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Thread: New Buddhist Path - A New Buddhist Story to A Pivotal Stage - PP 86 - 104

  1. #1

    New Buddhist Path - A New Buddhist Story to A Pivotal Stage - PP 86 - 104

    Hi All Fellow Jewels in Indra's Net,

    I am still not sure what aspects of David Loy's proposals seem to strike some folks as in conflict with the discoveries and perspective of modern science. He seems to me very conservative in his assertions: (1) we are made of the stuff of the universe and are certainly not separate from the whole, such that it might be said that we are the universe in one aspect or manifestation, and (2) therefore when we make toast or paint a picture or look through our telescopes at the stars, it is the universe making toast, painting and looking. In fact, since all is the universe, one might say that it is the universe toasting, painting and looking at the universe.

    Granted, he does come dangerously close to (or steps over the line of) implying that there is some kind of "creative force" or drive or direction to the universe toward intelligent life. However, I think that a good argument can be made that there is such a natural tendency in the properties of the cosmos, given that here we (and all the other life on earth, and likely on other worlds too) sit. There seems to be something fertile and life (and intelligent life) encouraging in the structure of the universe, much as there is something in soil and seed to produce a tree. In fact, all of soil and seed and tree are made of the stuff of the universe, and are the universe sprouting and growing in the universe. Since we are intelligent life, and since we sprouted from the universe, there is ipso facto something about the universe capable and nourishing of the development of intelligence.

    It does not seem such a radical proposition to me.

    If we are the universe in a particular manifestation, and we are trying to understand that fact, is it not perhaps maybe true for each of us that "my subjective desire to awaken [can] be understood in a more nondual way as the urge of the universe itself to become self-aware, in me and as me" and "Awakening, then, involves realizing that 'I' am not inside my body, looking out through my eyes at a world that is separate from me. Rather 'I' am what the whole universe is doing, right here and now."

    Do you agree with David that such an interpretation, "is not some fanciful reinterpretation of the Buddhist tradition, It is consistent with many of the metaphors and conceptualizations that have traditionally been used to describe the experience, in fact, it illuminates them."

    He says, "your true nature -- your no-self-nature, right here and now -- is not different from the no-self nature of the cosmic process." He points to the cosmos and you (not two) as the very same emptiness, yet a creative and fertile emptiness. Does this resonate with you?

    Do you believe that there is a tendency for progress and improvement in evolution, and in universal history in general? Generally, many biologists try to remain neutral on a question of "progress" (avoiding any question of whether, for example, human beings are improvements on earlier species, merely observing that we are different), yet is it possible that there is in fact a tendency for the universe to progress and improve via evolution (that humans have developed some very special abilities and talents that can be seen as somehow progress toward intelligence for example)? What do you think of David's handling of this question? He speaks of an "absolute and relative" view of evolution and diversity, in which some developments might be seen as "progress" or "improvement" on the one hand, but beyond such judgments on the other.

    Do you believe that we can "choose to work for the well-being of the whole [the biosphere, other people and even the whole universe], to make that the meaning of our lives"? Do you believe that we are at a pivotal stage where we really should do so to protect our world?

    Do you believe that the universe has meaning? No meaning? David writes, "Then to ask whether the universe itself is objectively meaningful or meaningless is to miss the point -- as if the universe were outside us, or simply there without us. When we do not erase ourselves from the picture, we can see that we are meaning-makers, the beings by which the universe introduces a new scale of meaning of value." (I would emphasize again the simple logical premise that, if we are the universe, and if we are able to find some meaning in the universe, then we are the universe creating meaning in the universe).

    Since you are the universe reading a book (also the universe), and since these questions are the universe, what does the universe (as you) have to say about the universe (these questions)?

    Gassho, J

    SatToday
    Last edited by Jundo; 04-14-2017 at 01:11 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  2. #2
    I'm intrigued by Loy's suggestion that we are the universe's way of being aware of itself. However, I can't help feeling the theory is an effort to explain something that might beyond explanation... If reality is boundless and all-encompassing, surely we can't describe it, only experience "it". It makes sense to me that we do this by letting thoughts and judgements drop away... When I'm reading something like Loy, fascinating as it is, I sometimes feel like it's leaving me with a very busy mind...

    Is there some inherent conflict in intellectualising Buddhism? For me, personally, this book is making me want to sit more and read less.

    Gassho,
    Enjaku
    Sat
    援若

  3. #3
    Thank you ... =)

    Gassho
    Shingen

    s@today

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Enjaku View Post
    Is there some inherent conflict in intellectualising Buddhism? For me, personally, this book is making me want to sit more and read less.
    I think I am having a similar reaction.

    Gassho
    Warren
    Sat today

  5. #5
    That's the big trap. Learn enough to say no and then be done with it. Just stop. Quit it. Leave it alone.

    My two cents.

    Gasho, Jishin, _/st\_

  6. #6
    I read somewhere, I thought I knew where, but I can't find the quote, that emotions are not caused by meanings; emotions are the meanings. If emotions are taken away, a person can't make decisions. This section discussed meaning, and that meditation rewires the brain, but doesn't discuss emotion directly. Many emotions are rooted in greed, aversion and ignorance, but not all, such as empathy and compassion.

    I don't know know if the cosmos and people are improving, but I do think there is a progression to increasing complexity, in natural evolution and in human culture.

    Gassho,
    Onkai
    SatToday

  7. #7
    It seems to me that I practice to avoid needing to answer these questions for myself, because I don't really feel the need to know the answers. I feel like I'd be happy with either divine direction or random spread, or something in between. Fun to think about and intellectualize, but pointless, really. There is no right or wrong answer as of yet.

    Gassho, sat today
    求道芸化 Kyudo Geika
    I am just a priest-in-training, please do not take anything I say as a teaching.

  8. #8
    Poetry is an overflow of powerful emotion recollected in tranquility. William Wordsworth. Red Pine says that the Heart Sutra is not only a powerful expression and condensation of Buddhist thought, but great poetry. The point of Wordsworth's definition is the recollection of powerful emotion in tranquility, because if as the Buddha taught, we allow humankind to catch its breath, so to speak, we come into accordance with the universe. If in consciousness, we can step back and take a look at our environment, then we can also align ourselves with a living universe, a consciousness which cannot be fully realized in analytical terms, and must include art and poetry. Art and poetry (to include prose) allow us to express ourselves in ways impossible with technology and science. The Arts, and religion in its best form, allow us to come as close to a living breathing universe as possible; because it includes that slowed emotion which cannot be quantified, that, as others with us might agree, is beautiful. And beauty is truth. Art and poetry explore life at is Nobelist, as beauty and truth. It takes a leap to make ourselves in accord with a living universe, and Art, Religion, and philosophy bring us tranquilly into a living universe that includes emotions, emotions we can now deal with in a universe that is alive.

    Tai Shi
    std
    Gassho
    Last edited by Tai Shi; 04-11-2017 at 12:06 AM.
    ...Thought and action/ your life would never experience, (even before you were born), But he also being the Devine Cannot, He etched every moment of your existence, With His own hand... Haifiz

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Tai Shi View Post
    Poetry is an overflow of powerful emotion recollected in tranquility. William Wordsworth. Red Pine says that the Heart Sutra is not only a powerful expression and condensation of Buddhist thought, but great poetry. The point of Wordsworth's definition is the recollection of powerful emotion in tranquility, because if as the Buddha taught, we allow humankind to catch its breath, so to speak, we come into accordance with the universe. If in consciousness, we can step back and take a look at our environment, then we can also align ourselves with a living universe, a consciousness which cannot be fully realized in analytical terms, and must include art and poetry. Art and poetry (to include prose) allow us to express ourselves in ways impossible with technology and science. The Arts, and religion in its best form, allow us to come as close to a living breathing universe as possible; because it includes that slowed emotion which cannot be quantified, that, as others with us might agree, is beautiful. And beauty is truth. Art and poetry explore life at is Nobelist, as beauty and truth. It takes a leap to make ourselves in accord with a living universe, and Art, Religion, and philosophy bring us tranquilly into a living universe that includes emotions, emotions we can now deal with in a universe that is alive.

