Omniscience -- so what?

thumbnail
Droll Dedekind, modified 6 Years ago.

Omniscience -- so what?

Posts: 634 Join Date: 11/15/13 Recent Posts
Forked this thread from http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/5675437 so I don't clutter it up.

For the purpose of this thread let's assume that omniscience is attainable to some degree, 'powers' are attainable to some degree, there exist 'enlightenment(s)' after 'MCTB 4th', etc. [FWIW, I personally haven't ruled any of these out. The purpose of this thread isn't to bash these kinds of claims or discuss their plausibility]

Now, what should we do about it? I suppose this question intersects with the topic of Dan's BGeeks talk "Pragmatist's Take on the Powers" (should be prereq to this thread) and the general question -- why try to get enlightened at all (including 'MCTB 4th')?

Should we hunt down omniscient people and get their advice on all the world's problems? Should we pursue such power ourselves? Should we spend years trying to reach the pinnacle of enlightenment possible in our lifetime? Should we try to apply our 'powers' to solve the world's problems? What should we use our 'powers' for?

Presumably, since we're assuming omniscient people exist and major problems definitely still exist they don't feel the need to intervene. Why and would we all choose similarly?

The only answer that's obvious to me is to look to the people who claim 'powers' and see if there is any consensus about these questions and how they integrate their use. But, afaik, there are no similarities besides basing their use on compassion and aligning their use with your own inclinations. But, the latter could be construed to mean anything. Crowley would talk about 'True Will', New Agers would talk about manifesting all your desires, Pagans would talk about harmonizing with nature(? just a guess), etc.

This thread is primarily motivated by my own indecision about these topics. Some days I wonder why I don't flee to Tibet or start hanging out with shamans, pagans, etc.

Please stick to the stated assumption.
Tom Tom, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Omniscience -- so what?

Posts: 466 Join Date: 9/19/09 Recent Posts
Omniscience isn't a superpower, it is a result of an understanding of a lack of separation and the realization that there is no time or oblivion.  It is not attainable unless the sense of agency is seen through.  Expecting an omniscient person to solve the world's problems makes no sense since they have no sense of choice or free will.  The divine consciousness* is more concerned with liberating souls* from suffering than solving all of the worlds trivial problems* in the face of the infinitude.  Meaning there are infinitely many worlds contained in infinitely many spaces since there is only sentience.  Quantum physicists are just seeing ourselves.  

*I use these terms as a figure of speech
*There are designated non-human sentient entities helping and taking care of these problems
thumbnail
Daniel Leffler, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Omniscience -- so what?

Posts: 292 Join Date: 9/9/14 Recent Posts
Tom Tom:
Omniscience isn't a superpower, it is a result of an understanding of a lack of separation and the realization that there is no time or oblivion.  It is not attainable unless the sense of agency is seen through.  Expecting an omniscient person to solve the world's problems makes no sense since they have no sense of choice or free will.  The divine consciousness* is more concerned with liberating souls* from suffering than solving all of the worlds trivial problems* in the face of the infinitude.  Meaning there are infinitely many worlds contained in infinitely many spaces since there is only sentience.  Quantum physicists are just seeing ourselves.  

*I use these terms as a figure of speech
*There are designated non-human sentient entities helping and taking care of these problems

Wow Tom Tom, that is a good answer to a good question
I never thought about it from a non-indivualistic perspective or a 'divine consciousness' perspective, but that actually makes a lot of sense (to me anyway : )
thumbnail
Droll Dedekind, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Omniscience -- so what?

Posts: 634 Join Date: 11/15/13 Recent Posts
I thought about qualifying 'attainment' but was too lazy. Let that be understood as a poor metaphor

Expecting an omniscient person to solve the world's problems makes no sense since they have no sense of choice or free will.  The divine consciousness* is more concerned with liberating souls* from suffering than solving all of the worlds trivial problems* in the face of the infinitude.
The first sentence doesn't make sense to me. From a conventional POV, they still make choices, right?

And, wouldn't solving major world problems cut back on suffering significantly?
thumbnail
Daniel Leffler, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Omniscience -- so what?

Posts: 292 Join Date: 9/9/14 Recent Posts
Droll Dedekind:
I thought about qualifying 'attainment' but was too lazy. Let that be understood as a poor metaphor

Expecting an omniscient person to solve the world's problems makes no sense since they have no sense of choice or free will.  The divine consciousness* is more concerned with liberating souls* from suffering than solving all of the worlds trivial problems* in the face of the infinitude.
The first sentence doesn't make sense to me. From a conventional POV, they still make choices, right?

And, wouldn't solving major world problems cut back on suffering significantly?

