A Problem?

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A Problem?

Postby Collective » Wed Feb 17, 2010 11:20 am

Found this interesting:

"As a former Buddhist I have come upon a fundamental fallacy that no Buddhist (including several high Tibetan Lamas) have never been able to answer. There are a few facts that one has to confront first.
1. All Buddhists believe that once you have attained enlightenment--i.e. become a Buddha--you can never go back. Attaining enlightenment changes you forever, whether you are a Mayahana buddhist and return to the cycle of existence as a boddhisatva or as a Therevaden enter into Nirvana and stop the cycle of rebirth.
2. All Buddhists believe that we have lived an infinite number of prior lives. This is because of the law of dependent origination. All phenomena have a cause which precedes it in time. This gives rise to the law of cause and effect, or karma. Tibetans have a rather beautiful way of encouraging compassion in this respect. They say that every sentient being has been your mother in a prior life, not just once, but an infinite number of times.

So...if this is true then it must be impossible for me to attain enlightenment, as I haven't become enlightened yet, even though I have had an INFINITE number of lives to do so.

I have asked zen monks, Tibetan lamas (Lama Zopa Rinpoche, Lama Choden Rinpoche, Lama Ribur Rinpoche, among others, this question and they either shrug their shoulders or laugh. But nobody gives me an answer."


What do you think?
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Re: A Problem?

Postby Sanghamitta » Wed Feb 17, 2010 11:29 am

Frankly I unable to ascertain what this " former Buddhists "" unanswerable question" actually is. I would be interested to see if others can. Not being able to become Enlightened because we are not Enlightened hardly amounts to a serious discussion point.
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Re: A Problem?

Postby Ben » Wed Feb 17, 2010 11:30 am

Hi Collective

What I think is that I am motivated by a deep and profound sense of urgency to change my current situation of delusional suffering and live a life informed by sila, samadhi, and the development liberative wisdom. And for me, that's what its about.
metta

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Re: A Problem?

Postby Stephen K » Wed Feb 17, 2010 12:20 pm

If Enlightenment were impossible, why would the Buddha teach that it IS possible?
With metta,
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Re: A Problem?

Postby sattva » Wed Feb 17, 2010 12:37 pm

Who laughed the Zen monks? :)

Seriously though, this is one of those in the head questions and even though my own logical thinking could be better, it seems to me that there is some faulty logic going on.

1. Bodhisattvas are those who stop before full enlightenment to come back to help others. They have not experienced full enlightenment. To do so, would mean not to be born again.

2. Just because there have been an infinite number of rebirths, why would this negate eventually stopping that process? It is often described as a flame going out. The flame could have been passed on and on and on from candle to candle infinite number of times, but once it has been blowned out, it is done (I am using an example of the candle because i can't think of anything better to use).

Yes, you are right it is impossible for you to attain enlightenment.
No, you are wrong it is possible for you to attain enlightenment.
Yes, you are right it is impossible for you to attain enlightenment.
No, you are wrong it is possible for you to attain enlightenment.
Yes, you are right it is impossible for you to attain enlightenment.
No, you are wrong it is possible for you to attain enlightenment.

Perhaps, you could find a cushion, sit down, follow the breath, and let it all go.... :buddha2:
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Re: A Problem?

Postby sattva » Wed Feb 17, 2010 12:44 pm

Ben wrote:Hi Collective

What I think is that I am motivated by a deep and profound sense of urgency to change my current situation of delusional suffering and live a life informed by sila, samadhi, and the development liberative wisdom. And for me, that's what its about.
metta

Ben


very beautiful, Ben
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Re: A Problem?

Postby Adrien » Wed Feb 17, 2010 12:55 pm

You are saying that there is a logic saying that if there is infinity, then there is no end.

I don't know the right terms in english, but in mathematics, a half-line as an infinity of points in one side, and still have an end. It's like you would have said "if there is an infinity of points, how could a half-line stop ?"

