Message Boards Message Boards

Toggle
Why?
Answer
2/28/13 12:24 PM
Since this is my first post I'd like to say hello to all forum members.

My question might be a bit strange but I'm wondering how far can a person really go in meditation? Can one explore natural laws of universe? Can one get insight or feel for quantum mechanics? I was inspired by talks from Shinzen Young 3 or 4 years ago when I listened a series of talks called science of enlightenment. That made me start to explore meditation. He was talking about the "zero" or emptiness and how everything sort of arises and passes from that zero. He also talked about particle/wave duality and drew some parallels to deep meditation states. I haven't done much formal practice by I intend to. I just bought a zafu and zabuton. emoticon Anyway ...
I was interested in origins of everything from little age. Everything else was dwarfed compared to those big questions. I guess that's where my interest in science arose. Mainly astronomy and cosmology on amateur level. Now for the big Q. Even if science one day manages to explain how everything emerged, I doubt it will be able to answer why it all happened? Can enlightened person answer that question?

All the best...
Ivo

RE: Why?
Answer
2/28/13 3:36 PM as a reply to Ivo B.
Welcome to the forum. I suspect that no one here is so accomplished that they can answer your first question with authority, but sometimes experience is so far from regular thinking that the only way to translate is to abstract it greatly, and this is why we have reincarnation and the classes of gods and the hell realms. The traditional answer to your first question is that after dissolving all the chains that keep one in illusions, one can master dhyana, and then effortlessly craft the material world with ones mind as one wills it, or have tea with the brahmas.
Your other questions have more of a physics-bent. Meditation will not make you another Einstein but rather than examining existence on the outside, like a scientist, you examine it on the inside which is far more rewarding than making a new theory.

The questions you ask are pretty normal. As a matter of fact Buddha indeed answered your big question about why it all happened.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhist_cosmology
Read the bit nearish the bottom with eons and kalpas and how the universe begins and ends and begins anew.






But that doesn't quench your thirst right? The answers to the questions are never really good enough, so through meditation the questions end up deconstructing and something good comes out.

Joshua

RE: Why?
Answer
2/28/13 8:19 PM as a reply to Ivo B.
To answer the big questions I would recommend the book "My Big Toe" by Thomas Campbell
He is not related to Buddhist thought much but explains everything from the beginning to now. Does it very well in fact. I like his book as much as MCTB.

RE: Why?
Answer
3/1/13 5:59 AM as a reply to Ivo B.
Ivo Babarovic:
Since this is my first post I'd like to say hello to all forum members.

Welcome to the DhO. All hail Daniel Ingram! emoticon

Ivo Babarovic:
My question might be a bit strange but I'm wondering how far can a person really go in meditation? Can one explore natural laws of universe?

Yes, definitely.

Ivo Babarovic:
Can one get insight or feel for quantum mechanics?

See below.

Ivo Babarovic:
I was inspired by talks from Shinzen Young 3 or 4 years ago when I listened a series of talks called science of enlightenment. That made me start to explore meditation. He was talking about the "zero" or emptiness and how everything sort of arises and passes from that zero.

Yes, one of my friends has been talking about emptiness a lot. I'm not sure he means the same thing as I, but that idea has definitely come up along the way of his meditative progress.

Ivo Babarovic:
He also talked about particle/wave duality and drew some parallels to deep meditation states.

Yes, that's something I believe most of us have experienced, not so much the particle/wave duality per se, but you realize that ultimately nothing exists other than as a "wave-like" interaction.

Ivo Babarovic:
I was interested in origins of everything from little age. Everything else was dwarfed compared to those big questions. I guess that's where my interest in science arose. Mainly astronomy and cosmology on amateur level. Now for the big Q. Even if science one day manages to explain how everything emerged, I doubt it will be able to answer why it all happened? Can enlightened person answer that question?


As a partially enlightened person—in other words, after stream entry—you will be able to do better than that: You will realize that the reason why you have been asking these questions is ultimately that you want to get rid of suffering. Your mind is used to solving a problem by searching for the reason the problem exists in the first place. However, once you see the solution, cessation, you won't feel the need to answer the "why" question anymore. Why continue with the frustrating questions, the complicated—and, as you are suspecting, ultimately fruitless—path when a shortcut to the ultimate goal has just presented itself?

