Statement of principles

Bill McCloskey, modified 7 Years ago.

Statement of principles

Posts: 34 Join Date: 6/20/14 Recent Posts
Hey everyone,

I must say, I've had a pleasant week checking out this forum and reading Daniel's book. I definitely found some things I'll try out and see how they go. I don't know how much I'll contribute here in the future, but I thought at least I would let anyone who cares know my core beliefs, for what it is worth.

1. I believe the pali canon to be the teachings of the Buddha. I found practical answers to all problems in life to be found there and reading the canon is a daily part of my life.
2. I consider Thanissaro Bhikkhu to be my teacher, even though we have only exchanged one letter some 10 years ago.
3. I believe that not only is rebirth acurate, it is the cornerstone of everything the Buddha taught. To dismiss rebirth is to dismiss the entire path the Buddha taught. I have no interest in any teacher that does not believe in rebirth, as I believe not understanding rebirth is to miss the entire point of the teachings. Having raised children, it is quite clear to me that we are hard wired at birth. That hard wiring is what is reborn.
4. I have absolutely no doubt that any of this is true. I have personally experienced the certainty of what the Buddha taught, and I am not plagued by any doubts at all.
5. I work in this life, in the way I conduct myself and in my practice, for favorable rebirth, not for enlightenment. Enlightenment when it comes, will come of its own accord. In the meantime I stay to the path which I believe plays out over many many lifetimes.
6. I believe that my experiences in this life are as a direct result of my efforts in a previous life. My life has been filled with experiences that can be explained no other way.
7. I believe it is wrong to charge money for teaching the dhamma.
8. I am a happy camper.

I know many of you struggle with doubts about what the Buddha said, doubts about rebirth, doubts about enlightement, and have a deep concern for where you are on the path. I truly hope you find the answers you seek in this lifetime and that your life is a blessing to you and everyone around you.

Bill
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tom moylan, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Statement of principles

Posts: 896 Join Date: 3/7/11 Recent Posts
3. I believe that not only is rebirth acurate, it is the cornerstone of everything the Buddha taught. To dismiss rebirth is to dismiss the entire path the Buddha taught. I have no interest in any teacher that does not believe in rebirth, as I believe not understanding rebirth is to miss the entire point of the teachings. Having raised children, it is quite clear to me that we are hard wired at birth. That hard wiring is what is reborn.

Howdy Bill,
its nice to see someone who is so sure of things, really.  i, for one am not. gotama himself said in the pali canon that one should doubt even ones teachers if ones own experience shows the teaching to be in error.

i too believe in "rebirth" although the mechanism is obscure.  that is still for me a belief, which differs substantially for me from things i elevate to the level of fact. i'm sure you are familiar with the several questions that gotama declined to answer.  one of them was essentially, "does the tatagatha exist or not exist after death?". 

given the teachings (and experience) of anatta, what or who is reborn?  certainly we don't keep our socail security numbers but things like childhood memories point to something outside of our limited mechanistic view of the world.  but what is it?

i believe in lots of things that i cannot prove so i throw them into the "intuition" basket.  not having doubt must be a clear and relaxing space to live in.  i am definitely not there yet and while i shouldn't complain about how happy my camping trip has been i frequently do, if only to myself.

take care and enjoy the ride

tom
Bill McCloskey, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Statement of principles

Posts: 34 Join Date: 6/20/14 Recent Posts
Hi Tom,

Thank you for your response. I wasn't always so sure. Here is where age comes in handy. For me the entire issue of rebirth was something that intuitively felt right and one I would get glimmers at throughout my life, but that did not necessarily raise itself to the level of certainity.

What brought it to the leve of certainity was being old enough to carefully observe children, my own and others, go from birth to adulthood and start dealing with adult issues. It was obvious to me, and I think most parents, that children are firmly set at birth. Nature over nurture.

I have watched my son and daughter both deal and struggle with issues that were with them from birth. I've watched the children of friends who, it was clear at ages of 3 or 4 where going to struggle with issues that would eventually lead to drug addicitons.

Most people don't really see it because they don't have the grounding in Buddhism to understand what they are looking at. But my children were tiny versions of themselves always and completely different from each other, even though they had the exact same upbringing and parents.

I always looked at parenthood as the job of nurturing that individual thing in each of my children that they seemed to have been brought here to figure out.