Another look at this wrong logic : you think that if you had an infinity number of prior lives, then, you must have done all things possible, in all ways possible. Then, you should be enlighted because it's obvious that you've already done what has to be done...
But : with mathematics (again), if you take numbers between 0 and 1, and if enlightment is taking number 1.234... You already know what I'm going to say : you can pick an infinity number between 0 and 1 without picking 1.234... The buddha teach us to pick 1.234, and when we do so, we become enlighted (even if we've already picked an infinity of numbers).
You see ? It is possible to take an infinity of numbers without taking 1.234. In a same way, it is possible to live an infinity of lives without doing what has to be done.

My point is that your "logic" is not strong enought to serve a demonstration.

From a buddhist point of view, I would say that when the buddha is talking about an infinity prior lives, nobody knows if he is talking about a great, great, great number or litterally infinity. Furthermore, the buddha taught that that kind of questions is useless, and that's why he doesn't explain the origination of "life" (even if he gives an explaination of origination of THIS current life).

edit : I just re-read your post, sorry for saying "you" in my response since you're just quoting somebody else...
Please don't hesitate to correct my english if you feel to
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Re: A Problem?

Postby baratgab » Wed Feb 17, 2010 1:02 pm

Collective wrote:Found this interesting:

"As a former Buddhist I have come upon a fundamental fallacy that no Buddhist (including several high Tibetan Lamas) have never been able to answer. There are a few facts that one has to confront first.
1. All Buddhists believe that once you have attained enlightenment--i.e. become a Buddha--you can never go back. Attaining enlightenment changes you forever, whether you are a Mayahana buddhist and return to the cycle of existence as a boddhisatva or as a Therevaden enter into Nirvana and stop the cycle of rebirth.
2. All Buddhists believe that we have lived an infinite number of prior lives. This is because of the law of dependent origination. All phenomena have a cause which precedes it in time. This gives rise to the law of cause and effect, or karma. Tibetans have a rather beautiful way of encouraging compassion in this respect. They say that every sentient being has been your mother in a prior life, not just once, but an infinite number of times.

So...if this is true then it must be impossible for me to attain enlightenment, as I haven't become enlightened yet, even though I have had an INFINITE number of lives to do so.

I have asked zen monks, Tibetan lamas (Lama Zopa Rinpoche, Lama Choden Rinpoche, Lama Ribur Rinpoche, among others, this question and they either shrug their shoulders or laugh. But nobody gives me an answer."


What do you think?


I think it's naive to assume that Buddhism is about holding beliefs regarding what we cannot see. :smile: I'm sure that you observed that meditation practice is pretty much about putting down any and every speculative opinions, views and beliefs; this is the way that leads to realization, that leads to the end of suffering. But even with a good worldly comprehension of the dhamma, it is quite clear that the attainment of Nibbana is basically irrelevant. The reason for this is that the path is about a direction, and not about a destination. You just hold the direction, because you understood that it is the only reasonable direction. With every single step you know that you get further and further away from stress, and you get nearer and nearer to ease. Whether there is an endpoint or not... It only matters if one thinks that there are better things to do in the case of no Nibbana, but if one's level of understanding is this, then, well, there is truly no Nibbana for that being.

Of course there is nothing wrong with intellectual inquiry; after all this is how we came to Buddhism. But it is important to keep in mind that regarding the Ultimate, much of our everyday concepts lose their applicability. What was before Everything? Where is this Everything in? How could something come into existence from nothing? These topics are so vague that every kind of religious person uses them to ascertain the existence of a creator god, with some strangle logic. You can go just such and such far with everyday intellect, and then you have to put it down if you intent to pursue that direction with any success in clear comprehension.

Speaking about fallacy, what do you think, what was the motivation of the questioner? Why he or she proposed this question? If you follow the thread, it boils down to the realization that he or she simply pursued his or her interest, pursued his or her contentment. In fact every single act of every single sentient being is about pursuing contentment. Even if someone says that he is not interested in contentment, the real meaning is that he identifies contentment with not being interested in contentment. Remember that the Buddha said: I only teach suffering and the end of suffering? This doesn't mean limited teaching: it means that this is the highest, this is the essential; everything falls into this category. So, did the questioner get closer to contentment by asking this question, and by possibly losing the Dhamma? Did he acted with clear comprehension of his or her true motivation? Not likely. The inability to distinguish the essential from the unessential, and the not knowing of our true motivation – this is what I call fundamental fallacy. :smile:

Edit: You might want to check out the Aggi-Vacchagotta Sutta about the speculative views:

...

