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[zeph] Digest #4

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  • !Namo@mituofO!
    Zeph&Frens Digest #4 __________________________________ HAPPINESS This is clearly stated in the Abhidhamma. Example Happiness. Happiness arises in many ways.
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 16, 2000
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      Zeph&Frens Digest #4

      This is clearly stated in the Abhidhamma.

      Example Happiness.
      Happiness arises in many ways.

      1. Through satisfaction of greed - immoral
      2. Through doing a good deed to help others (ie giving)- moral
      3. Through attaining the Jhanas - sublime
      4. Through attaining the Insight - supramundane

      If we confine to words like happiness, sadness, right, wrong, good, bad etc
      there will be no end because these words by itself has many meanings.

      Karma is a difficult topic, only the Buddha knows exactly how karma work at
      the physical, mental and nibbana (enlightened) levels, the rest are confine
      only to the physical or/and mental levels of causes and effects, thus not
      complete. Nibbana is beyond both mental and physical levels, thus very
      difficult to describe by words.

      Vajiro (Richard) Chia: vajiro@...

      >Christmas; to him, such questionings misses the point that man in his
      >ability to comprehend ultimate mysteries would reach God only by faith,
      >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
      >such problem is inherent in logic itself when it attempt to deal with such

      Un-reason-able (no offence)
      A man was selling a tailsman (supposedly to have the power to bless one's
      bussiness) to an old woman when he was stopped by the woman's son. " But you
      must first prove it's really what you claim." said the son.
      "No." reply the man with indignant. "and i'm not selling it anymore. the
      tailsman won't work if its owner does not believe in it." " Doooo you
      believe in the power of this tailsman, old lady?"
      " yes, yes of course i do. Forgive my son for his ignorance."
      so the tailsman was bought with the old woman's son mocking : "tell me if it
      ever works."
      Sure enough, the old woman's umbrella business was better than usual the
      next day because there was a very heavy downpour ('the workings of the
      tailsman" thought the woman.)And she went home feeling very smug. " see what
      i told you, son. It works!"
      " tomrrow's business will be just as good."

      However, business was terrible the next day. The weather was exceptionally
      good. No one needs an umbrella. The old woman went home feeling very down.

      her son comforted her. "It's alright mother. It's a good lesson learnt.
      Besides,i earn quite a lot today. we have enough."

      " No." reply the woman. " It was my fault. It must have found out that i was
      not 100% sure of its power when i bought it. It was my fault for even
      doubting it. i hope it'll forgive me."

      Metta: kooning@...

      Hi Shian,

      Noticed something : For fruitful discussion, we need to have common grounds
      to which both of us can appeal to. We use words like truth, knowledge, etc
      when we don't even know if we mean the same things by those words. If it is
      to be serious, it has to be that careful, else we are wasting time.

      Without too much elaboration, I will reply some of the questions you asked
      : --

      >Hi James,
      > I have more questions than "replies."

      Reply: I steal; but I don't get unhappy as a result of these activities.
      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 so
      sure? Are you sure THAT makes you sure? Is it a safe bet? Why?...

      Reply: Since you are so interested in this point, and press on it, I shall
      humour you: I am a thief (part-time; I will skip the details, unless you
      interested in that also). I am talking from first hand experience that I do
      not feel bad at all. Quite on the contrary, I feel happy that I make it. You
      may say that my education failed me, so on and so forth, that I am base, so
      on and so forth, but the fact still remains that I feel happy. You want to
      argue with me the "true" meaning of feeling bad and happy.....?

      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 precepts
      are intended as moral guidelines for promoting harmonious co-existence.

      Reply: "For harmonious co-existence" -- it shows that you understood my
      point, though not too happy with the terms I use. Moral guidelines make
      sense only in social context.

      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? Is
      something not expereinced always untrue? Is it an assumption that your
      ethics will work better than any other's in the end?