RE: Why?
Answer
3/6/13 1:56 AM as a reply to Joshua, the solitary.
Joshua, Baron of the french empire:
Welcome to the forum. I suspect that no one here is so accomplished that they can answer your first question with authority, but sometimes experience is so far from regular thinking that the only way to translate is to abstract it greatly, and this is why we have reincarnation and the classes of gods and the hell realms. The traditional answer to your first question is that after dissolving all the chains that keep one in illusions, one can master dhyana, and then effortlessly craft the material world with ones mind as one wills it, or have tea with the brahmas.
Your other questions have more of a physics-bent. Meditation will not make you another Einstein but rather than examining existence on the outside, like a scientist, you examine it on the inside which is far more rewarding than making a new theory.

The questions you ask are pretty normal. As a matter of fact Buddha indeed answered your big question about why it all happened.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhist_cosmology
Read the bit nearish the bottom with eons and kalpas and how the universe begins and ends and begins anew.

But that doesn't quench your thirst right? The answers to the questions are never really good enough, so through meditation the questions end up deconstructing and something good comes out.

Joshua


Thanks for giving my questions some thought. I visited the link above and have a read about Buddhist cosmology. Interesting aspect of view on cosmology. I also found the link "Fourteen unanswerable questions" that Buddha refused to answer.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fourteen_unanswerable_questions

The Buddha remained silent when asked these fourteen questions. He described them as a net and refused to be drawn into such a net of theories, speculations, and dogmas. He said that it was because he was free of bondage to all theories and dogmas that he had attained liberation. Such speculations, he said, are attended by fever, unease, bewilderment, and suffering, and it is by freeing oneself of them that one achieves liberation.


I'm sure he wouldn't want to answer my "Why it all happened" question either. emoticon
Anyway, hypothetically ... what I would immediately ask him is why he thinks there's a liberation in the first place. Why do we achieve liberation when we're free of all suffering? This kind of questions really,really boggle my mind. Heh.

RE: Why?
Answer
3/6/13 1:57 AM as a reply to Dream Walker.
dream walker:
To answer the big questions I would recommend the book "My Big Toe" by Thomas Campbell
He is not related to Buddhist thought much but explains everything from the beginning to now. Does it very well in fact. I like his book as much as MCTB.


Thanks for the tip. I read some commentaries and decided to order. Trilogy on its way to my bookshelf.

RE: Why?
Answer
3/6/13 2:25 AM as a reply to Dauphin Supple Chirp.
Dauphin Supple Chirp:

As a partially enlightened person—in other words, after stream entry—you will be able to do better than that: You will realize that the reason why you have been asking these questions is ultimately that you want to get rid of suffering. Your mind is used to solving a problem by searching for the reason the problem exists in the first place. However, once you see the solution, cessation, you won't feel the need to answer the "why" question anymore. Why continue with the frustrating questions, the complicated—and, as you are suspecting, ultimately fruitless—path when a shortcut to the ultimate goal has just presented itself?


Perhaps if I get to that stage I will not feel the need to answer "why" but from my current perspective it sure would help a lot to know the answer to that question. I simply cannot understand why one wouldn't want an answer to that question. If nobody can answer why it all happened, nor science nor spirituality I will be very depressed. Hehe.

I hope I'm not being a pita. Science teachers didn't liked me. I always had another question after they answered my previous one. Once we visited planetarium in primary school and physicist was explaining how universe is big and all that. Stuff that I already consumed as a young child. I asked so if universe has a radius of 13 billion light years what's behind it? What lies beyond borders of our universe? He said that he cannot answer this question. Of course our teachers went crazy. I was that kind of kid. Sometime later I simple gave up and went with the flow. Those questions were always in the back of my conscious, bugging me but i simply ignored them. Read a cosmology book here or there but never really went deep searching for the answer. I guess I can't ignore those questions anymore, so I'm back on the hunt 25 or so years after that planetarium visit.

What's fascinating to me is how science of consciousness, modern physics theories and description of deep meditative states come together. I just have a feeling that sometime in future this will all come together in one big theory. Still, one can again ask WHY? Hehehe.

Cheers,
I.

RE: Why?
Answer
3/6/13 2:57 AM as a reply to Ivo B.
Ivo Babarovic:
Science teachers didn't liked me. I always had another question after they answered my previous one.


Most scientists are unwilling to face the FACT that the motor which drives their rationality based paradigm forward is either trial and error or pure intuitive leaps, in other words, inspiration.

Whether or not your meditation brings you to the point that you experience "kalpas" or "universes" as such, it can help you realize that the yearning to answer all of these questions may itself be the point of everything.

RE: Why?
Answer
3/7/13 6:03 AM as a reply to Ivo B.
Ivo Babarovic:

What's fascinating to me is how science of consciousness, modern physics theories and description of deep meditative states come together. I just have a feeling that sometime in future this will all come together in one big theory. Still, one can again ask WHY? Hehehe.


