are nirmanakayas, "philosophical zombies"?

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Re: are nirmanakayas, "philosophical zombies"?

Post by klqv » Tue Feb 14, 2012 8:06 pm

i think we are sentient. though obviously quale is quite a novel term.

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Re: are nirmanakayas, "philosophical zombies"?

Post by Jnana » Wed Mar 07, 2012 12:41 pm

Here is a brief description of buddhahood from a dzogchen perspective. (Translated from Chig chod kun grol gyi rtags tshad kyi yi ge in Nyang Ral Nyima Özer. Martri, in the Rinchen Terdzö, voL 88, pp. 353ff.)
  • If you sustain this, in one year the material body will vanish and you awaken to the state of dharmakaya without remainder. Then, the sign that this self-liberation is brought to consummation, the fruition of spontaneous presence, appears only in others' perception, whereas in your personal perception, all kinds of signs and indications of progress on the path have ceased. This state, known as the vision of exhaustion in dharmata, means that the moving force of appearances has ceased, while the still quality of emptiness is no longer. Thus, the nondual nature of appearance and emptiness neither fluctuates nor changes in any way whatsoever. Instead there is a naturally awake quality that transcends meeting and separation -- an unfabricated presence, an absence without any dismantling -- which is an utterly naked state of aware emptiness free of clinging. In others' perceptions, since an unobstructed knowledge -- original wakefulness as an all-pervasive capacity -- is also present, there is an effortless unfolding of form-bodies (rupakayas) for the welfare of beings.

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Re: are nirmanakayas, "philosophical zombies"?

Post by Tewi » Sun Mar 11, 2012 9:19 am

Some reactions:

(1) From a Buddhist perspective, maybe WE are the p-zombies!

(2) Do we say that our ordinary physical bodies are p-zombies? If not, then why would a nirmanakaya be one?

(3) There is a tradition to the effect that Buddhas lack discursive thought, but act spontaneously. Does "consciousness" imply discursive thought?

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Re: are nirmanakayas, "philosophical zombies"?

Post by Indrajala » Sun Mar 11, 2012 12:20 pm

Tewi wrote:
(1) From a Buddhist perspective, maybe WE are the p-zombies!
I am a sentient being. I am well aware of this. I cannot speak for others in this regard.

(2) Do we say that our ordinary physical bodies are p-zombies? If not, then why would a nirmanakaya be one?
Our bodies are brought about due to karma. A nirmanakaya is not dependent on karma. It is best described as a reaction rather than as the ripening of willed action (karma).
(3) There is a tradition to the effect that Buddhas lack discursive thought, but act spontaneously. Does "consciousness" imply discursive thought?
Consciousness is a reaction between the sense faculty and object. If a nirmanakaya is an illusory body, then it lacks actual sense faculties, hence no objects are perceived.

Buddhas and bodhisattvas on higher levels are said not to perceive sentient beings. If they did perceive sentient beings, this would not be true wisdom where objects are not perceived.
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Re: are nirmanakayas, "philosophical zombies"?

Post by Niquenak » Sat Oct 12, 2013 3:08 am

2. Dead.

To begin with, of course this very word “dead” is an absurd misnomer, as most of the entities classified under this heading are as fully alive as we are ourselves; the term must be understood as meaning those who are for the time unattached to a physical body. They may be subdivided into nine principal classes as follows:

1. The Nirmânakâya.

This class is just mentioned in order to make the catalogue complete, but it is of course very rarely indeed that so exalted a being manifests himself upon so low a plane as this. When for any reason connected with his sublime work he found it desirable to do so, he would probably create a temporary astral body for the purpose, just as the Adept in the Mâyâvirûpa would do, since the more refined vesture would be invisible to astral sight. Further information about the position and work of the Nirmânakâyas may be found in Madame Blavatsky’s Theosophical Glossary and The Voice of the Silence.

2. The Chela awaiting reincarnation.

It has frequently been stated in Theosophical literature that when the pupil reaches a certain stage he is able with the assistance of his Master to escape from the action of what is in ordinary cases the law of nature which carries a human being into[24] the devachanic condition after death, there to receive his due reward in the full working out of all the spiritual forces which his highest aspirations have set in motion while on earth. As the pupil must by the hypothesis be a man of pure life and high thought, it is probable that in his case these spiritual forces will be of abnormal strength, and therefore if he, to use the technical expression, “takes his Devachan,” it is likely to be an extremely long one; but if instead of taking it he chooses the Path of Renunciation (thus even at his low level and in his humble way beginning to follow in the footsteps of the Great Master of Renunciation, Gautama Buddha Himself), he is able to expend that reserve of force in quite another direction—to use it for the benefit of mankind, and so, infinitesimal though his offering may be, to take his tiny part in the great work of the Nirmânakâyas. By taking this course he no doubt sacrifices centuries of intense bliss, but on the other hand he gains the enormous advantage of being able to continue his life of work and progress without a break. When a pupil who has decided to do this dies, he simply steps out of his body, as he has often done before, and waits upon the astral plane until a suitable reincarnation can be arranged for him by his Master. This being a marked departure from the usual course of procedure, the permission of a very high authority has to be obtained before the attempt can be made; yet, even when this is granted, so strong is the force of natural law, that it is said the pupil must be careful to confine himself strictly to the Kâmaloka while the matter is being arranged, lest if he once, even for a moment, touched the devachanic plane, he might be swept as by an irresistible current into the line of normal evolution again. In some cases, though these are rare, he is enabled to avoid the trouble of a new birth by being placed directly in an adult body whose previous tenant has no further use[25] for it, but naturally it is not often that a suitable body is available. Far more frequently he has to wait on the astral plane, as mentioned before, until the opportunity of a fitting birth presents itself. In the meantime, however, he is losing no time, for he is just as fully himself as ever he was, and is able to go on with the work given him by his Master even more quickly and efficiently than when in the physical body, since he is no longer hampered by the possibility of fatigue. His consciousness is of course quite complete, and he roams at will through all the divisions of the Kâmaloka with equal facility. The chela awaiting reincarnation is by no means one of the common objects of the astral plane, but still he may be met with occasionally, and therefore he forms one of our classes. No doubt as the evolution of humanity proceeds, and an ever-increasing proportion enter upon the Path of Holiness, this class will become more numerous.

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