As he was sitting there he asked the Blessed One: "How is it, Master Gotama, does Master Gotama hold the view: 'The cosmos is eternal: only this is true, anything otherwise is worthless'?"

"...no..."

"Then does Master Gotama hold the view: 'The cosmos is not eternal: only this is true, anything otherwise is worthless'?"

"...no..."

"Then does Master Gotama hold the view: 'The cosmos is finite: only this is true, anything otherwise is worthless'?"

"...no..."

"Then does Master Gotama hold the view: 'The cosmos is infinite: only this is true, anything otherwise is worthless'?"

"...no..."

...

"Then does Master Gotama hold the view: 'After death a Tathagata neither exists nor does not exist: only this is true, anything otherwise is worthless'?"

"...no..."

"How is it, Master Gotama, when Master Gotama is asked if he holds the view 'the cosmos is eternal...' ... 'after death a Tathagata neither exists nor does not exist: only this is true, anything otherwise is worthless,' he says '...no...' in each case. Seeing what drawback, then, is Master Gotama thus entirely dissociated from each of these ten positions?"

"Vaccha, the position that 'the cosmos is eternal' ... 'after death a Tathagata neither exists nor does not exist: only this is true, anything otherwise is worthless' is a thicket of views, a wilderness of views, a contortion of views, a writhing of views, a fetter of views. It is accompanied by suffering, distress, despair, & fever, and it does not lead to disenchantment, dispassion, cessation; to calm, direct knowledge, full Awakening, Unbinding.

"Does Master Gotama have any position at all?"

"A 'position,' Vaccha, is something that a Tathagata has done away with. What a Tathagata sees is this: 'Such is form, such its origin, such its disappearance; such is feeling, such its origin, such its disappearance; such is perception... such are mental fabrications... such is consciousness, such its origin, such its disappearance.' Because of this, I say, a Tathagata — with the ending, fading out, cessation, renunciation, & relinquishment of all construings, all excogitations, all I-making & mine-making & obsession with conceit — is, through lack of clinging/sustenance, released."

"But, Master Gotama, the monk whose mind is thus released: Where does he reappear?"

"'Reappear,' Vaccha, doesn't apply."

...


:anjali:
Last edited by baratgab on Wed Feb 17, 2010 3:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: A Problem?

Postby sattva » Wed Feb 17, 2010 1:18 pm

i am just not that mindful at times. After reading baratgab's reply, i realized that Collective was not writing about himself as i thought he was. Thank you, baratgab for your mindfulness reminder. :namaste:
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Re: A Problem?

Postby acinteyyo » Wed Feb 17, 2010 1:38 pm

Collective wrote:2. All Buddhists believe that we have lived an infinite number of prior lives.
So...if this is true then it must be impossible for me to attain enlightenment, as I haven't become enlightened yet, even though I have had an INFINITE number of lives to do so.

Where does it state that we have lived an infinite number of prior lives?
It seems to me like I'm reading some speculation based on assumptions and self-view between those lines...
best wishes, acinteyyo
Pubbe cāhaṃ bhikkhave, etarahi ca dukkhañceva paññāpemi, dukkhassa ca nirodhaṃ. (M.22)
Api cāhaṃ, āvuso, imasmiṃyeva byāmamatte kaḷevare, sasaññimhi samanake lokañca paññāpemi lokasamudayañca lokanirodhañca lokanirodhagāminiñca paṭipadan. (AN4.45)

:anjali:
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Re: A Problem?

Postby jcsuperstar » Wed Feb 17, 2010 2:20 pm

"if i haven't done it yet, how can i ever do it?" seems to be the question here, which could be applied to pretty much anything, since in this life time I've never become a doctor that means i can never be a doctor etc which isn't so much true or false but rather a question of causes and conditions. are they right in this life time for me to become a doctor. the same goes for awakening, are the causes and conditions right?
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat
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Re: A Problem?