Another thing just occurred to me: Maha Brahma is the first being who was born into this universe. After a while, he felt lonely and wished for other beings. Subsequently other beings were born, and Maha Brahma mistakenly assumed that his wish had created them. Suppose you could ask this very first being to exist in this universe why you exist. He would confidently tell you it's because he created you, and he would be honestly mistaken.

That story is part of what the Buddha taught. Here now comes my own little theory, and I believe I'm not the first one to come up with it: Our universe is part of a kind of computer simulation. Everything you are, and everything you have ever experienced in this life and in past lives, all that exists in no other way but as a "simulation run" on a big and complicated computer. The relationship between that big and complicated computer and us is not as in the movie "The Matrix," but rather it's like this: Suppose you typed some code into your laptop to create a program where little dots on the screen have the ability to interact in a certain way. You could do a simple gravity simulation, where they simply follow laws of inertia and gravitational attraction and move around on the screen, or you could make it so they could sense each other in different ways, process that data, develop strategies and behaviors, etc. If you make the program complicated enough so they can formulate, in their own, simulated minds, the question: What are we and why are we here? then you have the situation I'm talking about. They are nothing but data and rules running on a computer, which itself is totally outside the realm of their experience. Now let's say we are the dots and there is a big computer running our entire Samsara (our universe and the other universes the Buddha spoke of). Maybe some child programmed all this just because he likes to explore this new toy, the computer. That's the answer to your question Why. Maybe it wasn't a child. Maybe it's part of a doctoral dissertation. We don't know, but do we really care? Next you can ask: Why is the child or the PhD candidate in existence. What is the world/universe/samsara in which that being exists? The answer is simple: That entire world is a simulation running on a (probably even bigger and more complicated) computer. This paragraph is just a theory, although I personally think it's most plausible.

With all these thoughts, all these potential explanations/answers in mind, I ask you: Would you rather know the answer to the question WHY, or would you rather do some noting and go through some discomfort for a few months to see if stream entry doesn't do more for you than hearing someone answer your question?

It's a little bit like a choice between being right and being happy. However, once you get to the point where you see that the WHY question does not make as much sense as you thought, I'm pretty confident you won't feel like you were wrong to ask it in the first place. I like what tom moylan said. In a way, you could say the purpose of life is to look for answers to questions like, Who are we, What are we, What is going on, WHY!

RE: Why?
Answer
3/7/13 6:23 AM as a reply to Ivo B.
Hi

Welcome onboard !

All questions of existence/non-existance , eternity , this/that will fall away when you touch the completely craving-less
peace of nibbana. There was never a need to answer anything when you touch the utter peace of the craving-less
mind.

Regards
Shashank

RE: Why?
Answer
3/7/13 8:20 AM as a reply to Dauphin Supple Chirp.
Dauphin Supple Chirp:

That story is part of what the Buddha taught. Here now comes my own little theory...

With all these thoughts, all these potential explanations/answers in mind, I ask you: Would you rather know the answer to the question WHY, or would you rather do some noting and go through some discomfort for a few months to see if stream entry doesn't do more for you than hearing someone answer your question?

It's a little bit like a choice between being right and being happy. However, once you get to the point where you see that the WHY question does not make as much sense as you thought, I'm pretty confident you won't feel like you were wrong to ask it in the first place. I like what tom moylan said. In a way, you could say the purpose of life is to look for answers to questions like, Who are we, What are we, What is going on, WHY!


Ah yes, "the universe in universe in universe..." theory. emoticon One of the first theories to arise when one starts contemplating about existence. Personally I find it frustrating and depressing since it doesn't really go to the root of the problem but tries to avoid explanation with a bypass. It can be good and fun to read though (Douglas Adams).

If I had to choose between being right or being happy I would always go for the first one. I simply cannot comprehend why one would not want to ask those questions. Before or after achieving SE as you say. Those are fundamental questions of our existence and if in the process of getting enlightened those questions lose meaning I'd sure like to know the answers as to why did they lose it.

I promise though I will try to sit and practice regularly. As soon as I discipline myself and get out of the procrastination that i'm doing atm. Buying books on subject and reading online forums instead of just taking a sit on my new zafu.

RE: Why?
Answer
3/7/13 8:29 AM as a reply to Shashank Dixit.
Shashank Dixit:
Hi

Welcome onboard !

All questions of existence/non-existance , eternity , this/that will fall away when you touch the completely craving-less
peace of nibbana. There was never a need to answer anything when you touch the utter peace of the craving-less
mind.

Regards
Shashank


I wan't to believe you. Trully.

