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Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True"

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Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True" CJMacie 9/14/17 5:35 PM
RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True" T DC 9/14/17 10:54 PM
RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True" Adam 9/15/17 5:20 AM
RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True" Lewis James 9/15/17 5:29 AM
RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True" Chris Marti 9/15/17 9:04 AM
RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True" CJMacie 9/16/17 9:26 AM
RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True" Chris Marti 9/16/17 11:52 AM
RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True" D. 9/16/17 4:09 PM
RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True" seth tapper 9/16/17 5:33 PM
RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True" Chuck Kasmire 9/17/17 1:03 AM
RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True" Daniel M. Ingram 9/17/17 5:42 AM
RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True" Daniel M. Ingram 9/17/17 6:30 AM
RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True" Daniel M. Ingram 9/17/17 6:39 AM
RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True" shargrol 9/17/17 10:30 AM
RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True" Chris Marti 9/17/17 8:15 AM
RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True" seth tapper 9/17/17 8:44 AM
RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True" Chris Marti 9/17/17 10:55 AM
RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True" seth tapper 9/17/17 12:15 PM
RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True" Chris Marti 9/17/17 12:24 PM
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RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True" Alesh Vyhnal 9/17/17 2:29 PM
RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True" seth tapper 9/17/17 2:47 PM
RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True" Chris Marti 9/17/17 3:15 PM
RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True" Alesh Vyhnal 9/17/17 3:50 PM
RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True" seth tapper 9/17/17 5:24 PM
RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True" seth tapper 9/17/17 7:46 PM
RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True" Alesh Vyhnal 9/17/17 2:44 PM
RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True" Alesh Vyhnal 9/17/17 5:17 PM
RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True" CJMacie 9/22/17 12:04 PM
RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True" seth tapper 9/17/17 8:51 AM
RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True" Chuck Kasmire 9/17/17 7:30 PM
RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True" Chris Marti 9/17/17 7:49 PM
RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True" Daniel M. Ingram 9/17/17 10:21 PM
RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True" seth tapper 9/18/17 8:03 AM
RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True" Stickman2 9/18/17 11:43 AM
RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True" Lars 9/18/17 12:37 PM
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RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True" Lars 9/18/17 8:24 PM
RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True" Alesh Vyhnal 9/19/17 1:37 AM
RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True" Lars 9/19/17 5:51 AM
RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True" CJMacie 9/22/17 11:58 AM
RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True" Chris Marti 9/19/17 6:39 AM
RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True" Alesh Vyhnal 9/19/17 8:04 AM
RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True" jonjohn 9/19/17 8:08 AM
RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True" John 9/20/17 2:16 AM
RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True" Stickman2 9/20/17 6:03 AM
RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True" Alesh Vyhnal 9/20/17 8:40 AM
RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True" Stick Man 9/20/17 10:55 AM
RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True" Chris Marti 9/20/17 11:58 AM
RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True" seth tapper 9/20/17 12:11 PM
RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True" Alesh Vyhnal 9/20/17 4:48 PM
RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True" Alesh Vyhnal 9/20/17 4:05 PM
RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True" CJMacie 9/22/17 12:07 PM
RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True" Alesh Vyhnal 9/23/17 6:46 AM
RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True" shargrol 9/19/17 6:25 AM
RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True" Chris Marti 9/17/17 8:20 AM
RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True" Ward Law 9/17/17 9:34 AM
RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True" Stickman2 9/18/17 5:50 AM
RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True" don salmon 11/9/17 1:01 PM
RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True" Alesh Vyhnal 11/9/17 1:44 PM
RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True" Chris Marti 9/16/17 5:34 PM
RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True" D. 9/16/17 11:56 PM
RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True" Chris Marti 9/16/17 5:37 PM
RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True" Alex 9/16/17 6:22 PM
RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True" svmonk 9/16/17 10:58 PM
RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True" Chris Marti 9/17/17 11:07 AM
RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True" CJMacie 9/22/17 11:49 AM
RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True" svmonk 9/22/17 9:49 PM
RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True" CJMacie 9/24/17 5:56 AM
RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True" Nicky 9/24/17 7:56 AM
RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True" Alesh Vyhnal 9/18/17 7:40 AM
RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True" Alesh Vyhnal 9/19/17 1:45 AM
RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True" Nicky 9/24/17 7:55 AM
RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True" CJMacie 9/24/17 6:33 AM
RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True" Nicky 9/24/17 7:55 PM
RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True" Nicky 9/24/17 7:58 AM
Why Buddhism is True: The Science and Philosophy of Meditation and Enlightenment
Hardcover – August 8, 2017 by Robert Wright
https://www.amazon.com/Why-Buddhism-True-Philosophy-Enlightenment/dp/1439195455

SuttaCentral and DhammaWheel have taken this up as a hot topic

Why Secular Buddhism is Not True

"Why secular Buddhism is Not True"

RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True"
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9/14/17 10:54 PM as a reply to CJMacie.
Thanks for the post!  I skimed the amazon reviews and the OP on suttacentral, so I have very little of depth to contribute specifically on the book. 

I did find it somewhat telling as to the potential differences between the DhO and (the presumably more traditional) suttacentral that the OP's main concern over there seemed to be whether or not Wright/ the secural movement accepted rebirth as an "observable, empiracle phenonema" (via the suttas about the Buddha I am guessing).

Regarding the mass, if dilute, cultural spread of dharma via the secular movement - this is related to something I have thought about for a while, which relates also to the spread of pragmatic ideas.  Personally, I found the path to be very difficult, so much so that it kind of scares me to imagine people I love and am close to undertaking it.  The path is incremental, and surely we only get out what we put in - nevertheless, I'm not sure people realize the gravity of the situation.

Maybe this is overly dramatic, my point is just that there are no quick fixes.  As the Tibetans say, "Better not to begin, but if you begin, better to finish".  Once we realize the path is really the only way out, we're in for a long journey.  I think all I'm really expressing here is how long and trying I found the path to be, and how I wouldn't necessarily wish it on anyone, although certainly its fruits represent a major improvement over my pre-meditation state.

RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True"
Answer
9/15/17 5:20 AM as a reply to CJMacie.
Some interesting discussion, though it's not about the book but actually about a Bhante Sujato essay called Why Secular Buddhism is Not True (he hasn't read the book). In this essay he takes the book as emblematic of Secular Buddhism as a coherent Ideology he has identified, and takes issue with some ideas he attributes to that Ideology that he finds objectionable.

He is particularly annoyed by Secular Buddhists who misrepresent the Buddha by claiming that the concept of rebirth is an optional extra that can be ignored or re-interpreted, when in fact it is "empirical" truth since the Buddha saw it first hand. He then takes this as the prime example of how Secular Buddhists are arrogant and poor thinkers.

Ultimately I found the thesis unconvincing, it seems he has picked the weakest arguements presented under the guise of Secular Buddhism (even taking from book reviews) and used them as representitive of all Secular Buddhists.

I would have much preferred if the essay were presented as "Some Common Issues in the Secular Buddhist Community" (or even "Some things I've heard Secular Buddhists say which annoy me") - I think this would have been more fair and encouraged more productive discussion, and allowed both "sides" of the issue to understand each other better.

RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True"
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9/15/17 5:29 AM as a reply to Adam.
I'm about half way through the book and I have to agree with Adam, this is essentially just taking a popular topic to present a tired argument that ultimately doesn't do much for people's practice. Wright is very up front and clear that he has no first-hand experience of the more religious aspects of Buddhism and is writing from his retreat and meditation experience and tying it explicitly to evolutionary psychology theory, and not really speculating on or denying anything else. 

Now, you could argue from a similar standpoint that Wright's book shouldn't be called 'Why Buddhism is true' and more along the lines of 'Why consistent meditation practice helps overcome our primal conditioning', but I think that the publishers might take issue with the lack of sales!

RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True"
Answer
9/15/17 9:04 AM as a reply to Adam.
He is particularly annoyed by Secular Buddhists who misrepresent the Buddha by claiming that the concept of rebirth is an optional extra that can be ignored or re-interpreted, when in fact it is "empirical" truth since the Buddha saw it first hand. He then takes this as the prime example of how Secular Buddhists are arrogant and poor thinkers.

The Buddha lived about 3,000 years ago. Hard to accept that era's intrepretations of things like reincarnation. He was, as all of us, a product of his times. I prefer the secular versions of things but YMMV. This comment is not meant to be argumentative but it is meant to be provocative and to get us to question 3,000 year old beliefs rather than investigate these things for ourselves now.

RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True"
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9/16/17 9:26 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
He is particularly annoyed by Secular Buddhists who misrepresent the Buddha by claiming that the concept of rebirth is an optional extra that can be ignored or re-interpreted, when in fact it is "empirical" truth since the Buddha saw it first hand. He then takes this as the prime example of how Secular Buddhists are arrogant and poor thinkers.

The Buddha lived about 3,000 years ago. Hard to accept that era's intrepretations of things like reincarnation. He was, as all of us, a product of his times. I prefer the secular versions of things but YMMV. This comment is not meant to be argumentative but it is meant to be provocative and to get us to question 3,000 year old beliefs rather than investigate these things for ourselves now.

That’s a pretty good encapsulation of what might be called the “secular” attitude – here also not intended as argumentative. Much of traditional Buddhism is has little meaning, practical relevance for many with modern Western conditioning.

On the other side, it’s likewise difficult to appreciate, but one question would be how it is that the Buddha’s teachings have endured some 2400-2500 years? (The 3000 number must have been a momentary slip-up.) One answer is that there’s something in the relevance of what he taught, as conveyed person-to-person to his followers and to those of succeeding generations across that time span that has proven empirically worthwhile.

I emphasize the person-to-person aspect, as personal example and guidance is among the most powerful ways ideas and practices engender conviction, and inspire dedication and continued transmission. Secondary effects of such transmission on larger social groups produces more “religious” institutions, where large groups of people find it worthwhile (perhaps also on some empirical basis) to cultivate a reverence for what’s carried down in that stream of more intensive individual transmission, and more ritualistic traditional forms of practice, or one might say adherence.

In our time, that core tradition (actually arguably multiple “traditions”, but sharing a common origin) has resulted in the widespread and growing attraction to ‘Buddhism”, though most often in more “secular” guises, like the “mindfulness” phenomenon. Here in the USA, initial exposure to mostly Japanese Zen and Tibetan monks, s/w later to Theravadan, sparked that growth of interest. Today we have also a generation or two of Westerners who have taken on the rigors of total dedication (ordination), embodying that one-to-one intensive personal transmission of the tradition.

Exposure to such individuals, however, is relatively limited. Other than newsworthy “personalities”, aka the Dalai Lama, few people have been in the presence of serious monastics, fewer still to the extent of getting a notion of what their lives are really like and what they have to teach. More available and prominent are “lay” persons, often with some of this exposure, who take it on to become “teachers”, i.e., pragmatically speaking, try to make a living as such, and to achieve some attention and influence. They, as in the “secular” notion, find some aspects of “tradition” relevant and worthwhile today, but other aspects less so. Robert Wright being the case in point here, who admits a purely secular interest, adapting to science and psychology (he comes from a scientific background). A few others, notably Daniel Ingram, are more serious, perhaps “hybrid”, cases. arguably having broader and deeper interest and training s/w comparable to being in the monastic lineage.

From a “traditional” point of view, there’s value in this “secular” spread of ideas, practices, in that it provides opportunity for more people to become more interested, discerning, and potentially led to seek out purer forms of traditional practice and aspiration.

On the other hand, the larger popular phenomenon of interest in personal and societal self-improvement, aka secular Buddhism, resembles more the traditional Buddhist “religions” that are so strong in several Asian countries / cultures. Modernist dismissal of “religion” notwithstanding, the anthropological phenomenon is quite similar.

RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True"
Answer
9/16/17 11:52 AM as a reply to CJMacie.
... how it is that the Buddha’s teachings have endured some 2400-2500 years?

My personal opinion is that it's because he taught useful, practical techniques that work for people who dedicate time and effort to them. He zeroed in on something that requires no belief, nor is belief required to find the teachings useful and fulfilling. If we're to believe the suttas he encouraged his followers to drop all belief and try things for themselves, not to accept anyone else's version of things. That sounds to me like a very secular vision.

As you say, however, there are very few westerners who take the serious time and effort required to actually get something out of buddhism (small "b") beyond a set of beliefs. Sad!

RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True"
Answer
9/16/17 4:09 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:

If we're to believe the suttas he encouraged his followers to drop all belief and try things for themselves, not to accept anyone else's version of things.

You're likely talking about the Kalama sutta, a very obscure sutta,until recently, that is always taken out of context. The teachings have to be accepted first, and then can be verified.

Faith is still very much required, the idea of Buddhism being empirical and rational is an idea propagated by people who dislike certain aspects of buddhism(most prominently: rebirth)and want to pick and choose what they believe.

This is also meant to be non-provocative. I don't have a problem with people using buddhist techniques but the co-opting of Buddhism in the west by materialist atheists is just disgusting and leads to misinformation, like this for example.

Secular 'buddhism' is nothing but people seeking out an 'exotic' religion, and then not wanting to adhere to any of it's tenets, even very basic shit like not drinking alcohol.

RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True"
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9/16/17 5:33 PM as a reply to D..
I don't agree.  Scientific Materialism is a valid path to complete awakening and does not conflict with what the Buddha understood at all.  You can free your mind from delusion following any path up the mountain, because when all delusion is gone, it doesnt matter what delusion you were lost in before.  In my view, anything goes as long as it works.   Since we all have a strong level of faith in scientific materialism as an artifact of our culture and education, why not use that as the grounding for a path that works ? 

RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True"
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9/16/17 5:34 PM as a reply to D..
This is also meant to be non-provocative. I don't have a problem with people using buddhist techniques but the co-opting of Buddhism in the west by materialist atheists is just disgusting and leads to misinformation, like this for example. 

...

Secular 'buddhism' is nothing but people seeking out an 'exotic' religion, and then not wanting to adhere to any of it's tenets, even very basic shit like not drinking alcohol.



That's very non-provocative of you  emoticon

I'm not  Buddhist. I'm just a practitioner who's happy to use meditation techniques that work without having to accept beliefs like reincarnation. I'm also happy to live and let live. 

RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True"
Answer
9/16/17 5:37 PM as a reply to D..
The teachings have to be accepted first, and then can be verified.

This is logically inconsistent, but I think that's how faith works  emoticon



RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True"
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9/16/17 6:22 PM as a reply to CJMacie.
Great point T DC.  The path is tough, as lot tougher and more demanding that expected.

RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True"
Answer
9/16/17 10:58 PM as a reply to CJMacie.
If you are willing to expand out your view a bit and consider the Mahayana, Nagarjuna, a 2nd century Mahayana philosopher, in his Mulamadhayamikakaryka used logic and a kind of dialectic to prove the validity of shunyata and basically that causality was behind all phenomena. His view on karma and rebirth, however, is that it is impossible to prove karma through analysis and logic; hence, karma and rebirth are a matter of belief. You either believe in them or you don't. Many Zen masters don't believe in rebirth, for example. They don't go around claiming to have invented a new kind of Buddhism (well, I guess you could say the new kind of Buddhism was invented during the Tang Dynasty 1000 years ago)

That said, like the physical law of the speed of light, karma will continue to work whether you believe in it or not. The Wild Fox koan is instructive in this regard.

RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True"
Answer
9/16/17 11:56 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:


That's very non-provocative of you  emoticon

I'm not  Buddhist. I'm just a practitioner who's happy to use meditation techniques that work without having to accept beliefs like reincarnation. I'm also happy to live and let live. 
 Ah, that wasn't directed at you specifically. That was just an observation on how the wider western buddhist community has warped what it actually means to be Buddhist and how that spreads false beliefs about Buddhism to anyone even tangentially connected to it.

Sorry if it came across like I was attacking you, text isn't a very good medium for conveying emotion.

RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True"
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9/17/17 1:03 AM as a reply to seth tapper.
seth tapper:
I don't agree.  Scientific Materialism is a valid path to complete awakening and does not conflict with what the Buddha understood at all.  You can free your mind from delusion following any path up the mountain, because when all delusion is gone, it doesnt matter what delusion you were lost in before.  In my view, anything goes as long as it works.   Since we all have a strong level of faith in scientific materialism as an artifact of our culture and education, why not use that as the grounding for a path that works ? 
Because it won't. Scientific Materialism is a theory (so far unprooven) about the nature of reality. Buddhism provides a method for understanding the relationship between mind and phenomena - specifically with regard to the arising of stress/suffering when mind holds tightly to phenomena - and how to gain release from that condition. They have nothing in common with each other.

