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Ogyen
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Re: Is it possible to be a Budhist and believe in God?

Post by Ogyen » Fri Apr 13, 2012 1:55 am

In some of my extended studies, I was recently reading about a definition of 'god' that sounded an awful lot like buddhanature. Could this be an interpretation of the 'divine'?
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"To love. To be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and the vulgar disparity of life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never, to forget." –Arundhati Roy

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Dechen Norbu
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Re: Buddhism on God

Post by Dechen Norbu » Fri Apr 13, 2012 2:34 am

It's what it is, whether you like it or not. I'm not to blame for your soft spot concerning Christianity. Your little apologetic arguments can't be used to dismiss any reasonable critic to a worldview that includes an Abrahamic god, not mattering the justifications Christians tried to put forward. There's no way of it making sense for a Buddhist. Just though you might benefit from knowing that. There's nothing wrong with a small identity crisis, mint, as long as we overgrow it, not letting it drain our whole energy that could be put to better use. You either walk in one side of the road or the other. Walk in the middle and you'll be squashed. So be a good Christian/theist or a good Buddhist. A bad hybrid is of little worth and pays no justice to either side.

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Sherab
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Re: Buddhism on God

Post by Sherab » Fri Apr 13, 2012 3:21 am

mint wrote: If there is a Creator then He is Other than Creation.
If He is Other than Creation then He cannot be described, limited, or circumscribed by created categories or definitions.
"Purpose" and "rationality" are categories created by the sentient human mind.
The sentient human mind is a created thing.
Therefore the human mind cannot construct a purely logical argument about what would be 'rational' or 'irrational' behavior for a Transcendent God.
"He is Other than Creation" - Creator and his creation are mutually exclusive? If so, then there can be no interaction between the Creator and the Created.
"If He is Other than Creation then He cannot be described, limited, or circumscribed by created categories or definitions." This means that there can no meaningful interaction between the Creator and the created.

If there can be no interaction between the Creator and the created, then the idea of a Creator is meaningless to the created.

If there can be no meaningful interaction between the Creator and the created, then there is not even an iota of hope that the created can ever know the Creator. If the created can never know the Creator in any meaningful way, then how can the Creator ever be definitve in meaning to the created? For example, if the Creator in truth, plays a humongous joke on the created by creating the created and portraying Himself, the Creator as good, while He, the Creator is really in truth, evil, how can the created ever be sure that that is not true? Since there can be no certainty regarding the Creator, the idea of the Creator is as good as irrelevant.

Ergo, the idea of a Creator is either meaningless or irrelevant.

Dechen Norbu probably felt this instinctively when he responded to your logic by saying that it is meaningless apologetic.

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Lhug-Pa
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Re: Buddhism on God

Post by Lhug-Pa » Fri Apr 13, 2012 3:50 am

Mint, Dechen Norbu, did you guys happen to hear Rinpoche's teaching on the last day of the recent retreat?

http://www.freezecast.com/replay/index.php" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

He addressed the very topic that you two are debating (in context of course).

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Malcolm
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Re: Buddhism on God

Post by Malcolm » Fri Apr 13, 2012 4:48 am

Lhug-Pa wrote:Mint, Dechen Norbu, did you guys happen to hear Rinpoche's teaching on the last day of the recent retreat?

http://www.freezecast.com/replay/index.php" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

He addressed the very topic that you two are debating (in context of course).
Not really -- what he said was is that it was possible to frame "God" as a signifier for one's primordial potentiality (i.e. the basis), but he did not state that this was how theistic traditions would understand it nor that they would accept it in this way.
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

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tobes
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Re: Buddhism on God

Post by tobes » Fri Apr 13, 2012 5:11 am

Sherab wrote:
tobes wrote:If one is positing an entirely rational standard here - which applies to theists - then can one coherently and rationally argue that there was a previous cosmological epoch, in which sentient beings were awakened, and now there is another cosmological epoch, in which sentient beings are not awakened?

What is the logical basis for that claim?

i.e Can Dzogchen, for example, be defended upon a purely rational basis?

If it does not, then what is the point of holding other traditions to account for not having a rational basis?