    Tai Shi
    std
    Gassho
    Thank you, Tai Shi

    Gassho,
    Onkai
    SatToday

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Tai Shi View Post
    Poetry is an overflow of powerful emotion recollected in tranquility. William Wordsworth. Red Pine says that the Heart Sutra is not only a powerful expression and condensation of Buddhist thought, but great poetry. The point of Wordsworth's definition is the recollection of powerful emotion in tranquility, because if as the Buddha taught, we allow humankind to catch its breath, so to speak, we come into accordance with the universe. If in consciousness, we can step back and take a look at our environment, then we can also align ourselves with a living universe, a consciousness which cannot be fully realized in analytical terms, and must include art and poetry. Art and poetry (to include prose) allow us to express ourselves in ways impossible with technology and science. The Arts, and religion in its best form, allow us to come as close to a living breathing universe as possible; because it includes that slowed emotion which cannot be quantified, that, as others with us might agree, is beautiful. And beauty is truth. Art and poetry explore life at is Nobelist, as beauty and truth. It takes a leap to make ourselves in accord with a living universe, and Art, Religion, and philosophy bring us tranquilly into a living universe that includes emotions, emotions we can now deal with in a universe that is alive.

    Tai Shi
    std
    Gassho
    Deep bows!
    Gassho
    Jakuden
    SatToday


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    清 道 寂田
    SEIDO JAKUDEN
    She/her.
    I am a novice priest. Any resemblance my posts may have to actual teachings about the Dharma, living or dead, is purely coincidental (and just my attempt to be helpful).

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    I am still not sure what aspects of David Loy's proposals seem to strike some folks as in conflict with the discoveries and perspective of modern science. He seems to me very conservative in his assertions: (1) we are made of the stuff of the universe and are certainly not separate from the whole, such that it might be said that we are the universe in one aspect or manifestation, and (2) therefore when we make toast or paint a picture or look our in our telescopes at the starts, it is the universe making toast, painting and looking. In fact, since all is the universe, one might say that it is the universe toasting, painting and looking at the universe.

    Granted, he does come dangerous close to (or steps over the line of) implying that there is some kind of "creative force" or drive or direction to the universe toward intelligent life. However, I think that a good argument can be made that there is such a natural tendency in the properties of the cosmos, given that here we (and all the other life on earth, and likely on other worlds too) sit. There seems to be something fertile and life (and intelligent life) encouraging in the structure of the universe, much as there is something in soil and seed to produce a tree. In fact, all of soil and seed and tree are made of the stuff of the universe, and are the universe sprouting and growing in the universe. Since we are intelligent life, and since we sprouted from the universe, there is ipso facto something about the universe capable and nourishing of the development of intelligence.

    It does not seem such a radical proposition to me.
    In the previous section, he said a lot more than this, but passing over that...

    From a scientific perspective, nobody would argue with "we are made of the stuff of the universe". It's obviously true but not very informative. What doesn't make sense is "we are the universe" or "it is the universe making toast". This is perfectly acceptable Zen rhetoric, but from a scientific viewpoint, it's obviously false and might even sound solipsistic or egomaniacal! After all, the universe contains an awful lot of stuff that's not us. (I would stress that this is from a scientific point of view. I know the Zen/Hua Yen arguments which argue otherwise). The closest statement that is true from a more scientific viewpoint might be "we are (a very small) part of the universe (which is very big, compared to us)". Again, this is true but not in the least bit analytical. There's a nice Einstein quote on this. (Lots of "Einstein quotes" aren't really things he said. There's a slightly longer version of this that isn't, and this may or may not be the real thing):

    A human being is a part of the whole, called by us "Universe", a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. The striving to free oneself from this delusion is the one issue of true religion. Not to nourish it but to try to overcome it is the way to reach the attainable measure of peace of mind.
    As you say, the rest of what you say here isn't radical. It's all very nice, but not in the least bit scientific. It stands just on the dividing line between the harmless weak versions of the anthropic principle (e.g. Carter) and the stronger, more disagreeable versions (e.g. Barrow & Tipler)

    Jeremy
    SatToady

  12. #12
    My (as a manifestation of the universe) thoughts:

    Progress is not always synonymous with improvement. Here are two extreme examples; Art and poetry, yes; politics, not so much.

    I like Loy's logic about us as the universe as meaning makers, but i take it as faith rather than science. I don't need a physicist's formulaic proof to make it true or not. His point is the inherent beauty in the process of it all, and I get that. To get lost in the scientific intricacies of it is to lose its spiritual significance.

    After reading this section I needed to sit zazen outside. A bird joined me and started chirping. How wonderful, I thought, and then I realized it meant to warn me away from its nest. My enlightenment was to stop zazen and leave the universe in peace.
    AL (Jigen) in:
    Faith/Trust
    Courage/Love
    Awareness/Action!

    I sat today

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Jeremy View Post
    In the previous section, he said a lot more than this, but passing over that...

    From a scientific perspective, nobody would argue with "we are made of the stuff of the universe". It's obviously true but not very informative. What doesn't make sense is "we are the universe" or "it is the universe making toast". This is perfectly acceptable Zen rhetoric, but from a scientific viewpoint, it's obviously false and might even sound solipsistic or egomaniacal! After all, the universe contains an awful lot of stuff that's not us. (I would stress that this is from a scientific point of view. I know the Zen/Hua Yen arguments which argue otherwise). The closest statement that is true from a more scientific viewpoint might be "we are (a very small) part of the universe (which is very big, compared to us)".
    Hi Jeremy,

    May I offer an alternative way to look at this? To say that we are "parts of the whole" is one valid and apparently quite accurate way to look at things, but I would not say that it is the only way to look at things which might be accurate and valid or "scientific." In fact, you are making a subjective judgement of identity, separation, relationship and relative value. It might not seem like that is what you are doing, but it is so. There is nothing inherent in the universe that requires us to divide things into "parts of a whole" or "me/not me", and in fact, this "self/other" identity is created largely in your own brain's creation of its image of its own separate identity. The brain can learn to think and its "self" other ways.

    Let me offer a quick, simplistic example.

    You are Jeremy. Suppose a few neurons of the prefrontal cortex of your brain were suddenly to become independently sentient and self-aware, such that they felt as if they themself were a sentient being somehow standing apart from the rest of Jeremy's brain (In fact, there are various brain diseases and injuries that can create syndromes somewhat resembling that, a subject for another day). Now, the neurons would be correct to describe themself as "part of the whole." Yet, one could also imagine that the neurons could also learn to experience that they are a vital aspect or expression of the whole such as "we are the prefrontal cortex, " "we are the brain" and, ultimately, that "we are Jeremy.". That does not mean that the neurons are "all of the prefrontal cortex" or "all of Jeremy" (for certainly Jeremy is a construct of countless cells from head to heart to foot to hand), and this is not some form of solipsism (the view that "I am the only thing that exists in the world"). It is simply learning to change thinking about self-identity and where to draw borders for the cells to realize "we are not only cells standing alone, we are also ... Jeremy." As well, all the rest of you ... from head to toe ... can also have such a revelation of "we are Jeremy" or "aspects of Jeremy" (your foot might note that it is Jeremy walking, your taste buds that they are Jeremy tasting. Plenty of "Jeremy" to go around and embody all!)

