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A Problem? - Dhamma Wheel

A Problem?

A forum for beginners and members of other Buddhist traditions to ask questions about Theravāda (The Way of the Elders). Responses require moderator approval before they are visible.
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Collective
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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?

Sanghamitta
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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.
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

Bhikku Bodhi.

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Ben
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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

Ben
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

(Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • •

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Stiphan
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Re: A Problem?

Postby Stiphan » Wed Feb 17, 2010 12:20 pm

If Enlightenment were impossible, why would the Buddha teach that it IS possible?

sattva
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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:

sattva
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Re: A Problem?

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


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Adrien
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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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baratgab
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Re: A Problem?

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

Last edited by baratgab on Wed Feb 17, 2010 3:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"Just as in the great ocean there is but one taste — the taste of salt — so in this Doctrine and Discipline there is but one taste — the taste of freedom"

sattva
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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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acinteyyo
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Re: A Problem?

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

Thag 1.20. Ajita - I do not fear death; nor do I long for life. I’ll lay down this body, aware and mindful.

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jcsuperstar
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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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appicchato
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Re: A Problem?

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


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David N. Snyder
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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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Fede
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Re: A Problem?

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

"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


http://www.armchairadvice.co.uk/relationships/forum/

meindzai
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Re: A Problem?

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


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Goofaholix
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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".

Sanghamitta
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Re: A Problem?

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

So, Collective, what do YOU think ?
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

Bhikku Bodhi.

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effort
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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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Collective
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Re: A Problem?

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


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ground
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Re: A Problem?

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



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