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February 15, 2009

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These are some very good points Brian. I'm glad that you've brought attention to them.

If this so-called vast mysterious and wonderful "physical" universe, this galactic cosmos, this totality that we exist in and are undoubtably a part of, is somehow irrelevant or secondary... then why does it so prominently exist? And just where is that supposed reality or realm which is supposed to be more superior or more significant or more spiritual?

I think, its simply as as the old saying goes:

"The kingdom of Heaven... is AT HAND" (ie: it is right HERE & right NOW - not somewhere else). THIS... is IT. And there is no elsewhere.


Hi Brian - reading your blogs over the last few weeks, I think you are more & more leaning towards an atheistic, materialist reductionist pov? Would you think that is accurate?

There are so many topics I wish to raise questions on, but so little time!

Just briefly: In todays blog you wrote about the 'metaphysical' aspects of Buddhism being 'karma, reincarnation' etc. Just to point out, karma literally translates as 'cause & effect'. That is a decidely physical concept. 'Reincarnation' doesn't actually exist in Buddhism, and Buddha went to great pains to try and clarify this. However, I understand people have difficulty grasping this extremely important difference, and tend to simply just group reincarnation and the Buddha's 'rebirth' together (lazily, imo), assuming it is merely a semantic difference (which it isn't). I personally don't know as to how literal the reality of 'rebirth' is, but just taking the scientific pov of cause & effect, where exactly the 'effects' or all our emotions, actions and thoughts (which, according to the materialist model, are modifications of matter) after our physical death? According to the laws of science, there MUST be an 'effect' to the cause of our mental activities after death? Just because we cannot put our mental acivities under a microscope, it doesn't mean they aren't subject to the laws of cause & effect....IF you believe in material reductionism (ironically), because ALL is matter.....including our thoughts and emotions! So, where are the effects of our thoughts and emotions after death? Buddhists have their theories. What about science? Cause and effect?

Anyway, in today's post you wrote "It amazes me when fundamentalists are so adamant that what is scientifically known about our universe is worthless, mistaken, false, dangerous to one's spiritual health. "

I whole heartedly agree.

But I would also add, it also amazes me when scientific reductionists are so adamant that any experience or insight or 'reality' that cannot be contained with-in a linear scientific conceptual/linguistic paradigm, is a fantasy and worthless, and dangerous to one's mental health!

Perhaps 'reality' cannot be contained within a linear, conceptual rationalist paradigm? And words really are merely, at absolute best, pointers or aides?

There really is so much more to say, but not enough time!

Lastly, though, you write: "Where is the person with a soul but no body? Where is a God absent any creation? Where is a heaven detached from any earthly connection? Where is a pure Platonic truth unsoiled by material existence?"

I would answer "in the mind". The same place science exists.

In a previous post you mention the 'reality' of evolution (which I was under the impression was still a theory? But never mind!), as if it is a self-evident 'reality' outside of our mind-brains.

Well, what it really is, is a presentation of accumulated data from a past we don't know about, ordered and structured into a coherent, linear & purely conceptual model (which facts tend to reinforce or support), projected through time (past through to future), but all in the here & now of our consciousness.

The fact that time and space themselves are merely a product of our MINDS (scientifically so, too) brings into deep, deep question whether the model of evolution is any more a 'reality' than any other MIND created thing........

Ahh, back to Buddhism :)

manjit...

Buddhism certainly does believe in reincarnation. The Dalai Lama is chosen on this basis. And this isn't a fuzzy-wuzzy sort of reincarnation, vague cause and effects persisting in time and space, but a deceased individuality persisting in another body (the Dalai Lama supposedly recalls people and events from his previous birth).

Maybe true, maybe not. But certainly unproven metaphysics.

Am I more materialistic now? It doesn't feel that way. Maybe. What has changed for me is that I'm more accepting of not-knowing now. And more skeptical of those who claim to know when they obviously don't.

For example: you didn't reasonably reply to my statement that nobody has ever existed as soul without body. You said that both believers and unbelievers exist as mind. Well, yes. That's my point. MInd is brain.

No one has existed apart from the brain, or mind, or body. At least, there's no evidence of this. So science is more honest (a virtue, for sure) in that it doesn't speak of what can't be shown to be true.