A theory won't lead you anywhere except to other theories and arguments. It is just a belief pure and simple.

The Buddhist teaching on rebirth is simply a report of what the Buddha realized for himself. It is a theory to those who haven't had the experience but this is different from a theory that someone just comes up with one day with nothing to back it up - like scientific materialism. No materialist can provide a path by which one can come to know for a fact that the theory is true. Buddha on the other hand extensivley describes a means by which you can verify for yourself what he came to know.

'Anything goes as long as it works' - the problem here is how do you know what it means to have it work? You don't - so it is a guessing game - stumbling around in the dark.

RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True"
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9/17/17 5:42 AM as a reply to Chuck Kasmire.
Scientific materialism (SM) is a fascinating set of contraditions. Check this out:

SM says that the real world is material, made of atoms, subatomic particles, probability waves squared, probably has 7-11 or so dimensions, and that we can't know it directly. It is inferred from the senses, deduced by careful measurement by machines, and correlates freakishly with mathematics.

SM notices that there are no true colors, only the mental images of them that corrlate with but are not photons. There are no true tastes, only the mental images of them that correlate with some atomic interactions with taste and smell receptors. There are no true sounds, only the mental images that correlate with various frequencies of vibrations.

Thus, SM posits that this whole world we experience is not the world, it is merely an image that hints at what the real world is, a world we can't know, can't see, as all we know are sounds, sights, textures, tastes and all of that, none of which is real, all of which is a corrlate with some reality.

SM posits that this is all happening in a brain somewhere, a material brain. Aside from the obvious "Hard Problem" that there is no material basis for consciousness that has been clearly established and no material correlate of consciousness, as all of this is mere atoms and particles and probability densities, none of which are conscious, there is the serious problem of the spacial relationship between this visual, auditory, tactile space and the "real space", the "material space", the "real world" of atoms, particles and all of that which this visual, auditory, tactile, etc. representation represents.

So, where is this set of false images in relation to that brain? Clearly, that brain isn't here, as this "here" is a construct in various lobes of that brain, frontal, temporal, parietal, occipital, etc. Those combine various sense modailities to produce a set of hyper-processed, ultra-filtered images that somehow correlate with the real material world but clearly are not the real material world, as there is no "red", there is no "sweet", those are not real things to SM, only false images.

So, in SM, our whole sensate world, particuarly including thoughs, are not real, and instead only images, impressions, immitations in a brain somewhere, highly processed, extremely representational but not actual, and they are taking place in some created space with no way to conceptually resolve the spacial relationship between that created image space and the "real material space".

This model has many profound implications and is generally poorly understood by scientific materalists, as they tend to believe that parts of what we experience are really "real", which SM flatly disagrees with. We tend to believe that the hands are our real hands, our eyes are our real eyes, colors really are photons, textures really are matter, but clearly none of these are true, and instead the model says that nerves and a brain somewhere (not here) create this functional illusion so the real material "us" somewhere can function.

As Buddhism concerns itself with experience, and, for vipassana purposes, says that sensations, colors, tastes, sounds, textures, thoughts and all of that are the stuff that is relevatant as a basis for awakening, this directly contracts the assumptions of SM.

Were a scientific materialist to posit something like "waking up to the truth", they would mean waking to the real world of particles and forces, not sensations, as the sensations are not the real, material world by definition in SM.

RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True"
Answer
9/17/17 6:30 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Further, when the SM kids say things like, "Psychic powers are impossible!" they are forgetting that this world is a highly processed, highly removed, highly symbolic sensate representation of their purported "real material world", and so it makes no sense to bind this world of experience and sensations to the laws that they say bind matter, as they are two different if theoretically related things.

Remember, everything about the "material world" is totally extrapolated from sensations, and, while such logic has opened technological doors that are truly imazing, the correlation of imagined laws and math to sensate phenomena doesn't mean that ontologically the "material world" that we are totally unable to experience directly is actually true, and how one would ever prove it was or wasn't is unknown.

RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True"
Answer
9/17/17 6:39 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
That there are no material correlates of consciousness in the SM worldview and they vaguely handwave and say crazy things like "emergent property" to try to explain how experience arises and what it is represents such a glaring hole in their entire worldview and puts such a distance between the world that people experience and the totally different world of inanimate particles and forces that they postulate as to be laughable.

Is SM useful for certain problems? Definitely, as shown in countless technological marvels and results.

Does is form a complete theory of human experience and life sufficient to satisfy one who likes theories that explain things we can experience and thus form a basis of awakening? It would be madness and staggering delusion to imagine that SM does in its current form, as it explicitly denies that experience is what is really going on, as experience can't be material by definition, and so, as all of the "material" we experience is thus mental, and it explicitly is not a Scientific Mentalism theory, and as senseate experience forms the basis of awakening, they are explicitly two totally separate domains.

RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True"
Answer
9/17/17 10:30 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
(This appears as a "reply to Daniel Ingram" but it is just meant as a stand alone post. I just hit the "quick reply" button.)

SM obviously does a good job of explaining one view of reality, but it's a particular view.

All the domains of study are views on reality: economics, psychology, sociology, etc. I don't find that these domains are in conflict with each other, just that they are inadequate to explain each other. Economics sorta describes psychology to a certain extent, but it is inadequate to fully explain psychology.

Buddhism has quite smart things to say about views, basically that they are self-contained, basically "worlds", they are tautological stances which don't hold up under intense scrutiny. It's basically like the 6 realms teaching that the context you assume tautologically creates the paradigms you use. If you are a hungry ghost, you will operate out of "not enough" and all you will see is evidence of "not enough". If you an economist, you will see everything as evidence of the function of economic functions, etc. 

Emergent property is hand-waving to some extent... but I bet it wins the day. In the same way that "water" isn't in oxygen and hydrogen, but is in H20... I'll bet that consciousness does emerge when enough sensing modules get linked to each other. The fact that we can't explain it now doesn't dissuade me, I don't think we knew enough about molecular interactions to explain "water" until recently. 

Anyway, fun topic.

If folks really want to be provoked on the whole afterlife/reincarnation topic, I found these posts really challenged my simplistic views:

http://jayarava.blogspot.com/search?q=afterlife

This one was a particularly cold bucket of water dumped on my head: http://jayarava.blogspot.com/2015/01/there-is-no-life-after-death-sorry.html

RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True"
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9/17/17 8:15 AM as a reply to shargrol.
Saying one does "what works" in the context of a meditation practice is not the same thing as saying "Anything goes as long as it works." If someone exhorted me to play Russian Roulette with my dog because it leads to instant awakening I would still refrain. "What works" can be used within a system of values... such as those the historical Buddha taught.

RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True"
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9/17/17 8:20 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
... so it makes no sense to bind this world of experience and sensations to the laws that they say bind matter, as they are two different if theoretically related things.

Yes, theoretically related they must be -- else we enter a duality.


RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True"
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9/17/17 8:44 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Well, I grant that a system of values is a useful, but not necessary, regulatory system for people who are still lost in delusion or a path to liberation would create a lot of sociopaths.  That said, I dont find morality or any rules at all to be a feature of reality.  I do find love.   What the hell is that ?  

RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True"
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9/17/17 8:51 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
I agree and disagree.  I agree that SM points directly to the emptiness of everything.  If you really live with a scientific materialist physics and meta physics, there is no basis for any narrative at all.  A mind free from narrative is free, period.  SM has no final answers, but neither does buddhism.  Nirvana is empty too, IMHO. 

SM is actually not one thing.  Most people do not understand SM past atoms and so are living in a completely pretend world, but even a dhama confined to Newtonian physics is empty at its base and proscribes indivuduality, will or evil.  If you sit and let individuality, will and evil go and accept that it is all empty and unfolding due to cause and effect, your mind will free itself. 

I am not arguing that SM is true.  I am arguing that nothing is "true" so we can choose any model of reality we want and SM is the most popular, so a dhama coincident with people's already closely held beliefs is likely to be more effective on a broad basis.  No? 

RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True"
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9/17/17 9:34 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
"SM posits that this is all happening in a brain somewhere, a material brain."

This gives me a chuckle. When you mentioned it to Robert Wright (in your first interview, I believe), it blew his mind; he just couldn't get it.

RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True"
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9/17/17 10:55 AM as a reply to seth tapper.
Well, I grant that a system of values is a useful, but not necessary, regulatory system for people who are still lost in delusion or a path to liberation would create a lot of sociopaths.  That said, I dont find morality or any rules at all to be a feature of reality.  I do find love.   What the hell is that ?  