    Jeremy, is your brain and its cells not Jeremy? Are you just stuck together parts?

    It is also something of a subjective value judgement to weigh importance or value by size, that we are a "very small" aspect of a universe that is "very big". If, for example, the universe at the time of the big bang was a singularity, where was "big" and "small", and what part of the singularity was "not us"? Assuming that there was not anything standing outside the singularity, and that the singularity was just as the name says ... single ... you, me and everything else were just that singularity beyond great or small. And, if the universe now is just that same singularity spreading out and expanding into the void (as physicists now seem generally to agree), from some aspect it is still beyond "big and small" and all of it is still "us."

    Living in Japan, I sometimes see the universe as something like an intricate Origami folding from a single piece of paper. There is one single sheet but, with proper folding, it has taken on countless forms that appear individial. Still there is one sheet of paper, and we are that paper. Much as every pedal of this paper rose is just the paper (imagine for a moment that this rose stands for Jeremy and his whole body, or the whole universe for that matter) ...




    Now, you mind say that the sheet of paper is very small, and the universe is very big ... but what are you comparing it to (besides yourself)? If there is not anything external to the universe, how do you know that the universe is "big" or "small"? As well, if you are a pedal of the paper, and I am a pedal of the paper ... we are just the paper.

    What about modern science could possibly contradict anything above?


    As you say, the rest of what you say here isn't radical. It's all very nice, but not in the least bit scientific. It stands just on the dividing line between the harmless weak versions of the anthropic principle (e.g. Carter) and the stronger, more disagreeable versions (e.g. Barrow & Tipler)
    One of the best recent papers on the anthropic principle and "coincidences" is this one.

    The Fine-Tuning Argument∗
    Klaas Landsman
    Department of Mathematical Physics, Institute for Mathematics, Astrophysics, and Particle Physics,
    Faculty of Science, Radboud University Nijmegen
    May 22, 2015
    Abstract
    Our laws of nature and our cosmos appear to be delicately fine-tuned for life to emerge, in a way that seems hard to attribute to chance. In view of this, some have taken the opportunity to revive the scholastic Argument from Design, whereas others have felt the need to explain this apparent fine-tuning of the clockwork of the Universe by proposing the existence of a ‘Multiverse’. We analyze this issue from a sober perspective. Having reviewed the literature and having added several observations of our own, we conclude that cosmic fine-tuning supports neither Design nor a Multiverse, since both of these fail at an explanatory level as well as in a more quantitative context of Bayesian confirmation theory (although there might be other reasons to believe in these ideas, to be found in religion and in inflation and/or string theory, respectively). In fact, fine-tuning and Design even seem to be at odds with each other, whereas the inference from fine-tuning to a Multiverse only works if the latter is underwritten by an additional metaphysical hypothesis we consider unwarranted. Instead, we suggest that fine-tuning requires no special explanation at all, since it is not the Universe that is fine-tuned for life, but life that has been fine-tuned to the Universe.
    http://www.math.ru.nl/~landsman/FTAv2.pdf
    The heart of Landsman's view on selection effects is summed up by this well known example:

    A mild form of satire may be the appropriate antidote. Imagine, if you will,
    the wonderment of a species of mud worms who discover that if the constant
    of thermometric conductivity of mud were different by a small percentage they
    would not be able to survive.


    Of course, one way to look at this is that mud worms are simply creatures that evolved to survive in the conditions of mud, and because the mud posses a certain thermometric conductivity of mud, that evolution and resulting life was possible. If thermometric conductivity had been otherwise, mud worms would simply not be. The mud worm (should it come to exist, somehow develop sentience and the philosophical ability to reflect on its luck at being alive) should really feel little surprise. If circumstances had been otherwise, it would not be able to think so. What it is experiencing is simply the surprise of the lottery winner who won the lottery.

    On the other hand, if one looks at the universe not simply as a single lucky win, But much as the "crooked casino" from my previous posting in which (not a mud worm) but the "you yourself" of Jeremy has come up, not as the product of a single roll of the dice, but as the winner of 100 to the 100th power of rolls of the dice in which Jeremy could have afforded nary a miss, it is possible (just possible) that the wheel is weighted, there is something more afoot, and another mechanism at work. Jeremy could be just a very lucky guy, or there might be some as yet undiscovered process at work. (Buddha had his idea of Karma, by the way, which was just such a mechanism. I personally do not believe in traditional views of Karma, but I still entertain the possibility that there is something at work that can be hypothesized and tested for).

    Gassho, Jundo

    SatToday
    Last edited by Jundo; 04-15-2017 at 07:09 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  14. #14
    Jundo,

    What exactly is the traditional view of karma that you reject?

    Gassho

    Sat Today

  15. #15
    IMG_0064.JPG


    Gasho, Jishin, _/st\_
    Last edited by Jishin; 04-15-2017 at 03:11 PM.

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Byrne View Post
    Jundo,

    What exactly is the traditional view of karma that you reject?

    Gassho

    Sat Today
    Hi Byrne,

    Let me say "skeptical and agnostic" but to the point of disbelief.

    First, I disbelieve extremely detailed models (e.g., a "Tibetan Book of the Dead"-like descriptions ) of a process of post-mortum rebirth. I disbelieve literal interpretations of fiery hells, realms of hungry ghosts and devas etc. (although I can take them all figuratively, and believe that people can act as "hungry ghosts" or as "angels" by their excess greed or beautiful generosity during this life). I do not believe that the Buddha actually recalled past rebirths in detail, and I do not believe that anyone has such ability (there is no credibl* evidence, and almost all the "evidence" and "studies" I have looked at regarding rebirth or reincarnation seem flawed and basically untrustworthy).

    I do not believe in a one-to-one cause-effect relationship between bad acts and bad effects, especially in some next life or lives after death. I do not believe that the bad things that might happen to people in this life are likely the effect of some action by them in a pre-birth life.

    However, I have seen people in this life, through their bad acts in this life, create figurative "hells" for themselves, their families and those around them in this life. I believe in Karma that way alone, and that our intentional bad acts in this life will tend toward bad effects in this life. Also, I do believe that our actions for good or bad in this life can carry over in some way past our deaths (e.g., the effects of an abusive parent can have effects on a family that carry over into the second or third generation, long after the death of the abusive parent.)

    I believe that all things are constantly changing so that, in such sense, we are being constantly "reborn" in each second.

    I believe that, in any case according to most Mahayana Sutras, rebirth is described as a self-created delusion anyway, a dream of our own making, and so not real in that way. When we wake up to such fact, the dream is over. So, belief in rebirth is described by the Buddha as something of a delusion.

    I do believe that the historical Buddha likely believed in Rebirth, but consider that not surprising for a man 2500 years ago in Iron Age India. Even if he did believe, I do not insist that he be right on all points. In any case, I find rebirth not central to Zen Buddhist Practice (more focused on actions in this life, here and now).

    I also believe that, since we are the world and the world is us, we are each and all reborn as every baby and every blade of grass born anywhere in the past, present or future.

