Infinite Eons and Enlightenment

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LoveFromColorado
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Infinite Eons and Enlightenment

Post by LoveFromColorado » Thu Feb 28, 2019 5:39 pm

Hi all,

I have a logical sticking point that I wrestle with occasionally in regards to Buddhism, reincarnation, and enlightenment. Basically, if awareness exists with infinite beginning and infinite end, then theoretically we should have experienced an infinite number of moments of awareness. This would mean that we have experienced every single state of awareness, from the lowest hell to the highest heaven as well as enlightenment.

Yet we (or at least I, speak for myself :)) am not enlightened.

Thus, there are two possibilities:

1. There is indeed a beginning to awareness and thus technically speaking no such thing as an infinite past is viable (I think this is refuted rather easily)
2. One cycles in and out of enlightenment or, conversely, we are all enlightened all the time or enlightenment does not exist

Can anyone help me out here? :)

Thanks!

LolCat
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Re: Infinite Eons and Enlightenment

Post by LolCat » Thu Feb 28, 2019 5:49 pm

The set of all integers is infinite, so is the set of all rational numbers, but the former is still smaller than the latter. Check this out:
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hilbert ... rand_Hotel

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Re: Infinite Eons and Enlightenment

Post by Queequeg » Thu Feb 28, 2019 5:54 pm

LoveFromColorado wrote:
Thu Feb 28, 2019 5:39 pm
Hi all,

I have a logical sticking point that I wrestle with occasionally in regards to Buddhism, reincarnation, and enlightenment. Basically, if awareness exists with infinite beginning and infinite end, then theoretically we should have experienced an infinite number of moments of awareness. This would mean that we have experienced every single state of awareness, from the lowest hell to the highest heaven as well as enlightenment.

Yet we (or at least I, speak for myself :)) am not enlightened.

Thus, there are two possibilities:

1. There is indeed a beginning to awareness and thus technically speaking no such thing as an infinite past is viable (I think this is refuted rather easily)
2. One cycles in and out of enlightenment or, conversely, we are all enlightened all the time or enlightenment does not exist

Can anyone help me out here? :)

Thanks!
Similar problems arise in math when you start dealing with infinity and infinity of infinities. (previous post went up as I was writing this... great minds...)

One of the things to note is that time is conditional - not an absolute. Past is just a present recollection of something that happened, and the future is just speculation. There is only awareness. To say this moment of awareness goes too far - "this moment" is a meaningless distinction.

So... you are enlightened... you just don't get it yet because you continue to be confused about what you are aware of.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

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catmoon
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Re: Infinite Eons and Enlightenment

Post by catmoon » Thu Feb 28, 2019 6:45 pm

LoveFromColorado wrote:
Thu Feb 28, 2019 5:39 pm
Hi all,

I have a logical sticking point that I wrestle with occasionally in regards to Buddhism, reincarnation, and enlightenment. Basically, if awareness exists with infinite beginning and infinite end, then theoretically we should have experienced an infinite number of moments of awareness. This would mean that we have experienced every single state of awareness, from the lowest hell to the highest heaven as well as enlightenment.
i am not at all sure about the assumption that in infinite time all possible things must occur. If you ask, why am I not enlightened, the answer might be as simple as "it hasn't been possible yet". In infinite time, it might be that looking far enough back we come to a relatively unchanging universe that extends off to infinity. This would mean the full set of possibilities is still coming into being, and the rapidly changing evolving universe we see is a new phenomenon. Just one of many logical possibilities, I'd wager.
Sergeant Schultz knew everything there was to know.

LoveFromColorado
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Re: Infinite Eons and Enlightenment

Post by LoveFromColorado » Thu Feb 28, 2019 6:51 pm

catmoon wrote:
Thu Feb 28, 2019 6:45 pm
i am not at all sure about the assumption that in infinite time all possible things must occur. If you ask, why am I not enlightened, the answer might be as simple as "it hasn't been possible yet". In infinite time, it might be that looking far enough back we come to a relatively unchanging universe that extends off to infinity. This would mean the full set of possibilities is still coming into being, and the rapidly changing evolving universe we see is a new phenomenon. Just one of many logical possibilities, I'd wager.
I think the problem in your logic is that presumes a finite start somewhere if something has not happened yet. If it is indeed infinite, then you would by default have to have experienced an infinite number of possibilities. Make sense? We are not talking about a large number in which there could be a scenario that was "missed" - we are talking about all potentiality when it comes to infinity.