      Reply: Karma is a concept employed in Buddhism that imply multiple rebirths
      after rebirths. There is no solid evidences to support this hypothesis of
      Buddha (a scientist of some sort who proposed hypothesis in an attempt to
      explain phenomenon like musical or mathematical talent) . What that has been
      offered (in the stories of young children claiming to be able to give facts
      of some past lives) is lacking in validity and reliablilty. I certainly
      don't think I have a past life (or lives) and that what I am today is due to
      past lives, and though it is true that something not experienced is not
      necessarily untrue, it is also not necessarily true. As to my ethics, don't
      worry about it; I have never implied that everything one else should follow;
      if you are happy with your Buddhist ethics, it is perfectly fine with me and
      I am not claiming that yours is worse off than mine. Don't worry about
      better or worse so long as you are happy with yours.

      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 for

      Reply: No doubt about that, and don't worry about it.

      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 the
      mind? 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?

      Reply: You have to trust me that the reply of this will take up more time
      than I am prepared to give, and equally that I have answer to it. If you are
      keen on this, I would prefer that we meet up and talk (instead of type). You
      will see what I mean.

      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?

      Reply: If you are aware, this question is closely related to the prior one.
      Another problem: although I used the 'I' in the passage quoted above, it is
      meant to be used in the general sense, not particularly 'I' am holding this

      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 as
      one of His main teachings- nothing is totally independent; all is

      Reply: It is indeed interesting to note. And I agree with him on this point.

      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 plus
      mind? 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?

      Reply: This again is related to the previous question. It has all to do with
      so-called theory of knowledge in philosophy. Elaboration will be too long
      and time consuming, and yet if it is not elaborated from first principles it
      will not do for logical consistency and integrity.

      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 a

      Reply: Related to the previous. Anyway, when you think of yours, I will be
      interested to hear it.

      "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?

      Reply: Verification must be based on a set of criteria, and like what you
      said, it still beats you at the moment, so how is it possible?

      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?

      Reply: Firstly, I don't even know what you mean by 'true' (got to be
      careful, after going this length and I don't wish to be talking in circle).
      Secondly, I don't think human reason has a answer to that. Existence is not
      a predicate. There is a limit to what human reason can do. If you know what
      I mean.

      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, what
      does that imply? That it is an empty statement? If not, what is it? How are
      you sure

      Reply: Just because it is my experience doesn't mean it is a empty
      statement. And I don't see why this "truth"(?) should elude you being a
      Buddhist; hasn't Buddha argue the non-existence of self through the
      assumption of this "truth"?

      --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 exist
      or cannot be known?

      Reply: Again, firstly, what do you mean by 'truth'? One just has to
      'operationally define' it for any discussion to be intelligible. Secondly,
      you always need criteria for judgment; so you tell me, what is your criteria
      for truth?

      In other words: what is your criteria for judgment? And in turn: what is
      criteria of selecting those criteria? Ad infinitum.

      >What is your criteria for saying that all criteria should go on ad
      infinitum 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?

      Reply: Firstly, as an example, you say that Buddha is wise and good because
      he is so and so. This 'so and so' is what I mean by criteria. Secondly, you
      think you can answer infinitely about the criteria of criteria just when
      someone question you infinitely? The point is precisely this: that you
      can't. Someone can always question infinitely, but no one can answer as
      much; it will come to a point when it is no longer the domain of reason, but
      choice. It is trying to illustrate the inherent nature of reason, not so
      much that I don't want to make peace with my selection. Another point is
      this: your happiness doesn't rely on what reason can tell you, it relies on
      your choice on how you want or prefer to live, and such choice is never
      'rational', if you know what I mean.

      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
      (rational) justification.

      >If there is no ultimate justificatin, is there anything ultimate about the
      Buddha? How is He different from us?

      Reply: He is a human, just like you and me. He thought about existence and
      suffering, he had some ideas about them. For me, there is nothing ultimate
      about him except for the choices he made for himself and his life. I choose
      my own life. The difference? In the choices.

      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

      Reply: If someone adores 'me' and chooses to describe 'me' as all-knowing,
      it is their problems and fine with me if that makes their lives happier or
      provide a meaning-structure for their lives. And just because someone make
      big claims about himself doensn't automatically make their claims true.
      These show some signs of personality disorders. "To everything-reality-at
      all its levels" -- I don't know what is meant by that, and if I have a
      friend who tells me he knows something like that, then chances is that he is
      "screw-loose", "living in his own world".

      james: tyjfk@...
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