Infinite Past

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Illuminaughty
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Infinite Past

Post by Illuminaughty » Fri Dec 07, 2012 1:06 am

I've been wracking my brain over a problem lately and haven't been able to solve it in a satisfactory manner. If samsara has no beginning wouldn't that imply that an infinite amount of time has already passed? With an infinite past how could there possibly be sentient beings who have not yet realized Nirvana? :popcorn:

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futerko
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Re: Infinite Past

Post by futerko » Fri Dec 07, 2012 1:28 am

If you take into account the idea that there is no absolute existence, nor any absolute non-existence...

- the sentient beings appear, they do not "be"

- the phrase "samsara has no beginning" is viewed in a different light... time only appears as infinite within a horizon of absolute existence - it can only have had a beginning if there was a point where it absolutely didn't exist in the first place...
we cannot get rid of God because we still believe in grammar - Nietzsche

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lobster
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Re: Infinite Past

Post by lobster » Fri Dec 07, 2012 9:38 am

With an infinite past how could there possibly be sentient beings who have not yet realized Nirvana?
The Buddha looked around (according to some) and everyone was already enlightened. They had just forgotten about it, some say deliberately . . .

When there is no suffering somebody longs for a few attachments . . . :thinking:

Simon E.
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Re: Infinite Past

Post by Simon E. » Fri Dec 07, 2012 11:36 am

lobster wrote:
With an infinite past how could there possibly be sentient beings who have not yet realized Nirvana?
The Buddha looked around (according to some) and everyone was already enlightened. They had just forgotten about it, some say deliberately . . .

When there is no suffering somebody longs for a few attachments . . . :thinking:
According to whom ? Could you cite the texts ?..This being the Academic Forum and all .
Thank you.

:namaste:
"Any major dude with half a heart
Will surely tell you my friend,
Any minor world that breaks apart
Can fall together again.
Any major dude will tell you."

Steely Dan.

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Wayfarer
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Re: Infinite Past

Post by Wayfarer » Fri Dec 07, 2012 12:34 pm

Illuminaughty wrote:I've been wracking my brain over a problem lately and haven't been able to solve it in a satisfactory manner. If samsara has no beginning wouldn't that imply that an infinite amount of time has already passed? With an infinite past how could there possibly be sentient beings who have not yet realized Nirvana? :popcorn:
There are a number of questions - about ten - which are called 'the undetermined questions'. These include whether the Universe has a beginning or not. These are the kinds of questions discussed in the 'parable of the poisoned arrow'.
"It's just as if a man were wounded with an arrow thickly smeared with poison. His friends & companions, kinsmen & relatives would provide him with a surgeon, and the man would say, 'I won't have this arrow removed until I know whether the man who wounded me was a noble warrior, a brahman, a merchant, or a worker.' He would say, 'I won't have this arrow removed until I know the given name & clan name of the man who wounded me... until I know whether he was tall, medium, or short... until I know whether he was dark, ruddy-brown, or golden-colored... until I know his home village, town, or city... until I know whether the bow with which I was wounded was a long bow or a crossbow... until I know whether the bowstring with which I was wounded was fiber, bamboo threads, sinew, hemp, or bark... until I know whether the shaft with which I was wounded was wild or cultivated... until I know whether the feathers of the shaft with which I was wounded were those of a vulture, a stork, a hawk, a peacock, or another bird... until I know whether the shaft with which I was wounded was bound with the sinew of an ox, a water buffalo, a langur, or a monkey.' He would say, 'I won't have this arrow removed until I know whether the shaft with which I was wounded was that of a common arrow, a curved arrow, a barbed, a calf-toothed, or an oleander arrow.' The man would die and those things would still remain unknown to him.
Reminder here.
In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities; in the expert's mind there are few ~ Suzuki-roshi

muni
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Re: Infinite Past

Post by muni » Fri Dec 07, 2012 12:56 pm

Illuminaughty wrote:I've been wracking my brain over a problem lately and haven't been able to solve it in a satisfactory manner. If samsara has no beginning wouldn't that imply that an infinite amount of time has already passed? With an infinite past how could there possibly be sentient beings who have not yet realized Nirvana? :popcorn:
A theory: samsaric mind can be seen as continuous till unending nondualistic wisdom is opened, 'mind' is then wisdoms' display; indistinct from wisdom. That can then also be called continuously but no past or future and even no present is, since those are fabricated idea.
Till then mispercieving mind is sitting on the train of fabrications- creations which we take as real.

Not sure this helps, for me at least practice is the most important. :anjali:
Buddha said all is empty like my brain.
Let’s make a selfie!

Having meditated on love and compassion, I forgot the difference between myself and others. Yogi Milarepa.

