Is Death the End?

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xris
 
Reply Sun 16 May, 2010 09:46 am
@BennySquire,
BennySquire;164962 wrote:
Quote:
Originally Posted by hue-man http://www.philosophyforum.com/images/PHBlue/buttons/viewpost.gif
More nonsense. The measure of proof is apparently still up for debate to most people, but saying that there is no evidence to support the argument that the biological decomposition of an organism is the end of the organism's existence is clearly false. What reason is there to believe that an organism's brain survives the decomposition process other than one's discontent with temporal existence? More importantly, you don't need faith or wishful thinking to disbelieve in a proposition for which there is no evidence. Disbelieving in something does not require that you leap. Either you believe in an afterlife or you don't believe in an afterlife. If you're not sure then that means that you don't believe in an afterlife. Agnosticism is a smug cop out for precisely this reason.



Do you consider what 'thought' is? A thought is always thought in a language, right? You think 'in' a language - if a human was never taught a language, isolated from all others, when would they begin thinking - as soon as they gain the ability to do so (which brings another question, can babies think?) or when they begin to make up their own language?

An interesting question but when you feel incapable of expressing your feelings does that indicate your feelings have no value? language is the ability to communicate not the reason for communicating.
 
BennySquire
 
Reply Sun 16 May, 2010 10:17 am
@xris,
Quote:
Originally Posted by BennySquire http://www.philosophyforum.com/images/PHBlue/buttons/viewpost.gif
Quote:
Originally Posted by hue-man [URL="http://www.philosophyforum.com/images/PHBlue/buttons/viewpost.gif"]http://www.philosophyforum.com/image...s/viewpost.gif[/URL]
More nonsense. The measure of proof is apparently still up for debate to most people, but saying that there is no evidence to support the argument that the biological decomposition of an organism is the end of the organism's existence is clearly false. What reason is there to believe that an organism's brain survives the decomposition process other than one's discontent with temporal existence? More importantly, you don't need faith or wishful thinking to disbelieve in a proposition for which there is no evidence. Disbelieving in something does not require that you leap. Either you believe in an afterlife or you don't believe in an afterlife. If you're not sure then that means that you don't believe in an afterlife. Agnosticism is a smug cop out for precisely this reason.



Do you consider what 'thought' is? A thought is always thought in a language, right? You think 'in' a language - if a human was never taught a language, isolated from all others, when would they begin thinking - as soon as they gain the ability to do so (which brings another question, can babies think?) or when they begin to make up their own language?


Quote:
An interesting question but when you feel incapable of expressing your feelings does that indicate your feelings have no value? language is the ability to communicate not the reason for communicating.


I think what you just said is irrelevant, I was talking about personal thoughts not communcation. If you didn't know any language, you would make up your own - but between starting to name things etc and creating a fully fledged language what would thinking be like? Of course you would have feelings - but with no language to express them, would thoughts exist? I think I've hit on something here Smile
 
William
 
Reply Sun 16 May, 2010 02:26 pm
@William,
It seems, to me anyway, those who continue to want proof for all things, are the ones who make the most noise. Noise is not only a pollutant of the ears, it clogs up the mind as well.

William

---------- Post added 05-16-2010 at 04:02 PM ----------

Hey Phillipe if you are reading this, regarding my last post in your blog concerning William Bradford, note the number of post above before this one. ha! This kinda thing happens to me all he time. Coincidence? Not hardly.

william
 
trismegisto
 
Reply Sun 16 May, 2010 08:49 pm
@BennySquire,
BennySquire;164962 wrote:

Do you consider what 'thought' is? A thought is always thought in a language, right? You think 'in' a language - if a human was never taught a language, isolated from all others, when would they begin thinking - as soon as they gain the ability to do so (which brings another question, can babies think?) or when they begin to make up their own language?


Thought is by no means dependent on language. Thoughts are never thought in language. Language is merely a way to articulate thought. The first everything men have done had no language to articulate it prior to the invention of the the appropriate language that was thought up.

