[zeph] Digest #2
Re: Reply to Some Replies (See ">")
>Hi James,Reply: I steal; but I don't get unhappy as a result of these activities.
> I have more questions than "replies."
Buddha's psychology doesn't seems to apply to me. If I get unhappy, it will
be because I get caught, and the action of stealing in itself doesn't give
me dissatisfaction. There is nothing inherent in stealing that gives me bad
>Is it an assumption that you will not feel bad later? What makes you sosure? Are you sure THAT makes you sure? Is it a safe bet? Why?...
What is good or bad is nothing metaphysical, or even psychological; it is
social, i.e. I don't steal because it is socially inappropriate. As such, it
seems to me that Buddha's precepts are at bottom social etiquettes, or
social common sense.
>Are we social animals who need social common sense? The Buddha's preceptsare intended as moral guidelines for promoting harmonious co-existence.
Anything beyond the social context, such as the mystical element of karma
that get attached to each action and will go beyond the lifetime seems to me
unempirical and unbelievable. I am neither Buddhist nor Christian; my ethics
is anything that will get me to my life-goal, which gives me the greatest
amount of satisfaction.
>Why is karma mystical? Because you had not experienced its workings? Issomething not expereinced always untrue? Is it an assumption that your
ethics will work better than any other's in the end?
If I don't murder, it is not because it is against Buddha's laws, or that I
will be unhappy as a result (there will be some peoples whom I will love to
kill), but because it is not relevant to my life goal, if fact detrimental
to my life's goal as it is against society's laws, and all life goals must
work within the context of society. Nothing mystical about it; no bad karma,
no reincarnation, only down-to-this-earth-and-lifetime pragmatic
Helping others is good because I choose do it, and it is not the case that I
do it because it is good; in short, I don't follow precepts of others, I
create precepts that is good for me, and by me (which incidentally may
coincide with what others already have). What is clear though is that
concern for others is not one's primary concern. Sometimes harming the weak
is a necessary but unfortunate consequence of self-improvement or
>Concern for others might not be your primary concern. But it may be so forothers.
Reply: It is curious how we use words like 'facts' --- the concept is so
assumed, unconscious and "natural", we don't see the inherent assumptions
contained within, to the extent that we distinguished facts by its very
non-assumption-ness. Are cause and effect factual? But there is no logical
connection between a cause and a effect. It is only the structure of the
mind that tries to make sense of events in the world out there; it is the
conditions for knowledge, i.e human knowledge, i.e. our so-called knowledge
or facts is peculiarly, uniquely, human.
>Is it an assumption that cause and effect is only the structure of themind? Could it be the strcture of YOUR mind that sees cause and effect as
only the structure of the mind? Is your mind structure same as others?
We can't assume that what we perceive (through the structures of human mind)
will be things as they are. We see a world out there, and we say it is a
fact that a world is out there, and here I am, I find myself continually
present and standing over against me the one spacio-temporal fact-world to
which I myself belong, as do all other men found it and related in the same
way to it.
>Are you sure all other men relate to this world as you do? How?This 'fact-world' as the word already tells us, I find to be out there, and
also take it just as it gives itself to me as something that exist out
there. It is a fact, we claim, not assumption; and yet it is assumption that
we have made here, which is this: the existence of this world is totally
independent of me; were I not 'here', the 'fact' will remain and the world
would exist nevertheless.
>It might be interesting to note that the Buddha taught interdependence asone of His main teachings- nothing is totally independent; all is
This given world is not only a world of physical objects, it is also a world
of sentient beings, other conscious objects, such as my neighbours' smelly
dogs and cats. This assumption of the existence of the world leads us to a
"enlightenment"; the givenness of the 'external' or 'factual' world is so
basic to our knowledge that to question the existence or factualness of this
world borders on nonsense: I can understand why you reply the way you did.
And herein lies the origin of the concepts of "existence", "reality" (real),
"facts". And thus you can question my hallucination because you have the
'facts' to compare with. However, because it is the 'factual' standpoint
which provide these terms with significance, it makes little sense to
question the reality of nature (the world) itself. Thus, 'the world' is that
which provides the conceptual framework for making all judgments about facts
and existence; it, therefore cannot be judged to exist or not to exist
itself. You mentioned about the way things are, the laws of the universe --
that these are facts, and this is entirely consistent with your standpoint
also. But on what basis do you claim that they are facts? Because you can
feel it sensually (i.e. the five senses, or empirical verification)? You
simply assume the validity of these truths or facts you wish to validate.
You attempt to establish necessary truth by empirical procedures. isn't this
your so-called verified assumptions? Verified based on what criteria? Your
"fact themselves" is identified or confused with the requirement that all
knowledge shall be ground in experience.
>What is knowledge? How do we know? As expereinced through the 5 senses plusmind? What is expereince then? Expereince of the 5 senses plus mind? How do
we know if we are tricked by our senses? If there are optical illusions,
then there are surely mind illusions?
Your "facts" are indeed nothing but unverified assumptions, but they are so
unobvious (or obvious) and natural, even habitual, it is taken for facts. I
ask you again: what is your criteria of something being a fact?