But it takes time to see all that. I'm 60, so revewing the lives of adults I have been observing closely since birth is something I can do, but others can't because they are still too close and don't have the advantage of time. ( for an interesting example of this, I recommend the documentary series 7up, 14up, etc which follows a group of londoners from different backgrounds from the age of 7 and every 7 years after that. They are now in their 50's. It is as clear a demonstration of rebirth as I think you can find).

As for the Buddha not talking about what happens after he dies, he never answered questions that did not fundementally help us remove suffering. It is an unskillful question because its answer would neither be understood or help someone.

As far as questioning teachers, funny you should mention that. I always go through the steps the Buddha recommends in determining if a teaching or teacher is true or false. I've been evaluating the teachings of Daniel and this site with great interest. And after going through all the steps: taking my time, seeing if they teacher seemed removed from defilement, spending time and not making any snap judgements either way, last night I came to the conclusion that Daniels methods were fundementally flawed and did not live up to the standards I look for.

Therefore this will be my last post here. I have greatly enjoyed my time here and the discussions I've read. It is great to see so many folks strive for their salvation.

Farewell.
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tom moylan, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Statement of principles

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last night I came to the conclusion that Daniels methods were fundementally flawed and did not live up to the standards I look for.

Therefore this will be my last post here. I have greatly enjoyed my time here and the discussions I've read. It is great to see so many folks strive for their salvation.

Farewell.

BOOM!  Now that was an exit.  Since you're leaving, I'll just say bon route and thanks for the memories.

tom
Bill McCloskey, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Statement of principles

Posts: 34 Join Date: 6/20/14 Recent Posts
emoticon

At 60, I've learned one thing: time is precious. Wasting it is something I no longer have the privelege of doing. When one is in their 30's, 40's and even 50's, the end seems so far off. At 60, you stare at it every waking moment. I have an urgency with every breath. If I was in my 40's or even 50's I might stay and enjoy the combate of defending my position. How much fun is that!

but, as with many pleasures as you get older, you have to let them go. I've enjoyed our conversation, and I will keep you in my mind in my next meditation, wishing you find happiness, joy, and above all, certainity in the path you choose.

Edited to add: I have learned one thing on this earth. I will pass it on to you, in the hopes it helps you:

There is only one teacher: The Buddha,
There is only one teaching: The Pali Canon

all the rest, the mappings, the levels of attainment, are nothing more than a distraction.

Take refuge in the Buddha, Take refuge in the dhamma outlined so clearly in the Pali canon and you will find certainty, peace, and above all happiness in this life and the life to come.
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Dream Walker, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Statement of principles

Posts: 1335 Join Date: 1/18/12 Recent Posts
So glad you stopped by. I hope you checked out Daniels book and other resourses under the Wiki button up top as well as reading some of the older posts...lots of good information that might supplement the pali cannon. If you have a subject you wish to search for I do this with Google --> site:http://www.dharmaoverground.org <keywords here>
May your path directly lead you to less suffering.
Good luck,
~D
Bill McCloskey, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Statement of principles

Posts: 34 Join Date: 6/20/14 Recent Posts
Thank you Dream Walker, I truly appreciate that. I did read Daniels book cover to cover and found it a fascinating read. And on much reflection decided it wasn't for me. In my opinion, the pali canon needs no supplement. It is complete as it is, although i have no problems, and enjoy greatly, people like Thanissaro Bhikkhu's writings which are directly related to helping me understand the canon better.

May you find what you are looking for.
Eva M Nie, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Statement of principles

Posts: 831 Join Date: 3/23/14 Recent Posts
IMO, any writing is a tool or an aid, but not the repository of all answers, in the end you have to find the answers in yourself, you can't get there just by reading the words of others.  IMO, writings are only suggestions on what seems to work for more people given the circumstances at that time and place and the current state of knowledge at that time by those writers.  Writings can give you hints but they can't give you the answers to the mystery, language does not have the ability to convey that type of information.  IMO, enlightenment is a natural evolution and people would find their way there even if Buddha never existed, just as I think some people made their way to enlightenement even before Buddha existed.  I also do agree that what you find probably has a lot to do with what directions you concentrate on looking towards.     
Bill McCloskey, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Statement of principles

Posts: 34 Join Date: 6/20/14 Recent Posts
Eva,

If you believe that I hope it gets you where you need to be. For me, the pali canon is all you need. It tells you how to practice. It tells you how to integrate your practice into your life, and it gives the best practical advice for living ones life I have ever found anywhere. For me it is a repository of all the answers and nothing else is needed. It isn't just words. It is a practical guide to meditation. But it also tells you the best way to make a living, how to be financially secure, your obligations as both a parent and a son/daughter, and literally every problem that comes up in modern life. It teaches you how to be happy in the here and now. I no longer find a need to search elsewhere.

