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Thread: Buddhist Ontology and Practice

  1. #46
    TobeFrank Paulclem's Avatar
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    The talk I attended in Birmingham by Thic Nat Hahn was inspiring and similar. I'll never forget him holding up an orange and asking us to consider how it was made. Looking into it deeper, he was pointing to the interdependance of all phenomena.

    "This morning during some questions and answer period, I said something like this, "Life is full of suffering, but it is also full of wonderful things, like the blue sky, the sunshine. . . the eyes of a baby, and that to suffer is not enough." We should be in touch with the wonder of life.

    I think this acknowledges suffering, but he is very encouraging. The truth is that you have to have an enthusiasm for practice and "love the cushion".

    His paragraph about smiling is very positive.I think he's teaching about self awareness and the results of even the simplest actions. We all know how positive it is to smile and be smiled at, especially in a world where we are experiencing some level of suffering.

    "Wait until I finish school, and get my PhD degree, then I will be really alive." And when you got it, and it's not easy to get, then you say to yourself, "I have to wait until I get a job to be really alive." And then after the job, a house. After the house, a car. And we are not capable of being alive in the present moment. And we tend to postpone being alive to the future, to a distant future, we don't know when.

    This is a gentle exhortation to practice. Again he's very encouraging, but the message is a lifelong one, to practice now. A good message.

  2. #47
    quite like george NikolaiI's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paulclem
    The talk I attended in Birmingham by Thic Nat Hahn was inspiring and similar. I'll never forget him holding up an orange and asking us to consider how it was made. Looking into it deeper, he was pointing to the interdependance of all phenomena.

    "This morning during some questions and answer period, I said something like this, "Life is full of suffering, but it is also full of wonderful things, like the blue sky, the sunshine. . . the eyes of a baby, and that to suffer is not enough." We should be in touch with the wonder of life.

    I think this acknowledges suffering, but he is very encouraging. The truth is that you have to have an enthusiasm for practice and "love the cushion".

    His paragraph about smiling is very positive.I think he's teaching about self awareness and the results of even the simplest actions. We all know how positive it is to smile and be smiled at, especially in a world where we are experiencing some level of suffering.

    "Wait until I finish school, and get my PhD degree, then I will be really alive." And when you got it, and it's not easy to get, then you say to yourself, "I have to wait until I get a job to be really alive." And then after the job, a house. After the house, a car. And we are not capable of being alive in the present moment. And we tend to postpone being alive to the future, to a distant future, we don't know when.

    This is a gentle exhortation to practice. Again he's very encouraging, but the message is a lifelong one, to practice now. A good message.
    Glad to have your analysis, and thank you for reading it sir.

  3. #48
    Oh boy I just love the topic of Emptiness! I kicked the stuffing out of phenomena (or maybe the other way around LOL) but that 'I' is super tricky. Took a break for a few years but will be getting back into it. Anyone here actually find their object of negation re: 'I'? It's diabolically slippery isn't it. Great thread - I was surprised to see it.

  4. #49
    Maybe YesNo's Avatar
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    Nice way of putting it: "kicked the stuffing out of phenomena".

    Did you find your "I"? The topic doesn't make a lot of sense to me.
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  5. #50
    Quote Originally Posted by YesNo View Post
    Did you find your "I"? The topic doesn't make a lot of sense to me.
    The inherently existing 'I'. The 'I' that we normally grasp as being our true self. We need to become familiar with this 'I' (the image or concept of it) that appears to us so we can negate it's existence through meditation.

  6. #51
    It's like when you negate the true existence of phenomena. You first have to understand what you're negating.

  7. #52
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brynmr View Post
    The inherently existing 'I'. The 'I' that we normally grasp as being our true self. We need to become familiar with this 'I' (the image or concept of it) that appears to us so we can negate it's existence through meditation.
    Why would you want to do something like that?

    What is the "I" that embodies one reincarnation and then another and generates "karma" along the way?
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  8. #53
    TobeFrank Paulclem's Avatar
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    Cheers Nik.

    Quote Originally Posted by Brynmr View Post
    Oh boy I just love the topic of Emptiness! I kicked the stuffing out of phenomena (or maybe the other way around LOL) but that 'I' is super tricky. Took a break for a few years but will be getting back into it. Anyone here actually find their object of negation re: 'I'? It's diabolically slippery isn't it. Great thread - I was surprised to see it.
    What method do you use?

    One I heard of was to remember a situation of embarrassment where you become very self conscious and then use this to try to focus on the I.

    I did also hear theat it is useful to develop single pointed concentration too.

  9. #54
    TobeFrank Paulclem's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by YesNo View Post
    Why would you want to do something like that?

    What is the "I" that embodies one reincarnation and then another and generates "karma" along the way?
    The point of that YesNo is that the I is the core reason for our grasping and generating negative Karma. It is the very subtle trick that keeps beings in Samsara because we all assume - deep down - that our sense of I is real. We assume that it is self evidently existent, and we consciously and subconsciously strive to protect, promote and feed it.

    The Buddhist teachings deny this, stating that the I is merely a label we place upon an impression of the I - perhaps our sense of self. This is based upon the logic that if an I exists - as it so surely seems to, then we will be able to locate and find it. As Brynmr has noted - it is a slippery semi image, sem impression. This is because it can't be located anywhere. This impression we have of our self is a lie, and with practice will disappear.