    Gassho, Jundo

    SatToday
    Last edited by Jundo; 04-16-2017 at 01:39 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  17. #17
    Hi Jundo,

    Thanks for your response. It's interesting how all things anthro- pervade this and the previous sections of the book. There's anthropocentrism, anthropomorphism and the anthropic principle all at once (:

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    May I offer an alternative way to look at this? To say that we are "parts of the whole" is one valid and apparently quite accurate way to look at things, but I would not say that it is the only way to look at things which might be accurate and valid or "scientific." In fact, you are making a subjective judgement of identity, separation, relationship and relative value. It might not seem like that is what you are doing, but it is so. There is nothing inherent in the universe that requires us to divide things into "parts of a whole" or "me/not me", and in fact, this "self/other" identity is created largely in your own brain's creation of its image of its own separate identity. The brain can learn to think and its "self" other ways.
    In its original form, the anthropic principle stated roughly that cosmological theories should take into account the fact that we are here to observe the cosmos. Theories must therefore have a good account of some basic observations such as the fact that there are lots of galaxies and that there's quite a lot of carbon on earth (this is important because we're a carbon-based life form). One consequence is that the age of the universe must be at least the age required to permit the synthesis of carbon in stars and some extra time is also needed to allow for the evolution of all the species we see, including ourselves. These are quite general observations that most scientifically educated people in the late 20th / early 21st century wouldn't argue with.

    In this spirit, I have a few simple observations about experience that a science of psychology would need to account for. The first is that when you used the term 'subjective judgement' above, I infer that you accept that each of us has our own inner life. The fact that we can have this conversation and that you don't know what I'm about to say confirms that we each have access to something, let's call it our mental life, that the other doesn't have access to. Our mental lives are therefore separate from one another. Second, when you take a walk or a ride, the whole visual field moves relative to your body, and this makes your body perceptually separate from the 'rest of the world'. As babies, we learn that we can make noise with our rattles and we can control our parents by throwing food from our high-chairs. All this is what it means to be human. I completely agree that we can learn to think of our selves in other ways, but I'm not sure that words can persuade me or that thinking of our selves other than as parts of a whole makes much sense from a scientific point of view. In Zen, the answer is of course Zazen.

    One way to look at all this is that everything (both Buddhism and science) starts from experience. Buddhism stays there because for Buddhist purposes, the cessation of dukkha, that's the right place to be. Science also starts from experience, but immediately accepts the existence of a world outside of our inner mental life, the existence of other people and some principles such as that we can share our observations in a way that can lead to a consistent world view. Science does this because it seems to be the best way to proceed. (I can't remember where I came across this argument - I can't find it to say whose it is).


    That paper by Landsman is great - I'll finish reading it later. Their conclusion is pretty much what I think - that the non-Carter versions of the anthropic principle have it the wrong way round. To quote Fred Hoyle on the Anthropic Principle (he also said things to the opposite effect!) https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rc...3fWPoIbyVSzSg:
    It is not so much that the Universe must be consistent with us as that we must be consistent with the Universe. The anthropic principle has the problem inverted, in my opinion.
    I like Landsman's joke that the fine tuning argument is "Misguided: the Fine-tuning problem should be resolved by some appropriate therapy." The arguments I like against it chop it off at its root by saying that it uses fallacious reasoning or invalid probability based arguments. Mild satire is a good antidote. One reviewer of Paul Davies "Cosmic Jackpot" (which I recognized in your lucky win post, and is published over here as "The Goldilocks Enigma") said:
    I have a major problem with treating it as a serious argument, that I can demonstrate by pounding my fist on the number pad of my keyboard: 863846153456864153132. There is only one chance in 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 of me typing that specific combination of digits, and yet, there it is.
    I could add as many more digits as you like if 863846153456864153132 isn't improbable enough

    I haven't read Paul Davies' "Cosmic Jackpot" but I have read an article by him "The nature of the laws of physics and their mysterious biofriendliness" ( https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&so...4zfiT0ck0la_Fg ), which is a great read. In Paul Davies' words from this article, our conversations are "nothing more than the befuddled musings of biological beings trapped in a mental straightjacket inherited from evolutionary happenstance."

    Step lightly, stay free,
    Jeremy
    SatToday
    Last edited by Jeremy; 04-15-2017 at 03:52 PM.

  18. #18
    Hi Jeremy,

    I will respond to this more, but I would like to ask you two questions:

    Let us suppose that 863846153456864153132 to the power 863846153456864153132 represents the precise series of a priori events necessary for Jeremy to have been born and to be considering this question (not someone like Jeremy, not a Jeremy double in some other world or universe, but you here now). Let us suppose further that 86384615345686415311 or any other deviation of a single digit in the course of historical events would seemingly have foreclosed the possibility of your birth.

    While any single number is equally unlikely and equally probable, do you consider that your being here now to ponder the exact number (863846153456864153132 to the power 863846153456864153132) necessary for your being here to so ponder must be, as the only or most likely explanation, just the outcome of an incredible series of lucky rolls of the dice combined with a selection effect?

    Let us posit that you visit a Las Vegas Casino and, at the start of the evening, place a morbid bet: You place yourself in a gas chamber wherein you will be instantly killed by the drop of a poison pellet unless the exact sequence "8638461534568641531328638461534568641531328638461 53456864153132863846153456864153132863846153456864 15" will come up on a roullete wheel in that exact order 1000 times in a row in a series of 100,000 consecutive spins (I am making it easy for you by picking a very small number compared to the history of the universe and all necessary causes for Jeremy, and the "roullette wheel" of the actual universe is not limited to 38 possible outcomes per spin like a Vegas wheel ... but billions upon billions of possible alternate results for each spin). At the end of the 100,000 spins, that exact number "8638461534568641531328638461534568641531328638461 53456864153132863846153456864153132863846153456864 15" has come up, in exact order, perfectly. 1000 times. The gas pellet has not dropped, you find yourself still alive.

    Of course, one possibility is that you were just very very, incredibly lucky and this is a selection effect (if you had died, you simply would not exist to contemplate how lucky you are).

    But is it not possible that the outcome is perhaps maybe the result of some kind of cheat, a practical joke, intervention by a concerned friend, a strange dream, programmed "player piano" outcome, a weighted wheel? Is cheating or some other "loaded dice" to be completely ruled out?

    I posit that there is a possible perhaps explanation besides just incredible luck and selection effect, that we can reasonably theorize about what such a mechanism might be and perhaps someday test for it. Weighted wheels can be considered, they can be tested for. That would be science.

    Gassho, J

    SatToday
    Last edited by Jundo; 04-15-2017 at 05:34 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  19. #19
    Just connecting some of the above posts ...

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeremy View Post
    All this is what it means to be human. I completely agree that we can learn to think of our selves in other ways, but I'm not sure that words can persuade me or that thinking of our selves other than as parts of a whole makes much sense from a scientific point of view.
    Yes, we have our subjective inner experience of our self and the world, and Buddhism does not deny so. Zen Buddhism, unlike some other flavors of Buddhism which seem to escape the self more, actually celebrates that fact! But an old friend, a theoretical physicist (and not a Buddhist) informs me that we are also just a cluster of atoms in a certain configuration with emergent properties which we call life and our "self", and that even those atoms might be seen as "not quite there" but merely intersecting vibrations in a vast unbroken field of matter-energy. My friend the neuro-scientist informs me that my sense of "self" may just be the firings of clusters of neurons between my ears.

    In other words, even many scientists these days propose that we are "here, but not here" depending on how we look at things. For a Buddhist, experiencing that we are not merely this finite, frustrated, fickle and afraid human existence, is the medicine for Dukkha, for human suffering.