I know you are skeptical as you should be. I am one of the most skeptical people you will ever meet. I wish I had the power to convince you, because it would save you so much time. But I know I can't. All of us need to discover the truth for ourselves. It is one of the most frustrating parts of being a parent, watching your children make the same mistakes you did. But, it is all part of the game of life.
J C, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Statement of principles

Posts: 644 Join Date: 4/24/13 Recent Posts
Bill McCloskey:
Hi Tom,

Thank you for your response. I wasn't always so sure. Here is where age comes in handy. For me the entire issue of rebirth was something that intuitively felt right and one I would get glimmers at throughout my life, but that did not necessarily raise itself to the level of certainity.

What brought it to the leve of certainity was being old enough to carefully observe children, my own and others, go from birth to adulthood and start dealing with adult issues. It was obvious to me, and I think most parents, that children are firmly set at birth. Nature over nurture.


Yes, they are set at birth, but what does that have to do with rebirth? They're set at birth because their DNA is determined at birth and all their issues and characteristics come from genetic material, which is a random mix of their parents. I'm not understanding how you get rebirth from that.



I've been evaluating the teachings of Daniel and this site with great interest. And after going through all the steps: taking my time, seeing if they teacher seemed removed from defilement, spending time and not making any snap judgements either way, last night I came to the conclusion that Daniels methods were fundementally flawed and did not live up to the standards I look for.

Therefore this will be my last post here. I have greatly enjoyed my time here and the discussions I've read. It is great to see so many folks strive for their salvation.

Farewell.



I'm glad that wasn't your last post... I hope you keep posting as you have a valuable perspective to offer.

I'm curious, what do you think are the fundamental flaws in Daniel's methods and what standards do they not meet? Do you feel the same way about the Visuddhi Magga and Mahasi's methods of noting?
Bill McCloskey, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Statement of principles

Posts: 34 Join Date: 6/20/14 Recent Posts
Jc, I wanted to be able answer any questions my post generated before I left. 

I prefer not to say why I disagree with Daniels methods because in my experience that will generate a pissing match that will convince no one, but yes I consider Noting an unskillful technigue. The reasons I believe that, again, I prefer to keep to myself, since answering it will only cause sturm und drang on this fine forum.

If you believe the variations in DNA between children of the same parents accounts for the lifelong differences in children and their personalities, outlook, interests... There is no need to study Buddhism. And it doesn't explain my own personal insights into my own rebirth and other experiences that I have had throughout my life. In my opinion, you need to do an insane amount of justification in order to explain away the evidence of rebirth that to me is clearly demonstrated daily.
John M., modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Statement of principles

Posts: 135 Join Date: 2/11/12 Recent Posts
I prefer not to say why I disagree with Daniels methods because in my experience that will generate a pissing match that will convince no one, but yes I consider Noting an unskillful technigue.


Perhaps we'll never convince one another, but maybe we can understand each other a little better! emoticon

That said, do you mean unskillful in the Buddhist sense of the word? Or in the more general sense of not requiring a high degree of proficiency?

In my opinion, you need to do an insane amount of justification in order to explain away the evidence of rebirth that to me is clearly demonstrated daily.


Not really. Just gotta be clear about distinguishing fact from inference.
Bill McCloskey, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Statement of principles

Posts: 34 Join Date: 6/20/14 Recent Posts
I would not dedicate my life to an inference. emoticon

Unskillful in the sense that it does not lead to the end of suffering. And, most likely, just the opposite.
Matthew Horn, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Statement of principles

Posts: 119 Join Date: 1/30/13 Recent Posts
Bill, it's important to mention that the noting technique was invented by Mahasi Sayadaw and has mainly been propagated by monks as a beginner practice. It has also been taught by Ajaan Tong and his student, western monk Yuttadhammo Bhikku. The noting technique is merely a tool for developing awareness along the lines recommended by the Buddha in the Pali suttas. If the technique were to deviate from the Buddha's instructions for developing awareness, it simply wouldn't work and it would be useless. Fortunately, at least in my experience, that is not the case. By first developing concentration through samatha practice, and subsequently directing awareness along the four frames of reference (using the noting technique as a crutch or training wheels), many people on this forum have permanently abandoned a part of the suffering generated by clinging and conceit. An alternative guide to the technique is Yuttadhammo Bhikkhu's How to Meditate.