If I remember correctly Shinzen Young said in his talks on science of enlightenment that we could only ever listen or observe the source. We cannot enter it or be the source. This would also imply that we cannot truly understand it. I really enjoyed listening to that series of talks but that sentence kind if saddened me since it imply limits to what we can achieve or find out. There's a barrier and we should deal with it. Rebel in me just refuses to accept this. Hehe.

Doesn't one wan't to find out why all this craving seize when one touches nibbana?

RE: Why?
Answer
3/7/13 10:41 PM as a reply to Ivo B.
I really enjoyed listening to that series of talks but that sentence kind if saddened me since it imply limits to what we can achieve or find out.


Doesn't one wan't to find out why all this craving seize when one touches nibbana?


can you see how both of these querries have craving and thus cause suffering ?

RE: Why?
Answer
3/8/13 2:27 AM as a reply to Shashank Dixit.
Shashank Dixit:
I really enjoyed listening to that series of talks but that sentence kind if saddened me since it imply limits to what we can achieve or find out.


Doesn't one wan't to find out why all this craving seize when one touches nibbana?


can you see how both of these querries have craving and thus cause suffering ?


I absolutely can.
Looks like It's just impossible for me to comprehend how liberation can annihilate those questions.

I simply cannot understand at this time how liberated person wouldn't want to question itself if awakening was for example ultimate goal on some ladder of mental achievements that some creator or grand programmer of our universe created for us.
If liberated person is free from suffering and don't see the point in those questions anymore, I would really like to know what are core reasons for that. Yes I know, craving. Don't you wan't to know why there is no cravings anymore?

I'll borrow the words from Shinzen Young here since that was my first contact with the subject of awakening.
He explains that when you reduce things to what is truly there you get this activity of the source. Quoting:
When one has unblocked experiences of six senses and they produce wave quality that isn't complete experience of the source. There's one final step in the reduction. That takes place when the waves cancel out and there's a moment of true peace. Peace in the sense that all expansive and contractive forces that can create this or any universe have come together. And in their coming together they have drawn the richness of this and all conceivable universes, drawn them back into a state that is a cancellation of positive and negative. So it is a kind of nothing but contains all of the positive and negative so it is at the same time an everything. And that is what st. John of the Cross called "todo y nada" or what my teacher Joshu Sasaki Roshi calls zero, or what the jewish mystics call Ein.


If there is no self and there's only moment to moment activity of the source, who programmed it?
Who/What programmed Zero/Ein/"todo y nada"/emptiness/activity of the source... ?

Yes, I suffer... emoticon

RE: Why?
Answer
3/8/13 3:33 AM as a reply to Ivo B.
Don't you wan't to know why there is no cravings anymore?


craving is an instinctual mechanism built into all creatures..without the craving/aversion package , I dont think
we would have got where we are as humans...however unfortunately , it is what also causes suffering..as humans
we can choose to delete this wiring..its difficult but one dip into it reveals how utterly unimportant everything is
compared to the happiness of the craving-less mind..

If there is no self and there's only moment to moment activity of the source, who programmed it?
Who/What programmed Zero/Ein/"todo y nada"/emptiness/activity of the source... ?


I dont think we can ever satisfactorily answer "who" did it or even if anyone did it at all..what as humans we can do
is to discern "how" everything is arising and passing in one's moment to moment experience..in one's 5 aggregates
of existence...
in short , you need to meditate and find out all this emoticon

RE: Why?
Answer
3/8/13 4:55 AM as a reply to Shashank Dixit.
Shashank Dixit:

I dont think we can ever satisfactorily answer "who" did it or even if anyone did it at all..what as humans we can do
is to discern "how" everything is arising and passing in one's moment to moment experience..in one's 5 aggregates
of existence...


I'm afraid I would have to agree here and note that this is depressing.

Shashank Dixit:

in short , you need to meditate and find out all this emoticon


If meditation can "cure" hopelessness that I feel when I ask myself this kind of questions than maybe I should really dig in. Anyway ... enlightenment wasn't my prime goal of interest when I started researching meditation. I was drawn by descriptions such as being really present, elevated concentration, enhanced memory and mental stability.

Thanks for coping with my sufferings.

Peace!
I.

RE: Why?
Answer
3/8/13 9:08 AM as a reply to Ivo B.
I'd just like to weigh in with my own 2 cents on one small point in the original post.

I like shinzen. I've met him in person several times, and when he found out I i study astrophysics, he got really excited and we chatted about science and stuff. he's really smart and he has picked up a lot of interesting factoids over the years.


i would like to stress that his parallels to quantum mechanics and other scientific bits are JUST METAPHORS. Sucessful, metaphors, might I add, as it got you interested in maybe the one thing that turns shinzen on more than science: meditative practice.


