Brad Warner teaches his Zen students ancient wisdom — Don’t be a jerk |311|

#21
I think you have inadvertently highlighted the inherent contradictions in all of this. On the one hand, you say that "love is just another word that sets boundaries"..... Yet then you define your medititative state as "the experience of God" - which is the very same kind of word that "sets boundaries".
Absolutely. It's only the closest I can come up with.

Edit: I my defence I did not claim this to be the Truth and said this is where I THINK we belong.
 
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#22
I cannot get quotes from the top of my head, but neither in Buddhism or Hinduism reincarnation is implied as the rebirth of the persona. One of the main premises of Buddhism is that existence separate from the whole is an illusion, and "I" is just a momentary manifestation of the Universe, similar to the existence of a wave in the ocean. Does a wave reincarnate? In the way of Western understanding of the term - no, because it has never existed as an entity separate from the ocean itself. The existence of a human being - as understood in Buddhism - is similar. Buddha himself talks about it in the Diamond Sutra, one of the main texts of Buddhism. What reincarnates is the Absolute, the Brahman, God if you will, part of which becomes you, me and everyone else. Just like the ocean reincarnates in every single wave.
Regarding the nature of reincarnation. I don't hold much to what is said in any tradition such as Buddhism or Hinduism. The only test for me is whether it matches my own experience. Here's how I tried to express it in another thread:
Allow me to interject here. Please take what I say as personal opinion, as hard proof isn't easy. Nevertheless, as someone who has pondered on the idea of reincarnation for decades, and indeed with a fair amount of focus on my own most recent life, I am very well aware that I am me. I am not who I was before. In many ways I seem to be almost as far removed as one could get from that existence. So what part do I suggest is the continuity? In some ways that is a mystery. It may not be expressible in words. But there are some facets, such as my ideas, beliefs, and preoccupations which follow a similar trend. Some talents and interests manifest in a similar way. Yet no-one, not even those who know me well, know my habits, foibles as well as strengths, would leap to make the connection. As I said, it may be a mystery.
Well, I have a definite sense of continuity. Perhaps I might make an analogy. During this life we play many roles. A schoolchild, a college student, a worker in various occupations perhaps. One may look back on all of these and know that they were 'you' yet at the same time they are no longer 'you'. In many ways this is pretty much the same sort of idea, I am no longer a ten-year old at school, I am not working in this or that job which I did at one time, and I realise that I was probably somewhat of a different person during those times. I had a different circle of friends, behaved in a different way, and so on. The change from one life to the next (I would suggest) is somewhat similar to these types of transitions.
Another small comment on this topic. I keep chipping away at this, but everything I ever say seems hopelessly incomplete.

There is a sense of identity, maybe I might use the term 'ownership' though the latter is only partially appropriate. But our language doesn't have ready-made terms for discussing these topics, it's a matter of improvising and misusing available words.

Let's say for example that one was almost saintly and an example of goodness. Or say one was maybe a murderer or someone at the opposite end of the scale. How do we relate to such ideas? In earthly terms we praise one and condemn the other. But when it comes to past-life occurrences, neither praise nor condemnation seems appropriate - in the here and now. Now is now, it isn't then. But in some sense one 'owns' those past actions even in the here and now.

This raises a question which I've asked myself repeatedly. No matter how sure I may be of previous identity, there is a sense in which it may seem like 'identity theft' in its most despicable sense, to actually stake a claim over some previous existence. However this is a two-sided coin. In a very real sense the events and identity of a previous existence make their own claim on the present, not in a superficial sense like a blemish on the skin, but at the deepest level like the name running through the length of a stick of Blackpool rock.

Edit: I should add for clarity that I'm not interested in names. That isn't what matters. It is being.
My apologies for spamming this thread with unrelated posts of my own. I guess my real point is that I think we have to trust our own intuition, not blindly follow what anyone else has said, no matter how esteemed they may be.
 
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#23
Regarding the nature of reincarnation. I don't hold much to what is said in any tradition such as Buddhism or Hinduism. The only test for me is whether it matches my own experience. Here's how I tried to express it in another thread:

My apologies for spamming this thread with unrelated posts of my own. I guess my real point is that I think we have to trust our own intuition, not blindly follow what anyone else has said, no matter how esteemed they may be.
Not to mention that there's the reality of historical injustice like the caste system, of egos of the gurus, of the possible confusion between revelation of truth and subjective "revelation" that corresponds to someone's personal preferences and historical conditioning.