    And how do I know that is possible? By experiencing such and daily living such my-"self" (I would not have the chutzpah to be guiding others in this place otherwise.) It is possible to experience and live so, with the hard borders of self-other softening, sometimes fully fading away. However, I don't think that the mechanism is so mysterious as some mystics of the past may have imagined. My best guess is that, somewhere in my brain, perhaps connected to reduced activity in the parietal lobes and pre-frontal cortex, my self-definition changes and I become like the wave of the sea that also recognizes itself as the sea all along. (By the way, that does not mean that the wave is "literally the whole sea", or that there are not countless other waves of things and people on the sea, and a wave may be seen as but a "part of the sea." However, the wave can also realize that it is through-and-through nothing but sea, the sea rolling along in that particular place and time. The wave may learn that the saltiness of the sea is as fully contained in its each one drop as any other salty place in the sea. The wave may learn that since its wave and all the other waves are just the same sea, thus this wave is all the other waves in such way ... I am sea and she is sea and I am she and we are sea together - Coo Coo Cachoo . The frustration, fickleness and fear wash away in the borderlessness of the whole. We have many names for the sea such as Buddha Nature, Dharmakhaya and such, but because we seek to avoid turning it into a fixed thing or rigid idea, and recognize a constant change and flowing of such, we call such "Emptiness".)

    Not a big deal, and this will be better understood in the coming few years as we learn more about the creation of self definition in the brain.

    Hey, if the wave wants to sometimes think of itself and feel as "this wave" and sometimes as "the sea", what's wrong with that? What's incorrect about either definition?

    And Byrne,

    Quote Originally Posted by Byrne View Post
    Jundo,

    What exactly is the traditional view of karma that you reject?

    Gassho

    Sat Today
    I will say this in defense of rebirth. One possible argument in favor of rebirth is connected to the ridiculousness of being born once. If a seemingly impossible unlikely event happened once, apparently against all odds, might as well happen again! If there is a mechanism to "shorten the odds", perhaps it is not limited to once alone. If the casino wheel is loaded, it might stay loaded.

    In any case, the Buddha informed us of the rarity and preciousness of human birth ...

    "Imagine that the whole earth was covered with water, and that a man were to throw a yoke with a hole in it into the water. Blown by the wind, that yoke would drift north, south, east and west. Now suppose that once in a hundred years a blind turtle were to rise to the surface. What would be the chances of that turtle putting his head through the hole in the yoke as he rose to the surface once in a hundred years?"

    "It would be very unlikely, Lord."

    "Well, it is just as unlikely that one will be born as a human being. It is just as unlikely that a Tathagata, a Noble One, a fully enlightened Buddha should appear in the world. And it is just as unlikely that the Dhamma and discipline of the Tathagata should be proclaimed. But now you have been born as a human being, a Tathagata has appeared and the Dhamma has been proclaimed. Therefore, strive to realize the Four Noble Truths." (S.V,456)
    Gassho, J

    SatToday

    PS - To make things a little weirder, there is another possible explanation for our most fortunate (for us) outcome in the "crooked universal casino" besides mere luck and a selection effect, God or a multi-verse (both almost equally total speculation). Welcome to the Matrix ...

    Are We Living in a Computer Simulation?
    High-profile physicists and philosophers gathered to debate whether we are real or virtual—and what it means either way


    Moderator Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of the museum’s Hayden Planetarium, put the odds at 50-50 that our entire existence is a program on someone else’s hard drive. “I think the likelihood may be very high” ...

    https://www.scientificamerican.com/a...er-simulation/
    Tesla's Elon Musk thinks so too ...

    Last edited by Jundo; 04-16-2017 at 03:43 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  20. #20
    In the meantime, simulation or not, God or not, multi-verse or shmulti-verse, me or sea, self or not ... let's chop wood and fetch water, live gently and love each other, just get on with this life ...
    Last edited by Jundo; 04-16-2017 at 03:45 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  21. #21
    Hi Jundo,

    I don't think I've ever seen proponents of the fine-tuning argument or Anthropic Principle go as far as suggesting that the universe has been fine-tuned for a particular person. Mostly they stop at regarding the existence of homo sapiens, or some carbon-based life form as the allegedly improbable fact to be explained. Those that refer to the existence of homo sapiens are rightly viewed as being anthropocentric.

    The probability based argument is using prior probability rather than conditional probability:

    The probability you refer to as "the outcome of an incredible series of lucky rolls of the dice" is roughly the prior probability, taken from the time of the Big Bang, that you would be born. It's as though you could lay out all the combinations of events that could possibly happen in the universe at the age of 13.8 billion years and then ask what's the probability of a particular combination happening - the combination which includes your own birth. Obviously this probability is infinitesimal, almost 0. I'd conclude that you and I are accidents, and by the way, that homo sapiens is an accident, life on earth, planet earth, our solar system and the Milky Way galaxy are all accidents too. Unless you believe in rebirth (which I don't, but I do regard it as a perfectly defensible religious view), it doesn't make sense to say that we were lucky to be born, because before we were born, when the dice were thrown, we didn't exist to be lucky. The point of the analogy of someone banging out a long series of digits on a keyboard is that before the number is typed, the prior probability of a particular number coming up is very small. Once you see the number, the conditional probability of it being there is 1. Using all the knowledge we actually have now, the conditional probability that we find ourselves where we are is exactly 1. And here we are, banging out words on a keyboard.

    The fine tuning argument which uses the first (prior) type of probability is based on some highly questionable premises, such as that you can sensibly assign probabilities to the values of some fundamental physical constants. One example of an argument against this is by Colyvan, Garfield & Priest https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rc...uluo5oHgNcKM0g. They argue that when you try to put some probabilistic meat on the bare bones of the Fine Tuning argument, the Fine Tuning argument is shown to be a fallacy. Personally I think that if physicists don't have any idea about why the fundamental constants have the values that they do, then it's either because some form of multiverse theory is right, or the single universe theory we have is incomplete or needs a radical overhaul. Given the current state of theoretical physics, the history of science suggests that it is likely to need a radical overhaul at some point - another scientific revolution.

    Your second case of the Casino is an analogy that depends on the same idea that the universe as we find it is improbable. This is exactly what the Colyvan, Garfield & Priest paper, amongst others, argues against.

    Very entertaining, but again, this discussion is "nothing more than the befuddled musings of biological beings trapped in a mental straightjacket inherited from evolutionary happenstance."

    Step lightly, stay free.
    Jeremy
    SatToday

    P.S. I'm going to stop making lengthy contributions at this point because I know I'll be very busy over the next few days. Very enjoyable though
    Last edited by Jeremy; 04-16-2017 at 01:43 PM.

  22. #22
    He says, "your true nature -- your no-self-nature, right here and now -- is not different from the no-self nature of the cosmic process." He points to the cosmos and you (not two) as the very same emptiness, yet a creative and fertile emptiness. Does this resonate with you?

    This certainly resonates with me, as does the rest of the chapter. I came to Zen via a Daoist practice ( Yoga to Tantra to Ayurveda to Daoism to Zen : NOT TWO ) and relate to the Dao as the sustainer and nurturer of all things. I have no scientific mind and am not interested in lengthy discussions but love to sit and have a deep trust in my practice.

    Gassho,

    Jyūkatsu,
    sat today
    柔 Jyū flexible
    活 Katsu energetic

  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by Jeremy View Post
    Hi Jundo,

    I don't think I've ever seen proponents of the fine-tuning argument or Anthropic Principle go as far as suggesting that the universe has been fine-tuned for a particular person. Mostly they stop at regarding the existence of homo sapiens, or some carbon-based life form as the allegedly improbable fact to be explained. Those that refer to the existence of homo sapiens are rightly viewed as being anthropocentric.

    The probability based argument is using prior probability rather than conditional probability:

    The probability you refer to as "the outcome of an incredible series of lucky rolls of the dice" is roughly the prior probability, taken from the time of the Big Bang, that you would be born. It's as though you could lay out all the combinations of events that could possibly happen in the universe at the age of 13.8 billion years and then ask what's the probability of a particular combination happening - the combination which includes your own birth. Obviously this probability is infinitesimal, almost 0. I'd conclude that you and I are accidents, and by the way, that homo sapiens is an accident, life on earth, planet earth, our solar system and the Milky Way galaxy are all accidents too. Unless you believe in rebirth (which I don't, but I do regard it as a perfectly defensible religious view), it doesn't make sense to say that we were lucky to be born, because before we were born, when the dice were thrown, we didn't exist to be lucky. The point of the analogy of someone banging out a long series of digits on a keyboard is that before the number is typed, the prior probability of a particular number coming up is very small. Once you see the number, the conditional probability of it being there is 1. Using all the knowledge we actually have now, the conditional probability that we find ourselves where we are is exactly 1. And here we are, banging out words on a keyboard.