No amount of sitting on a cushion will yield an understanding of quantum mechanics.

-max

RE: Why?
Answer
3/8/13 9:17 AM as a reply to m m a.
m m a:
I'd just like to weigh in with my own 2 cents on one small point in the original post.

I like shinzen. I've met him in person several times, and when he found out I i study astrophysics, he got really excited and we chatted about science and stuff. he's really smart and he has picked up a lot of interesting factoids over the years.


i would like to stress that his parallels to quantum mechanics and other scientific bits are JUST METAPHORS. Sucessful, metaphors, might I add, as it got you interested in maybe the one thing that turns shinzen on more than science: meditative practice.


No amount of sitting on a cushion will yield an understanding of quantum mechanics.

-max


What area of astrophysics do you study?

RE: Why?
Answer
3/8/13 9:31 AM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
I did my thesis in undergraduate on heliophysics; but I also took plenty of courses in cosmology, relativity, string theory, etc.

I should add that I wrote that in the past tense, I was studying it at the time of the conversation with shinzen. Nowadays, I study it as a hobby but I'm no longer an academic.

RE: Why?
Answer
3/8/13 10:11 AM as a reply to m m a.
m m a:
I did my thesis in undergraduate on heliophysics; but I also took plenty of courses in cosmology, relativity, string theory, etc.

I should add that I wrote that in the past tense, I was studying it at the time of the conversation with shinzen. Nowadays, I study it as a hobby but I'm no longer an academic.


I read somewhere that the power production/volume of the Sun is comparable to that of a compost pile, and that it's tremendous energy comes from its size rather than its efficiency. Is that true?

("nice thread hijack, bro.")

RE: Why?
Answer
3/8/13 10:42 AM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
Thats probably accurate, given some sort of radioactive decay in the compost pile.

However, its a bit misleading. Only the core of the sun has enough gravitational potential energy to allow 2 protons to overcome their repulsion through quantum tunneling and fuse together... the rest of the sun is just hot gas. If you include the mass of this hot gas (which is most of the star) the overall energy production per mass is not very high. If you look at just the core, its making energy at the rate of E=MC^2 , as efficient as possible.

Cool question!

RE: Why?
Answer
3/8/13 2:38 PM as a reply to m m a.
m m a:
I'd just like to weigh in with my own 2 cents on one small point in the original post.

I like shinzen. I've met him in person several times, and when he found out I i study astrophysics, he got really excited and we chatted about science and stuff. he's really smart and he has picked up a lot of interesting factoids over the years.


i would like to stress that his parallels to quantum mechanics and other scientific bits are JUST METAPHORS. Sucessful, metaphors, might I add, as it got you interested in maybe the one thing that turns shinzen on more than science: meditative practice.


No amount of sitting on a cushion will yield an understanding of quantum mechanics.

-max


Strong words that last statement. Maybe waves that Shinzen talks about are nothing but visualization of shchrodingers equation for whole universe. What if... emoticon

Anyway, i dont worship Shinzen. I just like to listen to him even if he sometimes uses wrong analogies.

RE: Why?
Answer
3/8/13 2:46 PM as a reply to Ivo B.
They aren't wrong analogies, they are good metaphors and I like them too emoticon

RE: Why?
Answer
3/8/13 3:22 PM as a reply to Ivo B.
Ivo B:
I absolutely can.
Looks like It's just impossible for me to comprehend how liberation can annihilate those questions.

It annihilates those questions because the only reason you are asking them is because you are suffering. If you weren't suffering, those thoughts would never cross your mind.
Ivo B:
If there is no self and there's only moment to moment activity of the source, who programmed it?

In Buddhism, the actions of sentient beings created and continue to create the world. This is Karma. I think its beneficial to come to grips with this idea, which you must study in order to understand. Especially the emptiness of karma.
Ivo B:
Who/What programmed Zero/Ein/"todo y nada"/emptiness/activity of the source... ?

Even emptiness is empty.

Zero IS programming.

RE: Why?
Answer
3/8/13 3:38 PM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
please pardon the interruption Ivo.

("nice thread hijack, bro.")

"Nice" is an understatement. This is a legendary hijack attempt. as an organic farmer (who is obsessed with compost), I thoroughly enjoyed this attempt.

Edit: screwed up the quote function

RE: Why?
Answer
3/8/13 10:11 PM as a reply to Nick Mason.
Nick Mason:

In Buddhism, the actions of sentient beings created and continue to create the world. This is Karma. I think its beneficial to come to grips with this idea, which you must study in order to understand. Especially the emptiness of karma.
Ivo B:
Who/What programmed Zero/Ein/"todo y nada"/emptiness/activity of the source... ?

