Death

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Stone_Giant
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Post by Stone_Giant » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

I consider myself a mystical thinker as much as any in this forum, but as often is my wont, I'd like to temper the tone of this discussion with some musings from the world of science.

To conquer the fear of death, and to bring that wisdom to all mankind. Now that is a goal worthy all Spiritual Warriors. If that ultimate fear can be vanquished, the madness and atrocities we visit upon ourselves as a race will surely be eliminated alongside it. The primordial drive that makes us get up in the morning and engage with the world also ensures our survival, it closely controls what actions we do from day to day. The caution we have about exposing ourselves to danger cannot be left to the learning experience of our early years, it is a hard-wired function of mind. Our prime survival tool is our highly developed brain, with its ability extrapolate likely outcomes of present situations, and predict where possible dangers lie. Unfortunately this is also sometimes the cause our undoing. Once this amazing tool is given over totally to the lower (reptilian) brain, without the mediating influence of our higher sensibilities, then the result is 9/11, ethnic cleansing, mob violence, substance abuse, organised crime etc etc

At the heart of these abominations is the will to gain an advantage for oneself, and oneself only; in other words it is all about the survival instinct; or, to put it in context, the "fear of (personal) death".

The need for us to die lies at the heart of our understanding of the paradox of our very existence. It can only be understood if you take some time to stand outside of your own ego-centered viewpoint. We exist because we have successfully exploited a niche within the mathematically derived construct of existence. Our ability to progress from amoeba to a Being consciously indulging in the creative process of the cosmos itself, has historically depended on a) Sexual reproduction, and b) The constant replacement of the component parts of our race (i.e. ourselves). These abilities have allowed us to evolve, to climb the ladder of complexity and effectiveness as Creative Beings . The important statement above is "constant replacement of components", this is WHY we die. To put it more succinctly - .Death? We couldn't have evolved without it.

As for a well of Consciousness which life condenses out of and sublimes back into, you have to ask yourself what you bring out of it and what you take back into it. Personality and Memories are illusions, I firmly believe these disappear on death. The only way your personality persists post-mortem, is in what you did while you were alive… in the words you wrote, houses you built, children you created, art you produced. Positive contributions to the culture of mankind. Carrying experience on to another re-incarnation? Well a person born today has an untold wealth of recorded information and experience in the archives of Man, just waiting to be acquired.

I mean what do you expect this Consciousness to actually be? What form does it take? A great cloud surrounding the earth? Another space-time dimension? A locker at Grand Central station containing a demi-john of purple liquid? Let's face it, what we are talking about here is an abstract concept. Once you accept that memory and personality are not things in themselves but the effect you have on the world, then the notion of reincarnation makes perfect sense. When Consciousness is thought of as a PRINCIPLE, then yes, it is "out there" in some strange way, and babies "acquire it" sometime between fertilisation of ovum and actual birth., and when dying we "give it up". How does this knowledge help one? Well my daughter asked where do we go when we die, I said same place you were before you were born – that wasn't so bad was it?


Someone mentioned eternity, Big Bang etc – gotta hit you with this one. Time is relative, it is linked irrevocably to Space. Imagine this , the downside of the big bang cycle will eventually be the big crunch, as the universe collapses into the mother of all black holes. As this happens and gravity goes off the scale, TIME ITSELF slows down to a standstill. This makes a joke of any thoughts about what happened before the big bang, because the word 'before' is a relative expression, based on our skewed experience of time.. ..No time, so no"before". Bit of a mind f------- eh?


Nights Watch –you sound a bit strung out; existential angst is something that afflicts all us highly intelligent (and modest, good-looking ) types from time to time. I know I have had crises of faith about my own existence. All I can say is "Connect with your fellow humans." – it's something we're bad at these days, ( I think we broke Society somewhere round the Industrial Revolution, its still waiting for someone to put it back together!)

And one last thought – I'm always banging about Campbell, Myths and the general Meaning of Life to my Missus,(not that she listens much) but her response to the last subject brought me up sharp.

"Meaning of life?" she said," Just get on with it!"