You don't understand the meaning of "theory" in science. That's fine. You just should educate yourself. Do some Googling. "Theory" doesn't mean unproven, or a conjecture. It's basically a word that denotes a collection of facts, or observations, that points to a highly defensible conclusion.

So the theory of evolution isn't a hypothesis, which is how people often use the word ("I've got a theory about who is going to win the Super Bowl..."). It's the way things are, until proven otherwise -- which hasn't happened yet.

Someone asked me recently if I still believed in karma. I said, "Yes, if karma is taken to be cause and effect." But the notion of past lives, and karma being transmitted from birth to birth -- that is conjecture to me now.

Like I said, Buddhists see Tibetans as suffering the results of their past karma, this having caused China to invade them. That's simply a metaphysical Buddhist idea that now strikes me as indefensible.

Keeping it short. I think that what manjit is inferring is true. Namely, 'reality' cannot be contained within a linear rationalist conceptual paradigm. However, I would extend this to: 'reality' cannot be contained within the state of being that includes facts, sensation, awareness, as well as thought (either by reason or faith).

As best as I can figure, the concepts of karma and reincarnation don't extend beyond the conceptual framework of the mind-brain organ. This still doesn't say anything about the "thing in itself". It appears as if karma and reincarnation cannot even be considered metaphysics beyond their conceptual patterns in the brain. I suspect these beliefs are psychological patches in our sense of reality that keeps our ego inflated :) I don't know if I've said a damn thing... ha ha ha.

manjit...

Buddhism certainly does believe in reincarnation. The Dalai Lama is chosen on this basis. And this isn't a fuzzy-wuzzy sort of reincarnation, vague cause and effects persisting in time and space, but a deceased individuality persisting in another body (the Dalai Lama supposedly recalls people and events from his previous birth).


##Hell Brian - no, I'm pretty sure 'Buddhism', or at least certainely not the Buddha himself, believed in 'reincarnation'? In fact, I think Buddha went to great lengths to dispel this misunderstanding of his teachings. There are sutras upon sutras, long & complex, which address this very issue.

You, of course, are entitled to your understanding of Buddhism, even if it is diametrically opposed to what the Budddha himself taught & emphasised.

As to the *very* culture specific world of Tibetan Buddhism (TB), this is an incredibly complex area. Whether or not the Dalai Lama experiences 'past lives', it is also true that in TB practices one can experience 'unity' with guru, gods and godesses. And they say the even a dog has the 'Buddha mind' of a Buddha! I have experienced myself the powerful nature of inner experiences which appear to 'emerge' from a deep cultural (and even sometimes archytypal), or ancestoral 'subconscious'. In the position the Dalai Lama is in, I would be astonished if he DIDN'T experience something along those archetypal lines of being in a succession of men considered to be divine reps of the Buddha! I, personally, cannot explain these kind of experiences in any known model or linguistic structure, or any kind of linear, causal paradigm whatsoever. Concepts such as 'a succession of past lives' or reincarnation appear meaningless, with the 'reality' being something far more profound & unspeakable. But, as a material reductionist, I'm sure you believe you can explain it more mundanely?

As for a literal, objective inference from these experiences of a linear succession of lives experienced by an eternally recurring entity (soul), this simply isn't Buddhism.

And, most importantly & in direct contradiction to your example, the Dalai Lama himself has never comitted to a literal, objective belief in even rebirth. He says 'I don't know'. I'm sure it wouldn't be difficult to google and find such comments from him.####

Maybe true, maybe not. But certainly unproven metaphysics.

Am I more materialistic now? It doesn't feel that way. Maybe. What has changed for me is that I'm more accepting of not-knowing now.


###This is where I disagree. Being adamant that 'reality' fit withing a conceptual, linguistic, linear, materialistic reductionist scientific paradigm, isn't neccessarily 'accepting of not knowing'. Rather, it is a definining or limiting of what type of 'knowing' you prefer?

There is a big difference between atheism and agnosticism, imo####


And more skeptical of those who claim to know when they obviously don't.


###Know what? For most 'mystics', the whole thing is about moving beyong 'knowing' isn't it?###


For example: you didn't reasonably reply to my statement that nobody has ever existed as soul without body. You said that both believers and unbelievers exist as mind. Well, yes. That's my point. MInd is brain.


