Discussion in 'Skeptiko Shows' started by John Maguire, Dec 24, 2014.
great point and raises many questions. makes me leery of... well, of everybody... including Wilber. He says, "the point is that these are authentic spiritual experiences, but they are culturally molded". can we really say this? can we really pretend to know what "authentic spiritual experiences" are? His confidence about impossible to define/understand concepts is hard for me to endorse... then again, he's been a real pioneer in this area and maybe this comes from a different cultural angle.
Could we agree that there are unusual experiences that seem to be influenced by personal and cultural conditioning--NDEs, for example? I suppose I'd have to agree it's conjectural to say that they're the result of filtering of "authentic spiritual experiences", whatever that really means. That said, if they're not spiritual, i.e. not evidence that there's more to existence than what we usually think of as the physical, what else might they represent? What might an inauthentic spiritual experience be? I'm not quite sure what you're trying to say: not dissing it, but genuinely trying to parse it.
I'm just saying that we might be getting back to the dogs discussing algebra thing. as soon as we acknowledge that there appear to be different level/dimensions of this and other realities we start to get a clue about how clueless we probably are.
Maybe there are other levels/dimensions. On the other hand, maybe there's just a 1-level continuum that is perceived differently according to the state of consciousness of the perceiver, which is in turn influenced by the conditioning arising during period(s) of being in the ordinary state of consciousness we are familiar with--and, who knows, during period(s) of being in unusual states?
I don't know about dogs discussing algebra, but much beyond quadratic equations, I'm a woofer when it comes to maths, so I take your point. OTOH, isn't your show all about at least acknowledging that the physicalist view fails to explain a number of verifiable phenomena? It's inevitable I suppose that we tend to make hypotheses, and highly probable that we are still groping in the dark.
That said, there's utility even in the physicalist view: for some things, it can generate very good models. It'd be a bit harsh to say that there was no utility in formulating possible models to account for the non-physicalist viewpoint. As long as one doesn't become too attached to them and doesn't take them as gospel: just working hypotheses...
I can definitely relate to the leery of everybody sentiment.
I guess we're stuck with the problem that we can't 'prove' any subjective experience - 'spiritual' or otherwise. All we have is that notion that because our own subjective states seem to reflect other people's subjective states so consistently, we generally allow ourselves to deduce that those subjective states are 'real' or authentic. I know that Wilber argues(particularly in his book The Marriage of Sense and Soul)that this applies to 'objective' science too, since science is ultimately experienced subjectively. This is where he makes his case that there is valid 'empirical' evidence for subjective and 'spiritual' realities.
First he argues that all 'empirical' evidence is experiential evidence. Then he posits three essential aspects for scientific inquiry:
1. Instrumental injunction."This is an actual practice, an exemplar, a paradigm, an experiment, an ordinance. It is always of the form "If you want to know this, do this."
2. Direct apprehension. "This is an immediate experience of the domain brought forth by the injunction; that is, a direct experience or apprehension of data (even if the data is mediated, at the moment of experience it is immediately apprehended)."
3. Communal confirmation (or rejection). "This is a checking of the results—the data, the evidence—with others who have adequately completed the injunctive and apprehensive strands"
His argument is that the contemplative spiritual traditions adhere to these same rules for validating truth claims as much as the physical sciences. You could easily extend that to NDE experience, too.
Of course, as I'm sure you are already thinking, that's a nice shot but the materialists like Dawkins etc. will have already dismissed all of this as unworthy of their consideration just by seeing the word "soul" on the cover of the book.
maybe. I'm struck by the fact that so many come back and say, "I was able to ask any question and immediately know the answer." Seems like we're dumbed down over here, but that's pure speculation.
That said, there's utility even in the physicalist view: for some things, it can generate very good models. It'd be a bit harsh to say that there was no utility in formulating possible models to account for the non-physicalist viewpoint. As long as one doesn't become too attached to them and doesn't take them as gospel: just working hypotheses...[/quote]
agreed... seems like it's what we are wired to do
Good points. And I agree with your point and Wilber terrific contribution in this area. He brings a certian clarity to things that is very appealing.
But I'm not sure how far we can extend Wilber's model beyond our reality. As Michael and I were discussing above, when the data you're getting back starts telling you there's stuff over there that you can't understand from over here it may be best to look at the limits of your model. The whole thing about Godel and incompleteness comes to mind.
I disagree with this but I can understand your points. Key reasons for complete transcripts:
-They are Google searchable (bringing more listeners to Skeptiko).
-They give you a resource to refer to without having to listen to the whole podcast again.
-They are useful for quoting.
So, I vote full transcripts even with errors though I can definitely see it is more work for you.