Keep in mind that both thought language originated millions of years before history. So, it really is about opinions.
 
mark noble
 
Reply Fri 21 May, 2010 08:28 am
@trismegisto,
Hi All,

I've never been dead, and I don't know of a time I was not living.

What I believe is this; We are all one thing, call it God, if you will, in all given forms and all given places, seemingly at the same time, but always slightly out of sync.
One event - One self-repeating (eternal) event.

When I'm you, I'll read this
For, through your eyes, will I see
Through your mind, I'll interpret it
And, somewhat, set it free
I'll, likely, understand it not
And tend to let it be
But, just in case, I'm out of place
I'll write it whilst...I'm ME.

Figure it out for yourselves, As will I, when I'm you.

Thank you, and journey well, always.

Mark...
 
setzer9999
 
Reply Fri 28 May, 2010 09:13 am
@trismegisto,
trismegisto;148633 wrote:
Well, I mean if that is what you CHOOSE to believe thats fine but you are clearly wrong. Since science cannot prove the location of thought within the brain only the areas that are affected by thought, it is simply not science to believe that the brain is the origin of thought. But like I said, if you want to have FAITH that science will someday find the origin of thought in the body, thats entirely up to you. Don't expect to be taken seriously, though.


Here you are making the assumption that "thought" exists in a "location". It doesn't seem to me that thought is something that can be bottled up in a quantity or located. Thought, emotion, sensation, and consciousness don't necessarily have any form, physical or spiritual, and don't necessarily "reside" anywhere. These things appear to be relationships between things that do have form, not things with form themselves. Objects in the environment have a relationship to nerve endings which have relationships with other nerve cells. You can't "locate" a relationship.

I say "don't necessarily" because I cannot state that they do not factually. There has been a lot of confusion in this thread about not being certain or having no evidence but holding a position being matters of "faith". One can believe only in that which they have evidence for, but still acknowledge that they may lack evidence. This does not imply that they have "faith" that there is no other evidence, or that they are wishy-washy in their thinking respectively. It simply indicates that that individual is aware of the potential of having limited perspective.

In the same way, there is simply and truly NO evidence of life after death or logical basis for believing there is life after death. At the same time, there being no evidence doesn't mean that there isn't life after death. All it means is that it is entirely illogical to believe that there is based on the current perspective we have.
 
trismegisto
 
Reply Sat 29 May, 2010 10:05 am
@setzer9999,
setzer9999;169989 wrote:
Here you are making the assumption that "thought" exists in a "location". It doesn't seem to me that thought is something that can be bottled up in a quantity or located. Thought, emotion, sensation, and consciousness don't necessarily have any form, physical or spiritual, and don't necessarily "reside" anywhere. These things appear to be relationships between things that do have form, not things with form themselves. Objects in the environment have a relationship to nerve endings which have relationships with other nerve cells. You can't "locate" a relationship.


Nice try at this straw man argument, but it was not I that tried to locate thoughts in the brain, I was merely pointing out that we have no scientific evidence to support that claim.

Now, if you want to discuss the validity of form necessary for existence that is fine. But I am sure that if you do a little research you will find almost every scientist in the academic world is perfectly fine with existence without form. Otherwise the Standard Model of the universe would be completely useless.


setzer9999;169989 wrote:
I say "don't necessarily" because I cannot state that they do not factually. There has been a lot of confusion in this thread about not being certain or having no evidence but holding a position being matters of "faith". One can believe only in that which they have evidence for, but still acknowledge that they may lack evidence. This does not imply that they have "faith" that there is no other evidence, or that they are wishy-washy in their thinking respectively. It simply indicates that that individual is aware of the potential of having limited perspective.


Nobody believes only that which they have evidence for. Everybody places FAITH in what they are told by their perceived authorities is true.
Unless you have seen an atom, you simply have faith that it exists. Unless you have personally harnessed a lightning bolt you have FAITH that it is electrical. Unless you have explored outer space you have FAITH that it is not a solid LCD dome over our heads.

