Craving sustains the ‘being’ when one body has been set aside and it has not yet been reborn
So something impersonal, a feeling, cuz that’s what craving is….a desire….gives rise to a personal being. Conscious, sentient, that can recall its past lives, decide to release itself from Samsara, that reaps the benefits or negative results of its Karma…. (as per Scripture, scripture, scripture). Makes me wanna reach for my mother’s Bible…
The Buddha taught that it is wrong to say that the one who acts is the same as the one who experiences…..
Of course, the mind and all the different senses and organs seem to fuse into a whole synergistic system that is always different. For instance, when you drive, you are in the car, you fuse with it, kinetically becoming part of it, bound to its momentum, your mind focuses on the road and you ‘become’ a driver. But when you come off the car you become a walker, a sitter, an eater etc, depending on which activity or system kinetic or otherwise you are momentarily a part of. So the doer is not the same as the listener, nor the experiencer the same as either of the previous two. But they all happen on the same ground of ‘being’…..
Memories are not an identity. One person can write down and another person can read it. Files are copied from one computer to the next and present the same information
Nobody claimed that the memories themselves are an identity. But the Buddha recalled ‘his’ past lives. Not the past lives of another. In other words, I cannot access your files without having access to your computer. You do not have my memories from my childhood. You never experienced them. And I don’t have yours. For me to have any recollection I need to be a part of the same system. It needs to have taken place in actual terms on the grounds of my own being in whatever shape or form or manner in my own time continuum. In other words, the Buddha experienced his past lifetimes, not the past lifetimes of Ananda or Prashant or Kumarajiva or Mahavira who were standing nearby.
Observation and thought are processes……sutra quote, sutra quote
No disagreement there, a screwdriver, a drill and a screw are tools too. But they don’t decide to put a hole in the wall by themselves. They are set to the task by a user. Similarly, all the tools we have at our disposal logically must be utilised by someone.
The sutras include passages where the Buddha explains that asking who does these things is an invalid question
With regards to achieving a state of detachment yes, I agree. As a strategy to experience relief from dukkha, I agree. In a logical sense, no question should really be invalid. You ask a question if you need help understanding something difficult or when someone’s theory leaves you with more questions than answers, inherently I don’t see why a question would be invalid.
The question is based on asserting a false premise that there is some kind of Self overseeing these processes
Says who? The sutra? Isn’t that kinda like saying that Jesus loves you cuz the Bible tells you so?
Another sutra explains that even observation and consciousness is not self because it cannot be controlled
This kinda goes back into a circular system of budhist logic. For the Buddha would accept something as Self only if it had control over itself and others. It could say, I want to be a pink elephant and lo! it would be…But such limitations could perhaps be explained easier by simply saying that as parts of a functioning universe we cannot go about willing wild stuff into being arbritrarily. It would upset the balance somehow. Imagine if every time you got angry you managed to wish the entire city into oblivion and death. There would be no human left. So perhaps such limitations simply make sense in a synergistic manner but they do not in themselves refute categorically the existence of a Self. Neither does the Buddha coincidentally. This is where I’m getting at, Theravada at least in its modern western manifestation seems too zealous in its approach to scripture in a sort of agony to stick as close to the ‘real deal’ when we know historically that Mahayanists and Theravadins were part of early Buddhism almost simultaneously. Not to mention Pudgalavada and other early offshoots. In fact Pudgalavada became the predominant Buddhist sect in India for a while before Buddhism gave way to Hinduism. In the meanwhile Theravada migrated out of India and took root elsewhere, never to achieve the same status in India again. Which shows one thing, that Scripture was from quite early on, judged, analysed and interpreted. I believe that a similar parallel is to be found in the literal interpretation of biblical and quranic scripture. Nothing good has come out of such approach with them. Why are we an exception?
This is the difference between one aggregate (form) and five (aggregates)
I am simply discussing the syllogistic process here, the premises on which impersonal bits and bats make up a system, organic or inorganic and we cannot say that the system exists when those parts are pulled asunder. The same argument used against king Menander (Milinda)….what’s an ‘ox-cart’? Is it the ox? Is it the wheel? the wagon? the axel? So far so good but if break the wheel, I have no karmic retribution in a future life. If I butcher the ox however it’s a whole different deal….I find this paradoxical.
Perhaps trying to have a direct experience could lead to an understanding of the futility of such attempts. This might be one of the best ways to understand that there is no higher Self to be experienced
Perhaps the problem is that I am using fire to burn fire or water to wet water. Similarly I’m taking myself apart, detach and ultimately discard all my tools of discernment and all ability to experience, then take my very ego and sense of self and then throw that away too and somehow I am expecting to find a self in me…..well I ain’t looking for one….but still somehow, something experiences Nirvana. Something reaches a state conventional language cannot describe but one seems to be experiencing it vividly enough to come back a changed man and preach it to the masses….perhaps the problem is a case of looking at the wrong place with the wrong instruments. Or perhaps it’s not just about looking but simply experiencing. Simply being….in Nirvana, not talking about it. Simply being ‘self’ not trying to define self.