    The fine tuning argument which uses the first (prior) type of probability is based on some highly questionable premises, such as that you can sensibly assign probabilities to the values of some fundamental physical constants. One example of an argument against this is by Colyvan, Garfield & Priest https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rc...uluo5oHgNcKM0g. They argue that when you try to put some probabilistic meat on the bare bones of the Fine Tuning argument, the Fine Tuning argument is shown to be a fallacy. Personally I think that if physicists don't have any idea about why the fundamental constants have the values that they do, then it's either because some form of multiverse theory is right, or the single universe theory we have is incomplete or needs a radical overhaul. Given the current state of theoretical physics, the history of science suggests that it is likely to need a radical overhaul at some point - another scientific revolution.

    Your second case of the Casino is an analogy that depends on the same idea that the universe as we find it is improbable. This is exactly what the Colyvan, Garfield & Priest paper, amongst others, argues against.

    Very entertaining, but again, this discussion is "nothing more than the befuddled musings of biological beings trapped in a mental straightjacket inherited from evolutionary happenstance."

    Step lightly, stay free.
    Jeremy
    SatToday

    P.S. I'm going to stop making lengthy contributions at this point because I know I'll be very busy over the next few days. Very enjoyable though
    Good argument against "fine tuning," the article is over my head... but I understand some of it and it makes sense.

    True that if you argue a theory just based on the fact that something is "improbable," which is completely subjective, that is not Scientific inquiry, just speculation. Scientific inquiry starts with speculation, then proceeds into investigation.

    Some of the discussion is just semantics, but if you are claiming something to be "Scientific" then there has to be evidence of the Scientific Method being used to investigate or support that claim.

    Studies like the ones that find advantageous DNA mutations happen more often than mathematical probability would suggest are scratching the surface of that line of inquiry, but the rest of the puzzle has yet to be put together.

    I certainly think Scientific inquiry has gathered enormous evidence to support the statement that we are all made of the same stuff, and that our identity as individuals is just one narrow perspective. Scientific inquiry supports the statement that "we are the universe making toast" in the same manner that it supports the statement that "a leaf is a tree feeding itself." We can also say that the leaf had its own individual birth and death, and its own structure and chemical makeup, and a million other individual traits. That doesn't change the fact that it is still the tree feeding itself. Regarding the universe, Science has not yet defined its substance entirely or the laws that govern its existence or whether it came into being with a purpose or not. That is all a matter of hypothesis that hopefully will be defined further in future studies because Science is fun and we are the Universe learning about itself

    Gassho
    Jakuden
    SatToday


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    清 道 寂田
    SEIDO JAKUDEN
    She/her.
    I am a novice priest. Any resemblance my posts may have to actual teachings about the Dharma, living or dead, is purely coincidental (and just my attempt to be helpful).

  24. #24
    Hello all,

    Many thanks for the fascinating discussion - so interesting that I'm barely getting to the book itself at the moment!

    With regards to Loy's position, though, I feel that I'm missing something. He asserts that "we also want to acknowledge that there is something valuable about increased consciousness and the life forms that possess it" (p 99 my text, in the section "Progress"). Why does he feel that consciousness possesses value? Is there a section of the text which explains this? I don't think that it's something that can be taken for granted; and recent human influence on the lifeforms we share this planet with scarcely merits pride.

    Gassho
    Sat today
    Peter



    Sent from my SM-G935L using Tapatalk

  25. #25
    Hi Peter,

    I see your point. What makes us think that we are more valuable or "progress" compared to snails and stones.

    The Buddha certainly thought that sentient life was special and to be cherished (although he also thought that snails and stones were sacred in their own way). It may just be the pride of conscious lifeforms (us) feeling that there is something special about conscious life. It may be that conscious life is just an accidental side effect that the universe could do without? An old article, but the debate still rages ...

    Call it self-awareness, self-identity, mind, consciousness, or even soul, but the sense of self, of being a particular individual set apart from others, seems intrinsic to the human condition. After all, Homo sapiens have large brains, and they are awfully good at taking stock of their surroundings. Sooner or later, they were bound to notice themselves, and the impermeable physical barrier between themselves and others. The invention of personal pronouns, philosophy and large-pore illuminating mirrors was bound to follow.

    Yet as natural and inevitable as human self-awareness may seem, evolutionary biologists and psychologists do not take its existence for granted. Instead, they are asking deceptively simple questions that cut to the core of selfhood. Among them: What good is the self, anyway? Has self-awareness been selected by evolutionary pressures, or is it, to borrow a phrase from Stephen Jay Gould, a ''glorious accident,'' the byproduct of a large intelligence that allows humans to build tools and otherwise manipulate their environment? Might humans not fare just as well operating like computers, which, cyberfantasy notwithstanding, do their jobs without mulling over why they are here?
    http://www.nytimes.com/1997/04/22/sc...-the-self.html
    I believe that there is something special about intelligent, sentient life ... and I feel so with my sentient intelligence. If the snails, rocks and computers disagree, let them speak up.

    Gassho, Jundo

    SatToday
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  26. #26
    ok those arguments are fascinating but, admittedly, I need to read those a few times to digest them. So I'm going to sidestep them right now

    In addition, I need to re-read this chapter not to mention this book again a few times. It's getting into some very deep territory, and I think I can only do this justice by re-reading it. It's just my process. It's like peeling back an onion, I can only get so far into the onion each time. At the same time, although this book is frustrating, it's compelling and I find it very worthwhile. A lot of the frustration that I'm having with this book is because I'm reaching the limits of my understanding of practice so far in my life. This happens with me from time to time. I'm going along my merry way, practice is going great, then bam! I hit a wall, and have a bunch of questions that I may not even know how to ask. And it drives me nuts! But it's part of practice. I know the pattern by now; it's just part of how my practice goes.

    In any case, I better post now, or I never will; I'll be stuck in an endless temporal loop reading this chapter. lol

    Again, I'm actually beginning to like this book because it really makes me think. I don't mean this as a cop out, but human beings are complex and ironic, myself very much included. I've never seen a problem between faith and science. I believe in God. I can't prove it, I believe it. I live my life like that. I like this book because it makes me put my beliefs and practice into perspective.

    I love science, but I don't need science to prove that my faith or practice is worthwhile. I judge those facets of my life myself, and they bring my life a great amount of value. I cannot scientifically or logically prove this, nor can or would I try to persuade you to practice or believe in what I believe. I don't find value in nor do I need to persuade you to live your life like me. However, if I do meet a kindred spirit, I love to talk about this stuff. Which is one of the main reasons Treeleaf is a great place to practice.

    I'm a conflicting individual in many ways, but I don't think I'm alone, I think we are all a little like this because we all share a lot of things together. IMHO I can't prove it, but from my life experience, if I feel something, it's a pretty good bet that some other people feel the same way. Going back to conflicting things... for example, I'm not always big into ritual, but sometimes I crave it. I really love ango. I love the chanting and the bowing, the candles, the wearing of the rakusu. These are things that bring me closer to my "self". not my perceived self, but my non-self, the self beyond my idea of some stuck and static independent fantasy. I don't always do these, but I also have a deep respect for them and especially do them during Ango.