Can you point to anyone who lives without any values to guide them? Values can be externally sourced (most religions) or internally sourced such as those derived from the nature of existence as experience by an awakened human being. But these are all normative systems that guide behavior.

RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True"
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9/17/17 11:07 AM as a reply to svmonk.
His view on karma and rebirth, however, is that it is impossible to prove karma through analysis and logic; hence, karma and rebirth are a matter of belief. You either believe in them or you don't. Many Zen masters don't believe in rebirth, for example. They don't go around claiming to have invented a new kind of Buddhism (well, I guess you could say the new kind of Buddhism was invented during the Tang Dynasty 1000 years ago)


SVMonk, I find your post to contain compelling logic. The nature of Buddhism throughout its history is adaptability - Theravada to Zen, Vajrayana, Pure Land, and so on. There is no one "official" Buddhism. The ancient texts are ripe with opportunities to improvise from the themes presented, to reinvent meanings that resonate with local philosophy, local mores, local gurus, and so on.

Thanks for presenting that important theme here.

RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True"
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9/17/17 12:15 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Why is SM any different than dependent origination as a ground for constructing a system of morality? 

RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True"
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9/17/17 12:24 PM as a reply to seth tapper.
Why is SM any different than dependent origination as a ground for constructing a system of morality?


I asked if you can point to any examples of human beings who face life without any normative/value-based rules AT ALL. I'm of the opinion that SM is just another belief system. It, too, can be the basis for constructing normative rules.

RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True"
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9/17/17 1:23 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
I agree with you.  That was the point I was trying to make.  Humans are always acting within a system of values - however delusional, but those values are not intrinsically "real". 

RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True"
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9/17/17 2:29 PM as a reply to shargrol.
It is true that many scientific materialists don't see that things turn out to be much more complicated than a pancake on a plate. Even Newtonian mechanics wasn't reality it was a model of reality. Now it seems that QM could not even serve as a model of reality. Matter is in fact more mysterious and mystical than all the convoluted speculations of catholic philosophy about the alleged human "soul". And the same matter forms our brains! Scientific theories are extremely good at predicting the future: If you drop a ball from certain height it will hit ground in certain time. If you give a patient with HIV an antiretroviral, he will probably not develop AIDS encephalopathy etc. On the other hand, to say that the fact that so far we don't have a satisfactory theory of conciousness and we can't so far reproduce conciousness in vitro implies that certain claim of buddhism must be true seems to me to be similar in principle to the theistic concept of the God of gaps, i.e. since science so far can't explain something there must be a (christian, muslim, jewish etc.) God. It seems to me that in order to explain how conciousness arises in the brain we need to discover some entirely new fundamental "psycho-physical" law of nature. We are told that at the begining of the 20th century nearly all of the physics was a closed system with no prospect of further substantial development. Then special relativity emerged, then QM, then general relativity etc. Now I have a hunch that we are on the verge of some even more contraintuitive discoveries this time concerning brain and the genesis of conciousness. emoticon

RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True"
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9/17/17 2:44 PM as a reply to shargrol.
Sid:
emoticon I can enjoy these topics.



I regret that you use your own immoral attitude to scientific inquiry to justify certain buddhist claims. The true is that 100% of published papers in mathematics is true. In physics, say, 99.99%. And even your immoral distortion of facts will sooner or later be corrected. In biology journals it may be around 85%. In psychology 15%. In economy 5%. In theology 0%.

RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True"
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9/17/17 2:47 PM as a reply to Alesh Vyhnal.
Why do you think this is ever an answerable question?  I think the concept of reality itself is a conditioned concept and you can just let it go.  In 10 million years, we will know alot, but we won't know why.  We already know no one is in control, so what good is speculating on a moot and likely unknowable model of reality?

In my opinion, happiness doesnt depend on it and love doesnt depend on it, so why worry? 

RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True"
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9/17/17 3:15 PM as a reply to seth tapper.
It's fascinating just how many buddhists, or people with buddhist tendencies or buddhist beliefs are fundamentalists at heart. There's no room for "I don't know" in their world view, no room for doubt, no room for uncertainty.


emoticon

RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True"
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9/17/17 3:50 PM as a reply to seth tapper.
I think I understand your question. The problem is that many life conditions prevent you from being happy, feel love etc.: Starvation, overwork like a robot all day, social deprivation, solitary confinement in prison... Many of them prevent you from meditating or contemplating: Many psychiatric diseases, infectious, degenerative, autoimmune, traumatic and oncologic diseases of the brain. In my opinion the main task of science is to aleviate the suffering of human beings. I offer for a consideration: How would you explain to a child in Africa dying from malaria that we need milions of dollars for the construction of some telescope to be able to see some distant star?

RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True"
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9/17/17 5:17 PM as a reply to Alesh Vyhnal.
Now my two cents emoticon CSICOP has been trying to verify reality of all these paranormal activities, ghosts, reading minds, telekinesis, levitation, prophecies... since 1976, so far only with negative results. Perhaps these phenomena exist but so far we can't tell. We simply don't have an objective proof of their existence. Now I am reading the Leigh Brasington's book about the jhanas and he also seems not to believe in the existence of psychic powers.

For me it is also difficult to accept the reality of reincarnation. Why should I try to liberate myslef from further births? Why should I bother that some "myself" will be reborn again? This "myself" will be completely unrelated to me, it will not remember me so also the karmic punishment gives absolutely no sense to me. This concept of reincarnations would make sense to me only if there were periods of my existence perhaps in some special realm in which I would recall all my previous existences.

But I am beginer as far as meditation is concerned. I have no attainment, meditation only makes me calm and sometimes euphoric. Who knows what I will find in my mind and my experience in the future? emoticon

RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True"
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9/17/17 5:24 PM as a reply to Alesh Vyhnal.
I think seeds can grow in all kinds of soil.  Since SM is the soil people are buried in, wouldnt you think more people could be awakened by teaching a path grounded in SM than in an ancient and esoteric tradition, even one as beautiful as the Vedic traditions?   

RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True"
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9/17/17 7:30 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
That there are no material correlates of consciousness in the SM worldview and they vaguely handwave and say crazy things like "emergent property" to try to explain how experience arises and what it is represents such a glaring hole in their entire worldview and puts such a distance between the world that people experience and the totally different world of inanimate particles and forces that they postulate as to be laughable.

Is SM useful for certain problems? Definitely, as shown in countless technological marvels and results.

Does is form a complete theory of human experience and life sufficient to satisfy one who likes theories that explain things we can experience and thus form a basis of awakening? It would be madness and staggering delusion to imagine that SM does in its current form, as it explicitly denies that experience is what is really going on, as experience can't be material by definition, and so, as all of the "material" we experience is thus mental, and it explicitly is not a Scientific Mentalism theory, and as senseate experience forms the basis of awakening, they are explicitly two totally separate domains.

Hi Daniel,
Yes, the gaping hole in the theory is consciousness. I do think if they would flip things around and make matter the emergent property of consciousness things would work out much cleaner but the vey idea seems to give them the willies. SM as you note is just a model - it is a useful model for the things it was intended for but you really don't want to use it as a guide for how to live. The relationship between SM and Buddhism is something like the difference between a physicist and an auto mechanic. The physicist can tell you all kinds of things about the nature of the materials and such in your engine but is useless when it comes to repairing it.

RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True"
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9/17/17 7:46 PM as a reply to seth tapper.
Makes sense.  

RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True"
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9/17/17 7:49 PM as a reply to Chuck Kasmire.
The work of cognitive scientist Donald Hoffman at UC Irvine may be of interest to folks in this discussion:

https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2016/04/the-illusion-of-reality/479559/

https://www.ted.com/talks/donald_hoffman_do_we_see_reality_as_it_is


His premise is, essentially, that mind creates reality. Quite literally. Flipped.






RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True"
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9/17/17 10:21 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
It is also true that one of the sets of concepts that bridged the gap for me from my largely scientific materialist upbringing and Buddhism was books like The Dancing Wu Li Masters and its exploration of the strange apparent interactions of consciousness and quantum mechanics, but even Newtonian Mechanics was enough to convince me that there clearly couldn't be a separate agent. So, yes, SM can facilitate some aspects of Buddhist understanding, such as causality and a lack of a separate self that exists as a stable entity separate from the rest of causality somehow.