It gave me a real Zen moment :wink:




<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Stone_Giant on 2004-11-15 07:31 ]</font>
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Post by walker » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Hi, Stone_Giant!
Good insights. I agree with most of your thoughts, expect for that one on "counsciouness".
To me it seems it is not "out there" somewhere nor is it "acquired" at conception. It is present everywhere, in everything, in a continuous scale. From rock to humans, from gases to solids, from vacuum to matter or energy, who cares? it is there. Sometimes too subtle to be noticed, sometimes flowering into reflexion.
If this is true, then there is no place to go. We are there already.

A Eternidade _© o Instante<br>O Instante _© a Realidade<br>A Realidade _© o Sutil<br>O Sutil _© o Vazio<br>O Vazio _© a Eternidade<br><br>walker
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Post by Stone_Giant » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Hey Walker - thanks. As for the Consciousness thing. I wasn't really trying to say that I agree with some kind of discrete pool of consciousness, just that I can see how the Buddhist view of re-incarnation can be substantiated somewhat. Who knows how it really is? Apart from hard Mathematics(and I have my doubts there), at the end of the day, all is interpretation. Anything that reacts to anything else could be said to be conscious in some way - so there you go, I'm agreeing with yourself now!
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Post by Bobby T. » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

EVERYONE appears to be enjoying this discussion about "death". Conjectures, theories, myths, etc., yet, few are even considering the ultimate "death" event...extinction and responsibility to our own, now and into the future. Does anyone consider mere coincidence, or is it fate, that all alive today have grown old and are growing older in the Nuclear Age. No matter how one looks at mankind's history, either through the lens of creativity or evolution, only in the last sixty years or so has mankind acquired the means to its own extinction. Myth, going back millenia, has always held that only an other force other than man could cause the end to mankind, and western civilized myth has called that entity God, for the most part. Now, the "myth" has swallowed us whole and we find ourselves capable of such an "ending" and, lo and behold, we find ourselves still walking around on our knuckles when it comes to "resolving" conflicts, both personal as well as global. Even thoughts of reincarnation are trembling at the possibility of life ceasing on this planet. Does anyone argue that this is not "possible"? What about "probable", given now the reality of even individuals or small groups acquiring such deadly capabilities that hundreds of thousands can be dead in a "moment" or "two"? Does anyone ever imagine what if, and what would it look like, and how could it happen? I sincerely question whether many give it a second thought in our attemps, in this society, to create aseptic environments, both personal as well as socially. And, what does this portend to our mythology and spirituality, or lack, thereof? I made it CLEAR, some twenty-three years ago in one speech before the Conn. State Legislature, after raging war with my own society over human rights for the mentally retarded, where I ended my speech with this eternal warning now expanded into the present...


"If we don't learn to love and respect the mentally retarded as equal human beings, we will never learn to love and respect each other naturally and, if we don't do this, gentle people, we will end up destroying ourselves and the beauty that life on earth can be if allowed to be."


In that knowledge and with a perfect soul so created, I have moved on and lived for the past twenty-three years, forever proclaiming the need for love and gentle kindness and walking said walk with the armor of God around me and with the digniry of a noble human being, yet humble in my being, as well. I have asked myself thousands of questions over these years, beneath the stares of thousands, and now I ask each of you, too, to contemplate on these matters, for, though death will come to each of us in our day, we, through fortune or coincidence, find ourselves in the Greatest Age of Man, for, we will either destroy ourselves and life on this planet or we will learn, finally, the true message of love and gentle kindness.


Bobby T.
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Post by Robert G. » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

BodhiBliss, I'd like to jump back a page or two and thank you for something you pointed out about my experience of becoming conscious of myself as Christian.
... you had not accepted the metaphor as real, but the images nevertheless connected - so one could say the metaphor was iindeed working, despite those protestations.

Wow! It's not just a religious exercise, but rather the images fully engaged you - which is how they were intended. Not Christian in dogma or theology or membership in an organization, but in the path that opens for you into the unknown ...
I had been so taken with the newness of becoming conscious of what was really working in me that I had missed that, that what I am experiencing is actually part of a long process, that started with those images being put into me as a child, and that those images have been working in and on me - with or without my consent! - ever since. I think that's a valuable insight. Thank you again.