    Similarly although I do believe in God, I also really enjoy reading completely different perspectives on life. For example, even though I am not an atheist, I very much enjoy reading Sam Harris. He doesn't threaten me or anything; I find his perspectives very fascinating. Maybe zen has helped me have a more open mind, I don't know, but I enjoy his take on things. sometimes I don't agree with him, but I can disagree and still appreciate a compelling point.

    My zen practice supports and strengthens my faith - I don't see any conflict with it.

    So getting back to this reading, I think one of the lines that struck me the most with this chapter is that I do believe we bring meaning to things. I also believe the universe does have meaning. The human condition is incredible. The way we organize our view of our environment, (and to last chapter's points that Jundo wrote about) how we make trees beautiful, or we can just bring a spring day to life with our eyes is what it is to live!

    I think it was Dogen who said this, and if someone can point me to the passage I would be grateful because I cannot find it: "You are not it, but it is you." Again, I was on the phone with my friend sort of confounded with this chapter, and I was just like but "how the hell can you be the universe???!" This line came to my mind, and I suddenly felt an "aha moment".

    I think it's true. Again I cannot prove it. It's that famous "you and I are the same, but you are not me and I am not you". I think Daido Roshi was famous for saying that, an expression of form and emptiness' relationship.

    But I feel that - it resonates, it makes sense.

    Anyway, just some rambling about this chapter, etc.

    Gassho,

    Risho
    -sattoday

  27. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by Risho View Post
    I think it was Dogen who said this, and if someone can point me to the passage I would be grateful because I cannot find it: "You are not it, but it is you."
    This reminds me of the wonderful guest talk we had with Taikyo Morgans http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...Taikyo-Morgans

    Gassho,
    Jakuden
    SatToday
    清 道 寂田
    SEIDO JAKUDEN
    She/her.
    I am a novice priest. Any resemblance my posts may have to actual teachings about the Dharma, living or dead, is purely coincidental (and just my attempt to be helpful).

  28. #28
    ah thank you!

    Gassho,

    Risho
    -sattoday

  29. #29
    Thanks for reminding me, Jakuden.
    I think that was my favourite talk last year, definitely due a replay.
    Gassho,
    Enjaku
    Sat
    援若

  30. #30
    Before we move on, I have a quick book plug for anyone who likes reading science and Buddhism...

    There's a great book by Bodhipaksa, "Living as a River" https://www.amazon.com/Living-as-Riv...rds=bodhipaksa, which is full of ideas from science to help us realise the non-separateness and impermanence of our selves. Bodhipaksa runs the http://fakebuddhaquotes.com/ and http://www.wildmind.org/ websites and before becoming a full time Buddhist, he qualified as a vet, so he's particularly good on things biological. The idea of the title is that we are literally rivers of water and other substances. To take one example from the book:
    If you've ever had a case of athlete's foot or thrush, you've experienced firsthand how unpleasant it is to be the prey of another species. The funghi that cause these itchy conditions are called dermatophytes (literally "skin-plants") and they feast on keratin. These fungi are, once again, you...
    Mostly it's much more gentle than this as it works through a series of traditional Buddhist reflections on the elements. In some countries you can get it second-hand for a few peanuts plus postage - highly recommended.

    Step lightly, stay free,
    Jeremy
    SatToday

  31. #31
    Quote Originally Posted by Jeremy View Post
    Before we move on, I have a quick book plug for anyone who likes reading science and Buddhism...

    There's a great book by Bodhipaksa, "Living as a River" https://www.amazon.com/Living-as-Riv...rds=bodhipaksa, which is full of ideas from science to help us realise the non-separateness and impermanence of our selves. Bodhipaksa runs the http://fakebuddhaquotes.com/ and http://www.wildmind.org/ websites and before becoming a full time Buddhist, he qualified as a vet, so he's particularly good on things biological. The idea of the title is that we are literally rivers of water and other substances. To take one example from the book:

    Mostly it's much more gentle than this as it works through a series of traditional Buddhist reflections on the elements. In some countries you can get it second-hand for a few peanuts plus postage - highly recommended.

    Step lightly, stay free,
    Jeremy
    SatToday
    Thank you, Jeremy. I have just ordered it.

    Not even judging from its cover, while waiting I did just read the Introduction online ...

    http://livingasariver.com/images/Liv...iver_Intro.pdf

    There’s no borderline we can say for sure marks where the eddy stops and the river begins. The eddy cannot exist without the stream, and the stream itself is nothing more than a mass of eddies and other currents. I suggest that the self is like that too. We are not separate from the world around us; we instead exist as the sum total of our relationships with a vast web of interconnected processes. We are not physically separate, and we are not mentally separate, and realizing these facts is infinitely enriching.

    I’ll be suggesting that we embrace the fact that nothing permanent constitutes us. Each of us is an ever-moving flow of matter and consciousness. Just as an eddy can exist only because it’s continually changing, so too do our selves exist only because they are a process, and hence impermanent and contingent upon things that we take to be non-self. For example, we think of our bodies as being an important part of our identity, but 90 percent of the body’s cells are bacterial rather than human. Ninety percent of you is not you. In fact, when you look more closely you can see that your entire physical being is made of material that was, sometimes not long ago, not you. Every atom comprising your body is borrowed, and will be returned to the outside world. Some of it is returning this very moment. Physically, in fact, much of the external world around us is actually “us”—plants, animals, and even soil and rocks made from material that was formerly part of our bodies. Mentally, we are each “networked” to other minds through the action of mirror neurons, which allow us to share other people’s experiences. You could not in fact have a conscious self,
    in the sense that you have one now, without having encountered other conscious selves. Consciousness is something “caught.” In fact, there’s no such “thing” as consciousness. Consciousness is not an entity that sits within us, awaiting contact with the outside world; rather it’s a series of activities that arise in dependence upon contact with the world. The ultimate act of letting go is to abandon the delusion that consciousness and the world are separate things. The more we reflect, the more we can recognize that there is nothing permanent or separate in the body or mind that can constitute the very limited and limiting kind of self we commonly assume we have.

    ,,,

    On the spiritual side, I’ll borrow heavily from a reflective meditation practice from the Buddhist tradition: the Six Element Practice. In this practice, we reflect on what constitutes the body and the mind. We call to mind the solid matter (Earth), liquid (Water), energy (Fire), and gases (Air) that make up the body—as well as the form they comprise (Space), and notice how none of these is a static thing onto which we can hold, but instead is a process. We also notice that each element is “borrowed” from the outside world. With the sixth element, Consciousness, we note how our experiences—our sensations, feelings, emotions, and thoughts—continually arise and pass away, once again
    leaving us nothing we can identify as the basis of a permanent and separate self
    That is exactly right. However, I will make an observation some some writers on "non-self" from a South Asia perspective (Thich Nhat Hanh's writings sometimes seems to have this flavor as well) seem to describe the self as composites, often very material, while sometimes missing the Mahayana/Hua-yen/Zen sense of Emptiness as some great interflowing sacred Wholeness of the Dharmakaya Big "B" Buddha. I will be interested to how such is expressed in this care. For example, TNH's wonderful, famous expression of Emptiness ...

    If you are a poet, you will see clearly that there is a cloud floating in this sheet of paper. Without a cloud, there will be no rain; without rain, the trees cannot grow: and without trees, we cannot make paper. The cloud is essential for the paper to exist. If the cloud is not here, the sheet of paper cannot be here either. So we can say that the cloud and the paper inter-are.

    "Interbeing" is a word that is not in the dictionary yet, but if we combine the prefix "inter" with the verb "to be", we have a new verb, inter-be. Without a cloud, we cannot have paper, so we can say that the cloud and the sheet of paper inter-are.

