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Does this make any sense?

lobsterlobster Veteran
edited November 14 in Philosophy

Below is a long quote from a previous thread. It makes a lot of sense to me. Most things do. Is that any reason to believe or not?


I'd definitely say that I'm a believer in panentheism, i.e., the idea that what we call God, the One, Truth, Nature, Substance, Universe, Dhamma, Brahman, etc. and the world are interrelated and that, ultimately, they are of the same substance. What we perceive to be distinctions between things like mind and body, for instance, are merely distinctions between modes, attributes, or appearances of phenomena that arise and cease through the complex causality that our individual minds conceptually perceive. We see the movement of the parts but not the whole. But just as the individual waves of the ocean — due to things like the movements of winds and currents and the gravitational pull of the moon — appear to be unique and isolated phenomena distinct from each other and the world of the ocean they inhabit, they are in reality all of the same substance, i.e., water, out which they arise from, return to, and are but modes of being of. In much the same way, our individual selves appear to be unique and isolated phenomena distinct from each other and the world we inhabit. And while the water itself can be said to have inherent existence, needing nothing else to exist or be conceived, the modes or properties of the waves cannot and need the substance of water to exist and be perceived.

From the perspective of the human mind, the world is one thing and we are another, and so too is 'God' or that which transcends it all. We are in the world, and ultimate reality lies outside even that. However, in truth, we are more like the waves of the ocean, passively unaware of our essence and the substance that makes our modes of being possible, an essence which is empty of inherent existence yet the same essence as the world as well as that which both lies beyond it and underlies it (or maybe better, contains it all). From the Buddhist POV, I think this idea is mirrored in Nagarjuna's line, "Samsara does not have the slightest distinction from Nirvana. Nirvana does not have the slightest distinction from Samsara" (Verses from the Center, 25:19). Samsara represents the world and nirvana represents that which transcends the world. And while from our human POV there are noticeable distinctions between samsara and nirvana, conditioned and unconditioned, world and God, mind and body, us and others, or anything else, from the ultimate POV there's not the slightest distinction between them; the distinctions are illusory.

Interestingly enough, Buddhism also defines 'the world' or 'the all' in terms of our individual, sensory experience of it, i.e., "the eye and forms, ear and sounds, nose and aromas, tongue and flavors, body and tactile sensations, intellect and ideas" (SN 35.23). What we know is constrained in many ways by the nature of the human mind and where/how consciousness "lands and grows" due to where "there is passion, delight, and craving for the nutriment of consciousness" (SN 12.64). But these sensory experiences locked into the apprehension of the modes of expression, being, or appearance of phenomena are illusory and comparable to a glob of foam floating down the Ganges, a bubble, a mirage, a hollow banana tree, a magic trick—i.e., empty and void (SN 22.95). It's as if our minds are conditioned to grasp the attributes of the waves, whose individual existence are inconstant, imperfect, unsatisfactory, empty and void because they do not exist from their own side, and not the substance they are an attribute or mode of. Nevertheless, understanding the causality of the conditioned world can act as a cause for the human mind's understanding of the reality of things as they are, thereby touching the deathless element by ceasing the mental processes of craving and clinging and 'I-making and my-making.' Clinging to the waves is unsatisfactory and stressful; letting go of the clinging to the waves 'unbinds' one and opens them up to experiencing the waterness on the waves.

The true reality, on the other hand, is one that can be said to be unborn, unmade, unconditioned, existing from its own side, stable, eternal. Spinoza reasons that this reality is analogous to God or substance, "that which is in itself, and is conceived through itself: in other words, that of which a conception can be formed independently of any other conception" (Ethics, I, Def. III). In Buddhism, this is akin to nirvana, the "unborn, unbecome, unmade, unfabricated" (Ud 8:3). This reality or substance or whatever you want to call it is akin to the primordial water that's modified into all the various waves the we conceive of and that form the basis for our subject-object dualism and the illusion that we are one wave distinct from all the others and the ocean we all inhabit, when in fact everything that we see, hear, taste, touch, feel, and cognize is of the same substance or reality that comprises what sees, hears, tastes, touches, feels, and cognizes. Its true essence is oneness, while its attributes or expressions are infinite. And where the Buddha demonstrates that the human can cognize nirvana, the unconditioned, the deathless element, etc. making the mind the mind of enlightenment characterized by 'consciousness without feature,' Spinoza goes even further to argue that "the human mind is part of the infinite intellect of God; thus when we say, that the human mind perceives this or that, we make the assertion, that God has this or that idea, not in so far as he is infinite, but in so far as he is displayed through the nature of the human mind, or in so far as he constitutes the essence of the human mind; and when we say that God has this or that idea, not only in so far as he constitutes the essence of the human mind, but also in so far as he, simultaneously with the human mind, has the further idea of another thing, we assert that the human mind perceives a thing in part or inadequately" (Ethics, II, Prop XI, Corollary).

