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About nac

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  1. Nice try, but Buddhists HAVE, in fact, done precisely that. In retrospect, they didn't have to cling to it so desperately, but that's been the tradition within Buddhism for the past 2,500 years. Other fields of learning were thought to bear indirectly on enlightenment, if at all, (which is only true under the narrow, Buddhist definition of "enlightenment" that excludes far too much for reasons which, if I try and explain them, are liable to open a new can of worms) and, on that basis, to be illusory. This view doesn't deign to distinguish science from the study of magic tricks, and cannot therefore be Samyag Drsti, the Comprehensive View. I have never argued that Buddhism is radically incompatible with theory-based knowledge. Just too incomplete to fulfill its self-assigned purpose, hence the interposition of an intelligible kingdom between the Buddhas and Emptiness, of which the Dharmakaya is but one of many members. I apologize for being unclear about all this. I was unsure as to the nature of your confusion and I'd grown tired of repeating "SOME respects". Any specific complaints? Before forestofemptiness (thanks!) came in, I couldn't identify specific sources of confusion, and at one point I'd taken to cracking unfunny, self-referential jokes only I would understand. Hope they weren't too distracting. Explains a lot, actually. Healthy and inexpensive vegan food is still a Holy Grail of mine.
  2. I'm on powerful antibiotics from today. Here's your chance. Was it vegan pizza?
  3. Yes, metaphysical speculation about anatman; that is, showing self-transcendent consciousness to be ultimately dissociated from all conditions, as opposed to the systematic study of those causes and conditions themselves. The difference is that Buddhist "theorizing" is primarily focused on showing that all formations are impermanent. (The Abhidharma also contains strange, seemingly pointless digressions into the height of the mythical Mount Meru. I can't imagine that kind of "theory" being helpful in any way myself, so I don't blame Mahayana for ditching that road of "inquiry".) In contrast, Taoism, for example, is concerned with clarifying the transformations of the universe without stopping at "Hah, this too is impermanent!" (...though it too has numerous Meru Moments. See for example the "reasoning" employed by Yü-ts'un in the Dream of the Red Chamber to explain generational differences.*) This is not to say that knowledge of impermanence and selflessness is worthless. However, like all distinctions, it is one-sided and incomplete if you cling to it. On the other hand, I do recognize it as a distinction particularly relevant to Buddhist practice, where it serves as a special gateway for spiritual accomplishment. * The factor connecting this to Meru is that both speculations reference domains to which the thinker couldn't possibly have had epistemic access. No Greek philosopher was hubristic enough to dictate the height of Mount Olympus from Intellect alone.
  4. Oh please, must I defend myself in that regard after my conduct in this thread, or indeed Proclus? The intelligible kingdom is a metaphysical demarcation encompassing all intelligible theories, and neither of us are Abrahamic fundamentalists, you know.
  5. The Heart Sutra is not an Indian scripture. It seems to have been compiled in China for the purpose of appealing to the Chinese love of aphoristic sayings. It fulfills that role wonderfully, but the shortness of the text has great scope for spreading confusion, especially in people with nihilistic leanings. For example, "no Eyes, no Ears, ..." Sure, sure, but who's going to clarify: "no No Eyes, no No Ears, ..." in the manner that the Buddha explicitly affirms his use of bodily features in the Diamond Sutra? No one, because such interpolations would ruin the literary style. Beauty is a holy thing, but at the expense of truth? Imbalanced beauty is beautiful in terms of superficial form alone. Unlike divine beauty, its appreciation is impaired, not perfected, by introspection. (I wouldn't go so far as to say that the Heart Sutra is itself lopsided, but it can give that impression a bit too easily for my liking.) If you're looking for a formula, no set method is known for churning out good philosophy. Pre-Christian hymns and rites that survive from classical antiquity are classified under Western Esotericism. As far as I am aware however, rites used by the philosophical schools have perished. On the other hand, how does one theorize in Buddhism? The supposed superiority of practice to theory is the very premise under reconsideration.
  6. Hello. (You were right about a lot of things. _o_)
  7. Can I have a cookie? I'm generally skeptical about talk of "fundamental levels" because in reality, there is nowhere to "go". The authentic "fundamental level", so to speak, pervades all realms at all times, including illusions that appear to be displays of cleverness. One must thoroughly awaken to this non-self-nature of all dharmas so as to avoid clinging to illusory "realizations". I am not merely regurgitating dogmas. In my own practice, I have been to what might be called "fundamental levels". Not only were their apparent natures illusory, but escaping from them was sometimes just as hard, if not harder, than getting there. Liberated beings are not stuck at any "level", whether "fundamental" or "superficial", because the inconceivable ground of enlightenment serves as the ground for all conceivable "levels". (I have used a Buddhist framework to set out my experiences here. However, my point stands that actual aversion to theory, as opposed to helpful skepticism, will result in us never acquiring anything like complete self-knowledge. For instance, knowledge of the physiological processes of our own bodies will forever elude us without "illusory" theoretical frameworks. Therefore, it makes sense, and not just from expediency, to posit a structured intelligible kingdom between the intellectual kingdom and the One. (Emptiness)) Take your time, I will help in any way that is reasonable in my judgement. May this discussion prove beneficial to all parties no matter how things turn out in the end.