###Mind is brain is a statement of belief. One that even science doesn't neccessarily agree with.

However, I don't understand your questions meaning or import? And I believe I answered it; in the mind.

But, I'll play devil's advocate.

What about in 'astral projection'? There, it is EXPERIENCED that one exists without a physical body? Does that answer your question? Or, are we to now shift goalposts & speculate about how without a physical body we could not experience those realms? To which one could respond then you must find somebody without a phsyical body to answer your question, which is preposterous!

Speculation is endless.

I myself don't know where or what reality is, body, mind or soul?

Simply THIS, I say.####


No one has existed apart from the brain, or mind, or body. At least, there's no evidence of this. So science is more honest (a virtue, for sure) in that it doesn't speak of what can't be shown to be true.

###But people EXPERIENCE existing without a phsyical body or brain?

What is really being discussed here is conceptual, linear & causal models that can never really be proof for or against any reality, as the reality may be un-conceptual, un-linear and un-causal?###

You don't understand the meaning of "theory" in science. That's fine. You just should educate yourself. Do some Googling. "Theory" doesn't mean unproven, or a conjecture. It's basically a word that denotes a collection of facts, or observations, that points to a highly defensible conclusion.


###Whilst I'm sure it would serve you to label me as somebody who doesn't understand science, hence unable to comprehend it's supremely all-explaining magnificence, I must contend with you here.

I think you will find a pretty accurate definition of 'scientific theory' in my actual original comment below! It is the interpretation of raw scientific data and facts, into a conceptual paradigm or model projected through time (read my comment below).

Yes, I understand scientific theory.

And, I understand the difference between a conceptual model or paradigm based upon the INTERPRETATION of facts, projected through time......and 'reality', which is what you claimed it was. My original point stands, imo.

This is the biggest mistake of science, that believing conceptual models based upon scientific facts, are the 'reality' themselves. Hence observing neurons firing in the brain invalidates the potential for a higher 'being' like 'God'? Not only is that sheer arrogance, it is also very poor thinking. I know that's not the 'in' thing to say nowadays, what with materialistic reductionist atheists being the neo-masters of the universe ;-)###


So the theory of evolution isn't a hypothesis, which is how people often use the word ("I've got a theory about who is going to win the Super Bowl..."). It's the way things are, until proven otherwise -- which hasn't happened yet.

###errrm, yes. However, even scientific 'theories' are not the REALITY you labelled it to be, especially not this one!

It is strange however, that you spent more time responding to a bracketed, off-hand comment about evolution being a theory, than the main over-reaching point of my comment? Regardless, I still think that point stands?###

Someone asked me recently if I still believed in karma. I said, "Yes, if karma is taken to be cause and effect." But the notion of past lives, and karma being transmitted from birth to birth -- that is conjecture to me now.

Like I said, Buddhists see Tibetans as suffering the results of their past karma, this having caused China to invade them. That's simply a metaphysical Buddhist idea that now strikes me as indefensible.


####fair enough. I personally don't think I'm knowledgable enough to pass judgement on the Tibetan culture and experience, to be able to say this is indefensible, myself. Just like I couldn't pass judgement on seemingly 'barbaric' rituals in shamanic groups. I think it extrmely arrogant to believe WE know what paradigm is best, what reality is really real, etc etc

But each to their own.

PS, I agree with Jayme too###

Manjit,

Nice comment.

There are corrupted scientists that use the Scientific Method to create their brand of scientific theory. I agree, I have had my experiences with such, years ago. With that said, I prefer the scientific method over a religious method.

Roger

manjit, you're wrong. Rebirth, or reincarnation, is definitely a central tenet of Buddhism. See:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reincarnation
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rebirth_(Buddhism)

In Buddhism there isn't the doctrine of a "soul" that reincarnates. It's hard to understand what does take rebirth; Buddhism is confusing in this regard. But this quote from the Dalai Lama makes it clear that Buddhism believes in reincarnation:

"If science can disprove reincarnation, Tibetan Buddhism would abandon reincarnation... but it's going to be mighty hard to disprove reincarnation."

I'd say, it's equally hard to prove reincarnation. As I often observe, proving something doesn't exist is impossible. Or next to impossible. It's up to someone to show that something does exist; that's the only practical way to live -- and discuss reality.