Still, to go deeper requires working at the level of sensations, which SM would consider entirely unreal and merely representational of an unexperienceable true material reality, and this requires a different set of assumptions than SM offers, as, were one to entirely believe SM, one could easily dismiss this world of sensations as being an invalid basis of investigation in comparison to things like mathematical extrapolation and physical experiments in hyper-controlled, ultra-specialized situations that attempt to approach the clean ideal circumstances in which the math works perfectly. This dismissal has caused profound paradigmatic tensions between realms such as modern physics and the sciences that have more to do with the human condition and experience, as we all know well and has been mentioned above.

RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True"
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9/18/17 5:50 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
..as in... they write what appears to be a formula on what appears to be a chalk board, and apply it to what appears to be data gathered by what seem to be instruments. From that they deduce what appears to be a sound assessment of the actual real causal factors operating in what appears to be a universe.

In other words neuroscience 101 tells us that nothing is as it appears to be, yet other scientists are constantly claiming that they can deduce causal reality from that mere appearance.

Causal matter is postulated to be existent somewhere outside the realm of the senses, but the senses themselves only make a representation of that matter. Hence matter is always hidden behind a veil of it's own making, that being our brain.

And as the properties and existence of matter are only graspable through theory, and theory is an act of speculative imagination, then the properties and existence of matter are imagination based on sensory illusion.

One may ask where the idea first came from of matter existant beyond the senses ? Something we can't see or grasp is out there somewhere making things happen. Sounds theological.

RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True"
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9/18/17 7:40 AM as a reply to CJMacie.
For me it would be a useful book if it delivers what it promises in the synopsis: An explanation why we aren't born already enlightened and we need that radical and often arduous psychotherapy called meditation. Vestigial organs, also a product of evolution, need also sometimes to be removed by surgery.

RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True"
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9/18/17 8:03 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
My thinking is: 

Wouldnt an SM view hold sensations from all 6 sense doors as mental fabrications and thus empty of meaning?  If one lets go of the sense of self and doing and lets go of meaning and lets go of the fabrications of the sense doors, isnt that what the Buddha taught all the way to the end?  

Another path, one with no dark night, would be Love.  SM can be held to explain everything except love, so a path could be to accept SM, accept that everything but love is empty and then just sit and be loving.  I am pretty sure that gets you all the way out.  No? 

RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True"
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9/18/17 11:43 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
The work of cognitive scientist Donald Hoffman at UC Irvine may be of interest to folks in this discussion:

https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2016/04/the-illusion-of-reality/479559/

https://www.ted.com/talks/donald_hoffman_do_we_see_reality_as_it_is


His premise is, essentially, that mind creates reality. Quite literally. Flipped.



Oh aye, I've got his book Visual Intelligence, I like his stuff a lot (though the physics/maths is above my grade).
I do have some awkward questions though, like "if the senses don't represent reality then how do we know that your theory, also, is reliable? " and "how do we know we are seeing the habits of the Australian Jewel Beetle in a reliable way ?" and "don't your theories have to have just enough fitness to get you paid, and not represent the truth ?" or "isn't science just another predator and prey game to get money and breed more scientists?"

He's got great optical illusions though.

If the senses are unreliable then even the idea of the senses providing unreliable picture of reality has no foundation... doesn't it ?


RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True"
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9/18/17 12:37 PM as a reply to Stickman2.
Stickman2:
If the senses are unreliable then even the idea of the senses providing unreliable picture of reality has no foundation... doesn't it ?


I don't think any mathematician would claim that math is perfect and completely reliable. Math that works at one scale falls apart on a different scale. Despite that we still use math every day to increase our knowledge (including our knowledge of how flawed our math is) and to create workable theories and technology. That seems to be part of the point he's making, that we can recognize the illusory nature of perception, while still working within it to understand it better.

Besides, if the senses are truly unreliable then all our fancy theories are suspect... philosophical, mathematical or otherwise. We can either drop the search for meaning entirely, or just go with our best theories and investigate them despite the illusory nature of the "mind" we use to investigate.

RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True"
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9/18/17 7:21 PM as a reply to Lars.
Lars:
Stickman2:
If the senses are unreliable then even the idea of the senses providing unreliable picture of reality has no foundation... doesn't it ?


...the illusory nature of perception...
... the illusory nature of the "mind"...
I like this noble rhetoric!
Give yourself an injection of capsaicin and tell me how perception and mind are illusory.

RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True"
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9/18/17 8:24 PM as a reply to Alesh Vyhnal.
Alesh Vyhnal:
I like this noble rhetoric!
Give yourself an injection of capsaicin and tell me how perception and mind are illusory.


As the TED talk mentions, even though the symbol "snake" is illusory, you still don't want to pick one up. The "pain" (and possible death) you'll encounter feels real enough, illusory or not. emoticon

RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True"
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9/19/17 1:37 AM as a reply to Lars.
Lars:
Alesh Vyhnal:
I like this noble rhetoric!
Give yourself an injection of capsaicin and tell me how perception and mind are illusory.


As the TED talk mentions, even though the symbol "snake" is illusory, you still don't want to pick one up. The "pain" (and possible death) you'll encounter feels real enough, illusory or not. emoticon
I listened to a talk of Shinzen Young in which he said that it is possible to become indifferent to pain even if you still feel it. Then there is the strange case of Thích Quảng Đức who burned himself to death in 1963. To quote Wiki: "As he burned he never moved a muscle, never uttered a sound, his outward composure in sharp contrast to the wailing people around him". How to explain this? Did he suffer from diabetic neuropathy? Was he drugged with something? How could he do it ???

RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True"
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9/19/17 1:45 AM as a reply to CJMacie.
CJMacie:
Why Buddhism is True: The Science and Philosophy of Meditation and Enlightenment
Hardcover – August 8, 2017 by Robert Wright
https://www.amazon.com/Why-Buddhism-True-Philosophy-Enlightenment/dp/1439195455

SuttaCentral and DhammaWheel have taken this up as a hot topic

Why Secular Buddhism is Not True

"Why secular Buddhism is Not True"
I have read some of your comments and I am amazed by your vast knowledge of buddhism. Can I ask you if you perhaps also wrote some book or gave a dharma talk?

RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True"
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9/19/17 5:51 AM as a reply to Alesh Vyhnal.
Alesh Vyhnal:
Then there is the strange case of Thích Quảng Đức who burned himself to death in 1963. To quote Wiki: "As he burned he never moved a muscle, never uttered a sound, his outward composure in sharp contrast to the wailing people around him". How to explain this? Did he suffer from diabetic neuropathy? Was he drugged with something? How could he do it ???


I can only guess, but I would imagine that his concentration and attention were developed to the point that he was able to focus exclusively on whatever object he used to meditate, and was in a deep state where bodily sensations are minimal. The pain from burning was likely either in peripheral awareness or blocked out entirely. I suppose it's also possible that he just endured the pain through sheer will.

Unfortunately he's not the only one to have done that, it's unlikely they were all on drugs or diabetic.

RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True"
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9/19/17 6:25 AM as a reply to Chuck Kasmire.
Chuck Kasmire:
[quote= The relationship between SM and Buddhism is something like the difference between a physicist and an auto mechanic. The physicist can tell you all kinds of things about the nature of the materials and such in your engine but is useless when it comes to repairing it.
]

Well said!

RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True"
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9/19/17 6:39 AM as a reply to Stickman2.
"if the senses don't represent reality then how do we know that your theory, also, is reliable? "

I'm not sure I'd assert that the senses are reliable  emoticon

RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True"
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9/19/17 8:04 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
My observation is that in physics' terms all the phenomena can be converted to sense perception. A: God doesn't exist because I have never seen him. B: Air is invisible, yet it exist. A: I have seen the air ripples over a hot road in summer B: Atoms are invisible, yet they exist. A: I have seen them in the electron microscope. B: Thoughts and pain are invisible, yet they exist. A: I have seen them in the fMRI brain scan...

But what it is like to feel pain? Brain is just a collection of connected neurons, how is it possible that pain is so unbearable? I would understand if SM (in its present form) is true, then if you touched a hot stove you would just react to the stimulus without the subjective feeling of pain.

(I apologize for the use of pain like an example. I suffer from chronic neuropathic pain so I occupy my mind with these questions.) 

RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True"
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9/19/17 8:08 AM as a reply to Alesh Vyhnal.
Sam Harris - Life after death

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-VXiF1MRvIE

RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True"
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9/20/17 2:16 AM as a reply to Alesh Vyhnal.
This is a cute fairy tell.
At best scientists do not describe anything but the numerical outputs of some tools that they bought from somebody else. Scientists do not rely on their 5 senses, they are not empiricists. Scientists claim that their imagination is a way to ''truth'' or ''objectivity'' or some other big words that somehow describe a' ''reality'' wherein humans are not, and of course to sort all their fantasies, since they think that senses are pathetic and corruptible sooner or later, they build the fantasy of ''validity'' of a fantasy with respect to something that ''is not human'' [if it were human, it would be relative to humans and then those people would be upset since they despise  a lack of consensus among humans, since beforehand they reify their idea of consensus among some humans and so far there is still no consensus about anything if more and more opinions of humans are taken into].

At this point, the rationalists can either go even more nutty by clinging to a sky daddy, or can equally go full stupid to go for ''nature'' but of course there is no ''nature'', even less ''nature without humans''.  There is what is experienced thru the 5 senses and what is experienced through the imagination [= opinions, ideas, concepts, inferences, whatever]. So some guys thought they were geniuses because they slapped back the fantasies against ''the 5 senses'' as the validity of inferences, to check whether his ''inferences'' were valid and they got cocky because they did not ''need god as an hypothesis''. Pure cringe.
But it turns out that what is experienced through the senses is just what is experiences through the senses, no matter how hard people cling to their fantasy of a validity of a ralitionalism-claiming-to-be-empirisist. Well the only good thing from this doctrine by the secular humanist is that it has been providing, for the last centuries, a salary for lots of people in the liberal revival of the academia.
 
 
So the trick of those people is to develop ''models'' (modelling what? nobody knows) and then to make the model compete and say ''this model is more valid than this model'' and that ''Scientific theories are only valid until they are disproven by further experiments'' (this is one of the best jokes so far).
Of course a model cannot model the ''reality'' since to model the reality you must know the ''model of the reality'', plus the ''reality'' plus the comparison between the ''model of the reality'' with the ''reality''. And if you know the ''reality'' you do not care about modelling it in the first place.
Why do I need a model to know the truth? why do my senses cannot get to truth? They do not know.

Then they develop statistics, because those people claim that statistics of a data set somehow connects you to ''truth'' and the other big words that they love, like ''objectivity'' [which is a nice fantasy obtained by.... seeing that people disagree on topics, then some genius comes around and claim ''wait let's rely on my nearly infallible rationality  one more time (which makes me a human, not a beast), I will use the power of negation, like you know day is the opposite of night right, right that's like empiricism, grounded in experience, not relying on dumb God contrary to you know who; let's apply this to my fantasy of subjectivity, so let's  negate my concept of subjectivity (which is bad, because a consensus amongst a few humans is desirable, why? nobody knows) and get the fancy objectivity. OMG it works, I get a new word out it, it must exists, objectivity is the best amrite, let's speculate a bit  and  strive for this for thousands of years and if people do not they are unrational''.]
Of course they have no proof of this, for people who love to claim they prove things it is disappointing from them.... THey claim that nobody can derive a  knowledge with ''just one event'', unless you imagine a causality like Anscombe.
They claim that their fantasy of the ''repeatability of the conditions leading to an effect'' is the way to check ''a model against the reality'' (which is again stupid).

So how do you get truth from stats according to these people. You run your little model, you buy some tools, you run an ''repeatable experiment'' several times (these people love to claim that the condition producing an event are stable across time) and you collect ''data'' which is ''the reality'' (these people love to claim that reality is just a bunch of functions or numbers,like a photon, 12 electrons, a black hole whatever it their system is,  and then those numbers are axiomatized, by some of  people, as some sets). Then you compare ''the reality'' to the ''model'' and you try to fit the curve of the model on the data points of ''the reality''.
After this you read a book, where is written that the ''convention'' for determining ''the truth'' is to have a statistical significance both for the ''reality'' and the ''output of the model''. So for instance  people in biology or physics claim that ''the statistical significance'' for some ''repeatable experiment''  is ''3 sigma'' or some ''p value of whatever number they choose at this date of the conference''.

Then they publish their articles, they are happy about what they are doing, are more or less free in their daily life, and can even begin to critize other scientists as soon as a tenure is landed, they get some phd slaves to bring the coffee, they get their salary and a few awards if enough big names already approved have faith in their article. Of course the disputes arise when a few big names already in the fields trash the article and other big names in the field support the article. The people who did not do math and even less science beyond some PhD thesis are lost and they do not know who is the good guy to follow.
If the scientists are bored at the end of their career, they wonder what the hell they have been doing for 40 years, they read a bit of philosophy of science, which they did not during their career nor during their education, and those rationalists easily fall on their newest buzzword of ''intersubjectivty'', since the old buzzword of ''objectivty'' has been destroyed long time ago, or ''Model-dependent realism'' à la Hawking, aka ''I have no idea what scientist do at the end, but it is the best that we can do, trust me, keep supporting us so that we share kownledge right, truth and  kownledge is without border, and sharing is amazing, it is the essence of the humanity right, people are not nice to each other because they are not educated about this and do not benefit from the pleasing fruits of technology, that must be it, what else can it be anyway, be a good guy and let's be nice to each other'' and they die.

RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True"
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9/20/17 6:03 AM as a reply to John.
Yeah. Evolution theory says that organisms thrive due to a lot of trickery, why should science be exempt from this - including the science of evolution itself ? Some evolution theorists claim that religions survive - despite being bunkum - because they provide community and mating opportunities, why should this not be so for science too ?
Still, I like evolution theory.

RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True"
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9/20/17 8:40 AM as a reply to John.
[quote= even more nutty... full stupid...Pure cringe....
]...(which is again stupid). etc.



Try to be a bit respectful. emoticon Scientists have many objective things, like the atomic bomb. ;) emoticon

RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True"
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9/20/17 10:55 AM as a reply to Alesh Vyhnal.
OK science is used faithfully to it's method for purposes similar to natural phenomena like zebra stripes (camouflage, encrypted communications, stealth bombers etc.), and is used unfaithfully in it's method (things like hokey tobacco industry science). Both produce illusion and deceit as part of the battle for survival and reproduction a la evolution. But science itself is supposed to be exempt from this, incorruptible and always tending towards truth - even if that truth is used to deceitful ends, especially the logic and mathematical aspect of it where we get pretensions to transcendent (Platonic) truth. Why would something that produces transcendent truth arise from organisms whose only purpose is reproduction by any means necessary ?

If, on the other hand, evolution produces organisms with a greater and greater insight into objective truth, because knowing truth is essential for reproductive fitness, then it starts to sound like evolution isn't a blind mechanical process of reproduction and more like something with purpose of increasing self understanding.

....rubs chin and wishes biology degrees didn't cost £50,000 nowadays.......

RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True"
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9/20/17 11:58 AM as a reply to Stick Man.
What the heck is "transcendant truth?"

Science is a methology and as such is prone to all the foibles its human users might suffer from: deceit, dishonesty, misunderstanding, misuse, and so on, and on, and on. People seem to have a naive view of how science is actually pursued. It's as if merely being involved in this magically pristine endeavor called "science" automatically makes its results unimpeachable. Science, by way of scientific results, is meant to be eminently impeachable by its very nature. In fact, every "truth" that science purports to "know" is there to be impeached and replaced by some new "truth." Flat earth, aether, Newtonian physics, etc.

RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True"
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9/20/17 12:11 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Hasn't every scientist who has ever lived been proven wrong eventually?  Wouldn't we have to assume that everything that we know about science today will be proven to be nonsense eventually? 

RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True"
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9/20/17 4:05 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
 In fact, every "truth" that science purports to "know" is there to be impeached and replaced by some new "truth." Flat earth, aether, Newtonian physics, etc.
It is not totaly replaced. New theory is only precision of the previous one. 


Flat Earth: In a close neighbourhood of a point a sphere looks like a plane.

Aether: Maxwell equations work and predict many phenomena like the speed of light with the assumption of the existence of aether.

Newtonian physics: For weak gravitation fields Newtonian mechanics is a perfect approximation of General theory of relativity.