FAITH is an integral part of our everyday life and is by no means restricted to religion.

setzer9999;169989 wrote:
In the same way, there is simply and truly NO evidence of life after death or logical basis for believing there is life after death. At the same time, there being no evidence doesn't mean that there isn't life after death. All it means is that it is entirely illogical to believe that there is based on the current perspective we have.


Sure there is. If the body is the source of life, then offspring are simply a continuation of the parental life. Which usually continues on after the death of the original parent.

You can either have the existence of life as a non form, or millions of years of life after death, but you can't have it both ways?
 
William
 
Reply Sat 29 May, 2010 04:04 pm
@William,
William;165007 wrote:
It seems, to me anyway, those who continue to want proof for all things, are the ones who make the most noise. Noise is not only a pollutant of the ears, it clogs up the mind as well.

William

---------- Post added 05-16-2010 at 04:02 PM ----------

Hey Phillipe if you are reading this, regarding my last post in your blog concerning William Bradford, note the number of post above before this one. ha! This kinda thing happens to me all he time. Coincidence? Not hardly.

william


That post was number 1620 at that time. I sort of forgot that number changes all the time. Ha and duh? :brickwall:Laughing
 
setzer9999
 
Reply Sat 29 May, 2010 06:21 pm
@trismegisto,
trismegisto;170393 wrote:
Nice try at this straw man argument, but it was not I that tried to locate thoughts in the brain, I was merely pointing out that we have no scientific evidence to support that claim.

Now, if you want to discuss the validity of form necessary for existence that is fine. But I am sure that if you do a little research you will find almost every scientist in the academic world is perfectly fine with existence without form. Otherwise the Standard Model of the universe would be completely useless.

Nobody believes only that which they have evidence for. Everybody places FAITH in what they are told by their perceived authorities is true.
Unless you have seen an atom, you simply have faith that it exists. Unless you have personally harnessed a lightning bolt you have FAITH that it is electrical. Unless you have explored outer space you have FAITH that it is not a solid LCD dome over our heads.

FAITH is an integral part of our everyday life and is by no means restricted to religion.

Sure there is. If the body is the source of life, then offspring are simply a continuation of the parental life. Which usually continues on after the death of the original parent.

You can either have the existence of life as a non form, or millions of years of life after death, but you can't have it both ways?


I never said that things can't exist without form. If you read what I wrote, you will find that I am referring to thought, emotion, sensation, and consciousness as they exist. I never said they don't exist. I am perfectly fine with things existing without form. You're previous post to which I was replying seemed to imply our inability to understand "where" thought is or what it is indicates that it contains elements other than a physical or biological process. I am merely stating that there is no reason to assume that there is anything going on beyond what is observable. There might be, but it is actually that for which we don't have evidence.

As for the faith issue, assuming that everything you know is based on faith is extremely similar to the argument that we don't actually know anything. Now that is a straw man argument. In order to discuss what is and isn't known, you must first make the assumption that you know anything. Otherwise, the conversation is indeed quite pointless as none of us know anything in that case.

I do not have to have faith that an atom exists or that the sky is not an LCD screen. The models such that there are atoms and that there is a vaccuum of space are corroberated by the way other more readily observable objects behave, and independent interests have come to the same conclusion all over the globe. It isn't faith that makes me believe in the scientific discoveries of our species, its acceptance of that for which there is the MOST evidence. This acceptance is not faith. Just because I cannot be 100% certain of something doesn't mean I'm taking it on faith. I don't "believe" an atom exists, I operate under the premise that it is the most likely reality in order to navigate by my actions. It certainly might be the case that there is no such thing as an atom, but the evidence seems to greatly contradict this possiblity.

As to the last issue, of whether there is evidence of life after death, the fact that on organism outlives another is not evidence of continued life after death in an afterlife. It seems that this thread is about discussing that interpretatoin of life after death. If this thread was about organisms outliving one another, the argument would have been over long ago.
 
shadowdancer
 
Reply Sat 29 May, 2010 07:21 pm
@trismegisto,
hue-man;148221 wrote:


You didn't state your position on the issue, but I'm assuming that it's agnosticism. Agnosticism is a redundant restatement of the principle that all synthetic propositions are subject to doubt. It's a philosophic extension of an inadequate epistemology that, when taken to its logical end, becomes infinite skepticism. Apply this redundant principle to your everyday life and you will simultaneously watch your sanity fade.