Along that line, I disagree with your contention that people experience existing without a body or brain. That's a belief, a concept that itself wouldn't exist without a body or brain (Where do the thoughts you express in your comments come from? Answer: your brain).

Try this thought experiment and see where it leads. Someone supposedly is having an out-of-body experience, completely detached from their body/brain. At that moment a surgeon removes the parts of their brain allowing conscious awareness, leaving only autonomic functions.

In short, they're now in a permanent vegetative state. What happens with their "out of body" experience? Well, we'll never know, because they never will be conscious again, or able to communicate with anyone.

This shows that it isn't possible to claim that human experience is possible without a brain. Anyone who makes that claim has a brain, belying the claim.

Pretty simple. But many people, including you apparently, can't understand the simplicity.

Humans have such a strong tendency (fear of death?) toward believing that consciousness is something immaterial, it's really difficult to comprehend that ever single claim in the history of mankind that consciousness isn't dependent on the body or brain has come from someone with a body and brain.

I agree with Brian on all his points.


Hi Roger - I agree, I would certainely have a personal preference for scientific method over religous method (whatever that may be!). Just that overall, I prefer the taste of sweetness in comparison to the linguistic chemical formula for sugar, if you see what I mean. Hey Roger, did you ever see my response to you about lucid dreams? There was an interesting description of a LD I wrote down for you. It's possible you missed it because the comments went onto a second page!!

Dear Brian - I have interspersed your comment with my comments:

"manjit, you're wrong. Rebirth, or reincarnation, is definitely a central tenet of Buddhism. See:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reincarnation
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rebirth_(Buddhism)


###Yes, as I stated in my first post, REBIRTH is a central tenet of Buddhism, NOT re-incarnation. Even the links you post up from that great authority of all things spiritual (Sri Wiki) has several comments which indicate that. It is only ignorance that could make one lazily believe that is only a semantic difference, imo.

What I find amusing is that I have spent hours reading the oldest known teachings of the Buddha, the Pali-Suttas, wherein there are numerous speaches by the Buddha addressing this very issue. And, I can quite honestly state, you are intepreting his teachings in *precisely* the way he over & over again trys to correct this 'erroneous view'.

However, I know these internet debates tend to polarise people, almost force people into trying to defend their position, and thereby their sense of validity, rather than open up and actually try and listen. So please go ahead and stick with Sri Wiki, and continue to 'quote' people with speach marks, like you have with this Dalai Lama 'quote' on 'reincarnation' - without checking the source (btw, that was not a Dalai Lama quote at all, but rather an anecdote recalled by somebody entirely different, during an entirely unconnected interview where the DL wasn't even present! But whatever floats your integrity boat. That I've read severa; books & discussions with the DL talking about 'rebirth', and how even he doesn't believe it as a literal, objective 'truth' I guess is neither here nor there?)

Actually, I think there should be a word for this neo-internet-knowledge. Where people can do a search for half an hour, and then try and have a debate with somebody who may well have spent years trying to grasp difficult ideas and concepts.

Cyber-smarts? Whatdya say?#####

In Buddhism there isn't the doctrine of a "soul" that reincarnates. It's hard to understand what does take rebirth; Buddhism is confusing in this regard.


###Confusing to whom? Not to me, for instance?####

But this quote from the Dalai Lama makes it clear that Buddhism believes in reincarnation:

"If science can disprove reincarnation, Tibetan Buddhism would abandon reincarnation... but it's going to be mighty hard to disprove reincarnation."

###as above, not the DL dude###

I'd say, it's equally hard to prove reincarnation. As I often observe, proving something doesn't exist is impossible. Or next to impossible. It's up to someone to show that something does exist; that's the only practical way to live -- and discuss reality.


###prove your 'self' exists? Prove consciousness exists? Prove love exists? Prove humour exists? Prove the subconscious exists, etc etc?

BTW, I personally don't believe in 'reincarnation', if you're interested to know####

Along that line, I disagree with your contention that people experience existing without a body or brain. That's a belief,


###No, it's an EXPERIENCE. Interpretation of that EXPERIENCE is *secondary*. Apparantely you have a difficulty discriminating between beliefs, experiences, and realities? :oP###


a concept that itself wouldn't exist without a body or brain (Where do the thoughts you express in your comments come from? Answer: your brain).

