There is NO GOD

Sent in by Janet

I was raised a catholic and had quite a strict catholic upbringing. I doubted as a child, but always told myself that despite the fact nothing really made sense to me (the huge contradictions in the bible and the fact that god is supposed to be all loving and power yet there is clearly so much suffering in the world), I was not ever supposed to understand god's plan.

My first major doubts happened when I learned about evolution at the age of 16. The idea of evolution came as a bit of a shock to me, and I really was on the edge of losing my faith for a while, but in my mind I resolved the situation by accepting evolution as part of god's design. Evolution was just an easy way for Him to do what He wanted to do.

Much later, at the age of 21, my faith finally gave way, while studying the genetics of receptors while at university. I was looking at the tiny genetic differences in receptors across species. It occurred to me that the single nucleotide changes within the DNA were accidental, they were NOT designed, they were mistakes, like a switch being turned on. Then it occurred to me that god didn't exist.

After a few moments of blind panic — similar to the feeling of being thrown of a cliff — I felt anger at all the bullshit I had been told over the years. The anger subsided to be replaced by a feeling of freedom. All the problems and contradictions that my mind had struggled to understand finally made sense: there is NO GOD.

With a thirst for knowledge, I took to reading everything I could to explain life, evolution, nature, psychology, etc. Without a god to factor in, it all seemed to make so much more sense.

I can say honestly that becoming an atheist has improved my quality of life and allowed me to fully appreciate how fantastically lucky each of us are to be here.

67 comments:

Anonymous said...

Without a god to factor in, it all seemed to make so much more sense.

What a great a statement. Perhaps it isn't that things make sense, but at least, we stop torturing ourselves trying to explain the presence of God--or lack there of--in every situation. There's a lot of peace of mind in that.

rickyusvi said...

Janet wrote: “With a thirst for knowledge, I took to reading everything I could to explain life, evolution, nature, psychology, etc. Without a god to factor in, it all seemed to make so much more sense.”

That’s exactly how i felt. As Richard Dawkins and others have remarked, the universe is exactly as we would expect it to be if there were no god. Postulating a personal god simply added imaginary complications to the order of things; it was the ultimate violation of Occam’s razor. No god means no contradictions to explain, no absurdities to swallow, no need for theodicies, and no need to rationalize unanswered prayers.

As for those things that can’t yet be explained, they are better resolved through finding the answer, not by erecting an ineffable god of the “You Can’t Go There” gaps.

Lance said...

Janet wrote: "Without a god to factor in, it all seemed to make so much more sense."

Not only does nature make more sense when you take god out of it, but all the tough theological questions are easily answered by your phrase "There is NO GOD!"

And by "god" of course I mean some sort of caring, active, bible or koran type god. An unknowable prime mover or first cause is still an option, but that is not the issue here.

Here are some questions and answers:

Why are there so may contradictions about god's nature in the bible and koran and all the other revealed religion books? Because there is no anthropomorphic god, and the bible and other books are all BS.

Why do bad things happen to good people? Because the universe is random and there is no god.

Why does prayer not work? Because there is no god to answer.

Need I add more? Your simple phrase seems to answer them all pretty well.

I could extend the answer to include a qualifier like this: "or god is not paying attention, or does not care, or is powerless, or ..." But in all of these qualifiers, the active caring bible god just does not fit.

It's funny (or sad) to think how many people - including myself - have struggled over these questions when the obvious answer is sitting right there.

Thanks for your post.

Lance

Cousin Ricky said...

Lance wrote: “It's funny (or sad) to think how many people - including myself - have struggled over these questions when the obvious answer is sitting right there.”

“Of course, people of faith regularly assure one another that God is not responsible for human suffering. But how else can we understand the claim that God is both omniscient and omnipotent? There is no other way, and it is time for sane human beings to own up to this. This is the age-old problem of theodicy, of course, and we should consider it solved. [bold added]” —Sam Harris

mike said...

Janet, can I publish your story in my book titled "Atheist Acrimonious" ?

Mike

Amitabha said...

Dear Janet: Thanks for your professional views on genetics.

Just to inform you that the Chaos Theory from the latest Physical Science points out that nothing in this world is truly random.

I don't believe in God, but I think there are certain governing rules in the universe, including gravity, electromagnetic forces, conservation of mass and energy. No creator made the rules, but the rules secured the existence of the universe. One ultimate rule is the Law of Cause and Effect. The universe tends to reject evil and preserve the good. Think: If it is otherwise the universe will not exist! However, the fact that good people received bad destiny and bad people received good destiny does not necessary nullify this rule. Actions are like planting various types of seeds. They all take various time and conditions to fruition. This fruition latency explained that good people => good destiny and bad people => bad destiny are not always visualized in a short time within a single life.

From observations, we can see that life has begun long before we were born. We have behaviours and preferences that cannot be explained by genetic makeup alone. Through hypnosis we can even recall our past lives in order to explain certain present behaviours. Therefore, we can easily deduce that life will not end after we die, along with it are all the seeds (all the results of the actions that you have done).

Throughout the 1500 years of Buddhism experiments in China, we have mountains of evidence (many made official) to support the important rule of Cause and Effect. If suitable opportunity arises, I strongly suggest you read the documentation before hastily jump to a conclusion, as many of us had done the same to believing in Christianity.

