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Buddha has Alzheimer's?

Speculative, of course. What if ...?

Would he lose his 'enlightenment'?

If yes, Buddhahood is subject to the body.

If no, buddhahood is some kind of magic that can overcome bodily afflictions.

Your thoughts?

Snakeskin

Comments

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited November 25

    My thoughts are it's an inconsequential question.

    First, find an existing enlightened being.
    Secondly determine that they actually have Alzheimer's/dementia.
    Thirdly, observe, conclude.

    Other than that, I suspect it's impossible to determine.
    It's rather like asking us what it's like after dying....

    Could I ask what the actual point of your question is?
    I have 2 members of my family suffering from Alzheimer's.
    It's distressing, relentlessly frustrating and increasingly difficult to cope with, particularly for the more immediate members of the family.

    Please consider your audience before proposing such points to ponder.

    dhammachickDhammaDragon
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    This is an interesting talk....

    Snakeskin
  • techietechie India Veteran

    I think it's very important because in other religions, there is always a soul or self (or something other than the physical) to fall back on. In Buddhism, the mind and body are inter-related. One affects the other. So if the body/brain is affected by Alzheimer's, then wouldn't the mind (even an enlightened mind) be affected?

    Then what good is enlightenment if it can disappear once an illness appears? I think it's a valid concern.

    Snakeskin
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    IN another (very old!) thread, @Jason provides this information:

    In a Dhamma talk from Thanissaro Bhikkhu, he mentions a conversation he had with his teacher before he died. In the talk, he said that his teacher was experiencing a lot of memory loss, confusion, et cetera, but "that thing he got in meditation" was always there.

    The mind and body of a person are conditioned; therefore, like all conditional things there are subject to dissolution. However, if one has not attained the goal of liberation in this life, though they took refuge and lived a wholesome life, they will have sown the seeds for future spiritual development. I do not know if Awakening is possible while experiencing Alzheimers and dementia, although I suspect that it is—albeit extraordinarily difficultly. Nevertheless, there is no need to be afraid of such diseases because the mind and body are unsatisfactory, inconstant, and not-self.

    Instead of arousing fear, the thought of these diseases should inspire the urgency and effort to practice because “as aging and death are rolling in on you, what else should be done but Dhamma-conduct, right conduct, skillful deeds, meritorious deeds?” (SN 3.25)

    I'm pretty sure it's in the video above...

    Snakeskin
  • CarlitaCarlita Om Vajrasattva Hum United States Veteran

    @techie said:
    Speculative, of course. What if ...?

    Would he lose his 'enlightenment'?

    If yes, Buddhahood is subject to the body.

    If no, buddhahood is some kind of magic that can overcome bodily afflictions.

    Your thoughts?

    The Buddha does go through the stages of birth, age, sickness, and death. A lot of people develop Alzheimers in the later stages of life. The difference, though, is that since The Buddha was enlightened, he was not mentally affected by suffering. He died in peace.

    I'd assume it would be harder for The Buddha to obtain enlightenment if he had alzheimers but since he is able to distance himself from suffering mentally, it probably wouldn't affect him.

    Is Buddhahood subject to the body? As in we are subjected to sickness while enlightened? Yes. We still go through suffering, we're just not affected by it mentally.

    The Buddha overcame bodily afflictions by mentally not clinging to suffering while still going through the process embedded in life (birth/age/sickness/death both his and ours (one continuum). He probably went through many lifetimes to where he was in the appropriate condition to be enlightened. Not everyone has the same advantage.

    Good and interesting question.

    Snakeskin
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    My understanding is that the mind is partially non-physical, so I would think that enlightenment would be a phenomenon in that space as well or even entirely. Hence I’d suspect that something like Alzheimer’s wouldn’t affect the nature and achievement of enlightenment, while it probably would affect the things the person in question was capable of expressing.

    dhammachickSnakeskinDhammaDragonlobster
  • SnakeskinSnakeskin Texas, USA Veteran

    @techie said:
    Speculative, of course. What if ...?

    Would he lose his 'enlightenment'?

    If yes, Buddhahood is subject to the body.