But I think I can understand your objections. When I worked in the academia I met many individuals who used to say things like "String theory is the language in which the God wrote the Universe" or "Higgs boson is the God particle". I told to myself: "What can you possibly know about the God and the divine, if you are such an asshole" emoticon

RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True"
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9/20/17 4:48 PM as a reply to seth tapper.
To quote Legih Brasington: "...the Buddha’s rebuke of Sati (who believed his consciousness transmigrated at death) in the Mahātaṇhāsaṅkhaya Sutta (MN 38) are two of the clearest indications that the Buddha did not teach reincarnation. Your consciousness/mind is a dependent phenomenon, dependent on your impermanent body."


U Pandita said that to meditate it is only necessary to be able to digest food and sleep. Of course, this is not true! I knew patients who meditated to alleviate their symptoms but when the disease progressed it simply was no more possible.

Chemistry is applied physics. Biology is applied chemistry. Medicine and psychology are applied biology. We need science since it is the most useful tool of suffering reduction. And even the aforementioned expensive telescope has a potential of suffering reduction of the African children. Say if alien life was discovered it would weaken the position of Catholic church forbidding the use of contraceptives and muslims performing all the cruel punishments, female genital mutilation etc. in the name of their respective gods.

Of course medicine has its drawbacks. One example: Intensive care medicine nowadays can save the life of patients with massive hemorragic stroke. But the quality of life of these patients is then often completely unsatisfactory.



RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True"
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9/22/17 11:49 AM as a reply to svmonk.
svmonk:

...His [Nagarjuna's] view on karma and rebirth, however, is that it is impossible to prove karma through analysis and logic; hence, karma and rebirth are a matter of belief. You either believe in them or you don't. ..

The SuttaCentral thread (Why SecularBuddhism is Not True) goes at length into the Theravadan notion that “rebirth” (punabbhava – literally “again becoming”) is considered fully intelligible only with full awakening, hence no more than belief to the mundane mind.

Are you sure that Nagarjuna holds that view relative to all levels of mind? Or perhaps, elsewhere in his writings, he might go into it in more depth? I’d be surprised, from admittedly what little I know, if he weren’t at least cognizant of the Theravadan interpretation, if only to refute it in some way.

RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True"
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9/22/17 11:58 AM as a reply to Alesh Vyhnal.
Alesh Vyhnal:
Then there is the strange case of Thích Quảng Đức ... How could he do it ???

That case has been aired (with the video of the event, which I have watch many times) and discussed here before. Indications are that he was a very advanced practitioner (a “noble disciple”, i.e. an ariya and likely at an advanced stage), and as he held the match before dropping it, he entered an extremely deep concentration and subsequently felt nothing. It was, in effect, a parinibbana, or complete and final release.

The context was the imminent launching of a massive offensive by the government (under the influence of the American occupation and the Catholic legacy from the French) to suppress, and likely massacre, thousands of Buddhist monks. His action succeeded in heading that off.

RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True"
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9/22/17 12:04 PM as a reply to Alesh Vyhnal.
Alesh Vyhnal:
...For me it is also difficult to accept the reality of reincarnation. ..This concept of reincarnations would make sense to me only if there were periods of my existence perhaps in some special realm in which I would recall all my previous existences.

The Buddha taught (again, as per the Theravada Pali Canon) “punabbhava”, literally “again recurrent becoming”, or “recurrent becoming”, which gets translated and morphed into “rebirth” or “reincarnation”, which in turn triggers generally skeptical interpretations, and disbelief on the part of Westerns, especially those of the “secular” persuasion.

In it’s original context (according to my understanding, which is s/w informed though I wouldn’t say authoritative) he was speaking about the continual recurrence of patterns of human behavior and perception, conditioned and passed along down through history. The patterns come to life in every individual, and are sustained by tanha, or craving, the thirst of wanting beyond what’s given, fueling “becoming” as action striving to fulfill that wanting and fashion some desired “identity”. In his analysis, the “person” and it’s “self” are expedient constructs of the
mind (individual and collective), “reality” on what he calls the mundane plane. (Same “reality” as in your first sentence quoted above.) Personal self is “real” in a practical sense – similar, to my mind, as the levels of “self” outlined in Antonio Damasio’s book “Self Comes to Mind: Constructing the Conscious Brain”.

But what the Buddha found and offered was the possibility of developing mental skills and transformations such that the individual could experience release from the bounds of that mundane experience pattern centered on one’s self, from its inevitable correlate “suffering” (dukkha, perhaps better translated as dissatisfaction, sooner or later, or stress). An important dimension of the experience being “release” from the delusion of the personal “self” as substantial and enduring, something ontological, so to speak.

Everyone experiences the recurring patterns, learned from parents, all other associates, and likely to a degree inherent genetically, and mistakes them as belonging to, or consisting in an individual “self”. Similarly, in the Buddha’s “first knowledge” (in the legend of the night of his “awakening”), where he reviewed eons of “past lives”, i.e. saw back into the stream of recurring experience patterns, intentions and actions, and the conditioning that sustain them – not “lives” that he’d personally lived in the modern literal sense, but the behaviors and perceptions of human living that are available to view and analyze with training. The “second knowledge” of this awakening process involved observing how people in general (and in the present) form intentions and actions and how this conditions results (kamma, aka karma) and further behaviors, ad infinitum. Then as the “third knowledge”, he analyzed, generalized and abstracted the principles of how that all functions, to the degree of seeing a way of training and reshaping the mind (i.e. it’s behavior) such that it can “know” (in the sense of gnostic experiencing) and “see” (in the sense of reflectively understanding) precisely what is going on, i.e. “awaken” to it, with no delusion. “Seeing” (vipassana) exhaustively how conditioning functions, opens the mind to “touching” the “unconditioned”; stilling it’s conditioned (mundane) activity (samadhi) allows it a taste of how to operate free of causing itself further kamma – consequences of deluded intention to further “becoming”. These last two issues being of necessity s/w fuzzy, perhaps “mystical”, as they allude to the experience of Nibbana, or non-mundane, “transcendental” level of experience, which is beyond verbal description – can only be experienced.

No big surprise that the “secular” attitude tends to dismiss the possibility of such a dimension of human experience, as “metaphysical”, “paranormal” or “supra-normal powers” (iddhi) etc. Authors such as Robert Wright, Stephen Batchelor, Leigh Brasington, Sam Harris, Donald Hoffman, etc. have little alternative than to focus on ameliorative models, such as the psychological, the eudaimonia (“human fulfillment”), social transformation, etc. Which correlates with a s/t subtle, s/t not so subtle dismissal of the core monastic tradition, especially with it’s total renunciation of things like becoming a famous and successful writer, teacher, or in general a popular “authority” as to what the Buddha “really” meant. The delusion that you can have your cake and eat it too.

Of course, these are just my views here, perhaps a “metaphorical diversion”.

RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True"
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9/22/17 12:07 PM as a reply to Alesh Vyhnal.
Alesh Vyhnal:
ike the atomic bomb


Just a couple of random associations: 

1: Just saw an internet “news” item stating that just one of those hurricanes currently rummaging through the Caribbean (or typhoons in the Pacific) contains the equivalent of ca. 10,000 nuclear bombs (roughly the size of the combined nuclear arsenals?).

2: A one-time teacher of mine, a hybrid new-age and Native American guru named Sun Bear, once talked about the conceit of the “white man” in his values and self-centered views. About the notion that atomic warfare would “destroy” the earth and all life, he countered that “Mother Earth” would shake-off human kind as a dog shakes-off pesky fleas. Yes, major changes, especially for currently living species, but in the larger picture, the earth would survive; if even after some 10’s of millions of years, forms of life would continue and flourish.

He would also occasionally comment on the white man’s world making itself more and more dependent upon inherently undependable technology. And that way before internet, “social media”, hacking everybody’s identities. bank accounts, and elections, self-driving vehicles, etc.

RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True"
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9/22/17 9:49 PM as a reply to CJMacie.
Hi Chris,

In fact, most of the Mulamadhyamakakarika is directed at refuting the Therevadan Abhidharma notion that dharmas are self existent entities.

            

RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True"
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9/23/17 6:46 AM as a reply to CJMacie.
The case of the Vietnamese monk is certainly most interesting. What he attained is in my opinion the real cessation of suffering. In theory this can happen to everyone: We all probably have seen the gruesome ISIS' executions. And he could not be drugged since he walked to the spot on his own feet. Opioids cause lethargy and respiratory depression.