>Hmm.. beats me at the moment... What is your criteria of something being afact?
"Just because one does not have a
verified assumption yet does not mean verification is not possible" -- apart
from sheer hope, how is such verification possible?
>Why is such verification not possible?By the way, "verified assumption" seems like a contradiction in terms, which
anyway even if there is, will fail to provide a basis of fact since, though
"verified", is still an assumption, and like what you say, interpretations
are assumptions. But what is needed is that which something must be held to
be true -- not that something is true.
>A better phrase might be "educated guess" or "hypothesis?"Our thinking is interpretation according to a scheme that we cannot throw
off. We see the same story in the Orchard Rd #1 interpreted differently by
Buddhist and Christian, each will draw material from the same story to
illustrate their different respective perspective of faith. And now, we see
in story #4 a Buddhist, who is outside the faith and perspective of
Christianity, trying to make sense of it (in vain, being without the
"correct" spiritual and conceptual framework or 'scheme' in which to
perceive and experience; the meaning of Christmas simply elude amid profound
and deep wonders; it is never a question of which is more "correct" or
"better", they are simply different.)
>If they are simply different- how do we know which is true?There can be no unconceptualized experiences and every conceptualization is
already an imposition of an interpretation (or faith), like it or not,
realize it or not.
>Is this "truth"(?) your conceptualisation? Or your experience? If so, whatdoes that imply? That it is an empty statement? If not, what is it? How are
--Why not? Just because the world has many different people who claim they
know the whole truth and expresses what they believe to be the Truth in ways
contradicting to each other does not mean not one of them is correct.
Reply: Not so much that not one of them is correct as how would you know
which is correct.
>That one is ignorant of which is the truth does not mean it does not existor cannot be known?
In other words: what is your criteria for judgment? And in turn: what is the
criteria of selecting those criteria? Ad infinitum.
>What is your criteria for saying that all criteria should go on adinfinitum in selection? Everything can be questioned infinitely even if
answered infinitely (or finitely). Do we make peace with our selection of
criteria made best we can or go on and on always asking? How is it relevant,
the asking, to my happiness?
And thus the wise Buddha said there is no ultimate truth, i.e no absolute
vintage point to stand on; all is a matter of perspectives, or whose
perspectives, whose interpretations, whose assumptions. Buddha had found his
vantage point; good for him and so be it. You find yours. No ultimate
>If there is no ultimate justificatin, is there anything ultimate about theBuddha? How is He different from us?
The person who claims he has the whole truth is indeed the one who suffers
delusion (though this statement may sound like a paradox).
>It might be interesting to note that the Buddha is descibed as all knowing-and He never claimed not to know everything. The word "Buddha" means
"Awakened one." Awakened to what? To everything- reality- at all its levels.
How do we know if all of this world, and this email and our thoughts and
words, with their meanings, and the Buddha and all... are not an amaing
self-contained trick, a magic show put up by a super demon? Do we not place
a million assumptions upon every single thing we experience? What is truth?
Do we just make do with all we can intelligently, choosing our path best we
Metta: shian: amituofo@...
Some Related Thoughts
1. When you feeling loneliness, try to asking yourself why? Why are you feel
alone? because you have small heart? Or you have ~a only your heart~?or you
only have own thinking all the time? Try to put you mind to release and find
2. Hi, World affairs are like a chess game, like watching a movie. A grand
master can see when no more moves are necessary. Life is like a clay pot,
when shattered. True emptiness is revealed.
3. Hi,friend,When I have some delusion, I will close my eyes, make a deep
breath. Counting your breath from one to ten.relax!Tell your self everything
will be OK! then saying Amitabha.................................you will
have a smile.
4. Hi, everybody, may an enlightenment light will shine in your mind, an
awakening person will happy all the time. Helping others all the time
greed and misjudgement.
I have this kind of feeling too.Last christmas eve was a good example.
I had mistaken the date i was supposed to meet up with my friends. I thought
it was on the christmas eve. So I told my boyfriend i couldn't join him with
his friends at a function and so he needn't book a ticket for me. It turned
out that the date my friends and I were to be meeting was on the christmas
day itself. Thus i was left alone at home that christmas eve night, except
for my parents. And it felt so terrible to have my parents and sisters
asking me why i weren't out with my friends. Afterall, i had always been
out "celebrating" christmas with my friends each year. Objectively, it
doesn't really seem such a big deal. I mean, i had been alone at home
before, and had in fact enjoyed it. besides, it's not like my boyfriend and
friends had abandoned me, nobody's fault but my own doings.