That said, using the Mahasi noting technique isn't a prerequisite for participating here, nor is adherence to Daniel's views. I can't speak definitively for others, but I don't think any people on this forum believe MCTB to be 100% correct, consider Daniel to be their personal teacher much less edify him, nor have I seen anyone demand adherence to any particular technique. This place isn't made to serve as the ground or center of one's practice - for that you need a one-on-one relationship with a teacher like Thanissaro Bhikkhu - and no one here pre-commits to the DhO as an institution or repository of truth.

This forum is merely a tool facilitating discussion between sincere practitioners from various traditions for the purpose of learning from each other's diverse experience. With that goal in mind and judging by your previous posts here and on /r/buddhism, I think you'd be a great contributor to this forum. The DhO hosts many perspectives and yours is very welcome. I sincerely hope you decide to stick around.
Bill McCloskey, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Statement of principles

Posts: 34 Join Date: 6/20/14 Recent Posts
Matthew, thank you for your explaination. I will sincerely consider your words and think about whether my presence here would be a good thing or not for myself and the fellow travelers here.
Bill McCloskey, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Statement of principles

Posts: 34 Join Date: 6/20/14 Recent Posts
Matthew, I've decided that I will stay and participate a while longer. If only to remind people that the non-dualist way of approaching Buddhism is not the only game in town and to perhaps encourage those who are confused by some of the concepts they hear so facilely regurgitated.
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Nikolai ., modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Statement of principles

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Bill McCloskey:
Matthew, I've decided that I will stay and participate a while longer. If only to remind people that the non-dualist way of approaching Buddhism is not the only game in town and to perhaps encourage those who are confused by some of the concepts they hear so facilely regurgitated.


I think the term 'non-dual' is used in a variety of ways by differing people and their practices/experiences at diferent places along their paths. Even the Bahiya instructions can be argued to be 'non-dualist-y'. What do you think Bill?

"When, Bahiya, for you in the seen is merely what is seen... in the cognized is merely what is cognized, then, Bahiya, you will not be 'with that.' When, Bahiya, you are not 'with that,' then, Bahiya, you will not be 'in that.' When, Bahiya, you are not 'in that,' then, Bahiya, you will be neither here nor beyond nor in between the two. Just this is the end of suffering." Bahiya Sutta
Nick
J C, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Statement of principles

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Bill McCloskey:
Jc, I wanted to be able answer any questions my post generated before I left. 

I prefer not to say why I disagree with Daniels methods because in my experience that will generate a pissing match that will convince no one, but yes I consider Noting an unskillful technigue. The reasons I believe that, again, I prefer to keep to myself, since answering it will only cause sturm und drang on this fine forum.



There's been criticism of noting on this forum before, and it's led to good discussion of various meditation techniques and how people have found them helpful, or not helpful. I'd encourage you to elaborate or expand upon your experiences: that's what this forum is for and you're by no means the only critic.

Really I'm just curious what you think the bad side effects or problems are with noting: some people have theorized that it can make the dark night worse and increase anxiety, for instance.

What do you recommend instead, just following the Anapanasati Sutta?



If you believe the variations in DNA between children of the same parents accounts for the lifelong differences in children and their personalities, outlook, interests... There is no need to study Buddhism. And it doesn't explain my own personal insights into my own rebirth and other experiences that I have had throughout my life. In my opinion, you need to do an insane amount of justification in order to explain away the evidence of rebirth that to me is clearly demonstrated daily.



Why wouldn't genetic variation account for those lifelong differences?

I'd like to hear more about the clearly demonstrated evidence of rebirth. The idea seems incoherent to me, as I don't understand who or what is reborn or the mechanism for transmission from one person to another.

I'm very interested in what you have to say: I hope you decide to elaborate as I think it could be very fruitful.
Bill McCloskey, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Statement of principles

Posts: 34 Join Date: 6/20/14 Recent Posts
I just wrote a long answer but somehow it went into the either. I'll try again.

On the question of rebirth:

I believe you can believe in rebirth or not, but if you are a Buddhist you will soon hit a deadend without a firm conviction in rebirth. The entire point of the Buddha's teachings depends on it. But the Buddha had a much better answer, which I will paraphase:

If there is no rebirth and no nibbana, then following the dhamma will bring you happiness in the here and now. If there is rebirth and no nibbana, then you have guaranteed yourself a favorable rebirth, and if there is nibbana, you are on the path to everlasting joy that is not subject to impermannce. In otherwords, you can't lose.