Try this thought experiment and see where it leads. Someone supposedly is having an out-of-body experience, completely detached from their body/brain. At that moment a surgeon removes the parts of their brain allowing conscious awareness, leaving only autonomic functions.

In short, they're now in a permanent vegetative state. What happens with their "out of body" experience? Well, we'll never know, because they never will be conscious again, or able to communicate with anyone.

This shows that it isn't possible to claim that human experience is possible without a brain. Anyone who makes that claim has a brain, belying the claim.

Pretty simple. But many people, including you apparently, can't understand the simplicity.


###He he. That's the problem Brian, it's a little too simple. Contrary to what you may believe, there's nothing really very profound being stated here, nothing so complicated that somebody at high school could not easily comprehend. Your 'thought experiment' is passe and cliche, far more complex & nuanced 'thought experiments' have already been undertaken, sir.

What you've done is posed an absurd double-bind, and not even noticed it! I even in my first post tried to give you a hint as to the limitations of the above line of reasoning BEFORE you even got there, but you apparently didn't notice?

Okay, I'll try and express far more complex systems of thought.

First of all, there is only 3 ways your question can be answered; 1) You have an experience of being without your physical body, 2) a bodiless being communicates with you, or 3) a controlled experiment is taken which demonstrates an ability to be aware of a physical location where it would not be possible to physically view.

Your rather amusing unintentional double-bind is that for the 1st two options, *as you are in the body*, there is absolutely no way you could become aware of *any* information about *anything* without it being processed through your body-mind. So even if you DO either experience a bodiless entity, or yourself experience such a state, as soon as you return to bodily consciousness to reflect on it, *of course* you're back in the body! That does not, by any stretch of the mind, automatically negate the possibility that those experiences were not indeed 'without a body' *at the time they occured*

Your double-bind paramaters of 'proof' are actually a far more simple statement, over-complicated by unexamined extraneous concepts. You are really just saying 'I am embodied right now'. Thereby you have negated the possibility for any 'proof' that you would find acceptable, because you would have to, by definition, have to filter that 'proof' through your phsyical brain.

Oh, btw, in case you're interested, I don't believe in bodiless entities. I simply believe in the phenomena of the stream of awareness. Whether that stream takes me here, there or anywhere I don't bother analysing, parsing, conceptualising about inner or outer etc###


Humans have such a strong tendency (fear of death?) toward believing that consciousness is something immaterial, it's really difficult to comprehend that ever single claim in the history of mankind that consciousness isn't dependent on the body or brain has come from someone with a body and brain."

###again, this is simply a statement about your current frame of experiential reference - the phsyical body. According to your double-bind argument, the only way you could *ever* know, is after your physical body dies.

PS, please don't mistake my clarifying the limitations of your views, as me defending my views. As I really don't have any solid views; unknowing.

Cheerio sir

Oh, PPS, Tao - I find it genuinely amusing that a 'disciple' of Namkhai Norbu & Kalu Rinpoche (he he) would agree with Brian on this? lol :o) Is it possible that you have mixed up nihilism with Dzogchen?###

Sorry Brian, I was actually going to go into very complex areas of your 'thought experiment', but time at work restricts me. Plus I grow weary of how much we're really communicating, as opposed to upholding our polarised views? (errm, my 'view' really only being to balance the limitations in yours, and not really advocating a 'belief' in anything, just 'openess')

Anyway, briefly. The 3rd option, proving by controlled experiment somebody can 'view' things at a distance, would be excellent. Unfortunately, in my experience, it is not possible. Astral projection or even remote viewing does not, imo, provide objective info at all, and there has, contrary to pop-belief, been any experiments which have even suggested they can.

However, that can be explained. It is reasonable to believe that just as our physical bodies cannot enter our dream-world, that our 'astral' or dream 'body' cannot enter the physical. Therefore, it would be impossible to get info from the objective phsyical world, as that bodiless-body relates to a different 'reality'.

That's 1 concept.

In regards the brain surgery thing, let's look at reality from another perspective. Rather than imagining we are a soul that travels to & from other 'realities' in astral projection, perhaps it is more a case of becoming AWARE of another reality, where you have an alternate-'body', and where you ALWAYS exist. In other words, you are shifting awareness between different realities that all exist simultaneously, not that you enter or emerge into one, and leave the other.