Leigh Brasington also reports quite curious event he witnessed during his trip to Thailand in 1988:

"There was a monk seated in full lotus posture in the pavilion, obviously in deep meditation. His eyes were open and downcast, and he had the most serene look on his face I’d ever seen. He was clearly not disturbed by all the chaos happening around him. He was there that afternoon when the big parade came by. He was there that night when they held the first round of the beauty pageant on a stage 30 yards away. He was there the second day, all day and into the evening. He was still there on the third morning. He looked a little tired—serenely tired. He was there that afternoon when the biggest parade of all came
by. He was still there that night during the final round of the beauty pageant. He was gone the next morning."

RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True"
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9/24/17 5:56 AM as a reply to svmonk.
svmonk:
Hi Chris,

In fact, most of the Mulamadhyamakakarika is directed at refuting the Therevadan Abhidharma notion that dharmas are self existent entities.


Hi svmonk,

I think that may have rather been the Abhidharma of some other school. Theravadan Abhidhamma does not posit ontological “entities”, at least as per various sources and expecially Noa Ronkin’s book (Early Buddhist Metaphysics), which notes that relatively late aspects of its development (a millennium or more after after both the original abhidhamma texts as well as after Nargarjuna’s time) evolved some terminology possible to interpret, but no tintended as ontological.

Perhaps the Sarvāstivādin abhidharma. I just came across the following quotation in reading one of V. Sujato’s books:
...the Sarvāstivādins taught a philosophical realism that tended to treat external objects as ‘existing’ in and of themselves, so that even an abstract relation like ‘possession’ comes to be considered as a real substance. This comes across as naïve, but in shaping their philosophy they show a consciousness of a fundamental problem of metaphysics: if we allow the ‘existence’ of one thing it becomes difficult to deny the existence of everything. So the Sarvāstivādins considered that the past and the future ‘exist’ in exactly the same sense as the present. The Sarvāstivādins were perfectly aware that this appeared to flaunt the fundamental Buddhist axiom of impermanence. But they were trying to explain impermanence based not on ontology, but on causal efficacy...

Complicated though, as that last sentence indicates that school of thought seems to align with what you earlier (9/16/17 10:58 PM as areply to CJMacie ) characterized as a major concern of Nargarjuna.

RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True"
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9/24/17 7:55 AM as a reply to CJMacie.
Sujato looks hypocritcal in his post because to refute the pathetic ideas of the current 'Secular Buddhists' it looks like he took a secular approach & denied the metaphysical nature of 'rebirth'. emoticon

And what, monks, are the defilements of the mind? (1) Covetousness and unrighteous greed are a defilement of the mind; (2) ill will is a defilement of the mind; (3) anger is a defilement of the mind; (4) hostility...(5) denigration...(6) domineering...(7) envy...(8) jealousy...(9) hypocrisy...(10) fraud...(11) obstinacy...(12) presumption...(13) conceit...(14) arrogance...(15) vanity...(16) negligence is a defilement of the mind. MN 7

RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True"
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9/24/17 6:33 AM as a reply to Nicky.
Nicky:
CJMacie:

Sujato is being hypocritcal in his post because to refute the pathetic ideas of the current 'Secular Buddhists' he took a secular approach & denied the metaphysical nature of 'rebirth'. emoticon
...

Why don't you go post that at SuttaCentral, Mr, Deeele? Or have your rantings been banned there again?

RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True"
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9/24/17 7:56 AM as a reply to CJMacie.
Thanks. Deele would not submit to the Cultural Marxism there, gave the mods his view & was happily given a long holiday. All wholesome kamma. Back to topic, thanks, about Sujato's dodgy scholarship & ridiculous translations.  emoticon

RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True"
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9/24/17 7:55 PM as a reply to CJMacie.
'Becoming' is one of the three "asava", which are mental states. For example, MN 121 states in the foremost experience of emptiness, there is no becoming but there remains the conscious aggregates. Therefore, punnabbhava is not "rebirth" but "again becoming". Sujato cannot be taken seriously by any sincere practitioner in relation to this obsession with the English word "rebirth", which is obviously a deliberate mistranslating of the suttas. Why would a thread like this be started on a meditation chatsite? Sujato has chosen to basically teach faith believers & hungry ghosts rather than mature practitioners. His translations will have close to zero credibility to sincere, mature & honest practitioners. It looks like a "game" Sujato is playing & it appears the joke is on Chris Macie because no sincere Buddhist regards "bhava" as "rebirth". emoticon

RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True"
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9/24/17 7:58 AM as a reply to Nicky.
Sujato seemed to declare there is knowable non-metaphysical-rebirth. This is absolutely true. The Pali suttas explain 'birth' ('jati') is the production of the view or convention of "beings" ("satta") and "orders of beings" ("satta nikaya") from the beguiling appearance or manifestion of the aggregates & sense objects. Sujato seemed to debunk his own & Brahmali's false interpretation that "jati" is "physical". It was a delight to read. To win a petty argument, Sujato appeared to use a Buddhadasa view. Since Buddhadasa was immeasurably more praised & recognised than Sujato, including receiving numerous honory doctrates & representing Thailand at the 6th Buddhist Council, it was proper young Sujato submit to the right view of the senior Buddhadasa. emoticonemoticonemoticon

Any desire, passion, delight, or craving for form, Radha: when one is caught up there, tied up there, one is said to be 'a being.'... Any desire, passion, delight, or craving for feeling... perception... fabrications... Any desire, passion, delight, or craving for consciousness, Radha: when one is caught up there, tied up there, one is said to be 'a being.'... SN 23.2

Why now do you assume 'a being'?
Mara, have you grasped view?
This is a heap of sheer constructions:
Here no being is found.

Just as, with an assemblage of parts,
The word 'chariot' is used,
So, when the aggregates are present,
There's the convention 'a being.'

SN 5.10 


The craving that makes for further becoming — accompanied by passion & delight, relishing now here & now there — i.e., craving for sensual pleasure, craving for becoming, craving for non-becoming: This, friend Visakha, is the origination of self-identification described by the Blessed One MN 44

And what, bhikkhus, is birth? The birth of the various beings into the various orders of beings, their being born, entering, production from the manifestation of the aggregates & the taking up of the sense spheres (objects). This is called birth. SN 12.2

RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True"
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11/9/17 1:01 PM as a reply to seth tapper.
Dear Seth:


What you're referring to as "scientific materialism" has been, at least in philosophic circles for more than 50 years, known as "physicalism," as a result of findings that many things exist in the universe which don't fall into the category of "matter."


If you look for a definition of "physical" in the philosophic sense, you'll find nobody is able to define it, except to say, "it's what physicists study," which of course is not a definition at all.

Ultimately, if you examine it closely enough, you'll find it serves only as a negative term, meaning, "Physicalism is committed to the proposition that no matter what we will discover about the universe - whether one hundred or one million years from now - we can state with absolute certainty that the basis of the universe is non-living non-sentient and non-intelligent."

So basically, it's cultish, dogmatic thinking. Furthermore, if you examine it even more closely, you'll find that to the extent it is tied up with a legitimate enterprise, namely, science, it will destory that enterprise. It holds up the existence of something which, by definition, we could never have one iota of empirical evidence for - namely, the existence of something existeing entirely independent of any kind of awareness, sentience, mind or consciousness. It requires an act of faith infinitely more irrational than any claim of the Dharmakaya, Tao, Brahman, etc. 

Finally, it makes all explanations of phenomena utterly absurd.  Nobel prize winning scientist Steven Weinberg essentially admitted this in his essay, "Does Science Explain Everything?  Anything?"  He tries to weasle out of it at the end, by redefining the way the word "explanation" has been used for over 2000 years, but fails miserably, thus implicity answering his question, "yes."

Materialism has no way of comprehending

how something emerges from nothing
what matter is
what energy is
how patterns (misnamed "laws") emerge from chaos
how such patterns are sustained
how sentience arises from allegedly insentient physical stuff
why sentience becomes progressively more complex (even Stephen J Gould admitted this, though he spent much of his life trying to deny it)
how self awareness emerges from chaos/patterns/sentience/complex sentience

In short, if scientific materialism was an accurate account of the way things are, the universe coudn't possibly exist. 

RE: Robert Wright best seller: "Why Buddhism is True"
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11/9/17 1:44 PM as a reply to don salmon.
As far as I know the basic two categories are methaphysical naturalism & methodological naturalism. The scientific method is philosophically based on methodological natrualism and is probably beyond all doubt correct whereas methaphysical naturalism is the subject of philosophers and their speculations. emoticon