I guess what I'll be finding out now is what difference it makes when I actively participate with what is within, what'll be the result of actually "finding my myth." It's ironic to me that I've searched quite a ways around to end up right back where I started. To be absolutely honest, one of the things that attracted me to Campbell's work in the first place is that it gave me more justification to look down on those that were participating in something that I just couldn't understand at all, i.e. religion.

I also know that I'm in a kind of inflationary period right now, where I'm prone to projecting my experience on others (even more than usual), so if I seemed to do that in suggesting that others might benefit from an exploration of those images (in this country usually Christian) that were put in them as children I hope I don't offend anyone. But in my "spiritual glow," right now it does seem like so many of the people that I see searching for a spiritual connection, in real life and online, have dismissed Christianity but have not really outgrown it or come to terms with it in a convincing way, if you see what I mean. At least a lot of them don't convince me, but like I said I know I'm not my most objective right now.

And to relate this back to the topic of death, I wonder if those primary imprints are the ones that return under the stress of the dying experience? Do even those that have pursued other faiths or none at all suddenly find themselves confronted with those images they thought they'd left behind? Especially if they've never been fully integrated into the persons adult experience, I wouldn't be at all surprised if that isn't the case. And is that something to be concerned about? As Campbell said, deities that aren't assimilated into the psyche become demonic when they do come up.
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Post by Ruiz » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Hi nights watch, ivor orr, Bodhi Bliss, Robert G, ruffles899, bobby T, Martin, dmc, vhhancock and Cave Bear!

Welcome Parcival, zoom1000000, Dave Spiro, rafael brazil, KellyO, Acquaviva, meesticmon, sopotter, tmagette, Vissi, walker, and Stone Giant!

Wow!

Like Bodhi_Bliss I would also like to thank all participants for a very fruitful discussion. Again there are so many great viewpoints that I'll only be able to touch on a few in this post.

Stone Giant, great post! Your extremely grounded and the earth would be proud of such a child as you in the sense that you accept the science of the day and then penetrate that to the mystical dimension. I get the feeling sometimes that many of us are kind of ashamed to be children of the earth. Metaphorically when we read in the bible that the spirit blew over the waters and began the process of life, most of us tend to accent the spirit part and not the water part. The water is the female principle or mother. Poor mom she still has children who resent her. What is wrong with us being earthy and becoming earthy again?

I mention this because if you notice many spiritual metaphors are ways of not facing the fact that we are basically earth! Stone Giant, your accent on science is in many ways acknowledging the wonder and awe of the earth and her brethren. You actually see her!

Atoms, electricity, magnetism, gravity, and time are all aspects of mother! Papa is experiencing the wow! I look more like mama but have daddy's sense of wonder and mystery at mama. I am the mystery child of both!

I think that when we penetrate the science of the day to the mystical dimension we somehow turn the mystical dimension into a spiritual place of some sort and then naturally put spiritual invicible beings in that place. Our imagination can't help getting involved. Like Stone Giant said we begin to give reality to concepts whose reality does exist but in the mind not out there. We create our own ghosts.

If I pick up say a rock, draw a circle around it, and meditate on it's mystery, I will end up just being in awe of it's existence. That's it! The mystical dimemsion is just that a big mystery.

There is no "mystical dimension" as a place! It's not as if we can meditate and somehow astral travel to that spiritual dimension or world.

The mystical dimension refers to a psychological state of mind. It refers to our sense of awe and wonder!

If after a good meditation we see the world around us with awe and wonder then you could say we experienced the mystical dimension or God! We are that!

In a way we all should be taking science classes instead of getting all wrapped up in a tangle of concepts that aim to distance us from facing the fact we are all that we see around us including what many times does not seem pleasing to the eye such as decay in the natural world.

The decay of organic substances is a wonder! It amazes me how this magic dust recycles itself.

Next time you see a dead animal on the side of the road stop, cover your nose, draw a circle around it, and don't leave till you experience a sense of awe and wonder! Now that is religion! Looking the other way and meditating on some beautiful image that your imagination conjures up is not religion! I'm not sure what it is!