Now, if somebody removes the part of your brain that is related to dreams, for example (or, less worryingly, gave a chemical that caused it to stop temporarily), DURING such an experience, the person may awake and relate 'the other-world faded away when you did that'.

Now, poorly thought out, reductionist, linear thinking would *like* to intepret this as 'it's all created by the brain' (the otherworld). However, it *may* just be that by damaging the physical brain, you are really only altering the PHYSICAL brain, thereby *only* effecting our phsyical-mental ability to *remember* that other-world.

It does not *neccessarily* mean that other-world is purely & entirely a creation of our individualised brains.

Raw scientific data is not scientific theory.

manjit,

I must have missed your followup comment. Is there a lucid dream part of Dzogchen?

A basic discussion of Dzogchen, and how it might contrast with Zen, would be interesting reading. In a separate thread, of course.

Roger

manjit, once again I have a lot of difficulty grasping what you're saying. You like to play word games. That can be fun, but others (like me) won't take you seriously when you do that.

You claim that you don't have any fixed views. But then you go on and on defending your views. I think you're deceiving yourself. Or overestimating your grasp of reality.

Re. Buddhism and reincarnation, the quote I cited came from Carl Sagan, who spoke about an interview he had with the Dalai Lama:
http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1285/is_n2_v26/ai_18082728/pg_3

I guess you can question Sagan's truthfulness. But then, I guess we can question anyone's truthfulness, any fact, anything written in any book. That way lies craziness, solipsism, paranoia. So I'll stick with trusting that what Sagan said is true, or nearly true.

I dug out "The Way to Freedom," the Dalai Lama's own words. Which include:

"Sooner or later we are going to die, and so sooner or later we will have to take rebirth again. The realms of existence where we can take rebirth are confined to two, the favorable and the unfavorable. Where we take rebirth depends on karma."

Sure sounds like reincarnation to me. He says "we," not a vague collection of karmic tendencies. Another quote:

"At the time of death, we are blown about by the force of our own karmic actions. The result of negative karmic actions is rebirth in the lower realms."

So it sure seems like Buddhists believe in something that is so close to reincarnation, the words "rebirth" and "reincarnation" amount to the same thing.

Manjit said: "Tao - I find it genuinely amusing that a 'disciple' of Namkhai Norbu & Kalu Rinpoche (he he)

-- Kindly please explain just what is it that so funny about these two teachers? And also btw and fyi, I am not a "disciple" of anyone. Namkhai Norbu simply happens to have been, and is my dzogchen teacher. Is that some problem or amusing to you? I'm just curious as why you find that to be funny?


Manjit said: "Tao - I find it genuinely amusing that a 'disciple' of Namkhai Norbu & Kalu Rinpoche (he he) would agree with Brian on this? lol :o)"

-- I wonder why is my being into dzogchen and also agreeing with Brian, is amusing to you? I don't see any contradiction there. So the only thing I can surmise is that your conception/understanding of dzogchen is somewhat different than mine. The dzogchen that has been transmitted to me from my own dzogchen teacher has nothing to do with theories or notions concerning reincarnation. Other Buddhist teachers, and also yourself, may have different views and ideas related to dzogchen.


Manjit asked: "Is it possible that you have mixed up nihilism with Dzogchen?"

-- No, not at all. I am very clear about dzogchen, having received, understood, and practiced it for approximately the past 10 years. My view is very much that of dzogchen, and I don't entertain any so-called nihilist views at all.


Here is what I am able to make of this.

There are differences between the concepts of reincarnation.

tAo asked " If this so-called vast mysterious and wonderful "physical" universe, this galactic cosmos, this totality that we exist in and are undoubtably a part of, is somehow irrelevant or secondary... then why does it so prominently exist? And just where is that supposed reality or realm which is supposed to be more superior or more significant or more spiritual? "

I'll take a shot at the second question. The answer to the second question is that the relative location of the higher realm is where the individuated self is not located. Speaking absolutely, there is only this - this wonderful totality that is.