And, AFAIK, Buddha never actually wrote anything down himself? Everything in the teachings is claimed to be his words?

"Jesus was a Rabbi, Siddartha a prince.

Both learned, literate men. Yet they never wrote anything down.

Why?

Because they were spell breakers, not spell binders."
-A.A. Attanasio
 
#24
Bruce Goldberg wrote numerous books on the subject of reincarnation. The lesson I learned from those books, don't hold grudges, they last for lifetimes. To me, that was my moment of zen.

As for being a jerk, but sometimes you just gotta be the Assholes.
 
#25
Can someone explain the logistics of reincarnation to me? If you compare deaths versus births, the former is less than the latter. This is why there is net population growth. This year it has been 26 million, give or take. How does it work? Obviously, there aren't enough souls to be recycled into the newly born bodies, so where do new souls - or whatever entity is supposed to reincarnate - come from.

The population growth number comes from here: http://www.worldometers.info/
 
#26
Obviously, there aren't enough souls to be recycled into the newly born bodies, so where do new souls - or whatever entity is supposed to reincarnate - come from.
A common enough question. Once before I attempted a response when it was asked by someone and later it was alluded to as hand-waving. That is to say, it may be that no answer would be acceptable.

So I will give no answer. All I would say for now is that I don't think planet Earth and its human beings are the centre of the universe, not now any more than it was in Ptolemy's time. There's a bigger picture. We have difficulty enough in accounting for physical descriptions of the universe, having to invent both dark matter and dark energy in order to make our equations work. Attempting similar mathematical accounting of how the non-physical universe might work seems a stretch into the ludicrous at this stage, given how little our knowledge of these matters is. There has been research into reincarnation, but it really hasn't reached the stage where we can apply mathematical modelling to it.
 
#28
Can someone explain the logistics of reincarnation to me? If you compare deaths versus births, the former is less than the latter. This is why there is net population growth. This year it has been 26 million, give or take. How does it work? Obviously, there aren't enough souls to be recycled into the newly born bodies, so where do new souls - or whatever entity is supposed to reincarnate - come from.

The population growth number comes from here: http://www.worldometers.info/
Here's a question, why are you assuming that only humans have souls? Also If you want a better answer to your question, I recommend that you give a listen to Whitley Strieber's Dreamland episode for March 23, 2016. It should have the answers you are looking for:
2 Dreamland Regulars Report a Powerful Experience with Anne Strieber

Read the original source: http://www.unknowncountry.com/dream...werful-experience-anne-strieber#ixzz47B1pS0sk

Please remember you'll need a subscription to listen to this episode.
 
#30
I really enjoyed this interview, thanks Alex!

The question at the end, in context of it being on this podcast Skeptiko, reminded of this terrific book I read back when I was very interested in the brain's relationship to "mystical" or "altered" experiences or states of consciousness. Zen and the Brain by James H Austin:



https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/zen-and-brain

Looking for this book, I found this Google Tech talk I haven't seen:


Looking up Dr James Austin's current situation, I notice he has a new book being released in 2016. Maybe a perfect guess for this show, could be a fascinating discussion! :)
thx. this looks great. have queued up.
 
#32
From Warner's blog:


Is There Life After Death?


Last night I saw Chuck Klosterman speak at Skylight Books in Los Angeles. During his talk he read a piece from But What If We’re Wrong? (which I reviewed in my last entry) that illustrates my point about how he — like lots of people these days — voices some of the same ideas contained in Buddhism.

Here is his very Buddhist view on life after death:

“When considered rationally, there is no justification for believing that anything happens to anyone upon the moment of his or her death. There is no reasonable counter to the prospect of nothingness. Any anecdotal story about ‘floating toward a white light’ or Shirley MacLaine’s past life on Atlantis or the details in Heaven Is for Real are automatically (and justifiably) dismissed by any secular intellectual. Yet this wholly logical position discounts the overwhelming likelihood that we currently don’t know something critical about the experience of life, much less the ultimate conclusion to that experience. There are so many things we don’t know about energy, or the way energy is transferred, or why energy (which can’t be created or destroyed) exists at all. We can’t truly conceive the conditions of a multidimensional reality, even though we’re (probably) already living inside one. We have a limited understanding of consciousness. We have a limited understanding of time, and of the perception of time, and of the possibility that all time is happening at once. So while it seems unrealistic to seriously consider the prospect of life after death, it seems equally naïve to assume that our contemporary understanding of this phenomenon is remotely complete.