The problem is, why didn't i call my friends up and ask them if i could join
them? I don't know if that was pride, to not to even suggest that you have
nowhere to go, even to your closest friends. but there was definitely a deep
sense of loneliness. Anyway, the next day when i met my friends, i had hoped
that they wouldn't ask but sure enough they asked where one another had went
to the night before. I told the truth and they told me i was such a silly
girl, they would love to have me in their company. My best friend said she
was as usual with her poly friends and had thought that i would be, as
usual, either be with my uni friends or boy friend,
which struck me. When i was in secondary school, i hang out with my sec
friends, in jc, with jc friends,in uni, with uni friends. And it seems like
its the same for many people around me. And it's inevitable. Sure, you still
meet up or email. But most of the time we just got too caught up by our busy
and different lifestyle that fitting in becomes too difficult. It might be
easier between two good friends. But what about a few people who together
has many good times together but now each has their individual lifestyle and
new group of friends to hang-out with? It's hard to go back to the good old
days. thus, i regularly hang out with a group of friends though i don't
feel as close to them as with the good friends i made in the past. Which
isn't as big as problem as having to eat your lunch alone all the time.
I think it's human nature. We all yearn for companionship, at least before
it got too troublesome.
Metta: Jean: kooning@...
Re: Zeph's First Awakening Part 4
I think it is quite a remarkable insight that man may have created God out
of loneliness. For someone like Zeph facing existential crises, God is one
possible route to find meaning. God's origin could well be psychological,
rather than metaphysical. It doesn't matter anymore if one can prove the
existence of such entity (anyway, can the existence of anything be proven as
if existence is a predicate?) so long as it provides the person with a good
psychological adaptive framework to cope with life. The idea is that if it
works for me to be happy, then it is true, i.e. true for me, which is all
that matters. Frankly, I don't have the time or energy or ability to find
out if God exist objectively, I don't really care, so long as I,
subjectively, believe in it and that it provides a framework (i.e.
meaning-structure) for all that I do. I eat my food, and I give thanks to
Him (a attitude of gratitude always induce happiness) for his providence (a
cognitive belief in the infinite wisdom of someone who will love you to all
eternity also happens to induce happiness, whether that belief is
objectively true or not so long as it is subjectively believed) and love
(man always respond positively to love; it is just his psychological
makeup). A Christian will never question the way Zeph question about
Christmas; to him, such questionings misses the point that man in his finite
ability to comprehend ultimate mysteries would reach God only by faith, i.e.
a leap to God; God can never be reached by following the guide of human
reason such as you would in a mathematical proof; up to a point, human
reason will simply come to an abyss where no further 'progress' is possible;
such problem is inherent in logic itself when it attempt to deal with such
domain). That man who gave thank for his food is a happy man, although the
nature of his happiness, I guess, would be different from that of a Buddhist
who look at the world differently. Zeph, being human, understandably tries
to understand everything in his human terms by his human logic
-- he may not succeed if there is really a God who created man (and his
purpose for creating man? are we to answer that from a human perspective if
He is really real? If He is really real, we overestimate our human's ability
to find him by human reason; He may choose that we can know Him only by a
leap of faith; and don't ask why He should choose this way of knowing Him
because if He is real, it is not for us to question His way of doing things
in certain way). It may seem like I talk like a Christian, but I am not one;
I just see how things would go if, hypothetically, a certain situation is
the case. I just want to tell Zeph that, much as I admire him for his search
for truth, the method by which he chooses for the purpose is in-itself a
huge consideration. This is a point he cannot overlook in the midst of his
questionings, else all his efforts, though deeply sincere (and tortuous and
agonizing), may be mis-directed. And just because one has suffered and come
out with a certain idea doesn't mean therefore that it is the truth.
Something about loneliness. As I said, loneliness is something that only
human can experience, partly because it is only human that ask about the
meaning of his existence. I find that there is something special, unique,
being human among the various existences, something uniquely unique. Dogs
and cats exist, but they never questions (I used to wonder what my
neighbour's smelly cats and dogs is thinking as they sit in the balcony all
day long without any apparent signs of boredom). Very busy people also
exist, but they are always so busy with their work that even if they were to
die, they would not have known, let alone for them to know what is
loneliness; they always feel that they are living very abundant lives, when
they miss out what is most precious about life. Loneliness is not so much a
mindset as a way of be-ing. There is no need to make special effort to
escape it even if it cause a little suffering. We all can live with a little
suffering. Loneliness is a mood among many, and it discloses something about
things in a more fundamental way than theoretical propositions ever can.
Loneliness doesn't cut us off from things -- to the contrary, it reveals
something about being human, perhaps the absurdity of life. Most people
doesn't like the feeling of loneliness, but it does tune us to the way life
is, as life is. We are not escapist, hopefully. People who are "perpetually
happy and busy" never see things from other than that mood, and they
sometimes may not understand the situation as well as those who caught the
"bad vibes" so to speak, from, say, a room full of people; he may not
recognize that the crowd is in a shared mood of anger. Mood, even the
"negative" ones, such as loneliness and anger, are disclosive. Running away
from it is like running away from life itself. Of course, one does not dwell
on such mood unnecessarily, for to do so will probably "veils" my
environment more than it discloses. And since we are "thrown" into the world
in some way, we can never be moodless. Human being always find hims
elf in a situation and thus in a certain mood, and being finite, we always
experience things in a certain perspective, and we can never guarantee that
we have found a final and best perspective. As for Zeph, I wish him best of
luck (he may need more than luck, really).
Regards: James: tyjfk@...