world
that is to be kept or lost.. Therefore his mind dwells in goodwill and gentle kindness
towards all beings until he falls asleep.
SN I 110
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Re: Why would a creator god need a creator god?

Postby manas » Tue Apr 08, 2014 11:31 am

tiltbillings wrote:
manas wrote:The creator god does indeed have a creator. To see him/her, just go to the bathroom and take a look in the mirror. As was said by Voltaire,
“If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him.”

Why?


I always interpreted that witticism as really meaning something like, "most human beings seem to have a need to believe in a Higher Power, and it is this need that led to them projecting this infantile wish onto reality; and thus the belief in God, and thus God as a concept (and by extension, actuality), is a human invention". I think that if we 'read between the lines' and try to see what Voltaire was really getting at, that we will see, he means something other than what the literal meaning appears to say. That's my take on it, anyway.
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Re: Why would a creator god need a creator god?

Postby dhammafriend » Tue Apr 08, 2014 2:25 pm

Why would the Creator need to have a creator and so ad infinitum?


Why the assumption that there is a creator? Gratitude, humility etc call be experienced & cultivated without a creator deity. Theists of course, will try and convince you differently. Don't believe the hype.

It doesn't take a stream enterer to see through these arguments.
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Re: Why would a creator god need a creator god?

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Apr 08, 2014 2:27 pm

manas wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
manas wrote:The creator god does indeed have a creator. To see him/her, just go to the bathroom and take a look in the mirror. As was said by Voltaire,
“If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him.”

Why?


I always interpreted that witticism as really meaning something like, "most human beings seem to have a need to believe in a Higher Power, and it is this need that led to them projecting this infantile wish onto reality; and thus the belief in God, and thus God as a concept (and by extension, actuality), is a human invention". I think that if we 'read between the lines' and try to see what Voltaire was really getting at, that we will see, he means something other than what the literal meaning appears to say. That's my take on it, anyway.
Sounds good.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

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People live in one another’s shelter.

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Re: Why would a creator god need a creator god?

Postby beeblebrox » Tue Apr 08, 2014 2:51 pm

binocular wrote:I'm trying to understand whence the notion of infinite regress in the issue of a creator god.


Hi Binocular,

I saw your point that this notion of infinite regress doesn't necessarily have a part to play with the concept of a creator god... but that doesn't negate the fact that there are still many people who think it does.

It also doesn't negate the fact that you'll have to find a way to relate with that. (Preferably in a way which is harmonious... i.e., away from creating unnecessary dukkha. That is a part of our practice.)

Such is the fact of life. The Buddha pointed that out for us in the Kaccayanagotta sutta, where he said that there is a polarity where people would typically gravitate to, in regard to the existence and non-existence of something.

I don't think there's really much to understand, here... it's already enough to recognize the problem.

But I think I'm operating here with one factor that people typically don't operate with when talking about the topic of "God"; that is, I'm focusing on the socio-psychological and ethical contexts of discussing this topic to begin with.
Like I wondered above - "Someone makes a claim, and you feel requested or even pressured to believe it or at least to seriously consider it?"


I think typically everyone is operating on something which turns out to be different. That isn't surprising.

Whether true or false, claims about God on principle address basic existential issues, issues that potentially touch every aspect of one's life, and as such, can only be meaningfully and without wasting time and other resources discussed between people who have absolute trust in one another. When such trust is not there, there's going to be some waste, some reactance, some ego defense mechanisms at work and then the consequences of that; ie. less or more suffering, bewilderment.

This seems like a no-brainer to me; but I'm puzzled since it doesn't seem like one to many other people.


If that seems to be a no-brainer... the fact that there isn't an absolute trust that is being developed in here, and that this can only lead to nothing else except to the problems which you describe, then why are you continuing to participate?

That seems like it could be a Mahayanist behavior to me... where the practitioner would avoid in going ahead to gain his liberation, instead continuing to entrap himself within this battle, just so that he could make an attempt to point out the way for others who are still stuck in it.

That is the behavior of a bodhisattva... so maybe I shouldn't be criticizing you for it!

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Re: Why would a creator god need a creator god?

Postby Jetavan » Tue Apr 08, 2014 6:04 pm

binocular wrote:
Jetavan wrote:...or from a Mormon perspective.

Since Mormons do believe in eternal damnation, I'm not sure how open they are to the idea of there being a more authoritative god than the one they currently consider authoritative - given that a god that is more authoritative could undo the eternal-hell judgments of those gods with less authority. It's not clear how well this would sit with Mormons.

A Mormon would argue that all the Deities would agree with the judgements (regarding damnation or paradise) of any other Deity. There is no conflict among the Deities.
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Re: Why would a creator god need a creator god?