Think of it this way - with the right karma for a mindstream to ripen into a situation in which one meets a perfectly enlightened teacher who guides one to enlightenment, then, with an infinite number of chances, every single possibility surrounding this scenario would have already occurred and we are indeed in the middle of experiencing it (and every other infinite scenario) an infinite number of times.

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Re: Infinite Eons and Enlightenment

Post by Seeker12 » Thu Feb 28, 2019 6:52 pm

LoveFromColorado wrote:
Thu Feb 28, 2019 5:39 pm
Hi all,

I have a logical sticking point that I wrestle with occasionally in regards to Buddhism, reincarnation, and enlightenment. Basically, if awareness exists with infinite beginning and infinite end, then theoretically we should have experienced an infinite number of moments of awareness. This would mean that we have experienced every single state of awareness, from the lowest hell to the highest heaven as well as enlightenment.

Yet we (or at least I, speak for myself :)) am not enlightened.

Thus, there are two possibilities:

1. There is indeed a beginning to awareness and thus technically speaking no such thing as an infinite past is viable (I think this is refuted rather easily)
2. One cycles in and out of enlightenment or, conversely, we are all enlightened all the time or enlightenment does not exist

Can anyone help me out here? :)

Thanks!
Or time doesn't actually exist in the way that you think, ultimately. Even modern physics I'd argue points in this general direction - for example, google "PBS Are Space and Time An Illusion?" and you'll find a short video that gets into relativity a bit.

In general, logic is based on premises. You can have faulty premises, but sound logic based on those premises. However, the conclusions of this logic will be faulty, since the ground that it is built on is faulty.

In general, I think that it is a trap to say, "My logic is sound, therefore my conclusions are sound" without actually re-examining the premises that the logic is built on.

And in general, I would perhaps say that if you study texts like the Avatamsaka Sutra's Dashabhumika Sutra on the 10 stages, you might come to think that some of the fundamental assumptions we have about 'reality' are actually not ultimately true.

In general, I don't think that the 'logic' of highly realized beings follows the same premises that we find in our current, worldly mindset.
Therein is nothing to remove
And thereto not the slightest thing to add.
The perfect truth viewed perfectly
And perfectly beheld is liberation.

Uttaratantra Shastra

LoveFromColorado
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Re: Infinite Eons and Enlightenment

Post by LoveFromColorado » Thu Feb 28, 2019 7:00 pm

Seeker12 wrote:
Thu Feb 28, 2019 6:52 pm
Or time doesn't actually exist in the way that you think, ultimately. Even modern physics I'd argue points in this general direction - for example, google "PBS Are Space and Time An Illusion?" and you'll find a short video that gets into relativity a bit.

In general, logic is based on premises. You can have faulty premises, but sound logic based on those premises. However, the conclusions of this logic will be faulty, since the ground that it is built on is faulty.

In general, I think that it is a trap to say, "My logic is sound, therefore my conclusions are sound" without actually re-examining the premises that the logic is built on.

And in general, I would perhaps say that if you study texts like the Avatamsaka Sutra's Dashabhumika Sutra on the 10 stages, you might come to think that some of the fundamental assumptions we have about 'reality' are actually not ultimately true.

In general, I don't think that the 'logic' of highly realized beings follows the same premises that we find in our current, worldly mindset.
Good point on time - I have armchair studied quantum physics and cosmology and am familiar with the concept of time actually being entropy in action and the like.

That said, when it comes to the mindstream, it really is one preceding moment of awareness to the next, correct? Thus, I think the sentiment would still apply.

That said, I am interested in the sutra on the 10 stages you mentioned. Do you have a recommendation in terms of an English translation and (hopefully) commentary as well?

Thanks again!

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Re: Infinite Eons and Enlightenment

Post by catmoon » Thu Feb 28, 2019 7:21 pm

LoveFromColorado wrote:
Thu Feb 28, 2019 6:51 pm


I think the problem in your logic is that presumes a finite start somewhere if something has not happened yet. If it is indeed infinite, then you would by default have to have experienced an infinite number of possibilities. Make sense? We are not talking about a large number in which there could be a scenario that was "missed" - we are talking about all potentiality when it comes to infinity.