    If we look into this sheet of paper even more deeply, we can see the sunshine in it. If the sunshine is not there, the forest cannot grow. In fact nothing can grow. Even we cannot grow without sunshine. And so, we know that the sunshine is also in this sheet of paper. The paper and the sunshine inter-are. And if we continue to look we can see the logger who cut the tree and brought it to the mill to be transformed into paper. And we see the wheat. We know that the logger cannot exist without his daily bread, and therefore the wheat that became his bread is also in this sheet of paper. And the logger's father and mother are in it too. When we look in this way we see that without all of these things, this sheet of paper cannot exist.
    Frankly, I find it a little cold and materialistic. He seems to emphasize the pieces, but not the Whole which dances each and all. It can be taken to mean that the "paper" symbolically holds the "sun" or the "woodcutter" rather than the above, real tangible mystical experience of all being connected and interflowing. That awe and sense of some greater whole is something which has been shared by many biologists, physicists and other scientists too, and I would not term merely a "religious" sense, Bohr, David Bohm and others. Edward Schrodinger, for one, wrote [in his My View of the World] ...

    “Hence this life of yours which you are living is not merely a piece of the entire existence, but is in a certain sense the whole; only this whole is not so constituted that it can be surveyed in one single glance. This, as we know, is what the Brahmins express in that sacred, mystic formula which is yet really so simple and so clear: Tat tvam asi, this is you. Or, again, in such words as 'I am in the east and in the west, I am below and above, I am this whole world'.
    Gassho, J

    SatToday
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  32. #32
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Thank you, Jeremy. I have just ordered it.
    Cool - I think you'll like it

    Jeremy
    SatToday

  33. #33
    Thank you! just requested it from the library.

    Gassho,

    Risho

  34. #34
    Quote Originally Posted by Risho View Post
    Thank you! just requested it from the library.

    Gassho,

    Risho
    Hope you enjoy it - I'd be interested to hear what you make of it.

    Jeremy
    SatToday

  35. #35
    Member Hoseki's Avatar
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    Jun 2015
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    St. John's Newfoundland, Canada.
    Hi folks,

    So I can't say I've got all of the above the discussion. But I did want to comment on one of the things that I kept coming back to. So here is a hazy summary of the stuff I've been thinking about after I've read some of the discussion. It involves the relationship between multiplicity and unity.

    I have a pencil on my desk that I use to take notes when people call me. When the phone rings I look for the pencil, I see it, I pick it up and then I start writing. I don't think about the pencil directly but I'm sort of aware of it as a pencil and as a unity. Not as a sum of parts but a whole or unity. But when I'm writing and I notice I'm unable to mark on the paper I take another look at the pencil to see what's going on. When this happens I don't see the pencil as a unity I'm look at an aspect of the pencil, the tip. Is it sharp or dull? Is the lead broken? Is the pencil now in two parts? I now see the pencil as a multiplicity. Its no longer an elementary unit in this activity but the context or field of the new activity (investigating what's wrong with the pencil.) Perhaps we should say its not an element in the field of awareness but a set of related elements.

    If I'm in a philosophical mood I may ask what is the pencil composed of and I would say, wood, graphite, rubber, paint and some metal. When I do this I no longer see the unity of the pencil. If someone asked me what would be left to the pencil if I took away these parts I would say "nothing" or "I don't understand the question."

    I'm not sure how much of this is clear but depending on my perspective the pencil is both a multiplicity and a unity. I think both are true from a certain perspective. Is the wood the pencil? No not exactly but when its seen from the standpoint of a unity there is no wood just a pencil.

    Does this make sense? I think our understanding of the cosmos could be something like this. I can't remember who said this (Dogen maybe?) "I am not it but it is me" seems to fit the situation. As human beings we are always up to something but when we are sitting in completion there isn't anything to accomplish the analytic mode of being that we typically inhabit (i'm sure was/is useful for survival) can drop away and the unity of the cosmos can reveal itself.

    For what its worth I think I'm butchering early Heidegger here but I feel like there is something to this.

    What do you guys think?

    Gassho

    Sattoday
    Hoseki

  36. #36
    Quote Originally Posted by Hoseki View Post
    ...I have a pencil on my desk that I use to take notes when people call me. When the phone rings I look for the pencil, I see it, I pick it up and then I start writing. I don't think about the pencil directly but I'm sort of aware of it as a pencil and as a unity. Not as a sum of parts but a whole or unity. But when I'm writing and I notice I'm unable to mark on the paper I take another look at the pencil to see what's going on. When this happens I don't see the pencil as a unity I'm look at an aspect of the pencil, the tip. Is it sharp or dull? Is the lead broken? Is the pencil now in two parts? I now see the pencil as a multiplicity. Its no longer an elementary unit in this activity but the context or field of the new activity (investigating what's wrong with the pencil.) Perhaps we should say its not an element in the field of awareness but a set of related elements.

    If I'm in a philosophical mood I may ask what is the pencil composed of and I would say, wood, graphite, rubber, paint and some metal. When I do this I no longer see the unity of the pencil. If someone asked me what would be left to the pencil if I took away these parts I would say "nothing" or "I don't understand the question."

    ...

    For what its worth I think I'm butchering early Heidegger here but I feel like there is something to this.
    Hi Hoseki
    Thanks for the pointer to Heidegger. He's on the long list of people I want to read more of

    Your different ways of looking at a pencil sounds like Heidegger's distinction between 'ready-to-hand' (zuhanden) and 'present-at-hand' (vorhanden). 'Ready-to-hand' is the usual way we encounter things in the world - we see things with a view to their purpose and care about them in that we are in an interested relation to them - the pencil is a tool for writing or drawing. 'Present-at-hand' is more of an abstract presence - we are aware of an entity in and of itself. As you say, this is a more reflective or scientific way of looking at things.

    This is very interesting from the point of view of subject/object duality:

    For Heidegger, the present-at-hand way of seeing things only arises when the ready-to-hand modality breaks down, such as when the pencil's point breaks (https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/h...er-aesthetics/): "in all such cases what Heidegger calls our ordinary, immediate 'hands-on' (zuhanden) way of coping with the world of our practical concerns undergoes a 'transformation' (Umschlag) in which we come to experience ourselves as isolated subjects standing reflectively before a world of external objects, which we thereby come to experience as standing over against us in the mode of something objectively 'on hand' (vorhanden) (BT 408-9/SZ 357-8).
    In other words, Heidegger does not deny the reality of the subject/object relation but, rather, points out that our experience of this subject/object relation derives from and so presupposes a more fundamental level of experience, a primordial modality of engaged existence in which self and world are united rather than divided."

    Step lightly, stay free,
    Jeremy
    SatToday
    Last edited by Jeremy; 04-23-2017 at 05:47 PM.

  37. #37
    The monkey mind sees the four forces and eight particles as the building blocks of the entire universe. The original mind sees the entire universe. All arguments are words in the wind. No amount of thinking or talking will change what has already been changed in any way that brings understanding.

    Peace. Happiness.
    walked today
    z

  38. #38
    Quote Originally Posted by zeeman View Post
    The monkey mind sees the four forces and eight particles as the building blocks of the entire universe. The original mind sees the entire universe. All arguments are words in the wind. No amount of thinking or talking will change what has already been changed in any way that brings understanding.

    Peace. Happiness.
    walked today
    z
    Yes the monkey mind, "four forces and eight particles", gravity and the quark, every aaaman and every zeeman are all the entire universe, the entire universe fully held in each quark of zeeman. No amount of thinking and talking will change that fact.

    Gassho, J

    SatToday
    Last edited by Jundo; 04-24-2017 at 10:17 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

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