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[zeph] Digest #5

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  • !Namo@mituofO!
    Zeph&Frens Digest #5 __________________________________ Some Replies I think it is quite a remarkable insight that man may have created God out of loneliness.
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 17, 2000
      Zeph&Frens Digest #5
      Some Replies

      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.

      (S)hian: Can a false belief bring true happiness? Or true delusion?

      Zeph, being human, understandably tries to
      understand everything in his human terms by his human logic

      S: What logic can we use except human? We should do the best we can, as

      -- 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).

      S: How can one love what cannot be questioned? Can such love be true? How
      something one doesn't really love and respect be the centre of one's life?
      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.....?

      S: Please give us details on your thefts and the kinds of joy you derive
      from committing them.

      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.

      S: You should read "Karma", "Rebirth" and "The Six Realms" in "Be a Lamp
      Upon Yourself" that I passed you for some info on the above. (To
      Singaporeans: This book is available free @ Awareness Place) See also
      on Rebirth & http://www.ntu.edu.sg/studorgn/Buddhist/library.html on Karma
      and Rebirth (Chapter 5)

      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),

      S: You should read up the chapter on Emptiness and Dependent Origination in
      "Be a Lamp Upon Yourself" to find out on the "unreality" of existence. See
      also http://www.ntu.edu.sg/studorgn/Buddhist/library.html on the Law of
      Dependent Origination

      He (the Buddha) is a human, just like you and me. He thought about existence
      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.

      S: As we know, the Buddha historically did not behave as a human being, and
      denied being one. He did not behave as one as there were none as expressedly
      wise and compassionate, none as revolutionary. And He explicitly said He had
      transcended humanity and gender limitations.

      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.

      S: Yup- and vice versa.

      These show some signs of personality disorders.

      S: What is disorder? The ones who aren't convinced of another's true
      enlightenment or the one who claims to be truly enlightenment?

      "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".

      S: If one is content with all being paradoxical, is one ultimately trapped
      or freed?
      If everything can and is to be questioned to the endless end, "answers" are

