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The Minstrel in the Gallery

Registered: 03/15/05
Posts: 95,368
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Fear of Death, the Buddhist way.
    #4249547 - 06/02/05 08:39 PM (13 years, 25 days ago)

From a friend of mine. Any thoughts. :mushroom2:

            Om Namo Amida Buddha Hreeh.

            I can see why you might have reservations about the quote referred to.  I does imply some assumptions about the afterlife.

            One thing I do wonder about sometimes in your emails is phrases ?I don?t necessarily believe anyone knows for sure what it will be like.?  One of the themes that I explored on my philosophy studies was the question of ?epistemology?, the question of not what is true, but how do we come to know certain things as true or false.  I consider that behind science was a shift from ?metaphysics? to ?epistemology? and more progress in knowing was made.  Metaphysics was dogged by this very abstract notion of ?absolute knowledge? which to me is a relatively useless fiction.  For instance, I feel I can know that there is a Minute Market on the corner of Siskiyou Blvd and Harmony Lane.  But if someone asked me whether or not I knew is absolutely, I would have to say that I do not know.  Some UFO could have moved it to another location, some strange god could have wiped it out, some lightning bolt could have destroyed it, and some ownership change could have taken place and made into another store.  Yet to say that I do not know anything about the Minute Market because my knowledge is not absolute I think it would be a false implication.  The same way I know that the Minute Market exists (through memory) is what I use every day to navigate the world.  I can also update my knowledge by amending it as things change.  The kind of proving process in science is different from the absolutist proofs of early metaphysics, which often tried to prove God exists by ?pure reason? since the five senses could be fooled they were excluded a priori from being serious sources of proving anything worth knowing.  In a sense, scientific knowledge is a middle road between the absolute knowing of metaphysics and the absolute agnosticism of the skeptics (who believed that no one could know anything about anything).  I think what is possible is a kind of working knowledge about the afterlife.

            Human beings differ in opinions about almost everything.  There are even people who believe that the Earth is flat rather than spherical.  Just because people have crazy ideas about the shape of the Earth does not mean that we cannot find reliable knowledge about the Earth and determine that it is spherical rather than flat.  Part of science is to somehow test each assumption and find out which one is more useful.  For instance, assuming the Earth is relatively spherical allows us to navigate the oceans with better maps, to chart satellites, and when combined with a heliocentric view of the solar system, predict the movements of the planets with simpler equations.  If the flat Earth is accepted as true, all these things are more difficult to do and maps are less reliable, and Magellan could not have went around the world.

            I question the logic of assuming that if one person cannot know something as true, then everybody cannot.  If you imagine a world where everyone is literally blind and one person can literally see, the blind can reason that there is no thing like light or reduce the seeing of light into possibly acoustic terms.  I would question assuming that no one can go beyond the limits of what one knows.  If we are growing, we are always going beyond what we knew yesterday.  I feel that there are others who have gone beyond me that I can learn from and who have verified things that I have not.  I feel this is true, because I have studied meditation texts and found that they say, ?When you do such and such exercises for such and such an amount of time, then these are the signs of progress and then these things can be seen to be true?.  I found these maps reliable and I found that I could confirm these things by trying them out.  I also found that there were occasional minor errors in such maps or some things become obsolete as a culture grows and changes.  But these things are easy to adjust for.  Again, I do not need absolute knowledge, just something fairly reliable.  I take them as notes of fellow explorers who are doing their best to map out territory that I am also exploring.  I find that I can recognize the landmarks that they have pointed to and look forward checking out other things that seemingly wait further down the horizon.