    Apparently it is very liberating, though it can be initially very disconcerting.

  10. #55
    Quote Originally Posted by Paulclem View Post
    Cheers Nik.



    What method do you use?

    One I heard of was to remember a situation of embarrassment where you become very self conscious and then use this to try to focus on the I.

    I did also hear theat it is useful to develop single pointed concentration too.
    Yes, embarrassment is a good one. Being falsely accused of something another. Mostly I just sit and think 'I' and carefully and lightly watch from the corner so to speak.

  11. #56
    Good explanation to YesNo Paulclem.

  12. #57
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paulclem View Post
    The point of that YesNo is that the I is the core reason for our grasping and generating negative Karma. It is the very subtle trick that keeps beings in Samsara because we all assume - deep down - that our sense of I is real. We assume that it is self evidently existent, and we consciously and subconsciously strive to protect, promote and feed it.

    The Buddhist teachings deny this, stating that the I is merely a label we place upon an impression of the I - perhaps our sense of self. This is based upon the logic that if an I exists - as it so surely seems to, then we will be able to locate and find it. As Brynmr has noted - it is a slippery semi image, sem impression. This is because it can't be located anywhere. This impression we have of our self is a lie, and with practice will disappear.

    Apparently it is very liberating, though it can be initially very disconcerting.
    So what is it that is doing "the grasping and generating of negative Karma" if the I does not exist? Call this the "real I".

    I was checking out the Wikipedia article on the Four Noble Truths and wonder where in these Four Noble Truths, or elsewhere in the original Buddhist canon, one finds the non-existence of the I?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_Noble_Truths

    Under the 2nd truth the article lists kinds of craving which is the "origin" of suffering and includes the following as a "craving":

    Craving not to be (vibhava-tanha): this is craving to not experience the world, and to be nothing; a wish to be separated from painful feelings.

    When one engages in meditation to become aware of the non-existence of the I, is the part of us that is aware of our non-existence included in that non-existence? If it is, how does this differ from the "craving not to be"?

    My suspicion is that if such a meditation actually worked to remove suffering in someone by making the person aware of their non-existence, what it really did was generate a victim who is now in denial that he or she is actually suffering but cannot admit it because to do so would admit their meditation is failing. It does not actually help the person remove the cause of the suffering.

    I do see an interpretation of the idea of the "self" that seems to fit your description which I can accept. I assume you acknowledge that our material bodies exist. Although changing and temporary, they are not illusions. The "self" in this context is the relationship between our bodies and the environments we live in along with mental ideas of that relationship. We each have our self image and it should change with changes in the environment. Suffering could be considered a clinging to an old self that needs to be reinvented. That is different than the non-existence of the self. Beyond that there is still the "I" which is conscious of the various selves that we each invent throughout our lifetimes.

    I'm just trying to conceptualize the problem I'm having with this.
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  13. #58
    TobeFrank Paulclem's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by YesNo View Post
    So what is it that is doing "the grasping and generating of negative Karma" if the I does not exist? Call this the "real I".

    I was checking out the Wikipedia article on the Four Noble Truths and wonder where in these Four Noble Truths, or elsewhere in the original Buddhist canon, one finds the non-existence of the I?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_Noble_Truths

    Under the 2nd truth the article lists kinds of craving which is the "origin" of suffering and includes the following as a "craving":

    Craving not to be (vibhava-tanha): this is craving to not experience the world, and to be nothing; a wish to be separated from painful feelings.

    .
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anatta

    Sorry Yesno - Therevadan Buddhism refers to a lack of an I as Anatta - Pali.

  14. #59
    TobeFrank Paulclem's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by YesNo View Post

    Under the 2nd truth the article lists kinds of craving which is the "origin" of suffering and includes the following as a "craving":

    Craving not to be (vibhava-tanha): this is craving to not experience the world, and to be nothing; a wish to be separated from painful feelings.

    When one engages in meditation to become aware of the non-existence of the I, is the part of us that is aware of our non-existence included in that non-existence? If it is, how does this differ from the "craving not to be"?
    Excellent question.

    The Buddha's teachings are based upon The Middle way. Part of this is the middle way between eternalism and annihilation.

    Eternalism implies the existence of a soul or a perpetual I which survives death and goes into some afterlife.

    Annihilation implies that when you die, that's it.

    The Buddha's contention was that neither were true, but that the energy from one life was the cause of the next. The classical image is of a candle representing a life lighting a second candle and then being blown out.

    The first candle caused the second candle, but it is not the same.

    I may have used this analogy before, but it is used in the texts.

    Interestingly, the annihilation/ eternalism argument continues from the Buddha's day to this - and on these very forums between the Theistic religions and the atheists.

  15. #60
    TobeFrank Paulclem's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by YesNo View Post
    My suspicion is that if such a meditation actually worked to remove suffering in someone by making the person aware of their non-existence,

    I'm just trying to conceptualize the problem I'm having with this.
    making the person aware of their non-existence

    This is denied, but i can see your thinking.

    There is also the notion of two truths - conventional reality and ulimate reality.

    The ultimate reality is emptiness. Conventional reality states that things exist, but only in a relationship to other things - which is where the I comes in. The I is a construct that depends upon the conglomeration of the sense perceptions and the mind.

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