Postby appicchato » Wed Feb 17, 2010 2:40 pm

jcsuperstar wrote:...since in this life time I've never become a doctor that means i can never be a doctor etc which isn't so much true or false but rather a question of causes and conditions. are they right in this life time for me to become a doctor. the same goes for awakening, are the causes and conditions right?


While I wouldn't disagree with the latter, I find the former patently (don't think I've ever used the word before) false...and keeping with the simile/metaphor/analogy theme...since I've never eaten pig tripe before that means I can never eat pig tripe... :pig:
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Re: A Problem?

Postby David N. Snyder » Wed Feb 17, 2010 3:30 pm

Not a problem, just questions to be put aside:

Ten questions to be set aside (not answered, because they are not important to the goal):

1. The cosmos is eternal
2. The cosmos is not eternal
3. The cosmos is finite
4. The cosmos is infinite
5. The soul/mind/consciousness and the body are the same
6. The soul/mind/consciousness is one thing and the body another
7. After death a Tathagata exists
8. After death a Tathagata does not exist
9. After death a Tathagata both exists and does not exist
10. After death a Tathagata neither exists nor does not exist

(from Majjhima Nikaya 63)

Notice that the Buddha never states anywhere that there are infinite lifetimes (it is just assumed by us worldlings).
He states that a first beginning is unknowable and then there is also the truth of anatta, so I don't think it is a problem when you consider the questions the Buddha said to put aside.
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Re: A Problem?

Postby Fede » Wed Feb 17, 2010 5:30 pm

Collective wrote:Found this interesting:

"As a former Buddhist I have come upon a fundamental fallacy that no Buddhist (including several high Tibetan Lamas) have never been able to answer. There are a few facts that one has to confront first.
1. All Buddhists believe that once you have attained enlightenment--i.e. become a Buddha--you can never go back. Attaining enlightenment changes you forever, whether you are a Mayahana buddhist and return to the cycle of existence as a boddhisatva or as a Therevaden enter into Nirvana and stop the cycle of rebirth.

Why - having experienced Samsara, then attained Nibbana - would you ever want to go back, anyway?

2. All Buddhists believe that we have lived an infinite number of prior lives.

Not 'all', no...'Infinite'...? I can't honestly say I have had an 'infinite' number of prior lives... Some, yes. And due to have more? I think so...Unfortunately... :thinking:

But all I can do right now, is do my best right now, to be right now....

This is because of the law of dependent origination. (. . .) ..if this is true then it must be impossible for me to attain enlightenment, as I haven't become enlightened yet, even though I have had an INFINITE number of lives to do so.

I thinbk you're definitely tripping over on this term 'infinite'.... I can't see that, myself. Maybe I'm just blinkered. or maybe it's too big for my poor little head. Imponderable....

I have asked zen monks, Tibetan lamas (Lama Zopa Rinpoche, Lama Choden Rinpoche, Lama Ribur Rinpoche, among others, this question and they either shrug their shoulders or laugh. But nobody gives me an answer."

That's because they see it's pointless to ponder. Just because they are who they are, it doesn't mean they know everything

Shrugging shoulders and laughing is a telling response in itself though....I think. :smile:
"Samsara: The human condition's heartbreaking inability to sustain contentment." Elizabeth Gilbert, 'Eat, Pray, Love'.

Simplify: 17 into 1 WILL go: Mindfulness!

Quieta movere magna merces videbatur. (Sallust, c.86-c.35 BC)
Translation: Just to stir things up seemed a good reward in itself. ;)

I am sooooo happy - How on earth could I be otherwise?! :D


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Re: A Problem?

Postby meindzai » Wed Feb 17, 2010 6:17 pm

Kinda made me laugh anyway.

The question brings to mind the anthropic principal in physics. We only ask "why are we here" because if we weren't here we wouldn't be able to ask. In Buddhist terms it means that the only ones asking why we're not awake yet are the people who aren't awake. What does *that* say about people who are asking this type of question?