  8. Hey, I took great care to say that it is better in SOME respects. It's a highly qualified accusation, and only an "accusation" if you buy into premises like, the accumulation of knowledge is a good thing, because Buddhism hinders that in some ways. Considering that the original aim of Mahayana Buddhism was the attainment of correct knowledge of all things knowable, and not just helping Westerners deal with their neuroses, I think ancient Indian acaryas would agree with me that this poses a serious problem. (A lot of modern Buddhists have no idea about the extent to which we Indians, and all major Dharmic traditions, have always honored knowledge and understanding. Buddhists are not Taoists. (with all due respect) We are willing to renounce everything, including life itself, for the sake of omniscience. And yes, believe it or not, "omniscience" in Indian Buddhism was understood to be "knowledge of all things knowable" and not some kind of New Agey "spiritual omniscience" where the words don't mean what they are normally understood to mean. This may not apply to you personally, but Westerners tend to have a hard time believing this, and the same is true for many East Asians. Some of them seem to think it's all about losing thoughts to attain tranquility, which completely misses the point. No, we once honestly believed that it's possible to literally know everything through a life of renunciation and meditation. Go figure. I still consider that to be the most worthwhile goal, but I have grown skeptical of this overarching methodology proposed with a view to achieving that end.) In Buddhism, Thusness is identified with Dharmakaya. This also ties in with my theory because according to Proclus, the intellectual monad belongs in the intelligible kingdom. When comparing two very different traditions, concepts sometimes have to be "misunderstood" for any sort of fruitful mutual influence to take place. Newtonians could have argued, as many philosophers at the time did, that the proponents of Relativity had misunderstood the concept of space. You see, in classical physics, space was "defined" to be flat. Problems arise when "space", defined in that way, ceases to be useful in the task of describing real things. "Misunderstandings" of this nature are unavoidable because in Buddhism, nothing is an entirely objective state. Eg. I rejected Jnanas as a description of the intelligible realm because they do not refer to those-which-are-known, but more like states of knowing. Although it's claimed that there is no "actual thing", we can still look for concepts that "match" in the sense of fulfilling vaguely similar functions. I'm interested if you can suggest a closer match than Thusness. As you can see, my scheme is preliminary and not 100% serious. I might well be wrong about anything and everything, so I would very much appreciate it if you could explain some of the ways in which my loose correspondences result in total mismatches. Actually, I was worried someone would protest that Buddhas are not "gods" at all, but that enlightenment is an axis perpendicular to the realms of sentient beings. I'm glad no one's feeling that silly today. 49 days under a tree, as a matter of fact. In what way is my usage of "dismiss" incorrect or suboptimal? Don't worry, that forms no part of the "accusation". As you have surmised, the Neoplatonic approach allows for theoretical work. IMO, theories are crucial for reaching greater and greater depths of understanding. But yeah, it would be unfair of me to expect people who have studied little of these matters to understand what I'm talking about. For a relatively quick introduction, I recommend the TTC lecture course 'Philosophy of Science'.
  9. I-thoughts dependently arise and dependently subside like all other thoughts; thus they have no single source, only relevant sources depending on the context. Like all thoughts, their contents are ultimately illusory and latching on to them leads to self-deception. Frankly, this looks irrelevant to me. Please explain more fully what you're implying here. (Because if it's just "shut up and stop thinking", well, thanks for the response, but just so you don't get the wrong idea, I have no intention of following that advice.) That "speech" is not rooted in frivolous talk but arises from the apprehension of causes and conditions. If I am mistaken in that regard, please explain where I have been led astray. There is no self-nature involved till at least one meta level up, and even that is a relative categorization drawn from the Sutras. Not looking at thoughts is ignorance, which can engender no progress. Progress (the kind I'm talking about, anyway) occurs through the analytic loosening of narrow thinking. Also, most Buddhist Sutras and Shastras "talk a lot". Spiritual traditions that interest me the most tend to do that. Don't take this amiss, but if you never look at your thoughts, what reason do I have to believe that you know what you're talking about? Did you just spontaneously say whatever came into your head? Either way, what was the relevant source of that idea? Or do you deny that "do not analyze your thinking" is an idea?