Think of it this way - with the right karma for a mindstream to ripen into a situation in which one meets a perfectly enlightened teacher who guides one to enlightenment, then, with an infinite number of chances, every single possibility surrounding this scenario would have already occurred and we are indeed in the middle of experiencing it (and every other infinite scenario) an infinite number of times.
I did not presume a start anywhere, I just abandoned the unproven assumption that in infinite time all things must occur. For instance, suppose that the time before say, 2 billion years ago was mostly cyclical and instead of everything happening, a relatively small but still infinite number of things occurred over and over again. It is entirely possible that the vast bulk of the past consisted of endless repetitions of the same events. I know of no physical law that dictates that every point in the configuration space must be visited.
Sergeant Schultz knew everything there was to know.

Seeker12
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Re: Infinite Eons and Enlightenment

Post by Seeker12 » Thu Feb 28, 2019 7:26 pm

LoveFromColorado wrote:
Thu Feb 28, 2019 7:00 pm

Good point on time - I have armchair studied quantum physics and cosmology and am familiar with the concept of time actually being entropy in action and the like.

That said, when it comes to the mindstream, it really is one preceding moment of awareness to the next, correct? Thus, I think the sentiment would still apply.

That said, I am interested in the sutra on the 10 stages you mentioned. Do you have a recommendation in terms of an English translation and (hopefully) commentary as well?

Thanks again!
I have read the Cleary translation and think it's good enough. The entire Sutra tends to run like $150, but you can (if your ethics allow) download it in PDF form. The 26th chapter is the Dashabhumika Sutra, and the chapters afterwards get into remarkable abilities of Buddhas and the like.

In general, at the higher Bhumis, there is basically discussion about how one enters into all times and places. I don't think that time actually exists as we think it does at that point, FWIW. And of course, it is generally held that Buddhas are able to know all, related to all times and places, basically.
Therein is nothing to remove
And thereto not the slightest thing to add.
The perfect truth viewed perfectly
And perfectly beheld is liberation.

Uttaratantra Shastra

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Re: Infinite Eons and Enlightenment

Post by Sentient Light » Thu Feb 28, 2019 7:30 pm

LoveFromColorado wrote:
Thu Feb 28, 2019 6:51 pm

I think the problem in your logic is that presumes a finite start somewhere if something has not happened yet. If it is indeed infinite, then you would by default have to have experienced an infinite number of possibilities. Make sense?
No, this is not true. In an infinite series of 3s, you will never find a 4. Infinite does not necessarily mean that all possibilities are contained therein.
:buddha1: Nam mô A di đà Phật :buddha1:
:bow: Nam mô Quan Thế Âm Bồ tát :bow:
:bow: Nam mô Đại Thế Chi Bồ Tát :bow:

:buddha1: Nam mô Bổn sư Thích ca mâu ni Phật :buddha1:
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LoveFromColorado
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Re: Infinite Eons and Enlightenment

Post by LoveFromColorado » Thu Feb 28, 2019 7:34 pm

catmoon wrote:
Thu Feb 28, 2019 7:21 pm
I just abandoned the unproven assumption that in infinite time all things must occur. For instance, suppose that the time before say, 2 billion years ago was mostly cyclical and instead of everything happening, a relatively small but still infinite number of things occurred over and over again. It is entirely possible that the vast bulk of the past consisted of endless repetitions of the same events. I know of no physical law that dictates that every point in the configuration space must be visited.
In physics, math has shown (at least to now) that with infinite time all possibilities exist and indeed occur. This is (in part) the logic behind the "Many-Worlds" theory, the multiverse, the often disliked concept of "Boltzmann Brains", and so on.

One of my favorite physicists, Sean Carroll:
“If you have literally forever to wait, you’ll get essentially every single possible thing fluctuating into existence." - Sean Carroll
I'm not trying to persuade you from your opinion, but I do think there is reasonable evidence to assume that infinite means infinite number of outcomes all occurring.

LoveFromColorado
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Re: Infinite Eons and Enlightenment

Post by LoveFromColorado » Thu Feb 28, 2019 7:38 pm

Sentient Light wrote:
Thu Feb 28, 2019 7:30 pm
LoveFromColorado wrote:
Thu Feb 28, 2019 6:51 pm

I think the problem in your logic is that presumes a finite start somewhere if something has not happened yet. If it is indeed infinite, then you would by default have to have experienced an infinite number of possibilities. Make sense?
No, this is not true. In an infinite series of 3s, you will never find a 4. Infinite does not necessarily mean that all possibilities are contained therein.
These are two different things. If a 4 does not exist within a universe of 3s, then naturally it could never exist. This is akin to saying if enlightenment never exists in our universe, then it would never be experienced (a logically sound statement but not one I agree with). That said, if enlightenment exists in an infinite mindstream, then it would necessarily be experienced at some point or the mindstream is not infinite.