Buddhism does not actually state that we've been around for an "infinite period of time." The Buddha said there is "no discernable beginning." The beginning point cannot be discerned - does that mean there isn't one? I think infinities result in all sorts of logical problems. In fact I'm not sure logic can even be applied to infinities without really wierd stuff happening. This principal is parodied quite a bit in Douglass Adams "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy:"

"It is known that there is an infinite number of worlds, simply because there is an infinite amount of space for them to be in. However, not every one of them is inhabited. Therefore, there must be a finite number of inhabited worlds. Any finite number divided by infinity is as near to nothing as makes no odds, so the average population of all the planets in the universe can be said to be zero. From this it follows that the population of the universe is also zero, and that any people you may meet from time to time are merely the product of a deranged imagination."


The guy was a master. Anyway, it's a logic problem, not a Buddhist one. Fun to think about, good for a laugh.

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Re: A Problem?

Postby Goofaholix » Wed Feb 17, 2010 11:14 pm

If there is something clever about this question I'm missing it.

It could be that as Mendzai states the author thinks Buddhism we have had an infinate number of lives, which is silly, saying we have had an unknown or uncountable number of former lives would be more correct.

Other than that as jcsuperstar states the question appears to be "if i haven't done it yet, how can i ever do it?". The answer is in the words of Nike "Just do it".
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
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Re: A Problem?

Postby Sanghamitta » Thu Feb 18, 2010 9:52 am

So, Collective, what do YOU think ?
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Re: A Problem?

Postby effort » Thu Feb 18, 2010 11:41 am

i think that i read somewhere your counter starts from zero after the great big ban, after that god born then celestial beings... so even if you are stream enterer and your time is up( because of the big bang ) you have to start from zero. maybe my understanding from the text is this not what was in that!!

i just can say : 'know that there is almost no way out, just act in the way that you dont know it! or its a joke or dont care!!'

sure the paths helps to live more peaceful but there is no guaranty about the next.
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Re: A Problem?

Postby Collective » Sun Feb 21, 2010 6:26 pm

Sanghamitta wrote:So, Collective, what do YOU think ?

I think very similalry to what another poster said; mainly that what's crucially important to me right now is 'getting' there - where 'there' is, is utterly unimportant right now. And may always be.

It's about the journey not the destination.

Thanks all for your input :)
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Re: A Problem?

Postby ground » Mon Feb 22, 2010 6:24 am

Collective wrote:What do you think?



Collective wrote:Found this interesting:

[i]"As a former Buddhist I have come upon a fundamental fallacy that no Buddhist (including several high Tibetan Lamas) have never been able to answer. There are a few facts that one has to confront first.
1. All Buddhists believe that once you have attained enlightenment--i.e. become a Buddha--you can never go back. Attaining enlightenment changes you forever, whether you are a Mayahana buddhist and return to the cycle of existence as a boddhisatva or as a Therevaden enter into Nirvana and stop the cycle of rebirth.

There is the presuposition that there is an "entity"** that does or does not do the "going back". This is the basic fallacy (in the context of the buddhist teaching system) since it does not comply with dependent origination of a multitude of factors/phenomena lacking a fundamental common "essense". If we concede dynamics (of a dynamic system which is a mere aggregation) then "going back" is very likely and phases of "steady states" are likely too. However there may then also be a sort of "phase transition" with a permanent steady state.

**Actually the same fallacy entails the numberless "rebirth" discussions.

Collective wrote:2. All Buddhists believe that we have lived an infinite number of prior lives. This is because of the law of dependent origination. All phenomena have a cause which precedes it in time. This gives rise to the law of cause and effect, or karma. Tibetans have a rather beautiful way of encouraging compassion in this respect. They say that every sentient being has been your mother in a prior life, not just once, but an infinite number of times.


So...if this is true then it must be impossible for me to attain enlightenment, as I haven't become enlightened yet, even though I have had an INFINITE number of lives to do so.

Why? If you concede that the prerequiste is "being taught" then it is just the event of "being taught" that matters. And that may happen or not, sooner or later, and is dependent on the appearance of someone who knows and teaches and others who transmit his teaching - just to name the main parameters.


Kind regards
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