Skepticism is good for many cases in this life, and it could bring happiness to.. actually.
Though I agree that infinite skepticism will fade our sanity.
We have to watch upon ourselves and balance between skeptic vs belief, ambitions vs reflections, and many things.
I have been life with skepticism for almost 5 years, and I feel my life better, subjectively


hue-man;148221 wrote:
It is often said that in old age one is as a child again. Among other things, this notion is grounded in the fact that those who draw closer to death's door are the most likely to believe in the realism of fairytales. They soothe themselves with superstition all the while missing the beauty of it all . . . the tragedy.


Agree,
I have learned religion, and what I have found is people need something to comfort themselves, or being broken with this burden of life.
Now we need to accept more that this life is just one, and opening our arms to this "tragedy".
And by believing that this life is just one for everybody in this world, we must respect all life.

Thanks hue-man for your good points.
 
Caroline
 
Reply Sat 29 May, 2010 07:29 pm
@William,
Who knows if death is the end, (no-one) one things for sure we wont know til it happens.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Sat 29 May, 2010 07:41 pm
@William,
and if it IS the end, we won't know then, either.
 
Neil D
 
Reply Sat 29 May, 2010 08:58 pm
@jeeprs,
Whats the difference between non-existence prior to birth, and non-existence after death? How can "I" not exist, and then exist? What exactly is the "I" and from where does it come? How does my conscious awareness differ from someone elses?

I have no reason not to believe, when I think in terms of eternity, that whatever caused me to exist now. Will cause me to exist again. Whatever I am.
 
Krumple
 
Reply Sat 29 May, 2010 11:18 pm
@Neil D,
Neil;170646 wrote:
Whats the difference between non-existence prior to birth, and non-existence after death? How can "I" not exist, and then exist? What exactly is the "I" and from where does it come? How does my conscious awareness differ from someone elses?


Biochemical process. The I just believes itself to be a substantial thing. But it is a mistake because cognition has this as a side effect. There is no "I". You never existed before, you don't exist now, and you won't exist in the future. The only thing that is happening is cognition believing itself to be a real being but it is an illusion.

Neil;170646 wrote:

I have no reason not to believe, when I think in terms of eternity, that whatever caused me to exist now. Will cause me to exist again. Whatever I am.


No, because they way in which you think you exist now requires huge amounts of energy. You think this energy is just going to magically be there in the future when you don't have a body? That is what is so funny when people discuss this topic. Everything that you think you are now, could not even be after this life ends. Are you going to keep the same hair cut? Are you going to keep the same age? Are you going to speak your native language? Are you going to have you same job, career? Are you going to have the same habits? It's a big no to all that. So everything that you think you are now, could not even be.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Sun 30 May, 2010 12:04 am
@Krumple,
Krumple;170692 wrote:
Biochemical process. The I just believes itself to be a substantial thing. But it is a mistake because cognition has this as a side effect. There is no "I". You never existed before, you don't exist now, and you won't exist in the future. The only thing that is happening is cognition believing itself to be a real being but it is an illusion.


It is interesting to reflect that Buddhist philosophy agrees that the ego is not a substantial thing, but that re-birth is nevertheless inevitable, unless one has become liberated from samsara prior to dying. So what to make of that?
 
Krumple
 
Reply Sun 30 May, 2010 01:27 am
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;170700 wrote:
It is interesting to reflect that Buddhist philosophy agrees that the ego is not a substantial thing, but that re-birth is nevertheless inevitable, unless one has become liberated from samsara prior to dying. So what to make of that?


Well there are two ways in which it is interpreted.

Ignorance breeds ignorance. You can take the word breed here in both it's meanings. Those who have awakened probably have no ambition to continue creating ignorance or passing it on. It is possible that life itself is ignorance.