Even emptiness is empty.

Zero IS programming.



Again similarity with quantum mechanics and mind-body problem is astonishing. In science idea that conciosness creates world around us emerged with the birth of QM.

Parallels between quantum mechanics and mind/body dualism were first drawn by the founders of quantum mechanics including Erwin Schrödinger,[1] Werner Heisenberg,[2] Wolfgang Pauli,[3] Niels Bohr,[4] and Eugene Wigner[5]


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_mind%E2%80%93body_problem

Is it coincidence that modern science come so close to mystic understanding of Universe? Doubt it.


Thanks for joining the discussion btw.

RE: Why?
Answer
3/9/13 1:59 PM as a reply to Ivo B.
You can actually start reading MBT now on google books. Tom did not hide anything in the preview mode. You can read it all for free if you wish.

RE: Why?
Answer
3/9/13 2:10 PM as a reply to Dauphin Supple Chirp.
Dauphin Supple Chirp:

That story is part of what the Buddha taught. Here now comes my own little theory, and I believe I'm not the first one to come up with it: Our universe is part of a kind of computer simulation. Everything you are, and everything you have ever experienced in this life and in past lives, all that exists in no other way but as a "simulation run" on a big and complicated computer.


Dauphin, I think you would also enjoy My Big Toe. It goes into the simulation idea in a big way but explains it very detailed. The author Tom also says you can explore this stuff yourself. This is not just an un-checkable theory. He says the first step is meditation. Read the book to learn why or head over to his online forum and check it out.
I really would love to cross pollinate these two forums. There is so much they could learn from each other.
Good luck
~D

RE: Why?
Answer
3/17/13 1:59 AM as a reply to Dream Walker.
Ivo,

Here in this post I will tell you the answer to 'Why the universe', although it won't be the answer you expect.

Ready..here..it..is..

The question 'Why' does not make sense to be asked. To even ask the question you are making a category error.

There just is. There is no why.

'Why' is a pragmatically useful question that human beings ask other human beings for explanation for their behavior. Why did you do that?

But you can't ask an object without a mind why it does what it does. You can't ask the ocean 'why' it makes waves. There is a physical reason why waves occur that has to do with gravity of the moon and the weather, but there is no grandiose "WHY".

There is no higher purpose or reason for why the ocean makes waves other than it just mindlessly does what it does..

My best guess is the universe is the same way..it just does..what it does..it just exists because it exists..

There is no 'why'.

RE: Why?
Answer
3/20/13 8:12 AM as a reply to Ivo B.
Ivo B:

If I had to choose between being right or being happy I would always go for the first one.


I like how you state this. Lots of people seem to share your point of view, but most of them don't realize it or won't admit it. At the risk of sounding obvious, I feel I should mention that the Buddhist path is about one thing and one thing only: cessation of suffering. If you are not actually interested in this as much as you are in being right, then this is probably not the path for you.

Ivo B:

Those are fundamental questions of our existence and if in the process of getting enlightened those questions lose meaning I'd sure like to know the answers as to why did they lose it.


It's sort of like this: Say, for example, you are on an Internet forum and someone starts telling you how you are extremely bad at math. He claims that you obviously don't even know how to add or subtract, much less multiply or divide, and he wonders how you even survive, whether you could possibly have a bank account, etc. As a result of this, you may wonder, "Why is this person saying these things about me?" This questions may seem somewhat important to you. A few posts later, it suddenly turns out that the poster had your username confused with someone else's. He never meant to address you in the first place. Suddenly the question, "Why does he think I'm so bad at math?" loses pretty much all its meaning, simply because you now realize he wasn't even thinking about you when he said those things, but in reality he was thinking about someone who has nothing to do with you.

Before SE, you may wonder, "Who are we?" "What are we?" "What is going on?" and in your case apparently fist and foremost: "Why do we exist?"

You don't wonder why there is a pink elephant in your living room, correct? That's because there is no pink elephant in your living room. This fact is something you believe because it is in accordance with your direct experience, therefore the corresponding question is unimportant to you.

If I told you you didn't exist, then you wouldn't wonder anymore why you exist. ... except: The only flaw with this is, of course, that you wouldn't believe me that you don't exist, because my assertion seems totally at odds with your direct experience. Enlightenment will fix this. It will show you directly that you don't exist.

