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Thread: Is It Better to Have Never Been Born?

  1. #11
    Forums Member daverupa's Avatar
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    I think David Benatar has got a good handle on things.

  2. #12
    Forums Member srivijaya's Avatar
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    ...although the feeling of pleasure would be good for them, the absence of pleasure when they do not come into existence will not be bad, because there will be no one who will be deprived of this good.
    Or in the words of one Mr. Kristofferson:
    Freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose,
    And nothin' ain't worth nothin' but it's free
    I think we've nailed it!

  3. #13
    Forums Member srivijaya's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by uguay View Post
    Does consciousness appear within the brain, or does the brain appear within consciousness?
    Perhaps the answer may be 'both'.

    Certainly the traditional view is that it's the former which is true, but discoveries in cutting edge science are beginning to challenge that view, and really the Buddha always taught the latter, which we can see by vinnana being placed prior to namarupa in the twelve nidanas.
    I guess that depends on whether we consider the twelve links to be sequential or simultaneous. I always thought the assertion that there was no consciousness without an object for that consciousness to be materialistic but from the view of co-dependent origination it makes perfect sense.

    Is the pure undifferentiated awareness 'behind your eyes' really any different now than when you were six years old. Is the awareness behind a babies eyes, or an animals eyes, really any different to the awareness behind your eyes. Is that aware-space really gone in deep sleep, or when you're under general anesthetic, or is it merely the process of perception that is absent. Could it have even been present before you were born, and will be after you're gone.
    Very good point because this is the 'Dharmakaya' of Mahayanists - pure mirror-like awareness of the mind. You mention when perception is absent under anesthetic. At that point there's zero awareness, which could be equated with undifferentiated awareness but that wouldn't seem right, as it posits awareness of some kind. Tough one to call. Something to be experienced before it can be comprehended I guess.

  4. #14
    Forums Member Element's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aloka View Post
    "Leading neuroscientists and Buddhists agree: "Consciousness is everywhere”"
    Buddhists?

    Were someone to say, 'I will describe a coming, a going, a passing away, an arising, a growth, an increase, or a proliferation of consciousness apart from form, from feeling, from perception, from fabrications,' that would be impossible.

    The Buddha

  5. #15
    Forums Member Element's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by uguay View Post
    Does consciousness appear within the brain, or does the brain appear within consciousness?

    ...the Buddha always taught the latter, which we can see by vinnana being placed prior to namarupa in the twelve nidanas.
    No he didn't. Since consciousness is placed after sankhara obviously consciousness does not occur first.

    Nama-and-rupa is the cause and condition for the manifestation of the consciousness aggregate.

    https://suttacentral.net/en/sn22.82
    Dependent on eye & forms, eye-consciousness arises.

    Dependent on ear & sounds, ear-consciousness arises...

    Dependent on nose & aromas, nose-consciousness arises...

    Dependent on tongue & flavors, tongue-consciousness arises...

    Dependent on body & tactile sensations, body-consciousness arises...

    Dependent on intellect & ideas, intellect-consciousness arises.

    https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipi....018.than.html
    Good, bhikkhus. It is good that you understand the Dhamma taught by me thus. For in many ways I have stated consciousness to be dependently arisen, since without a condition there is no origination of consciousness. But this bhikkhu Sāti, son of a fisherman, misrepresents us by his wrong grasp and injures himself and stores up much demerit; for this will lead to the harm and suffering of this misguided man for a long time.

    https://suttacentral.net/en/mn38
    Well then, friend, I will make up a simile for you, for some intelligent people here understand the meaning of a statement by means of a simile. Just as two sheaves of reeds might stand leaning against each other, so too, with nama-and-rupa as condition, consciousness comes to be; with consciousness as condition, nama-and-rupa comes to be.

    https://suttacentral.net/en/sn12.67

  6. #16
    Forums Member daverupa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Element View Post
    Since consciousness is placed after sankhara...
    Unless the 12-step catechism was something the early Buddhists used in their brahmanical context, but which now is a baroque and unnecessary teaching structure, thoroughly skewing things for modern minds by forcing Buddhist doctrine into ancient, foreign shapes.

    https://suttacentral.net/en/sn12.65

    Then, bhikkhus, through careful attention, there took place in me a breakthrough by wisdom: ‘When there is consciousness, name-and-form comes to be; name-and-form has consciousness as its condition.’


