steveb1 wrote: ↑
Wed Mar 13, 2013 9:18 am
(Sincere question and playing a bit of a Devil's Advocate here, but I keep running into this question and feel that I have to ask it:)
I only have a lay person's grasp of Theravada, but from what I've read, Shakyamuni taught that there is no soul or individual personal entity to begin with; and even much less of a one regarding rebirth.
That is, first you're nothing, a mere illusion, and then the patterns that "I" created will ripple through time to create a "reasonable facsimile" of "me" in some karmically-designated "format"; a format that only resembles
me, but will not be
I have, however, an instinctual intuition that my view of this issue must
be wrong - my understanding must be incomplete or misinterpretive, because:
1) If I'm illusion, why should I practice right action and compassion toward myself? I'm just a temporary cipher composed of impermanent processes, which at death will be scattered anyway. So - 'Why Bother?"
2) Ditto re: other sentient (non-) beings: why should I regard them any more highly or with any more reality than I regard myself? Like me, they are all illusions, empty of form/self-nature, temporary ciphers; how can a non-being spiritually assist or obstruct another non-being? So again the question - "Why Bother?"
3) Ditto re: "my" rebirth:
First, that rebirth won't be me or "of" me. Rather, it will be the emergence of just one more mere cipher, a carrier of my ripples (karmic burden), but it won't be me, so why bother?
Second, why should I try to "get off the Wheel" if I'm not really on the Wheel to begin with? I'm just a temporary, impermanent heap of skandhas - no me; no birth-death-rebirth of "me", and putatively no Wheel (because I don't really exist, the Wheel or Cycle of birth-rebirth is irrelevant). So - why bother?
Third, why should I try to ease the sufferings of a complete stranger - i.e., the future "me" - "my" rebirth pattern? Why should he or she enjoy the fruits of my store of merit or suffer my karmic debt? I owe this future "person" nothing.
If I am no-self, so too will my rebirth pattern be no-self, just another pointless gust of empty wind.
I could see expending effort toward an "auspicious rebirth" of MYSELF
as a human being who will benefit from my previous lifetimes of merit and Dharma-knowledge. But that's exactly what Shakyamuni denied. There can be NO
rebirth of "ME"
... and thus a meritorious Dharma-led life NOW
furnishes me with NOTHING
So, again - why bother? What's the point?
If hatred or compassion is merely a game between two or more ciphers, no-selves, then what's the point? What's in it (Buddhistic self-denial, learning the Dharma, facilitating a "good" rebirth) if Anatta is the central fact of our (illusory) lives?
Bluntly put: what's in it for us?