You may respond: "But my thoughts exist. My questions exist. My body exists." Yes, those thoughts and the other things exist, but in a different way than you thought before SE. Now that you understand the nature of thoughts, body, etc, much better, you will ask a different series of Why questions, one that the Buddha has answered in what is called dependent origination, nidana, or paticca samuppada:

Why is there suffering, old age, death, sorrow, lamentation? — Because of birth.
Why is there birth? — Because of becoming.
Why is there becoming? — Because of clinging.
Why is there clinging? — Because of craving.
Why is there craving? — Because of feeling.
Why is there feeling? — Because of contact.
Why is there contact? — Because of the six sense bases.
Why are there the six sense bases? — Because of name-and-form.
Why is there name-and-form? — Because of consciousness.
Why is there consciousness? — Because of volitional formations.
Why are there volitional formations? — Because of ignorance.

(There is also a slightly different version of this in the Maha Nidana sutta.)

Ignorance in this context is, of course, not the "lack of answers to questions you might have," but it is simply "not seeing things as they really are." You fix this by learning how to see things as they really are, not by finding, hearing, reading, or memorizing answers to questions.

RE: Why?
Answer
3/20/13 8:29 AM as a reply to Dauphin Supple Chirp.
Dauphin Supple Chirp:
Before SE, you may wonder, "Who are we?" "What are we?" "What is going on?" and in your case apparently fist and foremost: "Why do we exist?"

You don't wonder why there is a pink elephant in your living room, correct? That's because there is no pink elephant in your living room. This fact is something you believe because it is in accordance with your direct experience, therefore the corresponding question is unimportant to you.

If I told you you didn't exist, then you wouldn't wonder anymore why you exist. ... except: The only flaw with this is, of course, that you wouldn't believe me that you don't exist, because my assertion seems totally at odds with your direct experience. Enlightenment will fix this. It will show you directly that you don't exist.

While I do not have SE, reflecting on my A&P experience leads me to this conclusion, intellectually (Ha! What am I talking about?)

All of these questions are based on assumptions that do not hold up with insight.

"You are raising your voice, trying to stop an echo."

RE: Why?
Answer
3/22/13 6:11 PM as a reply to Dauphin Supple Chirp.
Dauphin Supple Chirp:

...
Ignorance in this context is, of course, not the "lack of answers to questions you might have," but it is simply "not seeing things as they really are." You fix this by learning how to see things as they really are, not by finding, hearing, reading, or memorizing answers to questions.


Firstly thank you for trying to explain all this to me. I sincerely appreciate it. I can accept your claim that `I' don't exist and that makes "Why do we exist?" kind of pointles question. but I wasn't really asking that. As you say things exists and they are as they are.
You say:
"You fix this by learning how to see things as they really are, "

Why are things as they really are?

or more to the point of my initial question

Why are things?

By saying I would rather be right I meant I'd rather be right about how things are than being happy. If knowing how things really are brings happiness that's great but that's not the drive that's pushing me towards asking those questions.

Regards,
I.

RE: Why?
Answer
3/22/13 5:08 AM as a reply to Jinxed P.
Jinxed P:

My best guess is the universe is the same way..it just does..what it does..it just exists because it exists..

There is no 'why'.


Man, ... I just can't live with that answer. Makes me furious. Hahaha.
Someone enlightened and with sufficient knowledge of current physics should really wright a book on cosmology from his/her perspective. It just exists because it exists? Please tell me how that statement doesn't raise even more questions for you. If that's true I will just explode since I can't comprehend it. emoticon

RE: Why?
Answer
3/22/13 7:30 PM as a reply to Ivo B.
Before I answer your questions (presumably for the last time emoticon), I would like to say that I very much respect your approach of asking tough questions and continuing to ask if you are not completely satisfied with the answer. I say this because my answers below might otherwise sound like I'm getting annoyed, which is not the case. I am feeling some frustration because I can't answer your questions, but I do not believe that you are in any way wrong for asking them.

Ivo B:

Why are things as they really are?


You could say that's the definition of "as they really are." If they were any other way, then that would be how they really are. emoticon


Ivo B:

or more to the point of my initial question

Why are things?


I don't know. I feel like I may have never clearly stated this: I really don't know why things are (or why they are the way they are).

RE: Why?
Answer
3/22/13 8:47 PM as a reply to Ivo B.
Ivo B:
Jinxed P:

My best guess is the universe is the same way..it just does..what it does..it just exists because it exists..

There is no 'why'.


Man, ... I just can't live with that answer. Makes me furious. Hahaha.
Someone enlightened and with sufficient knowledge of current physics should really wright a book on cosmology from his/her perspective. It just exists because it exists? Please tell me how that statement doesn't raise even more questions for you. If that's true I will just explode since I can't comprehend it. emoticon


Ummm.... Tom Campbell is a physicist and you can decide if he is enlightened, but the cosmology book is written. Check it out - My Big Toe

"Never ask questions of people who have stopped asking questions." - Me

RE: Why?
Answer
3/22/13 9:32 PM as a reply to Ivo B.
Your question is loaded in the sense that it presupposes that there IS a reason for the coming about of the universe.