Postby culaavuso » Tue Apr 08, 2014 8:04 pm

binocular wrote:Are you able to feel gratitude to non-persons, to things?

Yes. The feeling of gratitude can arise independently of the perception of personhood.
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Re: Why would a creator god need a creator god?

Postby binocular » Thu Apr 10, 2014 10:30 am

beeblebrox wrote:If that seems to be a no-brainer... the fact that there isn't an absolute trust that is being developed in here, and that this can only lead to nothing else except to the problems which you describe, then why are you continuing to participate?

That seems like it could be a Mahayanist behavior to me... where the practitioner would avoid in going ahead to gain his liberation, instead continuing to entrap himself within this battle, just so that he could make an attempt to point out the way for others who are still stuck in it.

Thank you for your reply.

To be sure, I participate in theistic meta-discussions only, and this deliberately, consciously, drawing strict lines. Direct discussions and inquiry about whether God exists or not or what is the nature of God and our relationship with God -- I don't go there.

As to your question: It bewilders me that I have such a different take on this matter than even notable Buddhist authorities. There are Buddhist teachers whom I take some instructions from, and yet there are issues on which I am in conflict with those teachers. One of those issues being the God-issue. And this conflict marrs whatever trust and respect I do have for those teachers and Buddhism. This is very alienating.
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Re: Why would a creator god need a creator god?

Postby TheNoBSBuddhist » Thu Apr 10, 2014 10:42 am

manas wrote:I think that if we 'read between the lines' and try to see what Voltaire was really getting at, that we will see, he means something other than what the literal meaning appears to say. That's my take on it, anyway.

What would you say he means, reading between the lines, then?
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Re: Why would a creator god need a creator god?

Postby binocular » Thu Apr 10, 2014 11:17 am

manas wrote:I always interpreted that witticism as really meaning something like, "most human beings seem to have a need to believe in a Higher Power, and it is this need that led to them projecting this infantile wish onto reality; and thus the belief in God, and thus God as a concept (and by extension, actuality), is a human invention". I think that if we 'read between the lines' and try to see what Voltaire was really getting at, that we will see, he means something other than what the literal meaning appears to say. That's my take on it, anyway.

The belief in some kind of higher power is not infantile, though. It's simply realistic. Just wait until lightning strikes you or your house while you're in it. Or until you first-hand witness some display of massive power, like a flood, a hailstorm, a big fire, a meteorite striking the Earth, or a tiger having a go at you. This IS higher power.

It is evident that there are forces at work in this Universe against which humans are powerless, forces which in fact are Higher Power.
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Re: Why would a creator god need a creator god?

Postby binocular » Thu Apr 10, 2014 11:30 am

Jetavan wrote:A Mormon would argue that all the Deities would agree with the judgements (regarding damnation or paradise) of any other Deity. There is no conflict among the Deities.

Then those deities are effectively non-distinguishable from one another, and might as well be all one!


culaavuso wrote:
binocular wrote:Are you able to feel gratitude to non-persons, to things?

Yes. The feeling of gratitude can arise independently of the perception of personhood.

Not in me. Appreciation does, but not gratitude.

And apparently, I am not the only one who cannot/doesn't feel gratitude independently from people.


/.../
Which relates to another topic: gratitude. There’s a saying that there are
two people who are hard to find in the world. First is the person who’s an
upakari: someone who helps you before receiving any help from you. Second
is the person who’s received that kind of help and feels gratitude in response.
Both of these people should be cherished.

There’s a lot of misunderstanding around the topic of gratitude. We tend to
confuse it with appreciation and contentment. Appreciation is what you feel for
things or incidents from which you benefit, but no one else’s good intentions
are involved. An example of appreciation would be the story the Buddha tells
of the man who has to cross over a river and realizes he’s going to need a raft,
so he makes the raft and then swims across in dependence on the raft. When he
gets to the other side, he says, “How helpful this raft has been to me!” That’s a
sense of appreciation: Without the raft, he wouldn’t have gotten where he was.
8But the fact that he appreciates the raft doesn’t mean that he has to carry it
around with him from then on. He pulls it up on land or he sinks it down in the
water near the shore and then goes on his way.

In other words, with appreciation you realize that you have benefited from
something—and it can be a thing—and yet the need to respond is pretty
minimal. In the case of something you can continue to use, you take care of it.
And then there are cases of really negative events that helped to turn you
around. Someone may have done something that was really nasty, but you grew
into a stronger person because of it. You want to have an appreciation for the
fact that sometimes you do benefit from misfortune, but that doesn’t carry the
lesson that you should heap misfortune on other people for the sake of what you
can rationalize as their benefit. With gratitude, though, you’ve benefited from
someone’s good action, and that does carry the lesson that good actions are
needed for human society to continue.