      Metta: shian: amituofo@...
      From James

      I find it very interesting to read the replies of so many friends because it
      really impresses upon me how very different our schemas of things can be, so
      that one's explanations of one's stance cannot remain what it is without
      quite "twisted" or "misunderstood" or "coloured" by the interpretations of
      the receptor's own familiar schemes of interpretations, may that be his
      philosophical viewpoints (such as Buddhism or Christianity; philosophical in
      the sense that that is how he view the "ultimate reality") or own personal
      experiences (which is unique and different, with the implication that even
      if others have same experiences, they may see it differently). I am not
      saying that mine is the best; what I do say is that we can be so different.
      Some good-will Buddhist friend thought that I may be trapped by
      self-actualization, when it is precisely self-actualization that the
      humanist school of psychology thinks the sign of a healthy human being. It
      is curious he (not sure whether it is a he or she, but let's not argue
      whether I am a MCP) uses the word "trapped" with its negative connotation
      and undertone, and it can't be understood (at least by me,) unless I
      understand a little bit of where he is coming from, i.e. the Buddhist
      outlook that self is a delusion and that it is a origin of suffering.
      Knowing his way of interpretation, I begin to appreciate his kindness and
      good will, never mind whether his psychological viewpoint of what cause
      suffering is similar to mine. CQ also thinks that there is no such things as
      creating precepts for oneself, for the precepts are already found in the law
      of nature. "So James may want to create another religion with his created
      percepts?" --- I find that most amusing and humorous. Incidentally, if he
      had understood what I have been writing, he would have appreciated that
      creating a religion so that others would follow is the last thing I ever
      want, or even think of. "But Buddha 'discovered' the precepts, and there is
      Buddhism" -- so CQ may thinks, and therefore if James is thinking
      of creating precepts, then he must be thinking of creating a new religion,
      maybe with the name Jamesism. Before I go on to comment, I like to say that
      terms like "law of nature" is very vague, or perhaps ambiguous, and as such
      I am not sure if my comments will be missing the sense of CQ. For one thing,
      I sincerely don't think there is any law of nature whether it applies to
      morality or nature. When it is conventionally applied to physics, it simply
      means a tendency that is so high in probability that we may conveniently
      refer to it as law. Physicists do not see them so much as laws as good
      approximations to the world as perceived (or interpreted) by a human
      perceivers. E.g. so-called laws of gravity of Issac Newton turned out to be
      mere approximations and was sort of 'replaced' by Einstein's, who claimed
      that his was also approximations, and that the world as we humans perceived
      it is "coloured" by some categories of the mind, such as "cause and effect",
      on which the humans depends on to make sense of the world. On these issues,
      the interested readers may want to read David Hume's "A Treatise of Human
      Nature", Rene Descartes' "Meditations", and most importantly, Immanuel
      Kant's "Critique of Pure Reason", which has influenced Einstein
      tremendously. As recommendations, I do not propose reading commentaries of
      these works, for the usual reason that commentators assume their personal
      beliefs and viewpoints into their commentaries (and sometimes the process
      can be very unwitting and unconscious), which make the originals redundant;
      one should read the original works themselves first. As to the moral realms,
      I do not think there is such things as laws too; e.g. it is not a nice thing
      to lie, because relationship should ideally be based on trust and integrity,
      and I don't lie because there is a certain quality of relationship that I
      want, and not because I fear breaking the laws will give me bad karma which
      will come into fruition, if not in this life time, then in other life times.
      My concern is only in the common sen
      se effects of certain behaviours and attitudes in the context of
      interpersonal relationships. For me, it is not laws; it is choices. (But
      even for the sense and meaning of the word "laws" itself, we may differ).
      Incidentally, when I read the precepts of Buddha, I see that there are many
      of the things he said which coincide with what I think is socially
      appropriate also; though I don't see them in the absolute terms, and I
      definitely don't see the breaking of them will relate to whether I will
      becomes dogs or cats or the Pope in my next life. And incidentally, I don't
      argue for the sake of winning (I mean, who is so vain?), as CQ may think; it
      is to bring out what I think, never mind if you ultimately agree or not, for
      I believe each to his own and we can still live fruitful and meaning lives
      in our own different walks. If I am a beginner in Buddhism, and therefore,
      according to CQ, Buddha has this to say to me: there is ultimate truth, then
      I has this to say to Buddha: there is none. At this point, the Buddhist will
      say that I am suffering from delusion and ignorance. Does it matter?
      Firstly, people have all sorts of labels based on their subjective (in the
      sense that it is theirs) philosophy; the Christian will say I am a sinner,
      the Muslim will say I am a infidel, the puritans will say I am immoral or
      corrupt...etc. So? They are not wrong, i.e. based on their criteria, or
      their faith, or their philosophy, or their worldview, or their moral views,
      or their moral premises, what-nots: I am indeed what they say, based on
      their standpoint. That is, their standpoint. Do I worry myself to death? Do
      I accept the teaching of Buddhism because it is claimed to be the ultimate
      wisdom? This is funny... If I say 'no', the Buddhist will think this confirm
      their viewpoints, that I am indeed in delusion, very deep one, a very sick
      man who doesn't know he is sick, which is the sickest of all. Well, well...
      what can I say, need I say anything? Secondly, what really matters is to
      live, enjoy and appreciate life, regardless of an
      y philosophy or faith. If the Buddhist outlook enhances the life for CQ,
      then good for him. If the Christian framework is good for another, then so
      be it. Why argue about who is in 'real' delusion? Who really has the
      'ultimate'? Anyone claiming to be 'ultimate' logically can't be contradicted
      for if he is the ultimate, he sets the ultimate standard and criteria; any
      disagreement would simply means one is still in delusion. But normally, we
      don't argue with the such (unless we have idle time in our hand, and a
      certain curiosity equally idle); we let him be and the world still goes on,
      albeit with quite a number of such 'ultimates', some of which can be found
      in the mental institutes all over the world. If I see a young monk who
      decides to spend the rest of his life in deep meditation in a secluded
      monastery, it is not for me to advise him against it although, in my heart
      of heart I may think it is a waste of life and delusional; but, who knows,
      though I will definitely not like this kind of lifestyle, he may like it,
      for what is good for me may not be so for him; each to his own and let him
      be. What is ultimate here, though, is his choice: I can try to persuade him
      the goodness of a different lifestyle, a family for example, he may nod his
      head in meditative silence, even agree with me that it is good to have a
      wife and children, but he may still stay put: he agrees, but that is it: he
      chooses to be a monk. That is ultimate. If ever Buddha is ultimate, it is in
      this sense: that he chose to be a monk. It became his mode of being. In my
      view, base on experiences (though I don't claim to be that old to have seen
      'everything') and reflection, there is no such things as "right" and "wrong"
      way to choose and act; one choice is as good as another. There is no human
      nature to which we can appeal to guide our behaviours, nor a God, for God is
      dead, and to be (i.e. to exist as a human being) is to be free. As a human,
      we first (in the ontological sense) find that we exist before anything else,
      before any precepts, guides,
      different ethics. Then we choose. I may come upon the Dhamapada (by chance,
      for if I am born in a Christian family, the book I will see would be the
      Bible), then I choose it to be my precepts; but the key point here is that I
      choose; there is no guide or criteria upon which I can rely on to choose
      whether it should be the Bible, or Koran, or Dhamapada; I just choose, there
      is no shoulds. One man's choice is just as good as another's. There is no
      better-worse dimension with regard to choosing, deciding, or acting, for if
      there is, there must be some criteria to determine in a particular case that
      one alternative is better than another. I don't believe there is such
      criteria. One just chooses. To suggest criteria, guidance, or rule of
      behaviours, precepts, would be to imply a limitation to freedom, which is
      the foundation for all moral values. But the truth is that 'my' freedom is
      the only [unique] foundation of values. There is absolutely nothing above
      it. Absolutely. Any posited value, rule, precepts, etc would belie this. We
      are our actions and choices, nothing more or less. Who we are is what we do.
      There is no essence or nature in us. Our 'essence' is freedom itself. I
      respect Buddha for his inward strength to control all passion so that he
      could becomes "actualized" to what he had chosen for himself.