    “Then, bhikkhus, it occurred to me: ‘When what exists does consciousness come to be? By what is consciousness conditioned? ’ Then, bhikkhus, through careful attention, there took place in me a breakthrough by wisdom: ‘When there is name-and-form, consciousness comes to be; consciousness has name-and-form as its condition.’


    “Then, bhikkhus, it occurred to me: ‘This consciousness turns back; it does not go further than name-and-form. It is to this extent that one may be born and age and die, pass away and be reborn, that is, when there is consciousness with name-and-form as its condition, and name-and-form with consciousness as its condition. With name-and-form as condition, the six sense bases; with the six sense bases as condition, contact…. Such is the origin of this whole mass of suffering.’
    Specious ideas about consciousness ("It's everywhere", etc.) requires ignoring how the term 'vinnana' is used in the EBTs. And, we need to keep the focus on craving as the problem, not on the idea of ignorance. That's one way of talking about the problem, but it's not a suitable approach now.

  7. #17
    Forums Member srivijaya's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by daverupa View Post
    we need to keep the focus on craving as the problem, not on the idea of ignorance.
    Absolutely agree on that point.

    There's the belief in some Buddhist circles and elsewhere that ignorance can be countered by the 'correct' metaphysical understanding/presentation of emptiness, thus neutralising the poisons. This is tackling the issue back-to-front. Intellectual ideas about the 'true' nature of reality are just more empty prattle; Maya & Brahman re-hash.

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    Quote Originally Posted by srivijaya View Post
    Perhaps the answer may be 'both'.


    I guess that depends on whether we consider the twelve links to be sequential or simultaneous. I always thought the assertion that there was no consciousness without an object for that consciousness to be materialistic but from the view of co-dependent origination it makes perfect sense.
    Yes that's a good point. Seems it could be either or both, depending on perspective. That is to say there's a process of causality going on where one link is conditioned by those previous (collectively) - moreover those conditions need to be in place for it's very arising, but of course the process is fluid, and at the level of any given link, it's forebears permeate and in a sense transcend it. Like a harmony.

    Regarding that assertion, I'm led to consider the sixth jhana (2nd arupajhana).
    Last edited by uguay; 04 Dec 17 at 14:08.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Element View Post
    No he didn't. Since consciousness is placed after sankhara obviously consciousness does not occur first.
    Well, kamma is somewhat more ethereal than rupa, but ok, it seems you've effectively switched from the twelve nidanas to the five khandas to support your assertion.

    What's clear from the responses, is that consciousness (vinanna) could be used in a number of different contexts back then, as it often is today.

    If we consider the situation as a sort of feedback loop, then it seems to depend on where we pick as the starting point as to what ultimately conditions what. Kinda like the 'You are here' arrow on the map in the mall. Seems to me the khandas detail the 'perpetuation of the heap' aspect, whereas the nidanas deal, more broadly, with the samsaric cycle in its entirety. As such the former is a kinda microcosm of the latter, and as a model, starts somewhere in the middle.

  10. #20
    Forums Member srivijaya's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by uguay View Post
    Regarding that assertion, I'm led to consider the sixth jhana (2nd arupajhana).
    The formless Jhanas are interesting but in an odd kind of way I would still apply the snippet Dave supplied:
    This consciousness turns back; it does not go further than name-and-form. It is to this extent that one may be born and age and die, pass away and be reborn, that is, when there is consciousness with name-and-form as its condition, and name-and-form with consciousness as its condition.
    In this instance I take the formulation to imply duality (even in the form-less state), as consciousness necessitates a dualistic space in which it can function - the dream state being a good example. Perhaps once cleared of the 'name-and-form' component it is without feature and will not take rebirth?

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