As for contentment, that simply means being happy with what you’ve got,
realizing that you have good things and it’s enough for the sake of the practice.
The good things don’t have to be all that good but they can be good enough so
that you don’t have to keep scrambling for more. That’s contentment.

As for gratitude, that’s more related to the teaching on kamma. When the
Buddha introduced the topic of gratitude, he did so in the context of explaining
kamma. After saying that there are good and bad actions that lead to good and
bad results, he went on to say, “There is mother and father,” which sounds like
a non sequitur and something perfectly obvious except for the fact that in those
days there were people who said there is no such thing as mother or father,
meaning that your parents just gave birth to you because they were compelled
by forces larger than themselves. Whoever created the universe decreed that
they were going to give birth to you, so it involved no goodness on their part.
The fact that they looked after you was also decreed by some outside force so
again, there was no goodness on their part. What this statement means—“There
is no mother or father”—is that you don’t owe them anything.

So when the Buddha said, “There is mother and father,” he meant the
opposite: that you do owe something to your parents. You owe a debt of
gratitude because they were able to make the choice of whether they were
going to care for you or not. It was their choice not to abort the pregnancy. It
was their choice to teach you about the world: how to walk, how to talk, how
to behave. And regardless of how foolish they may have been in other ways—
and the Buddha admits that there are parents who are stingy and unvirtuous and
pretty ignorant—even then you owe a huge debt of gratitude to them for what
they’ve done, because they had to make some difficult choices. It’s not an easy
thing to give birth to a child or to raise a child, and yet they made the difficult
choice.

That’s what marks the whole issue of gratitude: People have the power to
make choices.
When the Buddha talks about gratitude, the language he uses
focuses on words that derive from the root for action: kar in Pali. There’s
upakari, the person who helped you to begin with and to whom you owe a debt
of gratitude. It literally means someone who acted first. And your response to
that person should be that you are going to act in return, patikarosi.And even
the word gratitude itself, kataññu, means that you know what was done, you
appreciate what was done.

So gratitude is not just a general appreciation. It’s specifically an
appreciation for actions, realizing that you have a debt coming from other
people’s kind actions, a debt that requires you to do something in return.
You
have to return the goodness. And again, even though your parents may have
been abusive, still the Buddha says you try to repay them by teaching them or at
least being a good example for them. He says if your parents are stingy, you try
to induce them to become more generous; if your parents are not virtuous, you
try to induce them to be more virtuous; if they have no faith in the principle of
action, you try to develop that sense of faith and conviction in them; and if
they’re not wise, you try to teach them the ways of wisdom. Of course, it’s
difficult to teach your parents. They don’t like being taught by their children,
but you can teach by example. That’s one way of repaying the debt.
/.../
This is what gratitude is all about: It’s a sense not only that you
appreciate the choices that people made but also that you need to respond.
The
word patikaroti means to repay or to make amends, but it can also mean to
imitate. In other words, you imitate the goodness that they did, the intention that
they had. You try to carry that out. That’s the response that keeps their
goodness alive.

There’s that question that people would often ask Ajaan Fuang: “How can I
repay you for having taught me?” and his response was, “Be really intent on the
practice.” That’s the best repayment right there.

So this is why the Buddha’s teachings on gratitude are all surrounded by
words that deal with action. You appreciate someone’s good actions and then
you realize there’s an action that’s called for from you, an appropriate
response. That’s what makes it different from appreciation or contentment. As
the Buddha said, it’s a characteristic of a good person to feel gratitude and to
want to repay that debt in one way or another. This is why Ajaan Fuang would
often say, if he saw someone who was ungrateful to his or her parents, that you
don’t want to have anything to do with that person, for that person doesn’t
value goodness. If that person doesn’t value the goodness of his or her parents,
you can’t trust that person to be good to you. Gratitude means that you value
goodness; you appreciate the difficulties that are involved in making the
skillful choice and carrying it out. When you appreciate that and have gratitude
for it, you’re more likely to make the same kind of effort yourself.

So keep in mind the distinction between gratitude on the one hand and
attitudes like appreciation or contentment on the other. Someone said recently
that gratitude is wanting what you have. That’s actually a description of
contentment or appreciation. Gratitude is more focused. It’s focused on
actions: the actions you’ve benefited from and the actions you feel called on to
make in response to repay your debt of gratitude and to try to continue this
stream of goodness into the world, on into the future, so all of the benefits that
have been entrusted to us will bear fruit. That’s how we show that we’re
worthy of that trust.

Thanissaro Bhikkhu: Gratitude and trust
(emphases mine)
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