Some new questions

General discussion, particularly exploring the Dharma in the modern world.
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Some new questions

Post by kaiel » Mon Jan 09, 2012 9:26 pm

I don't post here much, but do a lot of surfing, as I continue to accept Buddhism I find I have some questions that can hopefully be discussed.

1. What is Buddhism's take on miracles of other religions, I do not mean Rev. Bob that makes some old (actor) lady walk again, but rather the types that are verified to the best of their ability, for example the Catholic church only on the rareist occasion verifies a miracle, and only after tremendous scientific scrutiny, they have more scientists working for the vatican than NASA has. I'll use the last known by me, verified miracle I am aware of which is Fatima(1930s). Are these Deva's messing arround?

2. How would Buddhism explain the subjective "evidence" of ghosts/spirits, typically these experiences are not describing Hungry Ghosts, but rather disembodied personalities which would go against anatta. I ask this because I myself have experienced such things, there would seem to be enough subjective experiences throughout history, and minor unexplained yet recordable phenomena such as EVP, cold spots etc to go along with them.

Let me also state that I am a physicist with extensive background in particle and quantum physics, so I am not looking for a Dharma Lite, materialist take on these things, I can come up with much more fancy sounding scientific explanations myself if I choose to. I would like to work on the assumption that these phenomenon like Buddhist Rainbow bodies and Past Life recall do occur, just looking for a possible Buddhist interpretation of these phenomenon.

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Re: Some new questions

Post by Konchog1 » Tue Jan 10, 2012 12:12 am

1. Sure. Buddhism is the only way to Enlightenment but all other systems can grant magical powers and the like. Either through building up a person's natural ability or by asking spirits to do it.

2. Well, spirits are mortal. But as for ghosts, as in "Hi, I died in this section of the park", I don't know.
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Re: Some new questions

Post by catmoon » Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:11 am

Let's see what's possible, in a Buddhist world view. When a Buddha teaches, the scriptures commonly relate an account of those present, so many monks, arhats devas and so on. So it seems within the powers of a deva to appear where and when he pleases. So there's one possibility.

Another is delusion. If a tiny little recognition circuit in your brain should become locked in a positive feedback loop, it's activity could produce a profound sense of someone being present, but it would be in conflict with what your eyes were reporting. So you might see a person there and not there at the same time, they would appear translucent. You might hear the voice, but be unable to assign it a location, and so on.

And there are probably other possibilities too.
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Re: Some new questions

Post by Mr. G » Tue Jan 10, 2012 12:32 pm

kaiel wrote: 1. What is Buddhism's take on miracles of other religions.
Siddhis exist in all religions.
...I'll use the last known by me, verified miracle I am aware of which is Fatima(1930s). Are these Deva's messing arround
There are other beings besides "Devas". Nagas, Yaksas, Asuras, etc.
2. How would Buddhism explain the subjective "evidence" of ghosts/spirits, typically these experiences are not describing Hungry Ghosts, but rather disembodied personalities which would go against anatta.
The existance of "spirits" doesn't go against the idea anatman anymore than the existance of human beings.
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Re: Some new questions

Post by PadmaVonSamba » Tue Jan 10, 2012 2:20 pm

I don't know that there is anything in Buddhist teachings per se that refer to (let's call them) 'unexplained phenomena' of various religions.
And I say 'various religions' rather than 'other religions' because I want to avoid the presumption that Buddhism is by default, a religion, because there are a lot of 'unexplained phenomena' in the world. Tagging 'religion' onto it interjects a factor which may or may not really be pertinent.

Let's consider that perhaps 'unexplained phenomena' are only 'unexplained' when we do not have an answer which seems plausible. But what seems plausible is really dependent on one's attachment. Let me give you an example of what I mean:

A few years ago i was listening to a call-in radio program, where the guest's topic was the 'power of prayer' in healing the sick (this call-in show, by the way, was not on a religious station. It was on an NPR affiliate station). The guest cited a study done by a Harvard University professor, a scientifically conducted study. Patients in a hospital who had been prayed for demonstrated a higher rate of recovery than those who did not receive prayers. the guest concluded that this showed evidence of God.

I called in and ask if it was possible that the study had been contaminated. He asked what I meant. I asked him how could they be sure that there weren't invisible unicorns in the hospital giving patients magical healing rainbow kisses. The guest didn't have a whole lot to say after that.

So, my point is that while "God" and "invisible unicorns" are in fact equally possible explanations, people gravitate towards answers which, because of some sort of previous conditioning, they think are more plausible. I have yet to see 'unexplained phenomena' that wasn't somehow explained by simple science. As far as Catholic miracles are concerned, such as Virgin Mary statues crying blood or whatever, again, how do we know it isn't just some invisible unicorn playing a joke by peeing on her face to make it look like tears?

It is only because invisible unicorns are, for purely subjective reasons, not accepted as a plausible explanation (and for Vatican - hired 'scientists', God is) that various 'plausible' explanations are offered as proof.

Fortunately, 'unexplained phenomena' is not a prerequisite for practicing dharma.

there may be ghosts and devas and unicorns and rainbow bodies and all sorts of things that I have never seen. But until I see them, this is the best answer I can give. One needs to look at their attachment to the plausibility factor of various explanations for 'unexplained phenomena'
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