It seems to me that there is one standard for non-Buddhist traditions (they must be empirically verifiable and rationally coherent) and another for Buddhist traditions (there may be some rational elements, some empirical elements, and some elements of belief).

:anjali:
My simple view is as follows:

Religions centred on a creator god idea attribute all existences to the creator god.
Buddhism on the other hand attributes all existences to interdependent origination.

I can find a logical argument to demolish the idea of a creator god as the basis of existences but I cannot find a logical argument (as yet) to demolish interdependent origination as the basis of existences. Even the idea of random events can sit quite comfortably with the idea of interdependent origination as a basis of existences, in my view at least.
The problem here - as I vaguely remember pointing out months earlier on this thread - is that what this amounts to is an argument about causality.

That's not the problem though, the problem is that no one here is really paying heed to those arguments - or even seeing that there are arguments.

You assume that you've demolished all the theories of causality posited by the monotheistic religions - but have you?

You've done Aristotle's physics and metaphysics? You've done the Platonists and Neo-Platonists? You've done the Stoics? You've done the medieval's? You've seen how various monotheistic theologies intersect with those views, and take a range of different and complex positions in relation to them? And you've systematically compared and contrasted them with Nagarjuna, Chandrakirti et al? Argument by argument, such that you're sure that you've demolished the theists.

But have you?

Because I don't think anyone has done this yet. There's barely been a published paper on these kinds of topics.

:anjali:

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tobes
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Re: Buddhism on God

Post by tobes » Fri Apr 13, 2012 5:17 am

Jikan wrote:
tobes wrote:However, what worries me, is that this epistemological double standard leaves neo-Buddhism open to the charge that it is functioning more or less as an ideology.
Yes, that's Zizek's claim.
Indeed, but Zizek would claim that a bee has an ideological relationship to a flower. I think that prajna gives most Buddhist traditions a more robust epistemic footing than Zizek would agree with.

:anjali:

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Malcolm
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Re: Buddhism on God

Post by Malcolm » Fri Apr 13, 2012 5:30 am

tobes wrote:
Because I don't think anyone has done this yet. There's barely been a published paper on these kinds of topics.

:anjali:
It is not necessary. All theistic views, especially in ancient Philosophy boil down to essentialism. Madhyamaka rejects that.
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

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tobes
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Re: Buddhism on God

Post by tobes » Fri Apr 13, 2012 5:32 am

Dechen Norbu wrote: My contention here is that I don't see any reason to consider Batchelor's project more rationalist, strictly speaking, than let's say Alan Wallace's presentation for instance. Batchelor's worldview rests above hidden metaphysical predilections that have no rational basis, but are a choice of a certain interpretation of the experience we have as humans. That such passes unnoticed in scientific circles is understandable as science and philosophy are divorced for a long time now, but we can't let it pass especially when dealing with the migration of Buddhism to the West. We shouldn't, Ill say more, we must not let it pass unless without risking ending up with a paper cup, or better, a gadget of sorts as they are so appreciated these days, without any pure water in it. What Batchelor does, in my opinion, is replacing a metaphysical system that claims to be verifiable- meaning the Buddhist claims- for another one that doesn't- the assumptions of physicalism and realism. This corrupts Buddhadharma. It's no longer an expedient, I risk saying. It's a frontal, yet camouflaged, attack to the core teachings that reduce Buddhism to a cheap psychotherapy with very little, if any, value. In terms of therapy, we have much better, thank goodness. I'll go on a limb and say that Buddhism can't even be used for such purposes. What Batchelor is doing is taking for granted the metaphysical beliefs of a certain system of knowledge and superimposing them to a complete different way of tackling our experience. Taking in account the little we know about consciousness through science- in spite of what some mistakenly believe they know- I'd say that the actual approach to consciousness through neurosciences is similar to performing brain surgery with a spoon. Of course science has many uses and I have high hopes for the knowledge we gather through it. But when it comes to consciousness, I think we are at most in an embryonic stage. We can't detect it directly, we don't know what it is exactly, its necessary and sufficient causes, origin and fate. So, perhaps because this is frustrating, some people whose career depends on it make up stuff- sorry that's how I call fallacious interpretation of data- and try to sell it as facts when in reality they are intellectual sleights of hands to convince the uneducated audience of the truthfulness of a certain metaphysical system. If you want to build a catapult, Newton laws will suffice. This, as we know, doesn't make them correct, even if they are somehow successful in both prediction and description of certain events. However, solely based on them we couldn't have GPS. I advance that solely based on what we know through science, we can't yet study consciousness adequately. If he choose a non ethnocentric position and admit that other civilizations might have been successful when it comes to the study of consciousness, even if following different routes than those we did, and take a good look at Buddhism, perhaps we gain something from it. On the other hand, if we immediately box it as just another mythology/superstition/religion from which at most we can retrieve a sort of psychotherapy, it doesn't pay to try to sell it well to the audiences. This is what Batchelor does, perhaps not intentionally. He strips Buddhism from all that makes it worthy as an alternative way of investigating our experience, retains a psychotherapeutic system with little value and then sells it to philosophically poorly educated audiences.
Right, so perhaps the problem here is not that Batchelor is a rationalist, but rather that he is a sh*t rationalist.