Hey Droll,
I don't want to answer for Tom Tom, he can explain what he means
Here's how I interpreted it though (it may be totally wrong)
It's like when bad things happen to good people, people sometimes say 'we can't understand the will of God'
Maybe this rock we're on really is like a big school - a place for us to evolve and grow in various ways
Just taking this fantastical (New Agey fluff?) idea a little further - if we really do have spirit guides and 'soul contracts' and karma etc., maybe the higher goal is not to lessen suffering necessarily, maybe there's a higher one we can't see
It's my experience that we develop mainly through our suffering, when life is peachy we may stagnate 
Perhaps there's a higher purpose than unlimited energy for mankind or superfast transportation (or, unfortunately clean water for everyone at this moment in time at least) that we can't see, or our perspective is off, like a blind man and an elephant
Or maybe we're meant to actually come together as human beings on our own and create that world ourselves without 'divine intervention', we need to do it on our own. Maybe there are higher forces in this interconnected web of life that disallow for intervention, or maybe they're just not interested in that as representatives/manifestations of, 'divine nature'
Maybe 'omniscience' isn't exactly what we think it is, or it's focused on other (higher?) things entirely
Just throwing it out there, flame away : )
thumbnail
Simon Ekstrand, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Omniscience -- so what?

Posts: 248 Join Date: 9/23/11 Recent Posts
Daniel Leffler:

It's like when bad things happen to good people, people sometimes say 'we can't understand the will of God'
Maybe this rock we're on really is like a big school - a place for us to evolve and grow in various ways


Sort of like this:
http://www.galactanet.com/oneoff/theegg_mod.html

Great related short story.
John M., modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Omniscience -- so what?

Posts: 135 Join Date: 2/11/12 Recent Posts
Droll Dedekind:
Please stick to the stated assumption.

I don't mean to digress, but isn't this rather missing the point? Metaphysical assumptions underpin the entirety of practice and yet, for whatever reason, rarely are they addressed or challenged directly. That said, granting the assumption of omniscience and exploring its practical implications is itself a challenge to its plausibility. And by all means, let's drag it out of its fantastic void and see how it writhes on contact with fresh air.

It's telling that whenever you press people for evidence -- never mind proof -- all you ever get is vague hand waving, deflections to divine will, assertions that "all is one," and (more recently) invocations of quantum mysticism -- as though they possessed any actual understanding on the topic. Spiritual circles tend to be rather credulous by nature, but I do hope everyone can detect the musty vapors of premium, grade A bullshit wafting off Tom Tom's posts.
thumbnail
Droll Dedekind, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Omniscience -- so what?

Posts: 634 Join Date: 11/15/13 Recent Posts
No, it's not missing the point because that's a different topic that deserves a different thread. Roleplay here, if you like, or start a different thread.

Thanks
Tom Tom, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Omniscience -- so what?

Posts: 466 Join Date: 9/19/09 Recent Posts
I have a degree in physics from uc berkeley.  Daniel says in mctb that enlightenment is the end of agency and free will.
John M., modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Omniscience -- so what?

Posts: 135 Join Date: 2/11/12 Recent Posts
If you possess perfect understanding of quantum mechanics and especially how it supports or enables the kind of universal consciousness you're positing, please get off this forum -- it is a profound waste of your time. I have no problem with no free will / chaotic determinism as a premise. I do have a problem with invoking it to casually wave away valid challenges to an extraordinary claim.

In deference to Droll's (rather impossible) request to leave the assumption unmolested, I'll refrain from further discussion here.
Tom Tom, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Omniscience -- so what?

Posts: 466 Join Date: 9/19/09 Recent Posts
To John M: This is a forum on the teachings of the Buddha and the dharma..  This is a forum to discuss Buddhist teachings or other dharmas and that is what this is.  This is not a physics forum.
thumbnail
Ryan Kenneth Johnson, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Omniscience -- so what?

Posts: 129 Join Date: 2/19/14 Recent Posts
Tom Tom, 

In another thread I mentioned Stephen Jourdain from his awakening at 16 years old 'Knew all there was to know.' Based off only a scant amount if writing I can find of him without writing it myself, found here: https://pankajdewan.wordpress.com/2009/06/20/radical-awakening-cutting-through-the-conditioned-mind-stephen-jourdain/

Some of the quote: "Yet, I did persist beyond good sense, showing a considerable aptitude for folly. Nevertheless, it would appear that this inner capacity to drive myself on like a madman was not without its virtues, for, all of a sudden, everything exploded. How can I describe the sudden nature, the total abruptness of the “event”? I detest using the word “supernatural,” but it’s the only one I can find that properly describes the suddenness of the awakening. With indescribable rapidity, I passed through to the other side of the mirror and found myself waking to an infinite wakefulness in my very center, in the center of that wakefulness which, itself, wasn’t an object but an intemporal act I was able to perform. I knew that I knew all there was to be known, that I had attained the infinite value, touched the essence of the essence of all things and of myself. . . I knew.