Saying that there is a fire is wrong because there is no externally existing fire-self to be found
Yet, fuel, air and combustion only ever give birth to fire but not jelly. The inherent natural ‘sense’ of ‘fire-ness’ must somehow exist. Yes this is metaphysical speculation. Understanding that the fire is happening does not require the assertion that a higher fire exists or not but then again that is that. That’s as far as such an observation and logic can take one. You can observe a process and say a process is happening such as a poster is being stuck on the wall. But it doesn’t get there by itself. There is an agent that acts and makes it happen. But overall the analogy of the fire and other non sentient situations is a bad one that simply doesn’t mesh very well with the logic of karmic retribution or past life remembrance. Take the forrest fire analogy for instance. Rebirth is often likened to a forrest fire, flames jumping to a new section of the forrest and starting a new fire there that came from the previous patch by means of the wind. But this example is workable only in this scenario. If you have a fire in a hearth, carefully constructed by man where the fire is contained safely there is no passing on or even passing away. The fire can be maintained indefinitely. So does karma exist? Does it affect a new being or only one and the same? Again, it’s all contingent on the scenario and the point of view of the speaker. This is how logic can sometimes trap itself in a circular system out of which it never comes out.
This shows how important it is to stop fuelling the fire if it is allowed to burn out
Again, who decides to allow it to burn out? It either doesn’t have enough fuel, it runs its course and it just burns out anyway (nastikas) or someone allows it to burn out because he/she has no need for it any longer (astikas)….In the first case there is no need to do anything as its fate is simply a matter of time. In the second scenario an agent is required to make that decision….which when taken further and analysed is nothing short of suicide….
The point is the cessation of dukkha. There is pleasant experience that does not involve dukkha. There is also mundane elation and joy that does involve dukkha. From a materialist perspective the process will end itself at the end of life, but there are two shortcomings with such a perspective. The first shortcoming is that it ignores the possibility of eliminating dukkha in this life. The second is that it assumes without irrefutable evidence that the process which gives rise to dukkha will completely cease at death
The first shortcoming would make sense only from a certain perspective and in specific situations. For instance, unless a materialist is beset with some incurable debilitating disease or something utterly dramatic unfortunate event he would simply not care to eliminate dukkha. Because all too simply he would look at the ‘bright side’ of life, set new goals and adapt. It’s remarkable how people who have lost limps, were afflicted with cancers, lost loved ones etc have found the strength in themselves (the irony!) to set new goals and move on with their lives and in many cases enjoy it even more than before by accepting their ultimate doom and dissolution at the point of death. So how does the buddhist path benefit them? It apparently can stop dukkha from arising at all in the first place? For some this may not really be so much of a problem as to warrant all that strenuous hard practice at all. Why eat one meal a day, wear a single yellow robe and meditate for hours, year in and year out until you are able to transcend everything? When you can just get some counselling, set goals and move on with your life within a few weeks or months? Again, the point of the practice is brought into question. If buddhism does not have actual metaphysical benefits for me, then why would I want to listen to it? Mind you, this is not a personal question, I am happy experiencing buddhism. It’s just a logical question from a materialist’s point of view.
The second shortcoming is really just a matter of faith…the materialist breaks down the being into guts, bones and processes and thinks that when all that is done that’s it but the buddhist assumes the process continues on and that’s simply a process that continues and no ‘being’ actually survives. Which is another thing that the Buddha was silent about when Vacchagota asked him whether he has or hasn’t got a ‘self’…the rest is Theravada inference just as much as the opposite is eternalist inference. Ultimately we are all trapped in our syllogistic processes that arise from the initial axioms and ground rules that we ourselves have set down for our logic.
The idea that Buddhism needs the idea of a soul is a misunderstanding of the Dharma. It seems unlikely to be what the Buddha had in mind
The very fact that you used the expressions ‘it seems’ and ‘unlikely’ suggests inference in itself.
Taking the idea of a higher Self or an Observer as a premise and then using logic to draw inferences is not going to lead to an understanding of the Dharma because the Dharma teaches that the premise is mistaken. Logic can only lead to valid conclusions when the premises are valid
I suggested the presence of a higher Self more as a ground of ‘being’, an experiencer. In fact the word ‘being’ I think expresses it better. Kind of like a river. The water changes all the time, it flows, never the same. The river swells, dries and floods again and again but somehow we know that west of our city there IS a river. Never the same, difficult to define if we apply dharmic logic but still it IS there.
Refusing to investigate deeply held but unproven beliefs can be a significant impediment to fruitful practice of the Dharma
Kinda like stuff written in Scriptures? Kinda like a dharma?