A much simplier reason is that I have no reason not to believe in rebirth. The Buddha has never steered me wrong so why would he pull my leg about the core element of his teaching? I can truly attest that following the dhamma has brought me deep, satisfying happiness in this life.

A belief in rebirth is the easiest and simpliest way that I know to generate a good, satisfying, productive and happy life for yourself. Why would you keep yourself from such contentment?

There are two reasons westerns have difficulty with rebirth. One is the reaction to the debilitating effects of christianity. No one wants to trade one set of superstitions for another. The other is the westerners great fear of appearing foolish. Neither have been a concern of mine because I've spent many years studying christianity and know what is useful and what is not from that philosophy. And the other is that I have never had any fear of appearing foolish. In fact, my complete lack of concern for appearing foolish is what those who love me find most endearing.

So the simple answer is a belief in rebirth can make ones life better, more productive, with less stress and more happiness.

As regards to Noting, my lack of interest is in its simpliest form: the Buddha has already clearly laid out a course of meditation that he used himself to reach Enlightenment. If it ain't broke, why fix it. There is no other methods necessary outside of those outlined in the Pali canon to reach Enlightenment, so all other methods are redundant.

The more serious and dangerous problem is that it can lead to a belief that all phenomena is empty and therefore there is no difference between right and wrong, good and bad. That the truely enlightened person is above morality because morality itself is empty. We see the absolutely devestating effects of this idea in the Buddhist communities that espouse this philosophy. Sexual predators, drunkenness, lives ruined and destoyed. And as a result, great suffering unleashed in the world, students with horrendously mistaken ideas of what the Buddha taught, and all moving towards more suffering, not less.

Simply put, if a practice is not relieving your suffering, it is the wrong practice. Look around you and at the posts on this board and decide for yourself if the majority seem happier or more confused.

The world is filled with suffering (the disease), there is a cause (the diagnoses), there is a cure (the prognoses) and the cure is the 8 fold path (the treatment). The meditation techniques outlined by the Buddha were designed to allow us to perfect the wisdom and the concentration necessary to effect the cure. Not to come to some realiztion that the whole thing is empty. We are a series of aggragates. subject to impermanence, suffering and decay. Our own lack of identifiable self does not carry over to the phenomena that surrounds us. If you prick us, we damn well bleed. There is good and there is bad and no one, even the Buddha is above the dictates of good and bad. The cycle of decay repeats itself, with no beginning point and no end point and that is the overwhelming and horrible tragedy that the Buddha's enlightment brought a cure for. Nibbana: the endless joy that is free of the effects of kamma, decay, and impermenance. That is the final everlasting joy that knows no limts, boundless, endless joy.

And that, my friend, is the whole damn point of it all.
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Dauphin Supple Chirp, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Statement of principles

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Bill McCloskey:

Simply put, if a practice is not relieving your suffering, it is the wrong practice. Look around you and at the posts on this board and decide for yourself if the majority seem happier or more confused.


To be fair, we should keep in mind that most of us tend to post when there is a problem, not when there isn't one.

I'm not sure if I'm understanding you correctly when you talk about personality traits being "set" at birth. I know you know those are also impermanent, so I interpret your statement to mean that there is a very large amount of "inertia" to some aspects, perhaps hinting at the tremendous amount of past lives we have had. In that sense, I agree with you. Samsara is not just a few dozen past lives, but billions and billions.

Personally I had a really nice experience with noting practice about three and a half years ago. The dark night was unpleasant, yes, but I'm not sure where I would be today without the result of it all.

Other than the above points, I very much agree with your statement of principles and most of the other things you have said.

I also want to second the opinion that you should feel free to talk about anything here. You will find much more openness, understanding, love, and genuine desire for exchange right here than you would expect if you were to go by what happens on other online forums.
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Nikolai ., modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Statement of principles

Posts: 1650 Join Date: 1/23/10 Recent Posts
Bill McCloskey:


I prefer not to say why I disagree with Daniels methods because in my experience that will generate a pissing match that will convince no one, but yes I consider Noting an unskillful technigue. The reasons I believe that, again, I prefer to keep to myself, since answering it will only cause sturm und drang on this fine forum.



Please share. I think we can all avoid pissing contests. 