Denial?

I'm starting to think that the reason we mistake the mystical dimension for a place is because of the fact that much of our experience of ourselves is spiritual or immaterial. You won't find the essence of ourselves on the operating table. The place we truly reside in ourselves is spiritual or immaterial.

It's natural to project that immaterial realm onto the physical realm and assume it has independent existence.

In reality the spiritual or immaterial realm owes it's existence to the physical or natural realm. Our consciousness seems to be the bouquet of physical processes.

I'm not diminishing the spiritual realm in any way. I'm just saying that there is a dance between the spiritual and the physical realms in which one gives rise to the other as a natural consequence. (for example there was a time when thought had not occured on earth and then the right conditions produced thought; the physical interactions of nature finally gave rise to thought)

The types of consciousness that exist in us are really products of evolution. This is why I think that there is no such things as a literal universal consciousness that thinks or reflects say the way we do.

There exist a potential for a multitude of consciousnesses. We just happen to have a certain variety existing in ourselves. (chakra forms of consciousnesses)

The addition of a reflective form of consciousness to the other consciousnesses we share with the animals and plants is what makes us human.

What amazes me is that there are principles in nature that give rise to a variety of consciousnesses! And what is more amazing is that the process by which it happens is unconscious. It's evolution! It's a trial and error process that produces many errors in forms before a form is fine tuned to survive. There were a multitude or consciousnesses that didn't survive.

We really are a fine tuned product of nature in which just the right combination of a variety of consciousnesses all working together reside. Our genes support that combination. So many of us don't survive that fine balance. I guess this is where mythology helps!

Just the fact all this is happening does suggest that it's "as if" the universe is alive. At what point can we say something is alive or conscious? Are chemical reactions a rudimentary form of life or consciousness? Isn't it odd that chemical reactions give rise to different forms of consciousnesses? What about the fact that part of our existence is immaterial in the sense that our experience of our inner soul is experienced in a nonphysical realm.(such as personality, dreams, memory, thought)

As I said before we are amazing! Who or what are we? I know "I am that!"

But ........magical dust...energy...a god?

Ooops! I did get carried away didn't I?

Vissi, your post really intrigued me! Could you elaborate on your post in your own words. I'm not sure if I understand what is being said! It seems that the subject matter is about not confusing the potential in us or the universe with nothingness.

In other words we all have a certain potential as human beings. We may never exercise that potential but it lays dormant in us ready to be exercised. Just because it hasn't been actualized doesn't mean it is nothing or doesn't exist. It does exist but as potential.

The same applies to the universe. A certain potential inherent in the universe has been actualized but what about the potential that is still waiting to be actualized. In a way what appears like nothing is in a sense everything.

How am I doing?

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Ruiz on 2004-11-23 12:29 ]</font>
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Post by walker » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Interesting concepts, Bodhi_Bliss.

... and what transmigrates between birth and death are seeds of this storehouse consciousness - but then, it gets really wonderfully complex from there (for those who love brain bending metaphysics), and my brief description is but a vast oversimplification, for which i apologize.

I wonder when things get too complex is it not because someone is trying hard to convey an idea that cannot be expressed in words?
Metaphors such as Counciousness, Nothingness, Undifferantiated Counciousness, etc. are something one feels and knows, but cannot really pin down in words. More or less as trying to define time.
Is it not a concept very similar or maybe identical to TAO? Taoist claim that if you can name it in words, then it is not TAO.
Does someone have any thoughs on this?

A Eternidade _© o Instante<br>O Instante _© a Realidade<br>A Realidade _© o Sutil<br>O Sutil _© o Vazio<br>O Vazio _© a Eternidade<br><br>walker
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Post by Tony L » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

test
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Post by Tony L » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Hi Guy`s

Sorry for the confusion,

Your discussion is fascinating. What seems to stand out as an area of crucial importance is the meaning of the term metaphor.