The Buddha also warns us not to speculate on where we came from, where we are and where we are going. I don't think he means that because it can't be known, but instead it is an error to even consider it because the illusion itself. Since there is no substantial self, why would you ask the question?

A mirror can reflect an image, but is that reflection a real thing? I see the self as sort of reflection caused by cognition. It is this awareness that gives rise to the concept of I or me, but it is just a reflection of that awareness.

So to believe that we have something substantial like a soul or mind that will continue endlessly into the future in some other form is a mistake. I don't think it will happen that way. Even if it did, it would not be you anyways. Because everything that makes you, who you are in this life, is tied to this world. A majority of it is physical, some of it is mental, but take away a lot of that physical and you are left with very little mental. So a huge portion of who you are would be missing. Not to mention this would have a drastic impact on your identity.

I just don't see how the mind would maintain such personality if your reality changed so drastically. Not to mention if you were in some way completely altered. What if in your next life you became a cat? Do you think you would be concerned about anything in your previous life? I just don't see any connection of why it would work like that. I think these sorts of beliefs were not originally taught by the Buddha. They are misrepresentations of the teachings as a way to force people into doing good by planting the seed of fear of unfavorable existences if they do not behave. A sort of Santa Clause effect.

I would be more than happy to be wrong about this. However; if there is no end to existence then to me, existence would already be hellish. It would mean there is no escape to existing. You could not kill your mind or make the process end. Not even awakening or enlightenment could bring it to an end. You would still exist as an enlightened being, perhaps not in the usual sense but you would still exist in some state. Doing nothing, an endless meditation for eternity, does not sound like a good way to exist. All that it would take is for something to trigger a desire or want to do something other than just be to start the whole process over again.

I know they say once you are awakened you completely end the cycle of ignorance. But that can't be completely true, or else the Buddha never would have achieved enlightenment. It is a contradiction in terms.

I don't think there are other realms of existence outside of this frame of mind. I don't think there is anything that will continue beyond this life. Once we die, that is the end, and what ever actions or deeds we did in life will ripple out into the world and among the people we leave behind. Eventually those ripples will calm and all the effects you ever had on the world would be forgotten.

This is what the Buddha meant by impermanence. Nothing lasts, not even the Dharma.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Sun 30 May, 2010 02:08 am
@Krumple,
Krumple;170707 wrote:
Well there are two ways in which it is interpreted.

Ignorance breeds ignorance. You can take the word breed here in both it's meanings. Those who have awakened probably have no ambition to continue creating ignorance or passing it on. It is possible that life itself is ignorance.


That is very near the truth. Life itself arises on account of ignorance, or, we are born because of it. Ignorance, avidya, is the first factor in the 12 links in the chain of causation. (the Pratityasammutpada - Because of this, that arises, because of that, this arises, and so on.)

Krumple;170707 wrote:
The Buddha also warns us not to speculate on where we came from, where we are and where we are going. I don't think he means that because it can't be known, but instead it is an error to even consider it because the illusion itself. Since there is no substantial self, why would you ask the question?



Krumple;170707 wrote:
I think these sorts of beliefs were not originally taught by the Buddha. They are misrepresentations of the teachings as a way to force people into doing good by planting the seed of fear of unfavorable existences if they do not behave. A sort of Santa Clause effect.


Nevertheless it is indubitable that the Buddhist understanding (and Indian tradition generally) takes the cycle of birth and death for granted. In all of the accounts of the Buddha's awakening, it is explicitly stated that he recalled his previous existences, down to the last detail, and for many thousands of lifetimes, immediately prior to his enlightenment. The absence of the substantial self is understood by the analogy of 'passing the torch'. It is also understood in terms of the difference between relative and ultimate truth. The interpretation of 'anatta', no-self, is actually a pretty subtle matter.

It is true that to practice Buddhism, a belief in an afterlife is not required, in that the results are visible 'here and now'. In that sense, it is perfectly applicable as a secular philosophy with no such beliefs. On the other hand, in the traditional view, the denial of the afterlife is regarded as nihilism. The theory of karma does not make sense without re-birth (for where are the fruits of one's deeds to be realised?)

