Wednesday, December 3, 2008


This morning, instead of my own entry, I'm posting this link to an elegantly-argued essay from the blog ThinkBuddha, because it says very precisely what I have tried to say many times in the past in my own imprecise way. I hope that my Buddhist-leaning friends will find the time to read it. I wish there were one who could give me a coherent answer.

What it takes to get past this point, I suppose, is faith--that leap beyond reason that I'm unable to take. I also think that it's the point at which a philosophy, or a teaching, becomes a religion. I'd be interested in what others think of this unusually lucid piece of writing. Will you let me know?


roger said...

a nice essay. very long.

as an accidental buddhist i was actually unaware of the requirement of acceptance of rebirth. a benefit of ignorance. i do sense a mystery of consciousness. a sort of group thought thing into which individuals can tap. maybe. i do think that there is something going on that could be mistaken for knowledge of past lives or esp or telekinesis or spirit voices or... well, lots of stuff.

i think the point about the lack of an elucidated method is cogent.

robin andrea said...

I remember those heady days when Crosby Stills and Nash sang "We have all been here before..." It seemed such a cool thing that our friends had been our friends always. We could trace our friendships through a millenia. Hello Egypt, hello Africa. Oh we we were ancient souls. But then it seemed to me that it was completely nuts to be attached to this thread of life. I like the bit of dust mingling with all bits of dust, into the cosmos. No consciousness to call my own, only the great wide everything.

Jean said...

Thank you for posting this link. I hadn't visited the hugely talented and cogent ThinkBuddha for a while and hadn't seen it. I too am very much where you are on this. I have no idea whether this means I shouldn't call myself a buddhist. I guess I have other reasons for not setting much store by labels, so I don't agonise a lot over that. Practice seems to me much more important than belief, and certainly not any less of a commitment. Not that reincarnation isn't a beguiling thought. After all, it has the potential to completely explain why I'm so much more crap at this life than most people. But no, beguiling is not enough.

PeterAtLarge said...

Beguiling, what a great word--and how apt a one to describe the lure of the afterlife. Roger, Robin, I do subscribe to that (beguiling) notion of the oneness of everything, a "mystery of consciousness," perhaps. I'd like it to include a conscious afterlife of some kind, but for me, it doesn't.

citizen of the world said...

Interesting post. I have little of value to say about it since I havn't given it a lot of thought. In general, I don't care for unecessary beliefs which clutter up a practice. I feel that way about a belief in a god, for example. So, too, with the idea of rebirth. I try to stay focused on life as it is, which is all I beleive I have.

citizen of the world said...

Interesting post. I have little of value to say about it since I havn't given it a lot of thought. In general, I don't care for unecessary beliefs which clutter up a practice. I feel that way about a belief in a god, for example. So, too, with the idea of rebirth. I try to stay focused on life as it is, which is all I beleive I have.

carly said...

There have long been great efforts to justify religion and science. The inability of Westerners to accept karmic rebirth of Buddhism is understandable and points to the fact that Westerners are formulating their own personal hybrids of self-belief and philosophy, with more or less success. My own understanding is that rebirth and karma are indeed an essential basic tenet of the faith and one is not truly a Buddhist unless he concurs. Recently in Thailand and Cambodia, I watched closely to see how people believe. They believe it every bit as much as they love their king, in Thailand, that is, with complete faith. They pray to their effigies in a devout way almost unknown in America, on hands and knees with blank stares into the mist of time. And they walk out of their temple, shoeless, a bit transfixed by their devotion to the statue. I have no doubt the vast majority accept rebirth.

Experiencing Buddhism in Asia makes Americans seem trendy, adherents to another fashionable package. In fact, it seems to me, after examining other basics of Buddhist theoretical background, Americans and Buddhism are incompatible, except for the parts which concur with Judeo-Christian tenets. Many American Buddhists don't even know the primary stories of Buddhist origin. Americans have hand-picked the parts they like, and cobbled together and alternative to their own failed religions. If that's too much of a generality, I'm sorry. Generalities are sometimes useful.

On the other hand, I've had credible experiences that indicate there is another dimension, invisible to us, but intelligent. If I said any more about this, I would only incur the usual opposition which accompanies any second-hand remarks. All I will say is, I've experienced something, and it has got me thinking.

Thinking, for one thing, that atheism is ruled out. Thinking that we simply must treat the invisible as the unknown, as Lao Tsu says, "the unknowable cannot be known", reminding people of the true definition of the word. 'Unknowable" to some people is like the word 'infinity', rather far, but failing to understand endlessly far.

That there is a continuum of lives into other lives, or consciousness into other consciousness, I have no experience of. But, I have known two gifted psychics who I trust have direct experience of it. One gave me a plausible description. However, until that experience directly includes or impacts me, I need not concern myself with the plausibility. I don't get out of the moment. However I do believe this: anything that man has thought of is a strong possibility, because if you examine carefully the rest of nature, it is a closed and connected system where all that exists is known, Equally, all that is known exists, even though in the human sphere only some people have direct experience. That we also have imagination and create illusions causes us to doubt all reality and knowledge. But nothing in man's imagination is based on nothing. Somewhere, somehow it is derived intelligence, derived from a reality, simply because all knowledge is connected and no part is outside the system. The unknown is outside our system. The known is inside our system. If the psychic has truly seen it, it is inside our system, albeit invisible.

I have reasons to think all of the major religions have derived from the gift of psychics. Those rare few see things which actually exist, I am definitely sure. Then, along come clergymen who take that experience and information and fashion it into a religion replete with miracles and canons. That's where the rift between true experience and accepted dogma lies. That's why I contend we should each find what's within our own hearts and minds within the context of the natural. And forget the second-hand knowledge of religions. And forget sewing bits and pieces of the ideas of others into something inferior to our own individual minds and experience. Believe nothing of which you hear, only half of what you see, and keep your eyes and ears open for what you don't see nor hear. Stay in the moment with that rule, and you won't be involved in your life as an abstraction.

Then, if a karmic experience comes along, you will be ready to receive it. If it doesn't, no need to concern yourself.

carly said...

When I say all that exists is known, I don't mean that we understand what is smaller than a proton, for instance, or other compositions of space and time. What I mean is all that we have identified thus far exists in practical terms and can be believed as plausible both outside as well as inside our imaginations.

roger said...

"All I will say is, I've experienced something, and it has got me thinking."

carly....i like that much better than my own clumsy attempt. but my own experiences do not lead me to rule out atheism.

mandt said...

Excellent article and like so many finely nuanced Buddhist 'thinking' is really much ado about nothing. One only has to think about the upset it causes compared to the serenity of meditation, which is pure practice. Reincarnation can be reduced to the reflex of cause and effect---karma in the world. I find it hilarious that any Buddhist would be fussing over the continuation of personality. Look to the Jataka tales, therein lies the simplest applications of dharma consciousness, or if that is too simple remember the Sixth Patriarch: There is no mirror and no dust to alight on the mirror. The older one gets and the more death one has experienced the more these dust ups of doctrine seem cartoons of illusion. :)

carly said...

Well Roger, if there is anything in the invisible sphere which has been experienced, it rules out the idea that there is nothing in the invisible, yet still detectable sphere.

And since the completely unknowable is just that, one cannot say there is no equivalent to god there either. making atheism baseless.