Thus the proper question to ask is:

IS there a reason for the coming about of the universe?

This question is way too broad to be answered by a categorical answer, and thus must be answered analytically.

By reason in this context, you are referring to (presumably): a deep meaning.

Unfortunately for you, I do not know the answer to your question.

Were the Buddha alive today, he would likely shrug off your question, not because it has no answer, but because, it has no relation to the goal of Nibbana.

RE: Why?
Answer
3/23/13 5:26 PM as a reply to James Yen.
James Yen:
Your question is loaded in the sense that it presupposes that there IS a reason for the coming about of the universe.

Thus the proper question to ask is:

IS there a reason for the coming about of the universe?

This question is way too broad to be answered by a categorical answer, and thus must be answered analytically.

By reason in this context, you are referring to (presumably): a deep meaning.

Unfortunately for you, I do not know the answer to your question.

Were the Buddha alive today, he would likely shrug off your question, not because it has no answer, but because, it has no relation to the goal of Nibbana.


This is probably the right answer.

When people asked the Buddha questions like this, he tended to say (paraphrase), "I don't teach the answer to those questions. I teach the end of dukkha." (link)

The Buddha was very similar to the German philosopher Immanuel Kant in this respect. (More precisely, Kant was like the Buddha in this regard.) Kant thought it was grammatically correct - even logical - to ask questions like, "Does the universe have a first cause?" but he thought those questions were ultimately meaningless, because they were attempts to apply to the supersensible concepts that only made sense in the empirical realm.

According to Kant, this was a subtle thing, so this might explain why some philosophers persist in this line of reasoning.

Or maybe Kant was wrong. But in the case of the Buddha, it really was off topic. You have to appreciate the resilience with which the Buddha stuck to his talking points - all in an age long before PowerPoint!

RE: Why?
Answer
3/23/13 9:02 PM as a reply to Ivo B.
Ivo B:
Jinxed P:

My best guess is the universe is the same way..it just does..what it does..it just exists because it exists..

There is no 'why'.


Man, ... I just can't live with that answer. Makes me furious. Hahaha.
Someone enlightened and with sufficient knowledge of current physics should really wright a book on cosmology from his/her perspective. It just exists because it exists? Please tell me how that statement doesn't raise even more questions for you. If that's true I will just explode since I can't comprehend it. emoticon


I can't even fathom any other answer..

For instance what if you said "the reason for the universe is X"

Well that that simply brings up the question..what is the reason for X?

You end up with a never ending cycle..You can always ask what is the reason for the reason...

It seems to me eventually you just have to arrive at answer that is similar to 'It just is'

RE: Why?
Answer
3/27/13 1:36 AM as a reply to Ivo B.
Hi Ivo,

First, I'd point you in a couple of reading directions on this stuff.

Look for books by Bernard d'Espagnat. Serious physics heavyweight, but his ideas on "veiled reality" will be of interest.
Also, books by B. Alan Wallace.

Then, from my own experience and ponderings:

First, I think Shinzen's stuff is great too, but I think he's at best expressing an analogy with his linkages to science. (At worst, he thinks it's much more than that, in which case he's going too far! :-) ) The fact that he is exploring so widely, and is not pinned down by dogma, is superb. But it's his *analysis* I like -- some of his *synthesis* (his symbolic manipulation for example) is just playful nonsense I think.

Next, meditation hasn't enhanced my understanding of QM. However, I've found that both endeavours feel like they are poking at the same thing. Namely, what we experience as reality is *highly* illusory. QM and vipassana I think "support" each other, but they're different things and not that strongly connected. If anything it has been my study of QM that has enhanced my practice. On one occasion I found that QM acted almost like a koan (see here).

Third, I personally found a tension between my desire to "understand" on the one hand, and the need to "experience" on the other. I have doctoral level training in Physics (my doctorate itself is in Computing Science), so I *absolutely* get the desire to have an intellectual grasp of things. But I learned (am still learning) that meditation provides a subjective, experience that is orthogonal to the objective intellectual side. (I'm oversimplifying because in fact meditation may well result in a complete dissolution of the very "self" that experiences stuff, but that's going too far for this discussion). So yes, explore, ponder, examine. But as I say, I found I had to balance that with *doing*. It's one thing to understand a musical score in profound depth, but it's an entirely different thing to hear it. Get on that cushion!