Category Archives: buddhism

This category is about everything Buddha and Buddhism, which teaches that:
1) everything is marked by impermanence, to believe in any permanence is to suffer, and the the ultimate cause of suffering is the rejection of the non-permanent self.
2) Enlightenment (contentment) can be found through the understanding of the true nature of existence (trilaksana) as stated here, and by living in accordance to such an understanding.

Objective reality

An abandoned house has a fridge with food in it. It has been there for at least six months. And it has spoilt. Flies are having a good time feasting upon the rotting organic matter. What or who observes it? The flies? The fungi? God? Are we arguing that a perception-less universe cannot exist?

The subject is never necessary in my opinion. There are only objects. The subject is accidental.

Truths are a process of a subject (a thing), and not a thing-in-itself.

A clear understanding of what exists and what are processes of existent things is necessary. From observation we can judge this. While this judgement is not perfect or complete it is the only method with which we have to judge. To chase any other method would be to deny the fact of this impossibly and be inauthentic to the reality.

The (social) medium is the message

The medium is the message. It always has been. It always will be. There is no escape from the medium.

Freedom?

What does it mean when we say “we are free to do anything we want”?

It means we are deluded into thinking we are isolated individuals outside of an interconnect world. Everything I do affects everything else around me, so long as I related to it in some way.

So the question is is there any thing, space or time from which we are not related to all else? Experience tells me no. Some may argue that freedom is in the mind. But if the mind is located in the body, in the brain, then it is itself a relational operation. There is no thing which operates outside of things, space and time. Every action has real consequences. To think that even your thoughts do not have consequences is to be sorely mistaken. For although they do not have immediate “outer” consequences they have “inner” ones. They affect the body that thinks. To think is in itself an action.

Svabhava – the doctrine of no intrinsic nature

There is no intrinsic nature (svabhava) to conditioned phenomena. All conditioned (samskara) and unconditioned (dharma) phenomena are without self (anatman) and are empty (shunyata). All conditioned phenomena are impermanent (anitya) and unsatisfactory (duhkha).

With this as base Buddhism teaches enlightenment (or release) (nirvana) that ends all rebirth (samsara, reincarnation).

Chicken soup for the non-soul

“So if there is no self, non-self, non-soul or no- soul what is it that gets reborn or reincarnated?”

This is question I often get from Westerners new to Buddhism. How can there be no soul? Who or what is doing these good and bad things?

The Buddha always starts with the idea of impermanence. All real things are impermanent. Real things do no stay the same. This much most people can understand and agree with. Then the Buddha moves on to the idea of unsatisfactoriness. All real things are unsatisfactory. This too most people can agree upon also. But then most people get tripped up by the last statement of the truth of reality. All real and unreal things have no inherent self. Real things are seen to have no coherent core, just as unreal things (ideas and concepts of the of the imagination) do not have any core.

What makes a rock a rock is not anything. There is no “rock-ness” of things. If there is a rock-ness then would that not entail a permanent “something”?

There is also another suggestion here with this formulation – that there is something permanent but without a self. Real things are impermanent and unsatisfactory. But Unreal things are “permanent” and “satisfactory” in some way even though they are without a self. But what can be permanent if it is unreal?

This kind of formulation is not dissimilar to that of God or soul. Since God and soul are permanent and satisfactory. This is the conundrum. So, does God and souls exist or not? According to Buddha they must be unreal but unreal things have no self. But real things have no self either.

The only way forward, I feel, is to deal with these issues separately. Understand the nature of real things before we deal with understanding what the nature of unreal things are.

*Remember that book? Sorry. Clickbait title.

Enlightenment is the end of rebirth

There are six realms in Buddhism (mostly Tibetan Buddhism) into which one may be reborn. These are the realms of

  1. gods (through pride)
  2. demi-gods (through jealousy)
  3. humans (through lust)
  4. animals (through ignorance)
  5. hungry ghosts (through greed)
  6. hell-denizens (through hatred)

As you can see, rebirth is not a good thing. Westerners often mistake rebirth to be a positive notion. This partly has to do with shared terminology with Hinduism and Jainism (religions existent at the same time and place as Buddhism), and partly to the lack of any concept that is similar to it in Western cultures.

To be clear,

  1. the goal of Buddhism is to end rebirth (reincarnation) and
  2. enlightenment is the state in which all future rebirths have been extinguished.