I would think most Asian Buddhists would take re-birth for granted. It is very difficult for modern people to accept. I personally have an open mind about it. I also don't kid myself that it is something easy to understand either so I am not coming to any firm conclusions one way or the other.

Krumple;170707 wrote:
I would be more than happy to be wrong about this. However; if there is no end to existence then to me, existence would already be hellish. It would mean there is no escape to existing. You could not kill your mind or make the process end. Not even awakening or enlightenment could bring it to an end. You would still exist as an enlightened being, perhaps not in the usual sense but you would still exist in some state.

...I know they say once you are awakened you completely end the cycle of ignorance. But that can't be completely true, or else the Buddha never would have achieved enlightenment. It is a contradiction in terms.


Very important point. Why is it a contradiction in terms? According to the teaching, the Buddha is one 'for whom the burden is ended, done is what has to be done, there is no further re-birth'. That part is perfectly clear and not at all equivocal. You may choose not to believe it, but that is what it says. As to whether the Buddha exists or does not exist past his 'pari-nirvana', that is exactly the kind of 'speculation' that the teaching warns against. One name for the Buddha is 'tathagata', 'Gone thus'. Gone, gone, gone beyond.

You might be thinking of the Mahayana view that Nirvana and Samsara are not ultimately different?


Krumple;170707 wrote:
I don't think there are other realms of existence outside of this frame of mind. I don't think there is anything that will continue beyond this life. Once we die, that is the end, and what ever actions or deeds we did in life will ripple out into the world and among the people we leave behind. Eventually those ripples will calm and all the effects you ever had on the world would be forgotten.

This is what the Buddha meant by impermanence. Nothing lasts, not even the Dharma.


I don't think that is the teaching of impermanence, I think it is nihilism. The traditional belief is that there are six realms of being. Modern Westerners often choose not to accept that which is of course their perogative.
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Sun 30 May, 2010 02:21 am
@William,
William;148063 wrote:
How many on this forum actually believe when you're dead your dead?
All that is you just disappears and that's all there is for you. No such thing as eternal life. Nothing about you continues. That's it!

Now if this is true, then where in the world could the idea of eternal anything come from? Considering everything that has ever lived, dies? Usually an idea sparks from something that is in our memory that is familiar with it and we add to it creating a new idea.

Yeah, William, in the usual sense I think that death is the end. But in another metaphor way, not so. The self is part candle, part flame. The flame lives on in other candles.
I think the concept of the eternal is hard-wired. It's a Plato-Kant type assertion. I feel that we intuit perfect unity, perfect identity, and this is the source of the concept of eternity.

But I could be wrong on either count. I wish you well, William!

---------- Post added 05-30-2010 at 03:22 AM ----------

Neil;170646 wrote:
Whats the difference between non-existence prior to birth, and non-existence after death? How can "I" not exist, and then exist? What exactly is the "I" and from where does it come? How does my conscious awareness differ from someone elses?

Now those are some good questions! I feel you. How can one not consider such issues?Smile

---------- Post added 05-30-2010 at 03:23 AM ----------

jeeprs;170613 wrote:
and if it IS the end, we won't know then, either.


Indeed, indeed. The peace which literally passes understanding. Unthinkably unthinkable oh sweet nothing...

---------- Post added 05-30-2010 at 03:24 AM ----------

Krumple;170707 wrote:

So to believe that we have something substantial like a soul or mind that will continue endlessly into the future in some other form is a mistake.


Nice point, Krumple. I relate to this idea. That the self is a useful fiction. More useful at some times than others....

---------- Post added 05-30-2010 at 03:26 AM ----------

Krumple;170707 wrote:
Doing nothing, an endless meditation for eternity, does not sound like a good way to exist.


It does seem like the human body has its limits. Don't rats stimulate themselves to starvation in certain experiments, if they are given a way to electrically induce pure pleasure?