I think Campbell clarifies the issue in the heroes journey when he refers to an interview he was having with a radio show host during a live session. The guy was trying to pressure him into giving a clear explanation of what a metaphor is. Although I cannot quote directly (cos somebody`s not returned my copy)but the gist is that metaphor when used and understood in its proper sense produces an instantaneous affect on an individual or group. It is not a question of "as if" it is a question of "is". It has the capacity to express a fundamental truth by appealing directly to the unconscious, emotional and aesthetic ground of our being, without the opportunity or need to question or appeal to reason.

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Post by bodhibliss » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

On 2004-11-21 05:27, walker wrote:
I wonder when things get too complex is it not because someone is trying hard to convey an idea that cannot be expressed in words?

Metaphors such as Counciousness, Nothingness, Undifferantiated Counciousness, etc. are something one feels and knows, but cannot really pin down in words. More or less as trying to define time.

Is it not a concept very similar or maybe identical to TAO? Taoist claim that if you can name it in words, then it is not TAO.
Does someone have any thoughs on this?
Well expressed, Walker. Indeed, much of this thread falls into Heinrich Zimmer's category of "the second best things", which are easily misunderstood because they use the vocabulary of the "third best" (everyday conversation) as metaphors to portray the "first best," which are actually beyond conversation.

Joseph Campbell used to quote an insight common to the Upanishads and the Tao Te Ching:

"Those who Know don't speak,
those who speak don't Know."

and then he would point out with good humor which side of the equation he was on, as his entire body of work might be described as speaking about Knowing ...

Campbell's saving grace is his sense of play - and i believe this same playful spirit permeates all those Buddhist sutras.

All those intricate descriptions and complex metaphysics are essentially verbal mandalas - as exquisite and detailed and beautiful as the Gyuto monks creating a Tibetan mandala with painted sand - but ultimately just one image of reality, a meditation aid that one engages and appreciates - but then is swept up and discarded.

This holds for many contemporary maps of reality - for example, the holarchies Wilber constructs of the exterior and interior universe even retain the shape of a mandala oriented to four directions when diagrammed (as on the inside cover of early editions of Sex, Ecology, Spirituality)

or the detailed hierarchies of being in Urantia

or Jungian depth psychology

... words gathered together to compose an image of ultimate reality intelligible to the human mind

but these are just waystations to help one recognize the path - but, ultimately, the path must be experienced

and an experience of transcendence can really not be put into words.

Fun to play with it though ...

namaste
bodhibliss

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<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Bodhi_Bliss on 2004-11-27 13:26 ]</font>
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Post by Tony L » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Hi

We speak often about Transcendence but say little about Immanence. I wonder if our Patriarchal heritage sometimes biases our view of the creative process of which we are all a part. A process which must fundamentally include the Mother Earth/Goddess which is the creative and balancing power in our lives. We know that many eastern religions give high prominence to this concept.

Ilya Prigogine said,

"We must understand our world in such a way that it would be absurd to claim that the world itself did not produce us".
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Post by CarmelaBear » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

To sleep. Perchance to dream.


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Post by Robert G. » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Is that amor fati?
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Post by Martin_Weyers » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Stone_Giant & Ruiz, I would like to comment some of your suggestions about the relation between science and mysticism.
On 2004-11-22 12:59, Bodhi_Bliss wrote:
Indeed, much of this thread falls into Heinrich Zimmer's category of "the second best things", which are easily misunderstood because they use the vocabulary of the "third best" (everyday conversation) as metaphors to portray the "first best," which are actually beyond conversation.
Campbell, in PATHWAYS OF BLISS, is not only referring to everyday conversation, but also to the language of science, history, biography and so forth. When we are using the terms that theologists or scientists have invented to speak about those deeper realms of reality that are the "best things", we have to be aware of the limits of the language we are using, no matter if it is a theological or a scientific language.

I agree that those "deeper realms" of transcendence are not separated from everyday's world, the separation rather is in our mind.

Scientific language is another method of mind separation. I'm highly interested in the scientific research, but if we are talking about transcendence or life beyond death (or consciousness beyond life & death) we should try to transcend the language of science as well.

Undifferentiated consciousness does not refer to a superior metaphysical being out there. It refers, as I understand it, to the totality of consciousness, it refers to the whole. Because it is the whole, we can not speak about it in a sufficient way by use of any (naturally separating) vocabulary.