  10. After much seeking, I have finally encountered a Non-Buddhist tradition whose views are somewhat commensurable with, and at least as good as, if not in many ways superior to, those of Buddhism. The tradition I refer to is Neo-Platonism, especially as presented in Proclus' Theology of Plato. A summary with tables: http://www.goddess-a..._of_Plato_x.htm (the "Next" button at the bottom of The Divine Nature erroneously skips over The First Principle) As I understand it, the Buddhist thesis of omniscience goes as follows: Just as the hypostasis supporting matter and non-matter alike is empty space, so the hypostasis providing the basis for both thought and non-thought is non-differentiated consciousness. This consciousness, when polished regularly, shines bright as a mirror and lets thoughts and non-thoughts arise and subside freely without attachment or distortion, thus allowing the mind's faculty of direct perception to function unhindered by delusions and biases. I cannot vouch for the appropriateness of my comparative scheme, but according to my understanding, Buddhism presents the most thorough (if not necessarily accurate) exploration of the intellectual realm I have yet seen. In my theory, setting other differences aside, Buddhas are intellectual gods or their incarnations in other realms and the Dharmakaya is essentially equivalent to the intellectual "monad". (although Buddhism denies that it's a monad) Now, as is evident in the chapter of the above summary entitled The First Principle, Proclus describes the intellectual kingdom as being suspended from a higher order called the intelligible kingdom. If Buddhism were a Platonic school, it would number among those that were somewhat skeptical of orders higher than the divine intellect. This is not to say that Buddhism teaches that the intellect is the one and only reality in a solipsistic fashion. More subtly, it denies the absolute reality as well as unreality of the objects of sense-perception, thus affirming the potential, contextual reality or unreality of all percepts and freeing the intellect to directly perceive the true state of affairs in every situation. (There are faults in this thesis too, as it is not clear how deeply we are able to "perceive" and form connections without the crutch of concepts. (Although Buddhism does not proscribe the skillful use of concepts, it is at best passive-aggressive towards them.)) This state of affairs Buddhism calls Thusness, which would therefore be akin to a Buddhist equivalent of the intelligible realm. Unfortunately, Buddhism drops all matters less than directly relevant to consciousness right there, and goes on to talk about methods to purify one's insight. Therefore, from a theoretical perspective, Neo-Platonism shoots past Buddhism at this point without a fight, and goes on to describe the structure of Thusness itself, a notion likely to strike a committed Buddhist as probably heretical. And yet, there is nothing obviously wrong with Proclus' attempt as he states at the outset that, unlike Hindu notions of Brahma or Self, the Platonic One is ineffable, transcends being itself and is the source of all essences. (which Buddhism would condemn as the illusion of creation) From that perspective: Greatest strength of the Buddhist approach: In a word, freedom. How does anyone establish an intelligible framework? Through the intellect. Proclus does not describe the path to attain his own realizations. At least, not in this book. Buddhism might actually help him there by teaching methods to clarify one's intellectual vision. Of course, Proclus' tradition might have forbidden him to disclose such methods, because as stated in one translation of his , "made pure by hymns and rites that none may name..." In any case, the loss of the spiritual roots of the Greek philosophical tradition is a blow to humanity, possibly one so great that we may never recover from it. Still, theoretical orthodoxies such as this can become too rigid, as happened even in the case of Buddhism, where the orthodoxy was basically, "Do not construct a theoretical orthodoxy." Hearing this, Buddhists proceeded to write this mantra on flags and plant them all over the world as conquests for various orthodox non-orthodoxies. Greatest weakness of the Buddhist approach: In a word, "illusions". No matter what its admirers say, Mahayana Buddhism is definitely too quick to dismiss anything impermanent or uncertain as an "illusion". Although it uses "illusion" in the sense that the "mirror" of consciousness "reflects" the actual state of affairs originally without distortion, it would, in fact, dismiss Platonic ideas such as "bound and infinity" as conditional "illusions" one ought not cling to, and there may even be some truth to this sentiment. However, without some attachment (as opposed to grasping and clinging) to theory, meticulously constructed formal systems illuminating collectively explored vistas of knowledge will never emerge and our understanding will remain forever superficial. Not to mention that, as history teaches us, general proscriptions are a bad idea. This is not meant to be a highly original, one-shot disproof of Buddhism. These concerns have been raised before, but I did not understand them back then. Also, it is hardly the case that Buddhism is fatally injured even if this accusation is perfectly just. What this is, is a spontaneous confession of how I was personally led to these conclusions. I'm tired of typing, so I guess I'll leave it there.
  11. The Non-Buddhist in me says "One Truth; Many Perspectives!" The Buddhist in me says "'Truth' refers to views regarding which there can be no non-delusional disagreements. 'Perspective' refers to views regarding which there can be non-delusional disagreements. Both terms may be skillful in conveying correct understanding and thus bringing about true awakening. Either may be used to obscure valid perception." My concern is that I've unfairly mislabeled these voices for a while. For starters, the world isn't divided into "Buddhists" and "Non-Buddhists", but I've always known that. Genuine progress means carefully discriminating among the multiplicity of views on offer and accurately discerning their strengths and weaknesses in domains of representation, utility, and the like.
  12. Liezi and collectivism

    That's okay, I'm up for speculations too.
  13. taoist diagrams

    Thanks again. _/\_
  14. My Last Post

    OP: I don't know, I seem to recall things being much worse a couple years back. Samsaric cycles go forwards and backwards.
  15. Liezi says: How is this section to be understood? Is it a straightforward commendation of social order or a subtle attack against the idea? The Liezi does contain some "Confucian" passages, so is the above one of those? (If so, it's not purely Confucian. The Scholars hated Mohism.)