I agree with your claims about the study of consciousness. I think you (and probably many others) might be interested in this - Faure critiquing the premises which underpin the Buddhist engagement with neuroscience:

http://sydney.edu.au/sydney_ideas/lectu ... aure.shtml" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

I can see why you would write this - "Buddhism's merit rests extensively in some of its most outrageous claims, I believe." It's a cool statement. If pressed, I would probably argue the exact opposite, but I would also never want to deny what you're pointing to.

:anjali:

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tobes
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Re: Buddhism on God

Post by tobes » Fri Apr 13, 2012 5:44 am

Namdrol wrote:
tobes wrote:
Because I don't think anyone has done this yet. There's barely been a published paper on these kinds of topics.

:anjali:
It is not necessary. All theistic views, especially in ancient Philosophy boil down to essentialism. Madhyamaka rejects that.
Prima facie, of course. But if you dig a little deeper, the story is far more complex.

For starters, svabava is not precisely commensurable with what is meant by essence in some western contexts. And what is meant by essence differs markedly in different thinkers and traditions.

I think that the work needs to be actually done, before assuming that it doesn't need to be done.

Or if one can't be bothered - and I put myself in that category - then the only sensible position is to refrain from making claims about things we do not yet know.

:anjali:

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Malcolm
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Re: Buddhism on God

Post by Malcolm » Fri Apr 13, 2012 5:48 am

tobes wrote:
Prima facie, of course. But if you dig a little deeper, the story is far more complex.

For starters, svabava is not precisely commensurable with what is meant by essence in some western contexts. And what is meant by essence differs markedly in different thinkers and traditions.
Notions of essence boil down to the Paramedian distinction between being and non-being, as far as western philosophy goes.

At base, apart from Madhyamaka, all of these different schools are asserting some sort of being contrasted with some sort of non-being.

This is why everyone apart from Madhyamaka is considered realist in some sense or another.

N
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

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tobes
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Re: Buddhism on God

Post by tobes » Fri Apr 13, 2012 9:48 am

Namdrol wrote:
tobes wrote:
Prima facie, of course. But if you dig a little deeper, the story is far more complex.

For starters, svabava is not precisely commensurable with what is meant by essence in some western contexts. And what is meant by essence differs markedly in different thinkers and traditions.
Notions of essence boil down to the Paramedian distinction between being and non-being, as far as western philosophy goes.

At base, apart from Madhyamaka, all of these different schools are asserting some sort of being contrasted with some sort of non-being.

This is why everyone apart from Madhyamaka is considered realist in some sense or another.

N
That's an incredibly reductive and misleading account of western philosophy. I don't know much about ancient Greek philosophy, but one thing I have come to see is how contested the question of being and non-being is in Aristotle - who is of course responding to Parmenides. Modern logicians are still arguing about this. My sense is that if one doesn't enter into those arguments, one cannot really see what is at stake metaphysically, and so, one has no business claiming to have it all nailed.

Let alone the entirety of western philosophy.....

:anjali:

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Sherab
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Re: Buddhism on God

Post by Sherab » Fri Apr 13, 2012 10:17 am

tobes wrote: The problem here - as I vaguely remember pointing out months earlier on this thread - is that what this amounts to is an argument about causality.