…We must start from the premise that—in all likelihood—we are already wrong. And not ‘wrong’ in the sense that we are examining questions and coming to incorrect conclusions, because most of our conclusions are reasoned and coherent. The problem is with the questions themselves.”

This sounds very much like the Buddha’s answer to questions of life after death. The Buddha either remained silent when asked about such matters, or said, “The question does not fit the case.” It depends on which accounts you read.

Klosterman sounds like he’s providing a postmodern expansion on Buddha’s answer — the kind of thing you might find in one of my books. In fact, I believe I’ve said pretty much the same stuff on a few occasions when I’ve attempted to address this topic.

Often when I say things like, “Buddhism doesn’t accept the idea of life after death” or “Dogen didn’t teach reincarnation” there will be an outcry from certain parts of the Buddhist blogosphere that basically amounts to, “Says you!”

This is especially true when it comes to American Buddhists. Lots of folks in my home country got into Buddhism specifically because of its teachings about reincarnation, particularly those espoused by Tibetan Buddhists. They do not like anyone questioning their beliefs.

But when Americans conceive of things like reincarnation, they are generally thinking about something vastly different even from the Tibetan Buddhist ideas on the subject. When it comes to Zen Buddhism, there really isn’t anything very much like what most Americans think of when they think of reincarnation.

As Klosterman says, “The problem is with the questions themselves.”

The minute you start asking about life after death, you are assuming that the standard view most of us hold about what life is and what death is are correct. You are asking whether something like the life you imagine you are living now will continue after you die.

Buddha sat with this problem for a long, long time. But, unlike most Western philosophers, he didn’t try to think his way through it. Instead he quietly observed life as it happened to him.

He realized that his thoughts were just a part of what was going on, and not even a very significant part. So he chose not to focus on them. He let his brain do whatever it needed to do, but he didn’t try to use his thinking mind to determine the answer to his questions about the nature of life. This approach probably sounds whacky to lots of us here in the Wild, Wild West. But that’s what he did.

After working this way for a while, certain aspects of life started to become much clearer than before. He started to see that the way his thoughts had been framing his experiences were not right. The framework of thought had some usefulness in terms of communicating to his fellow human beings, but that’s about as far as it went. He saw that it was a mistake to habitually believe his own thoughts.

As anyone who has ever tried to give up cigarettes or alcohol or even coffee can tell you, habits are hard things to break. Our addiction to believing our own thoughts is more powerful and more difficult to overcome than being addicted to heroin or any other addictive substance you can name. So this process was not very easy for our man Buddha, nor has it been easy for anyone else who has ever attempted it.

But, like kicking cigarettes, alcohol, or heroin, the rewards of overcoming our thought-addiction are quite literally inconceivably great. You cannot possibly imagine how much more there is to life once you can find a way to stop unconditionally believing your own mind. It is literally beyond imagination.

It’s like you’ve been high/drunk all your life and then you get sober. You’ve been drunk so long you don’t even know what sobriety is. Then you taste it and realize it’s a hell of a lot better. You see that being drunk on your own thoughts was what made you believe life was miserable when actually it wasn’t miserable at all.

So anyway, when I say I don’t believe in life after death or I don’t believe in reincarnation, I’m not necessarily saying I side with the so-called “rationalists” in our society who say, “there is no justification for believing that anything happens to anyone upon the moment of his or her death. There is no reasonable counter to the prospect of nothingness.”

I agree that when you ask a question like, “Is there life after death?” or “Do we reincarnate?” the only reasonable answer is “No.” If there were any other reasonable answer to those questions, we’d have found it by now. The overwhelming evidence is that nothing happens after we die.

On the other hand, I see a lot of evidence that these kinds of questions themselves are coming at the problem in completely the wrong way. As Klosterman points out, our current commonly held understanding of things like energy, consciousness and, particularly, time are underdeveloped and deeply flawed.

Science may eventually begin to get a grip on the right understanding of these things. But there are ways other than through scientific analysis and mathematical computation for individual human beings to find their way to a better understanding of matters like this.

It’s too bad so many Buddhists have ruined Buddhism. You can really learn a lot by following the examples folks like Buddha and Dogen left for us.
The main point that is missed by a lot people is that any point of view is a thought, a very unreliable and almost always one-sided instrument, never mind if you're a proponent of mainstream or a skeptic. Getting past thinking process may be another way to understand reality, consciousness and other intangible and important things.
 
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