What do you think of this following argument that a 'noting' technique may be found in the pali texts?
http://theravadin.wordpress.com/2008/03/28/iti-and-sallakkheti/

Nick
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Simon E, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Statement of principles

Posts: 248 Join Date: 9/23/11 Recent Posts
Bill McCloskey:

I have watched my son and daughter both deal and struggle with issues that were with them from birth. I've watched the children of friends who, it was clear at ages of 3 or 4 where going to struggle with issues that would eventually lead to drug addicitons.


Issues with (drug) addiction are in very many cases hereditary and can often be followed down through generations of family lines. I know an alcohol addiction counciler whos first step with a new client is to create a family tree and trace the addictive personalities down through it.
I have a hard time seeing how this can be related to rebirth and not plain old genetics.

Simon
Bill McCloskey, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Statement of principles

Posts: 34 Join Date: 6/20/14 Recent Posts
Simon, 
do you consider yourself a Buddhist?

If you wanted to be a painter, would you go to an art school or a school for car mechanics. If you wanted to work on issues related to attachments to alchohol might you not be reborn to alcoholic parents. Sometimes to work on purification one must throw ourselves in the lions den. When I buy a car, I choose the features I need. Is it so improbable to you that we choose the genes, dna, and circumstances of our birth to work on the issues that need worked on?

I would say if you are not a Buddhist, it would be hard to see and accept such things. If you are a Buddhist, believing in rebirth, then of course it makes perfect sense. 

 Here is a exercise. Imagine for a second that there is rebirth governed by laws of kamma. Suspend your disbelief for just a short time and actually believe it to be true.

and then look at the world. Can you see that the world now makes sense, that the reasons for the vast injustice in this world suddenly become apparent? Is there any aspect of the world that does not make sense,coming from this viewpoint? 
Now go back to your belief that rebirth does not exist, that we get one bite of the apple and that the rules of kamma do not exist over time and space. Does the world make sense now? The terrible injustice, cruelty, pain and suffering we see all around us. The answer is it makes no sense. 

So you can decide to live in a senseless cruel world where the overpowering injustice of it all makes you miserable. Or you can decide to live in a world where where all these things have a cause and a solution and a clear path to follow that will lead to happiness in this life and the life to come.

In the end, the answer is: it is not my job to convince you. I can't take away your pain any more than you can take away my happiness. My beliefs have awarded me a life that has been fascinating, joyful, prosperous, productive, and loving. I work in this life to move a little further down the road and have a life next time that is even more fascinating, joyful, properous, productive and loving. And ultimately, I work for the everlasting peace of nibbana.

It has worked for me. And that is all I can really say about it. I'm an incredibly pragmatic person. If they tv goes on and off, I don't worry that I don't understand how it all works. I just enjoy the show.
Eva M Nie, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Statement of principles

Posts: 831 Join Date: 3/23/14 Recent Posts
[quote=

Simon E]
Bill McCloskey:

I have watched my son and daughter both deal and struggle with issues that were with them from birth. I've watched the children of friends who, it was clear at ages of 3 or 4 where going to struggle with issues that would eventually lead to drug addicitons.


Issues with (drug) addiction are in very many cases hereditary and can often be followed down through generations of family lines. I know an alcohol addiction counciler whos first step with a new client is to create a family tree and trace the addictive personalities down through it.
I have a hard time seeing how this can be related to rebirth and not plain old genetics.

Simon

Well if we all choose in advance the circumstances of our rebirth, they can both make sense.  If you had something or things you wanted to work on, you could just pick a situation that would be a good situation for working on it.  If you watch a movie or a tv show or play a video game, there are ALWAYS situations of strife and challenge that the protagonist is attempting to overcome and we watch that story and experience that thrill of development that the characters go through.  I think life is like that too.  There are no shows where everything is happy land all the time and people sit around eating good food, laughing, and strumming their harps for the whole entire show.  Such a show would be boring.  Sure a show will often have happy times for part of it, but it's always counterbalanced by strife and challenging times. I think life is like that too.  The thrill of growth comes from having challenges and overcoming them.  How long can you sit around on a pillow eating bonbons and watching your favorite show until you get bored?  Lake of challenge is lack of growth and stagnation.   That's why I don't believe there is likely such thing as an ultimate attainment in which there is no more to learn.  Would you really even want to exist for billions of years with absolutely no development left to you?  Seems unlikely IMO. 
-Eva   

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