LaChance says (quoted from the transcript)
-Some may recall that Nick Bunick's experience involved a piece of paper with 444 and other things written on it. If you read Nick's book, you will also learn that it also contained two intersecting tetrahedrons (star tetrahedron) which is a 3 dimensional Star of David.
-I have a friend who has had at least 2 visions. One was of a star tetrahedron and the other I can't share but I can tell you it was mighty interesting.
If Buddhists talk about the 14th Dalai Lama, then clearly some history is being retained. Can you point to a specific Buddhist text from which you are getting your opinion as to their views of reincarnation?
Generally on Skeptiko there is an absence of deeply informed views on specific religions.
Walpola Rahula What the Buddha Taught
Buddhists believe in a concept called anatta or no-self. According to this concept, when you examine the activity of the mind you see constant change - there is nothing permanent so there cannot be anything like a self. If you take a car apart you have a pile of parts but no car-ness can be found anywhere. They assert the same is true for a person. While there is no self in a living mind, that stream of constant change that we call a mind can continue into the afterlife and be reborn into a body. It is explained by the analogy of one candle being lit from another. There is nothing in the new candle that has anything to do with the old candle except a transfer of energy that continues a stream of cause and effect.
The Third Patriarch of Zen
Verses on the Faith Mind
Do not search for the truth;
only cease to cherish opinions.
do not remain in the dualistic state.
Avoid such pursuits carefully.
If there is even a trace of this and that,
of right and wrong,
the mind-essence will be lost in confusion.
Pañcavaggi Sutta: Five Brethren
(aka: Anatta-lakkhana Sutta: The Discourse on the Not-self Characteristic)
But precisely because consciousness is not self, consciousness lends itself to dis-ease.
"Any consciousness whatsoever that is past, future, or present; internal or external; blatant or subtle; common or sublime; far or near: every consciousness is to be seen as it actually is with right discernment as: 'This is not mine. This is not my self. This is not what I am.'
Buddha taught that attachments and aversions are the cause of problems in life. Giving up attachments including attachment to self is part of the way to eliminate these problems. The concept of anatta was how Buddha tried to get people to give up their attachment to self. Why should anyone take pride or feel ownership in an impersonal stream of cause and effect?
Anyone who gets frustrated debating on this forum has experienced the type of problem Buddha was trying to eliminate with the concept of anatta. If you are not attached to self you have no emotional attachment to being right. You can still debate if you like to, but without attachment to self it would not be frustrating. To take effect these teachings often have to be learned through experience in addition to intellectual understanding. Meditation, watching the activity of the mind, is helpful in experiencing the truth of the teachings.
A bit slow, but I've just got around to listening to this interview!
I am a little surprised that so few have commented on the details of this interview: mainly David Eire, Michael Larkin, Saiko and Tola Brennan (above).
But, I agree, the real content seems to be missing here.
What exactly IS the Third Covenant? What IS the 'totally new thing'?
Maybe they say it is all the basis of experience, but surely they can use SOME symbols to explain what they are talking about?
Is the way to unity really to remove all cognitive content so that there is nothing to disagree about?
I just noticed that Jim Smith gave references in response to your question, but here is another from the 19th century compilation from a variety of Buddhist texts by Paul Carus:
The Tathagata meditated deeply on the problems of transmigration and karma, and found the truth that lies in them. "The doctrine of karma, he said, is undeniable, but the theory of the ego has no foundation. Like everything else in nature, the life of man is subject to the law of cause and effect. The present reaps what the past has sown, and the future is the product of the present. But there is no evidence of the existence of an immutable ego-being, of a self which remains the same and migrates from body to body. There is rebirth but no transmigration.
"I observe the preservation and transmission of character; I perceive the truth of karma, but see no atman whom your doctrine makes the doer of your deeds. There is rebirth without the transmigration of a self. For this atman, this self, this ego in the 'I say' and in the 'I will' is an illusion. If this self were a reality, how could there be an escape from selfhood? The terror of hell would be infinite, and no release could be granted. The evils of existence would not be due to our ignorance and wrong-doing, but would constitute the very nature of our being.
Michael, I think Jim's quote and your quote show that in Buddhism it is not that the 'me' is dropped with physical existence, rather the ego is an illusion, even in your current existence.
I believe that certain Buddhist principles require advanced meditative experience beyond intellectual reasoning.
There are also different schools of thought in Buddhism. Theravada does not recognize the Boddhisattva of Mahayana, so they maynot agree with multiple incarnations of an enlightened being (i.e. of future incarnations following enlightenment).
"Complete trust that God has a beautiful plan that is one with a hope and a future allows me, and each of us, to face challenges with confidence and courage, even when the plan and its beauty seems hidden."
Separate names with a comma.