      > Kathi: There is no mystical element in Karma. It is just plain cause and
      > effect. If the doctrine of Karma is unbelievable, then you cannot explain
      > the many varieties of experiences in an individual's life. What you sow
      > you must reap. This can be readily demonstrated in the gross plane. But
      > in the subtle realm of the mind, it can only be understood by metaphysics.
      > Your ethics cannot give you happiness because you are still searching for
      > that life goal that can grant you that ultimate happiness. And I'm sure
      > you have not found it.

      Reply: Hi Kathi, thanks for your reply. But I am not sure on what basis do
      you think that I have not found my life goal, that my ethics cannot give me
      ultimate happiness? Unless you wish to claim that you have ultimate wisdom
      and compassion? I reply you because, although it is, to put it a bit bluntly
      (please excuse me for this, but I don't know how else to put it), not of
      your concern whether I have a life goal or that I have found it, you appears
      to me spontaneous and cheerful. Maybe that is how you really think base on
      your understanding of Buddhism, that anyone not Buddhist is necessarily
      unhappy? Honestly speaking, I appreciate your speaking out, for I begin to
      appreciate how pervasive and unconscious "cultural" or "religious" bias can
      be in influencing their judgement, and the more spontaneous, the more
      natural, direct and revealing. At least, you spoke your mind.

      > Kathi: Good or bad has to be metaphysical, because it cannot be
      > objectified. Therefore, the subject is involved in the determination of
      > what's good and bad. There is nothing social about it unless you examine
      > the consequences of the actions which affect society.

      Reply: I am not sure if I understand the word "metaphysical" in the same way
      as you do. But I have already answered this somewhere in my previous

      > Kathi: You don't murder because you don't want to be murdered. Helping
      > others is good because you've been helped before and you want to be
      > helped. It is a circle heh? I agree with you that harming is necessary
      > but not necessarily the weak.

      Kathi: Suppose I steal something from you. How would you feel? If you
      > feel fine, then it is ok to steal from others. Whatever viewpoints you
      > take, see it from the Self of everyone.

      Reply: I don't murder because I choose not to murder, not because I don't
      want to be murdered. I help others because I choose to help others, not
      because it is good. It is good because I do it, not I do it because it is
      good. (This point is subtle, and I don't blame you if you can't catch the
      implication of the point). My action determines that the action is good, not
      the other way round. That is, if I murder, then murder is good, else why
      should I do it? That is sincerity at its deepest level. That is the way
      thing is ontologically. Whatever we do, we have chosen as being superior to
      all other options. If I steal, it is logical to say that others can likewise
      steal on me, even if values are produced by freedom.

      Kathi: Oh really? Now tell me for a fact that you don't exist. Deny it
      > and you have to cease this discussion. Haha...think thru it.

      Kathi: Don't you think that this discussion is useful? If you think so,
      > then that would contradict your above contention.

      Reply: I think you have misunderstood me to say that I think I don't exist.
      My concern in the passage is not what you thought it to be. I do think this
      discussion is useful, especially with someone like you. I love to hear from

      > Kathi: Not necessarily. That depends on what truth is. So are you
      > deluded?

      Reply: So, do you think I am deluded? I may not accept blindly in everything
      you have to say to this, but I think it will be interesting to hear your
      answer. Maybe you can also 'enlighten' me as to what truth is?

      Kathi: If it is so, then how can I trust you? Since this discussion is
      > taking place within the realm of the five senses. There is no room even
      > for this discussion to take place. If everything is not a fact, then that
      > includes your viewpoints too, right???

      Reply: My concern over the passage you quoted is not that I deny the five
      senses or the categories of our human understanding; it is precisely the
      opposite, that we humans are like that. So, not to worry that you are
      talking to a ghost. My contention is that our so-called facts are actually
      confused with such. In philosophy, we want the indisputable truth by
      doubting everything, and until we have evidences, we can't accept it; but
      the problem comes when we consider what do we constitute by evidences.
      Empirical validity? Or what? Anyway, it is a long story. Your many questions
      marks somehow give me the impression you are thinking very hard and are very
      excited about the issues.

      Kathi: What is Truth? Ans: Truth is!

      Reply: Cheers !!!

      james: tyjfk@...
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