That's not the problem though, the problem is that no one here is really paying heed to those arguments - or even seeing that there are arguments.

You assume that you've demolished all the theories of causality posited by the monotheistic religions - but have you?

You've done Aristotle's physics and metaphysics? You've done the Platonists and Neo-Platonists? You've done the Stoics? You've done the medieval's? You've seen how various monotheistic theologies intersect with those views, and take a range of different and complex positions in relation to them? And you've systematically compared and contrasted them with Nagarjuna, Chandrakirti et al? Argument by argument, such that you're sure that you've demolished the theists.

But have you?

Because I don't think anyone has done this yet. There's barely been a published paper on these kinds of topics.

:anjali:
My arguments are based on simple logic and simple assumptions. To demolish my arguments, simply show that I've made a logical fault or made a false assumption somewhere. I am still waiting for someone to do just that.

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catmoon
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Re: Buddhism on God

Post by catmoon » Fri Apr 13, 2012 12:12 pm

Namdrol wrote:
PadmaVonSamba wrote:
The institution of "Buddhism" has many provided many unprovables. People born out of lotus flowers and so on.
This cannot be denied.
But believing in them is not essential. it is not demanded of the follower.
That very much depends on which school or teacher you follow.
Exactly what I was thinking. One can hardly claim that Buddhism is free of dogma!
Sergeant Schultz knew everything there was to know.

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Re: Buddhism on God

Post by greentara » Fri Apr 13, 2012 12:23 pm

In the waking or dream state in which things appear, and in the sleep state in which we see nothing, there is always the light of Consciousness or Self, like the hall lamp which is always burning. The thing to do is to concentrate on the seer and not on the seen, not on the objects, but on the Light which reveals them.

God illumines the mind and shines within it. One cannot know God by means of the mind. One can but turn the mind inwards and merge it in God.

If the mind having gone in comes out again, it is only practice for knowledge is abiding experience.

On scrutiny as to what remains after eliminating all thoughts, it will be found that there is no such thing as mind apart from thought. So then, thoughts themselves constitute the mind.

It is impossible for anyone to get established in the experience of reality, being-consciousness, except through the power of Grace.
Ramana Maharshi

The reality is only mauna ( SIlence )

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PadmaVonSamba
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Re: Buddhism on God

Post by PadmaVonSamba » Fri Apr 13, 2012 12:48 pm

catmoon wrote:
Exactly what I was thinking. One can hardly claim that Buddhism is free of dogma!
It is important not to confuse the dharma with the institution of 'buddhism' which has preserved it.
You can still practice the dharma
even if you don't believe anything that you can't prove (to your own satisfaction)
or have not personally experienced.

This is the pivotal difference. There is dogma, but belief in dogma is not mandatory.
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catmoon
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Re: Buddhism on God

Post by catmoon » Fri Apr 13, 2012 12:56 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote:
catmoon wrote:
Exactly what I was thinking. One can hardly claim that Buddhism is free of dogma!
It is important not to confuse the dharma with the institution of 'buddhism' which has preserved it.
You can still practice the dharma
even if you don't believe anything that you can't prove (to your own satisfaction)
or have not personally experienced.

This is the pivotal difference. There is dogma, but belief in dogma is not mandatory.
.
.
.
I agree that dogma shouldn't be mandatory, but I dont think one need look far to find organizations that are trying very hard indeed to make one dogma or another mandatory. It wasn't that long ago that we had a thread right here that was trying to establish a sort of Buddhist creed.
Sergeant Schultz knew everything there was to know.

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treehuggingoctopus
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Re: Buddhism on God

Post by treehuggingoctopus » Fri Apr 13, 2012 1:32 pm

Sherab wrote:
mint wrote: If there is a Creator then He is Other than Creation.
If He is Other than Creation then He cannot be described, limited, or circumscribed by created categories or definitions.
"Purpose" and "rationality" are categories created by the sentient human mind.
The sentient human mind is a created thing.
Therefore the human mind cannot construct a purely logical argument about what would be 'rational' or 'irrational' behavior for a Transcendent God.
"He is Other than Creation" - Creator and his creation are mutually exclusive? If so, then there can be no interaction between the Creator and the Created.
"If He is Other than Creation then He cannot be described, limited, or circumscribed by created categories or definitions." This means that there can no meaningful interaction between the Creator and the created.