That said, I am open to the idea (in fact I believe) that reality is radically different from the common perception of it so my initial logical foundation is flawed. I'm just trying to find the flaw! :)

Hope I don't sound argumentative - I've thrown the book at this logical problem in my head with similar objections but ultimately I can't avoid refuting them.

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Re: Infinite Eons and Enlightenment

Post by catmoon » Thu Feb 28, 2019 7:57 pm

LoveFromColorado wrote:
Thu Feb 28, 2019 7:34 pm
catmoon wrote:
Thu Feb 28, 2019 7:21 pm
I just abandoned the unproven assumption that in infinite time all things must occur. For instance, suppose that the time before say, 2 billion years ago was mostly cyclical and instead of everything happening, a relatively small but still infinite number of things occurred over and over again. It is entirely possible that the vast bulk of the past consisted of endless repetitions of the same events. I know of no physical law that dictates that every point in the configuration space must be visited.
In physics, math has shown (at least to now) that with infinite time all possibilities exist and indeed occur. This is (in part) the logic behind the "Many-Worlds" theory, the multiverse, the often disliked concept of "Boltzmann Brains", and so on.

One of my favorite physicists, Sean Carroll:
“If you have literally forever to wait, you’ll get essentially every single possible thing fluctuating into existence." - Sean Carroll
I'm not trying to persuade you from your opinion, but I do think there is reasonable evidence to assume that infinite means infinite number of outcomes all occurring.
Yeah Sean has some chops to be sure, But it appears to me that time is linear, as we are discussing it, and that no matter what the Cantor ordinality of that line is, it must be that the configuration space of a universe existing all through that time must be infinitely larger than the number of moments of time. and possibly of a higher ordinality entirely. Either way, in the time available, only a vanishngly small fraction of possible configurations will occur. I would love to bounce this off Sean, and I'd bet five bucks he never thought of it and the question would force him to consult a specialist in the mathematics of the infinite.
Sergeant Schultz knew everything there was to know.

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Re: Infinite Eons and Enlightenment

Post by Sentient Light » Thu Feb 28, 2019 8:01 pm

LoveFromColorado wrote:
Thu Feb 28, 2019 7:38 pm

These are two different things. If a 4 does not exist within a universe of 3s, then naturally it could never exist. This is akin to saying if enlightenment never exists in our universe, then it would never be experienced (a logically sound statement but not one I agree with). That said, if enlightenment exists in an infinite mindstream, then it would necessarily be experienced at some point or the mindstream is not infinite.

That said, I am open to the idea (in fact I believe) that reality is radically different from the common perception of it so my initial logical foundation is flawed. I'm just trying to find the flaw! :)

Hope I don't sound argumentative - I've thrown the book at this logical problem in my head with similar objections but ultimately I can't avoid refuting them.
There are infinite series of 3s in this universe, without 4s in them. 4 exists in thsi universe. How does .33333 ad infinitum then exist, by your logic? You could never divide by thirds, because the only infinities must include all possible values.

It's a ridiculous assertion.
:buddha1: Nam mô A di đà Phật :buddha1:
:bow: Nam mô Quan Thế Âm Bồ tát :bow:
:bow: Nam mô Đại Thế Chi Bồ Tát :bow:

:buddha1: Nam mô Bổn sư Thích ca mâu ni Phật :buddha1:
:bow: Nam mô Di lặc Bồ tát :bow:
:bow: Nam mô Địa tạng vương Bồ tát :bow:

LoveFromColorado
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Re: Infinite Eons and Enlightenment

Post by LoveFromColorado » Thu Feb 28, 2019 8:06 pm

Sentient Light wrote:
Thu Feb 28, 2019 8:01 pm
There are infinite series of 3s in this universe, without 4s in them. 4 exists in thsi universe. How does .33333 ad infinitum then exist, by your logic? You could never divide by thirds, because the only infinities must include all possible values.