    If no, buddhahood is some kind of magic that can overcome bodily afflictions.

    Your thoughts?

    My thoughts are semantic. Enlightenment is Nibbana, which is the cessation of dukkha, which is the cessation of tanha (craving). So, enlightenment is the cessation of craving. A buddha is one who is enlightened, one in whom craving has ceased, been cut at the root, never to arise again. If craving arises in one, then that one is not a buddha. Those two are mutually exclusive. So, I would say if the brain of a buddha were afflicted with rapid deterioration, the dying of cells and the breaking apart of their connections, there would be nothing magical about the continued absence of craving. How could what doesn’t exist be lost?

    ShoshinDhammaDragon
  • SnakeskinSnakeskin Texas, USA Veteran

    @federica said:
    I have 2 members of my family suffering from Alzheimer's.

    hug

  • DhammaDragonDhammaDragon Carpe Diem Recidivist Samsarist Veteran

    "Mano," that is translated as what in the Western world we call the mind or mental sense organ, includes vinnana (experiencing) and citta (thinking).
    Mano encompasses feelings (vedana), perceptions (sanna), defilements, intentions, thoughts, insight and Nibbana.

    If we understand by "Enlightenment" a mental process or insight that brings about cessation of dukkha and seeing things as they are, beyond delusion, it could be that dementia illnesses affect this blissful state.
    Siddharta Gautama still had a physical aggregate when he became a Buddha.

    Snakeskin
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited November 25

    It says in scripture that the Buddha (or anyone us too) is neither the body nor NOT the body. Nor owns the body. Nor is contained in the body. Same with the 4 mental skhandas. Each skhanda four negations so a total of 20 negations.

    Snakeskin
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    @techie said:
    Speculative, of course. What if ...?

    Would he lose his 'enlightenment'?

    If yes, Buddhahood is subject to the body.

    If no, buddhahood is some kind of magic that can overcome bodily afflictions.

    Your thoughts?

    Here's a theory...so don't take it as gospel ...

    Alzheimer's is a chronic neurodegenerative disease which affects the brain ( 'organic matter' ) The mind aka knowing & consciousness aka awareness are not organic but have a symbiotic relationship with the body ...(when it comes to human existence & experience...you can't have one without the other)

    Karma is karma eg, for this to happen that must happen and so forth and degeneration of the physical body parts is a karmic process...things passed their use by date/or faulty start to decay...one of the many karmic cosmic laws...

    Consciousness (so it would seem) uses our brain as a conduit, it channels through the neuropathways of the brain producing awareness and the mind is (ultimately) the feed back knowing part of this awareness process....

    In an healthy brain, consciousness flows uninterrupted (decay is also happening but at a slower rate) It would seem that in an unhealthy/faulty brain, decay is more obvious and rapid...

    However when it comes to the "knowing" mind, it just knows what it knows... be it ultimate knowledge or relative...Knowing is knowing..

    A question to ask your 'self' @techie .....
    Does enlightenment mean one must be actively (mentally & physically) participating in the mundane comings and goings of daily life ?
    (Does ultimate knowledge need an outlet ?...one would think not)

    Remember this is just a simple theory and not in any way a professional scientific medical diagnoses of this debilitating condition.... and I guess nor is it 100% Buddhist thought....

    lobsterSnakeskinperson
  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited November 25

    Of course he is subject to the body. He died didn't he ... (big clue right there). B)

    Buddha Nature does not get Alzheimers as it does not have a nature or achievement of something ...

    ShoshinCarlitaSnakeskin
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    Just as an aside, many eminent physicians dealing in this specific field of medicine, its causes and the conditions which seem to exacerbate it - are calling Alzheimer's, Diabetes III.
    It would appear that the excessive intake of simple carbohydrates so common in the Western diet, is in part, if not largely, responsible.
    (jump to 53:02. But the whole video - just over an hour long - is literally, food for thought.)

    I believe this is why in all probability, Dementia, and Alzheimer's as we know them today - didn't even exist back then.

    Snakeskinsilverdhammachick
  • SnakeskinSnakeskin Texas, USA Veteran

    I plan to watch TV this evening.

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