If there can be no interaction between the Creator and the created, then the idea of a Creator is meaningless to the created.

If there can be no meaningful interaction between the Creator and the created, then there is not even an iota of hope that the created can ever know the Creator. If the created can never know the Creator in any meaningful way, then how can the Creator ever be definitve in meaning to the created? For example, if the Creator in truth, plays a humongous joke on the created by creating the created and portraying Himself, the Creator as good, while He, the Creator is really in truth, evil, how can the created ever be sure that that is not true? Since there can be no certainty regarding the Creator, the idea of the Creator is as good as irrelevant.

Ergo, the idea of a Creator is either meaningless or irrelevant.
Pretty much spot-on, with one exception: if the word "God" stood for perfect Otherness, as Mint suggests it does, your example would be invalid, too - since such "God" couldn't be known, approached or related to in any way whatsoever, "he" wouldn't be anything "really in truth", not "evil", not "good", not a "being", nor a non-being, etc.; any statement on "his" nature would be necessarily meaningless and/or erroneous. Which, interestingly, would mean - and that is the necessary step here, which nevertheless very few theologians are willing to take - the end of not only all mysticism and theology, but of all (theistic) religion as well. The idea of a transcendent "God" inescapably leads to practical atheism.

Whether "God" is 100% immanent or 100% transcendent, theism self-destructs. Bang.
tobes wrote:Right, so perhaps the problem here is not that Batchelor is a rationalist, but rather that he is a sh*t rationalist.
+ 1

Batchelor's is an 18th century mind.
Last edited by treehuggingoctopus on Fri Apr 13, 2012 1:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Malcolm
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Re: Buddhism on God

Post by Malcolm » Fri Apr 13, 2012 1:34 pm

tobes wrote:
Namdrol wrote:
tobes wrote:
Prima facie, of course. But if you dig a little deeper, the story is far more complex.

For starters, svabava is not precisely commensurable with what is meant by essence in some western contexts. And what is meant by essence differs markedly in different thinkers and traditions.
Notions of essence boil down to the Paramedian distinction between being and non-being, as far as western philosophy goes.

At base, apart from Madhyamaka, all of these different schools are asserting some sort of being contrasted with some sort of non-being.

This is why everyone apart from Madhyamaka is considered realist in some sense or another.

N
That's an incredibly reductive and misleading account of western philosophy.

:anjali:
Well, given that I was raised by a professor of philosophy, I am entitled to be incredibly reductive about it.

N
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

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Dechen Norbu
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Re: Buddhism on God

Post by Dechen Norbu » Fri Apr 13, 2012 1:56 pm

Namdrol wrote:
Lhug-Pa wrote:Mint, Dechen Norbu, did you guys happen to hear Rinpoche's teaching on the last day of the recent retreat?

http://www.freezecast.com/replay/index.php" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

He addressed the very topic that you two are debating (in context of course).
Not really -- what he said was is that it was possible to frame "God" as a signifier for one's primordial potentiality (i.e. the basis), but he did not state that this was how theistic traditions would understand it nor that they would accept it in this way.
Exactly.
Sometimes I wonder if some experiences had by theistic mystics weren't close to what ChNN's pointing to and then framed under a theistic view because of the culture where they lived. If you accept that God exists and have such an experience, it wouldn't be so far out considering you had a sort of communion with him or something similar. This doesn't mean that God exists though, much less an Abrahamic God. It means that the mystic interpreted his experience, that by far is not the end of the path, under a certain worldview. His interpretation may even block him from further progress and give origin to statements like Augustines's “si comprehenderis, non est Deus”, “if you can understand it, it is not God” and all the resulting dissertations, theologically framed, that result from such insights and, in my opinion, lead nowhere.
It's not the religious affiliation that determines the kind of initial experiences you go through, but mostly the contemplative practice and abilities you have. The interpretation and further deepening however depend on it.
The fact that someone could eventually mistake the Base for God doesn't make them the same. :smile:

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