It's a ridiculous assertion.
I see what you are saying but these are two different things. An infinite amount of one particular thing (in this case, 3s) does not negate or affirm the existence of something outside itself. When we discuss the infinite of the mindstream or awareness or whatever we want to call, say, the observer, then the observer sees both 3s and 4s and thus both (and all other infinite numbers) exist. I think your argument is not quite the same thing as our universe is not constrained to 3s or 4s only whereas 0.333333 is constrained to only 3s. 4s do not exist in 0.3333333 by default.

Or, in other words, I could say just divide the 0.3333333 by 2 as many times as needed to produce a 4. Problem solved - the four is a component of the 0.33333333 value.

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Re: Infinite Eons and Enlightenment

Post by dude » Sat Mar 02, 2019 7:58 am

LoveFromColorado wrote:
Thu Feb 28, 2019 5:39 pm
Hi all,

I have a logical sticking point that I wrestle with occasionally in regards to Buddhism, reincarnation, and enlightenment. Basically, if awareness exists with infinite beginning and infinite end, then theoretically we should have experienced an infinite number of moments of awareness. This would mean that we have experienced every single state of awareness, from the lowest hell to the highest heaven as well as enlightenment.

Yet we (or at least I, speak for myself :)) am not enlightened.

Thus, there are two possibilities:

1. There is indeed a beginning to awareness and thus technically speaking no such thing as an infinite past is viable (I think this is refuted rather easily)
2. One cycles in and out of enlightenment or, conversely, we are all enlightened all the time or enlightenment does not exist

Can anyone help me out here? :)

Thanks!
You are so so close. Keep pondering and you will get it. Birth and death is nirvana.

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Re: Infinite Eons and Enlightenment

Post by Astus » Sat Mar 02, 2019 9:20 am

LoveFromColorado wrote:
Thu Feb 28, 2019 5:39 pm
This would mean that we have experienced every single state of awareness, from the lowest hell to the highest heaven as well as enlightenment.
Enlightenment is freedom from the 6 realms, the end of birth and death. So beings may go round and round without ever attaining liberation.
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

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Re: Infinite Eons and Enlightenment

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Sat Mar 02, 2019 10:05 am

LoveFromColorado wrote:
Thu Feb 28, 2019 5:39 pm
Hi all,

I have a logical sticking point that I wrestle with occasionally in regards to Buddhism, reincarnation, and enlightenment. Basically, if awareness exists with infinite beginning and infinite end, then theoretically we should have experienced an infinite number of moments of awareness. This would mean that we have experienced every single state of awareness, from the lowest hell to the highest heaven as well as enlightenment.

Yet we (or at least I, speak for myself :)) am not enlightened.

Thus, there are two possibilities:

1. There is indeed a beginning to awareness and thus technically speaking no such thing as an infinite past is viable (I think this is refuted rather easily)
2. One cycles in and out of enlightenment or, conversely, we are all enlightened all the time or enlightenment does not exist

Can anyone help me out here? :)

Thanks!

Simply experiencing samsara doesn't enlighten beings, if that were all it took there would be no need for Buddhas to manifest and teach the Dharma.

Recall the traditional teaching about the rarity of a human life where it is possible to meet the Dharma - a turtle trying to pop it's head through a ring floating somewhere in entire ocean.
His welcoming
& rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
Knowing the dustless, sorrowless state,
he discerns rightly,
has gone, beyond becoming,
to the Further Shore.

-Lokavipatti Sutta

jhanapeacock
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Re: Infinite Eons and Enlightenment

Post by jhanapeacock » Sat Mar 02, 2019 10:15 am

Great question! It has been made in the past, altho the answers never satified me, i guess is beyond conception, reason why the buddha didnt addressed the matter either.

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Re: Infinite Eons and Enlightenment

Post by haha » Sat Mar 02, 2019 10:36 am

LoveFromColorado wrote:
Thu Feb 28, 2019 5:39 pm
The question you have arisen was the major topic for philosophical discussion in development of buddhist and non-buddhist theories. Different traditions hold different view-point – for enlightenment.

For the reincarnation, once I was watching Past Life Regression training lecture, the test subject even gave information of her Future Life Progression. That was quite interesting for me. But you one can relate such thing from buddhist lectures where there were the predictions of future enlightenment. So, there are a lot of scopes in the study of consciousness.

Whether we are already enlightened or not? For this argument, they said we all have Buddha-seed but is covered by two kinds of obscurations. Whether one is enlightened or not right now depends on that.

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