What did I know? Impossible to say. Let’s try nonetheless to define the phenomenon more precisely. That indivisible unity which is the awakening has, despite everything, several names: me, being, consciousness, infinite value. But, to cap that indivisible unity, there is something more important and that relates to knowledge. Not only I am but I know. In a sense, “I know” precedes “I am.” Knowledge is the strongest piece on the chessboard of the absolute and it’s irreversible: it’s as impossible to unlearn this intimate act as to unlearn riding a bicycle. I’ve insisted on the indivisible nature of the awakening. Still, and here again we must come upon a paradox: as soon as this other, interior light flashes, it rapidly gives birth to a certain number of “powers.”"

...

"It’s true that the great joys susceptible of being generated by that infinite, inexplicable, unjustifiable value are completely unheard of. Compared to these joys, the greatest pleasure accessible on earth in the usual conscious state is nothing but straw and dust. But these joys are themselves nothing but straw and dust in relation to the unjustifiable, supreme quality, the inexplicable infinite value. Seeing this value supplies nothing; one doesn’t approach it in the hope of any gain. One could speak of lack of involvement as with moral value. One doesn’t do good in order to be rewarded; one does it for goodness’ sake.

GF: From a certain point of view, yes. Still, if I do a good deed, even in the most unselfish way, it’s because the simple fact of doing good permits me to maintain an inner state that’s much more precious to me than what I’d feel after doing evil.

SJ: Excellent observation. Let’s be clear: the awakening does in no way constitute an end. One can only attain it by passing backwards through all intentions, all motivations-including that of attaining the awakening. One must strip oneself of all one’s intentions, all one’s wishes, even the highest. One doesn’t move towards the awakening, for if one can invoke even the slightest argument for moving towards awakening, one turns his back to it. In fact, the infinite value, once again, offers nothing. That leaves the problem you’ve just posed. It’s an objection one is certainly entitled to make: “You’re in the process of telling me that this value offers nothing in the usual sense of the term, but would you tolerate, even for a second, having someone deprive you of it?” The answer is an immediate and resounding: No! I wouldn’t tolerate it for a second. It’s the most precious asset in the world.

GF: That’s a paradox.

SJ: Yes? So what? In the end, why should I give a damn if there’s a paradox? What’s important to me is to describe the phenomenon, not try to explain it."

Do you suspect his phenomenological standpoint with omniscience is perhaps similar to yours? I don't think the post I gave you is enough to say much, but perhaps there is something there for you to comment on?
Tom Tom, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Omniscience -- so what?

Posts: 466 Join Date: 9/19/09 Recent Posts
This information is mostly only practically useful toward those who are done with all 4 paths or close to it.  This is very advanced stuff I am trying to communicate.  Other than that it will sound hand wavy to others who should focus on getting paths as this information is somewhat of a distraction or could be at least.  Other than that I am doing what I can to react to some of the hyper-materialism perspective on this board.
thumbnail
Droll Dedekind, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Omniscience -- so what?

Posts: 634 Join Date: 11/15/13 Recent Posts
Tom Tom:
This information is mostly only practically useful toward those who are done with all 4 paths or close to it.  This is very advanced stuff I am trying to communicate.  Other than that it will sound hand wavy to others who should focus on getting paths as this information is somewhat of a distraction or could be at least.  Other than that I am doing what I can to react to some of the hyper-materialism perspective on this board.

It seems we need a Materialists vs. Everyone Else thread.

Anyway, what's been posted so far makes sense to me in a loose intuitive way. What's your take on the pragmatics of 'powers'? Pursuing further 'enlightenments'?
T DC, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Omniscience -- so what?

Posts: 389 Join Date: 9/29/11 Recent Posts
This discussion in very interesting.  As far as I'm concerned, your question here is based on a misinterpretation of Omnicience in the Buddhist sense of the word.  Generally in the west omnisience refers to an all knowing God from whose eye we canot escape, or who could tell us the answers to all things.  In Buddhism this might be classified as relative omnicience, or omniceince on the relative level.  The way I see it, Buddhism is focused instead on omnicience at the ultimate level, to know the true nature of all things.  Thus an enlightened person may be considered omniceint as they percieve that all shares the same basic nature, thus they know the true nature of all things, and do not have more to learn in that regard.  However, on a relative level an enlightened person still has more to learn.  For example they cannot fly, they cannot cheat death; no enlightened person has ever conquered the world and reformed the it into a perfect society, as might be possible and desireble in considering omnicience.

Droll wrote "Should we hunt down omniscient people and get their advice on all the world's problems? Should we pursue such power ourselves? Should we spend years trying to reach the pinnacle of enlightenment possible in our lifetime? Should we try to apply our 'powers' to solve the world's problems? What should we use our 'powers' for?"

This is assuming omnicence exists, and it also seems to be assuming that enlightenment will bring us such powers.  I think it is helpful to follow the advice of many teachers and to seperate siddhis, such as relative omnicience, from the genuine fruits of the path, i.e. enlightenment.  The reason people genuinely pursue enlightenment, in practice and as explained in the Buddha's teachings, is simply that they seek an answer to their suffering.  Anything less, and anything more, and you're not seeking enlightenment, you're basically just seeking relative gain.  Relative gain is fine, but it's not the point of the path. 

Breadcrumb