---------- Post added 05-30-2010 at 03:29 AM ----------

Krumple;170707 wrote:

I don't think there are other realms of existence outside of this frame of mind. I don't think there is anything that will continue beyond this life. Once we die, that is the end, and what ever actions or deeds we did in life will ripple out into the world and among the people we leave behind. Eventually those ripples will calm and all the effects you ever had on the world would be forgotten.

This is my view, too. Of course I don't claim to have any proof. The "eternal" is only experienced within "time." Time is made of concept. The past is memory and the future is a fantasy or a threat. Every candle melts and even the flame of "consciousness" goes out if the species dies. But then there may be other species superior to our own out there. But what do I mean by superior?
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Sun 30 May, 2010 02:30 am
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;170721 wrote:
The peace which literally passes understanding


No, that ain't it. That is not death.
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Sun 30 May, 2010 02:34 am
@Krumple,
Krumple;170692 wrote:
Biochemical process. The I just believes itself to be a substantial thing. But it is a mistake because cognition has this as a side effect. There is no "I". You never existed before, you don't exist now, and you won't exist in the future. The only thing that is happening is cognition believing itself to be a real being but it is an illusion.

That's hard core, man! I would only differ with you on the illusion metaphor. If this is all there is, then this is the real, and the illusion would be the fantasy of something realer?

The biochemical process is a believable explanation in science terms. But phenomenologically, which would be to come from the other angle, these biochemical processes are an abstraction, however justified. Sensation is. Emotion is. Concept is. This isn't mysticism but a radically basic empiricism. I'm not denying that human experience is dependent on the brain, but the brain also doesn't exist (in any way we humans can conceive of) except within human experience. If the universe is there, and no being experiences it, in what way is it there?

---------- Post added 05-30-2010 at 03:34 AM ----------

jeeprs;170731 wrote:
No, that ain't it. That is not death.


I know. I'm just kidding. A little gallows humor.

---------- Post added 05-30-2010 at 03:39 AM ----------

jeeprs;170715 wrote:

Nevertheless it is indubitable that the Buddhist understanding (and Indian tradition generally) takes the cycle of birth and death for granted. In all of the accounts of the Buddha's awakening, it is explicitly stated that he recalled his previous existences, down to the last detail, and for many thousands of lifetimes, immediately prior to his enlightenment. The absence of the substantial self is understood by the analogy of 'passing the torch'. It is also understood in terms of the difference between relative and ultimate truth. The interpretation of 'anatta', no-self, is actually a pretty subtle matter.

It is true that to practice Buddhism, a belief in an afterlife is not required, in that the results are visible 'here and now'. In that sense, it is perfectly applicable as a secular philosophy with no such beliefs. On the other hand, in the traditional view, the denial of the afterlife is regarded as nihilism. The theory of karma does not make sense without re-birth (for where are the fruits of one's deeds to be realised?)

Interesting points. Thanks for the info! Of course the torch passing makes good sense to me. I feel that the contingent self is no big loss. I forgive death by looking at the best part of me, the part worth saving, as that which is open to all of us. The little i is the candle. The big I is the flame. No one claims the big I. No one lives there full-time. That would be "Christ in me" symbolically speaking. Eternity exists within time. That sort of thing.
Could the memories of lifetimes be a great metaphor for this? I like white-noise as a symbol. It contains all frequencies.

---------- Post added 05-30-2010 at 03:40 AM ----------

jeeprs;170715 wrote:
One name for the Buddha is 'tathagata', 'Gone thus'. Gone, gone, gone beyond.

This is beautiful and mysterious.

---------- Post added 05-30-2010 at 03:43 AM ----------

jeeprs;170715 wrote:

I don't think that is the teaching of impermanence, I think it is nihilism.

Not to be difficult, my friend, but I can see impermanence as not being necessary nihilistic. It's like Heraclitus and his river. The water is always new, and always passing. But the form remains. The body is the "temple of God" and God is always changing his address, via sexual reproduction.

For me, love is the heart of the flame.
 
 

 
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