            I do feel that we can know something about what death is like and the afterlife is like.  I do not assume that all religions are equal in regard to exploring what the truth of death is.  Christianity, Judaism, and Islam are not scientist/explorer religions, they are ?revealed religions? who assume the authority of some absolute god who tells people what to believe.  You are meant to take those things on faith on the authority of what is revealed.  If the authority is found to be questionable, then everything else collapses.  What redeems Christianity a little is that I feel Jesus was a scientist explorer type and therefore we can decode back to what he discovered.  Some Christian mystics did the spiritual equivalent of ?reverse engineering? to get a sense of what Jesus really discovered and came up with some fairly similar views (cf MYSTICISM by Evelyn Underhill).  Curiously, revealed religions would be more in agreement with you that no one can know what death is really like and therefore you must believe on the basis of authority.  The extreme agnostic view (no one can know versus the mild agnostic view of merely not knowing) and the fundamentalist view of epistemology is not as far apart as it would first seem.  They only differ on whether or not to make a ?leap of faith?.

            I say ?fairly similar? because even scientists and explorers can have some lively debates about what is real out there.  But it does not mean that because they do not agree on everything that their knowledge is entirely invalid.  They may need to double check their notes and figure out why some contradictions exist.  It could be for all kinds of reasons.  For instance, if some explorer felt a tree was at location XY and someone felt there was no tree at location XY, it could be that the tree was cut down somewhere between two visits.

            Anyway, we will probably disagree on many things and that is okay.  But I do feel that humans can know what death and the afterlife is like through various interlocking means that I feel will tend to reinforce each other.  I do feel it is possible to have past lifetime memories of having died and of having crossed through the bardo and even being reborn in another body.  I also feel that OOBEs can give us some sense of what it is like to die and leave the body at death, kind of like a sneak preview.  Many who have had a very positive OOBE tend to lose all their previous fear of death.  There are also the NDEs (near death experiences) where people are clinically dead and come back from death to report what they experienced.  There are also some interesting channelings of beings that have died that might be worth reading.  Laying all these accounts side by side gives some sense of what death is like.  Meditating to recover past life memories or astral traveling to see whether something can exist beyond the physical body are other ways.

            From my own studying and sorting out process, I felt I came to some understandings of what feels true to me.  I do find that there is a fair amount of commonality out there in the experience based traditions (all of them that emphasize learning from your experience rather than believing an authority).  There is a vast number of them that believe in reincarnation and few of them with other views.  There is also a belief in ?transmigration? (that you can incarnate in forms other than human) among most, but some who feel you keep on reincarnating within your species (which is what I think usually happens, but not always).  Some feel Gurdjieff believed that reincarnation was not a given, but that you had to earn it or be annihilated when dead, but some versions of ?recurrence? seem to suggest a view similar to reincarnation was his actual view.

            There is one curiosity for me though about your views or rather a small puzzlement I have.  There was a time long ago where I was at a meeting and saw a demon when I willed my third eye open.  A friend of mine saw the same demon when he was on LSD.  Both of us were quiet about the event and told no one and did not know anyone else saw it.  A few years later we were describing the same entity and discovered we had seen the same being at the same time.  It was this experience that made me conclude that LSD could have valid spiritual experiences, because two different approaches reached the same seeing (I later found some drawings of such entities in a Sufi book).

            My curiosity comes from you apparently have taken far more trips than most of the friends I know, yet you seem to have had few, if any, paranormal experiences.  It seems you have not seen things like auras or flashed into past lifetime memories or seen entities, etc.  This surprises me.  It is because you take your own experiences with high skepticism as a matter of principle or is it because you have not had those experiences?  If the first is true and if your ethic permits, I would be curious what paranormal edges you might have experienced.




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"Don't believe everything you think". -Anom.

" All that lives was born to die"-Anom.

With much wisdom comes much sorrow,
The more knowledge, the more grief.
Ecclesiastes circa 350 BC

Edited by Icelander (06/02/05 08:43 PM)

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Re: Fear of Death, the Buddhist way. [Re: Icelander]
    #4249636 - 06/02/05 09:03 PM (13 years, 25 days ago)

nice read, indeed..




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General Interest >> Philosophy, Sociology & Psychology

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