Using the terms of science does not lead us closer to an understanding of death and transcendence, than any other language. If we want to touch the mystery beyond our limited knowledge, we have to trancend science too.

Ruiz, if you argue that consciousness is a product of evolution, than I may ask furthermore: What is evolution? It's definitely not just trial and error, as suggested in your post above. It's a mysterious power. To call it evolution instead of god does not make it less mysterious.
On 2004-11-22 08:35, Tony L wrote:
What seems to stand out as an area of crucial importance is the meaning of the term metaphor.

I think Campbell clarifies the issue in the heroes journey when he refers to an interview he was having with a radio show host during a live session. The guy was trying to pressure him into giving a clear explanation of what a metaphor is. Although I cannot quote directly (cos somebody`s not returned my copy)but the gist is that metaphor when used and understood in its proper sense produces an instantaneous affect on an individual or group. It is not a question of "as if" it is a question of "is". It has the capacity to express a fundamental truth by appealing directly to the unconscious, emotional and aesthetic ground of our being, without the opportunity or need to question or appeal to reason.
Tony, you are probably referring to the radio interview, where the interviewer was trying to explain what a metaphor is (and failed): Joe runs LIKE a deer. And Campbell would reply that's not the metaphor, the metaphor is: Joe IS a deer. You are absolutely right, that the function of the metaphor is not just a question of "as if".

At this point, Ruiz, I disagree with you. Rather than a simple comparison, the metaphor has a poetic quality that goes beyond rationality. It is a psychological tool to open the psyche for transcendence, not a method of propaganda or manipulation (though it can be used as that).

Robert G. was asking if it has to refer to something real to make sense, while Ruiz was talking about the hypnotizing quality of the metaphor, and seems to suggest, that the religious metaphor is just creating an illusion.
A sign is a reference to something that is known or knowable in a perfectliy rational way. For instance, you come along a road to a sign that says, "To Boston," the sign "stands for" a knowable, physical place. But a symbol, a mythic symbol, does not refer to something which is known or knowable in that rational way. It refers to a spiritual power that is operative in life and is known onlv through its effects.

Joseph Campbell, The Way of Myth
Campbell, in FLIGHT OF THE WILD GANDER, differentiates between Mythologies of attachment and Mythologies of detachment. (I have read it in German, and so I'm not sure if he uses exactly these terms.) The Mythology of attachment is the one that hypnotizes, the Mythology of detachment is the one that wants to be transcended. (In fact, the way we experience a metaphor partly depends on our own approach.)

And if it refers to something that goes completely beyond our understanding, things become even more difficult. As Tony points out, religious metaphor points to a transcendent mystery. That does not mean it refers to a fact (to a part of the whole) or to something separated from the world, rather that it points to the whole.

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Martin_Weyers on 2004-11-24 18:07 ]</font>
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Post by Vissi » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Ruiz wrote:
Vissi, your post really intrigued me! Could you elaborate on your post in your own words. I'm not sure if I understand what is being said! It seems that the subject matter is about not confusing the potential in us or the universe with nothingness.
Ruiz,
not wanting to further derail this discussion with more Buddhist philosophy, given my own poor understanding, and heeding BodhiBliss's cautionary note about attempting to communicate about things that can't be communicated, i can supply a basic definition of emptiness. if you have questions or want to discuss the subject further perhaps we should move to the "I Am A Buddhist" thread.

please bear in mind that the subject of emptiness is a teaching for a great practioner not a beginning student and i am in no way qualified to teach.:smile: in my understanding, generally speaking (depending upon the tradition, text, or lineage being discussed), emptiness, in the context of Tibetan Buddhism, refers to the quality/experience/realization of lacking an inherent or permanent identity or self. direct experience of emptiness and manifestation of great love and compassion (bodhicitta)for the benefit of all sentient beings are the aspiration of the bodhisattva and are the requisites to attaining enlightenment -- one does not attain full enlightenment without both. i'm not sure this points to the answer to your question but i hope it will be of some benefit.

vissi
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