(I realize the above analogy breaks down in the sense that the wind and gravity which represent the causal conditions that shape the waves are not themselves water, as well as the fact that the element of water is comprised of atoms that in turn are further divided, while these laws of nature and all the particles within it are but part of nature itself, whose reality is singular, self-contained, one infinite substance. But I think it conveys the general idea clearly enough, especially if we compare the wind to the passions of the mind, which when stilled give rise to peace and end the wave's rounds of rebirth.)

That leads me to also say that I'm a perennialist in the sense that I strongly believe this reality — whether we call it God, the One, Truth, Nature, Substance, Universe, Dhamma, Brahman, etc. — is a unity that paradoxically contains or is capable of infinite modes of expression, being, or appearance. And I see in each spiritual tradition a sincere search for and genuine understanding of this unity through a combination of imagination, reason, and intuition, with the first two arising from our dualistic awareness, and the latter achieved through nondual consciousness. The human mind is the experience of samsara; the mind of God is the experience of nirvana. And they are one. We are ultimately one with all of the things we seek to know, understand, and love.

Our salvation or enlightenment is achieved in overcoming our ignorance of reality by releasing our mind's grasping of the appearances and letting go of our self-identity view, thereby opening ourselves up to an intellectual understanding and/or love of God, the One, Truth, Nature, Substance, Universe, Dhamma, Brahman, etc. and realizing our own nature, or as Ruksana put it in The Circle, "real recognizing real." In Buddhism, one is encouraged to develop selflessness in regards to the aggregates of form, feeling, perception, mental fabrications, and sensory consciousness in order to achieve this realization. In Christianity and Islam, one is encouraged to die to yourself or 'die before you die.' Another method involves love, effectively doing the same thing. In Buddhism, for instance, metta or loving-kindness can also be salvific. And this method seems even more dominant in Christianity. Jesus says to love God and love others as ourselves (Mt 22:37-39). Loving others as ourselves is also loving ourselves. And John goes further, saying God is love (John 4:7-8), which we can see as the positive form of selflessness. So ultimately we are left with God loving God, which in reality is just the act of loving itself—an identical, loving or unbound state of consciousness, free from misperceptions and passions and sense of self.

In Christianity, I see the inheritor of the Greek Mystery cults and Platonic philosophy that, in the ancient world, used both ecstatic and rational means to point practitioners towards the One, God, the Form of the Good, Logos. And in Jesus, I see a person who had such mystical experiences and intuitive realizations, seeing himself in God and God in himself, unifying his individual mode of being with the substance underlying it, reflecting and pointing towards this constant and eternal state of consciousness. And just as John states that love is God and one who does not love does not know God, Spinoza states that, "The intellectual love of the mind towards God is that very love of God whereby God loves himself, not in so far as he is infinite, but in so far as he can be explained through the essence of the human mind regarded under the form of eternity; in other words, the intellectual love of the mind towards God is part of the infinite love wherewith God loves himself" (Ethics, V, Prop XXXVI).
https://newbuddhist.com/discussion/comment/566253/#Comment_566253

Comments

  • Ultimate truth does not point to a transcendent reality, but to the transcendence of deception.

    That is a useful way of stating it. Obvious really. It addresses the elephant of non being in the emptied room.

    From a theistic experience we may talk of fana-il-fana (the Sufi annihilation of annihilation).

  • These are deep and esoteric notions and the reality of it may indeed be more in line with the piece than with Buddhist understanding. My point though is that it isn't the Buddhist way of understanding and is pretty contradictory in places.

    Thank God I have no Buddhist understanding to contradict any placement. For this reason the limitations of expressible reality include:

    • Words are a form of emptiness
    • Contradiction, paradox and opposition are truly inconsequential when resolved
    • Understandable is not ultimately comprehensive

    and now back to the wordless

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the liminal space Veteran
    edited November 19

    @lobster said:

    These are deep and esoteric notions and the reality of it may indeed be more in line with the piece than with Buddhist understanding. My point though is that it isn't the Buddhist way of understanding and is pretty contradictory in places.

    Thank God I have no Buddhist understanding to contradict any placement. For this reason the limitations of expressible reality include:

    • Words are a form of emptiness
    • Contradiction, paradox and opposition are truly inconsequential when resolved
    • Understandable is not ultimately comprehensive

    and now back to the wordless

    Sure, my overall point being that it is fine to hold those views, but being that this is a Buddhist forum I think its important to highlight views that don't align.

    We are using words and philosophy in this post, not just twirling flowers at each other. I do think it is important to have the finger pointing in the correct direction if you want to reach your intended destination. 🙏

    howlobster
  • then there are the three realities
    What you see
    What you think you see
    What is

    Gee, I was going somewhere with that, but tripped over a pronoun. What a mess!

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