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anjali
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Re: Infinite Past

Post by anjali » Fri Dec 07, 2012 5:07 pm

Illuminaughty wrote: With an infinite past how could there possibly be sentient beings who have not yet realized Nirvana? :popcorn:
Apparently, there are also an infinite number of sentient beings. Given an infinite number of sentient beings, there are ways of counting back to an infinite past that will exclude infinite numbers of beings yet to be liberated in the infinite future.... Just speculation of course. :rolleye:

From a more pragmatic point of view. If you we don't consider ourselves realized now, then, given an infinite past for our mindstream, we are infinitely old. Why aren't we realized yet? Because we have never become aware of our true nature.

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viniketa
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Re: Infinite Past

Post by viniketa » Fri Dec 07, 2012 6:23 pm

anjali wrote:Given an infinite number of sentient beings, there are ways of counting back to an infinite past that will exclude infinite numbers of beings yet to be liberated in the infinite future....
anjali - you lost me with this statement....

Since there are infinite sentient beings, then ignorance must be infinite as well, since ignorance is an invariant concomitant of sentience. Anything that is infinite is, by definition, beginningless and endless.

:namaste:
If they can sever like and dislike, along with greed, anger, and delusion, regardless of their difference in nature, they will all accomplish the Buddha Path.. ~ Sutra of Complete Enlightenment

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anjali
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Re: Infinite Past

Post by anjali » Fri Dec 07, 2012 8:16 pm

viniketa wrote:
anjali wrote:Given an infinite number of sentient beings, there are ways of counting back to an infinite past that will exclude infinite numbers of beings yet to be liberated in the infinite future....
anjali - you lost me with this statement....

Since there are infinite sentient beings, then ignorance must be infinite as well, since ignorance is an invariant concomitant of sentience. Anything that is infinite is, by definition, beginningless and endless.

:namaste:
From a mathematical point of view, infinities can have a start or end. My statement was a bit of mathematical slight of hand. For example, you can count to infinity by twos {2,4,6,...}, and still leave an infinite set of numbers left over {1,3,5,...}. Applied to the counting of sentient beings, it's somewhat of a silly notion. Except when we think about the future.

At any point in the future, there will still be infinitely many sentient beings not yet liberated. Pick a number as far into the future as you want: a billion years, a trillion, a quadrillion, 10^100 (a googol) years, and on and on. There are sentient beings around now who still won't have been liberated. O course every sentient being eventually gets liberated. Still, the amount of suffering they will endure is staggering to think of. Puts the bodhisattva vow in perspective.

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viniketa
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Re: Infinite Past

Post by viniketa » Fri Dec 07, 2012 8:36 pm

anjali wrote: you can count to infinity by twos {2,4,6,...},,, Puts the bodhisattva vow in perspective.
Ah, bijection in set theory, now I understand the exclusion statement. Thanks!

Yes, the bodhisattva vow is daunting - couldn't agree more.

:namaste:
If they can sever like and dislike, along with greed, anger, and delusion, regardless of their difference in nature, they will all accomplish the Buddha Path.. ~ Sutra of Complete Enlightenment

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futerko
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Re: Infinite Past

Post by futerko » Sat Dec 08, 2012 2:01 am

anjali wrote:
viniketa wrote:
anjali wrote:Given an infinite number of sentient beings, there are ways of counting back to an infinite past that will exclude infinite numbers of beings yet to be liberated in the infinite future....
anjali - you lost me with this statement....

Since there are infinite sentient beings, then ignorance must be infinite as well, since ignorance is an invariant concomitant of sentience. Anything that is infinite is, by definition, beginningless and endless.

:namaste:
From a mathematical point of view, infinities can have a start or end. My statement was a bit of mathematical slight of hand. For example, you can count to infinity by twos {2,4,6,...}, and still leave an infinite set of numbers left over {1,3,5,...}. Applied to the counting of sentient beings, it's somewhat of a silly notion. Except when we think about the future.

At any point in the future, there will still be infinitely many sentient beings not yet liberated. Pick a number as far into the future as you want: a billion years, a trillion, a quadrillion, 10^100 (a googol) years, and on and on. There are sentient beings around now who still won't have been liberated. O course every sentient being eventually gets liberated. Still, the amount of suffering they will endure is staggering to think of. Puts the bodhisattva vow in perspective.
Is this also true in the case of a divergent series, where the infinite sequence of the partial sums of the series does not have a limit, such as one divided by zero?
we cannot get rid of God because we still believe in grammar - Nietzsche

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lobster
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Re: Infinite Past

Post by lobster » Sat Dec 08, 2012 2:47 pm

The Buddha looked around (according to some) and everyone was already enlightened. They had just forgotten about it, some say deliberately . . .
According to whom ? Could you cite the texts ?..This being the Academic Forum and all .
Thank you.
second rank of enlightenment here would be an example.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Five_Ranks

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Wayfarer
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Re: Infinite Past

Post by Wayfarer » Sun Dec 09, 2012 11:12 am

Actually it is a very good attitude to think you're already enlightened but you've forgotten it. That is a great antidote to grasping mind. I think it is the correct attitude for training, rather than the idea of 'becoming enlightened' as that can't help but foster a sense of acquisitiveness.
In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities; in the expert's mind there are few ~ Suzuki-roshi

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