Which leads into the following:

Manjit says, in regard to Brian's question about mind and body, that "Speculation is endless." This is the very thing which gives the scientific reductionist methodology it's endless basis in physical reality. The edifice of science doesn't require speculation and so exists as an archetypal object restricted within the rational reductionist theories which are based upon facts.

Brian speculated that the answer to the posed question: " Look around. Outside of yourself. Inside of yourself. Do you find any sharp divisions between utterly distinct aspects of reality?" - is no.

From my perspective, the answer is yes, since I see myself as an utterly sharp distinction between me and the universe I see. I also find that when I think my view is correct, there are many others who would gladly correct me. So, what I 'believe' (or think) to be 'reality' is in fact an utterly distinct and separate aspect of reality from that experienced by others. This makes possible all the astonishing varieties of thinking observed under the guise of rational thinking.

The observable facts from any relative reality are never sufficient to form a unified universe when these facts are separated through reductionism and theoretical synthesis. The delineation and categorization of facts as separate objects does exactly the opposite to 'unifying the universe.' When the facts are reconstructed as a purported whole, we are left with a Frankenstein representation of 'reality' which juxtaposes facts sutured together with the thread of theory. (How's that for a metaphor :) Sure it has the appearance of life but in fact, it is incomplete at best and certainly not a holistic entity. A theory may appear as if real but must always remain a relative aspect seemingly aloof of absolute reality. So, two 'realities' do appear from the perspective of the individuated self which is quite distinct from a universe that is unity. But this is only a relative appearance.

The relative reality of categories, is based upon concepts. The absolute reality is non-conceptual but encloses the reality of concepts. From absolute 'reality' Brian is absolutely right in saying "The universe is unity."

Two aspects of the one reality, made possible only through the splitting into opposites as an apparition of conscious awareness which holds all conditions of form, including the form of the universe 'out there.' This embodiment is a transformative aspect of the physical universe's consciousness which reflects the absolute reality as being.

I don't know if this holds water but this "concept" of the human being as a transformative element from relative (physical) to absolute (clear light) may be extended to include all aspects of the body, mind, spirit, and the various metaphysical attributes found in the dream states, meditations, vision dreams, and near death experiences. However, the absolute totality remains unchanged and undifferentiated, even within the differentiated field of opposites. :(

tAo,

If you desire, write a post on your understanding of dzogchen. This could be setup in Brian's Open thread. All I have on dzogchen, is what I can find in an internet search.

I would understand, if you desire to keep this private.

Thanks,
Roger

Roger,
The following pages may be of some help to you:


http://www.dzogchen.ro/html/eng/dzogchen.html

http://www.dzogchen.at/e_websites/frameset_e.htm

http://www.dzogchen.ch/english/e_dzogchen.htm


http://www.keithdowman.net/dzogchen/garuda.htm

http://www.keithdowman.net/dzogchen/cuckoos_song.htm

http://www.keithdowman.net/dzogchen/incisive_precepts.htm

http://www.keithdowman.net/books/fg.htm#Flight%20of%20the%20Garuda

http://www.keithdowman.net/dzogchen/khyentse_meditation.htm


http://www.berzinarchives.com/web/x/nav/n.html_1870389411.html


Dzogchen Community Links:

http://www.dzogchen.org.au/index.php?page=dzlinks


Books:

http://www.snowlionpub.com/search_process.html?keyword=namkhai+norbu&GO=%BB&submit=1

http://www.completeworks.info/completeworks/cw-frame.htm


Roger,
The following pages and info may be of some general help to you:


http://www.dzogchen.ro/html/eng/dzogchen.html

http://www.dzogchen.at/e_websites/frameset_e.htm

http://www.dzogchen.ch/english/e_dzogchen.htm

http://www.keithdowman.net/dzogchen/garuda.htm

http://www.keithdowman.net/dzogchen/cuckoos_song.htm

http://www.keithdowman.net/dzogchen/incisive_precepts.htm

http://www.keithdowman.net/books/fg.htm#Flight%20of%20the%20Garuda

http://www.keithdowman.net/dzogchen/khyentse_meditation.htm


http://www.berzinarchives.com/web/x/nav/n.html_1870389411.html


Dzogchen Community Links:

http://www.dzogchen.org.au/index.php?page=dzlinks


Books:

http://www.snowlionpub.com/search_process.html?keyword=namkhai+norbu&GO=%BB&submit=1

http://www.completeworks.info/completeworks/cw-frame.htm

Roger,
I posted some links to info for you here earlier today. For some reason my comment has not appeared yet. Perhaps Brian can locate it.

Dear Richard - Good questions. There are intimate connections between Dzogchen and dream yogas. There is also an intimate link between Dzogchen, Zen (Ch'an) and Mahamudra. They may all come from a common 'root' in Kashmir region. Unfortunately, I have lost the urge to discuss such things in detail here.

I'm sure Tao can fill you in - with internet links. But you will find almost nothing at all on Dzogchen practices.

Dear Tao - Yeah, whatever.

Dear Brian - I have interspersed comments below:


"manjit, once again I have a lot of difficulty grasping what you're saying. You like to play word games. That can be fun, but others (like me) won't take you seriously when you do that.

###Hmm, word games? Right, I guess that must have been the Buddha's intention when he clearly & unambiguosly stated there was NO reincarnation in his school of thought. And his positing of the rebirth doctrine just a play on words.

PS, people won't take me seriously? I'm just shooting the breeze, passing time chatting on a forum. I have no concern or wish for yours or anyone else taking me seriously?

Why would I expect that when I don't even take myself seriously?###


You claim that you don't have any fixed views. But then you go on and on defending your views. I think you're deceiving yourself. Or overestimating your grasp of reality.


### He he. Though that doesn't make even the remotest of sense to me or relate to my personal experience of the matter, fair enough. Seems a little desperate, though.

That I don't believe in reincarnation or bodliless entities is irrelevant I suppose.

And that Buddhism literally & unambiguously does not believe in re-incarnation but rather rebirth, I guess you could rationalise as a 'belief' of mine, I suppose. Bit of a stretch though.####

Re. Buddhism and reincarnation, the quote I cited came from Carl Sagan, who spoke about an interview he had with the Dalai Lama:
http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1285/is_n2_v26/ai_18082728/pg_3

I guess you can question Sagan's truthfulness. But then, I guess we can question anyone's truthfulness, any fact, anything written in any book. That way lies craziness, solipsism, paranoia. So I'll stick with trusting that what Sagan said is true, or nearly true.


###You entirely miss the rather obvious point, perhaps in your desperation to make your point seem valid?

I have nothing but the upmost respect & regard for Sagan and his honesty.

The point is about standards of integrity. I guess we have different standards.

I would NOT quote somebody - if they did not actually say it.

I would NOT take an anecdotal, out of context, semi-hypothetical, throw away comment by somebody agnostic as an accurate or even relevant representation of a religous figure's nuanced theological viewpoint on a highly complex subject.

So all we have here is a difference of standards.

No biggie. For me anyway.###

I dug out "The Way to Freedom," the Dalai Lama's own words. Which include:

"Sooner or later we are going to die, and so sooner or later we will have to take rebirth again. The realms of existence where we can take rebirth are confined to two, the favorable and the unfavorable. Where we take rebirth depends on karma."

Sure sounds like reincarnation to me. He says "we," not a vague collection of karmic tendencies. Another quote:

"At the time of death, we are blown about by the force of our own karmic actions. The result of negative karmic actions is rebirth in the lower realms."

So it sure seems like Buddhists believe in something that is so close to reincarnation, the words "rebirth" and "reincarnation" amount to the same thing.


###Yes, 'sounds similar', but, not identical. As the Buddha himself repeatedly *emphasised*.

Water could sound descriptively similar to alchohol. But they're not.

I was going to dig out my Majhimaya Nikaya, the original Pali suttas (Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha) and copy out some verses, very clear & unambuguous, on the difference between Hindu eternalism (reincarnation) and Rebirth (Unipatta or something).

But then it hit me. There's absolutely no point. We're not discussing anything here.

So I'll stop playing word games now. And get back to my reality.

PS - would it be *possible* to get more verification of Gurinder's wisdom in requesting an internet ban on discussing RS on the web than this site & radhasoamistudies?

Just a thought.

Cheerio###

tAo,

Thanks for the links. Much good readings to engage in.

Roger,
Here's yet another one for you, that I forgot to include:

http://www.dzogchen.org.au/index.php?page=dzogchen

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