Cheers!

Amitabha
- male
- consider an open-minded scientist and Buddhist
- contactable at Lsw22 at hotmail dot com

boomSLANG said...

Scientist/Buddhist...Just to inform you that the Chaos Theory from the latest Physical Science points out that nothing in this world is truly random.

Thanks for that info'....however, in the case of "selection", as in "natural selection", I'm not quite sure how one would conclude that this means "random". In other words, it seems like your statement attacks a strawman. After all, whether selection/"random"---or even, organized/"Chaos"---both are incongruous.

Scientist/Buddhist... We have behaviours and preferences that cannot be explained by genetic makeup alone. Through hypnosis we can even recall our past lives in order to explain certain present behaviours.

Hypnosis is evidence of nothing, except maybe the power of suggestion.

Scientist/Buddhist...Throughout the 1500 years of Buddhism experiments in China, we have mountains of evidence (many made official) to support the important rule of Cause and Effect.

Existence exists. It's an absolute/First Principle. If this "important rule" that you speak of posits that what exists requires a "Cause", and if a theist posits that a "God" exists, then we can logically ask, what caused "God"? If we are to accept as a plausible answer that "God" can exist UNcaused, then that surely breaks the "important rule", does it not?(asked rhetorically)

Scientist/Buddhist...If suitable opportunity arises, I strongly suggest you read the documentation before hastily jump to a conclusion, as many of us had done the same to believing in Christianity.

.."documentation"? The word is very vague. Perhaps you mean, published, peer-reviewed literature from the scientific community? If so, I'd be curious to see any such source that supports the notion that an invisible, uncaused, self-existing mind "Caused" everything into existence, using "telepathy".

AtheistToothFairy said...

Amitabha wrote:
Through hypnosis we can even recall our past lives in order to explain certain present behaviours. Therefore, we can easily deduce that life will not end after we die, along with it are all the seeds (all the results of the actions that you have done).
------
Amitabha,

You statement here begs a few questions (at least from me it does).

While you don't come right out and use the word "Reincarnation", it's obvious this is what you are talking about here.
So here are my questions to you then:

1. If all 'souls' (energy or whatever) are reincarnated, then I see a problem with an
ever-growing human population over the 'thousands' of years humans have been around.

Obvioulsy these human souls had to come from some place and you say you don't believe in a [creator] god, so then who/what produced all the original souls, and what 'force' then let them increase their population over the eons, as they obviously have, into a far larger population?

Do souls/spirts 'mate' and produce new 'baby' souls, that would then take a physical human body?


2. Do you believe (as some do) that former human souls also exist inside other life forms and if so, would our present lives determine if we next become human again (if we deserve it) or get reduced to an urban city Rat?

If this is your thinking, then what non-god force is determining who gets to be human and who becomes the Rat?
If you eventually become the best human possible, do you become a god-like entity, or, what becomes your fate?
If so, again I ask, what force makes that determination?


3. You clearly state that one can recall our past lives via hypnosis.
Would that be only a former human life, or even a life in a lesser form?
For instance, if I used to be a cat or ape, how would hypnosis verify that?
(I guess I would start to MEOW a bunch huh)

Now I have to say that I have yet to read ANY legit study done (that has proved to a skeptic), where hypnosis has generated any positive proof of anyone having a former verifiable life on earth.

Many cases studied in India (where reincarnation beliefs are common) have never proven that a soul of an elder who died, comes back to reside in a young child; as is the common myth in that country.

Every case studied by the experts, exhibits only hearsay evidence, or out-and-out trickery.
e.g. In the recent book "SPOOK" by Mary Roach, this reincarnation subject is covered in depth, in one of the book's chapters. While she had greatly hoped to find positive evidence to show life goes on after death, she found NO evidence in her firsthand research of India, to show even one verifiable case of a soul migrating from one human to another.
Folks there were quite eager to demonstrate this common belief to her, but they failed every time to do so.

4. The FEW cases I've read about, where a person claimed to have a previous human life and the evidence was obtained using hypnosis; the results show that the person was a faking it (for fame/money, the usual things) or those memories were actually those of some elder person, who once told this person their own stories (or those of one they themselves had known) and then over time the story of that other person 'melds' into a belief that the story was the person's own memory from a former lifetime.

There is not one documented (as in, proven) case that I've seen where someone had a memories from another person's lifetime, that they couldn't have obtained from a non-supernatural source.

I highly suspect that the so called evidence supporting reincarnation is no different than for any other supernatural/religious belief. Folks who want to believe will cherry pick the positive evidence that supports their belief while ignoring the overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
Folks believe in god(s) because they have some want/need to do so.
Folks believe in anything paranormal, supernatural, or metaphysical, because they want to and will fine-tune their perception of the evidence to fit their desired beliefs.

The more current studies I've seen on hypnosis have greatly reduced the idea that one is under a 'spell', where one can be made to do things that goes against one's very nature.
They also show that while we once formerly believed that a person had no recall of the time under hypnosis, that this was a fallacy, as they certainly are shown to recall the entire event. No time is lost and nothing is done that would be against their normal nature.

It is a power of suggestion, where one is putting their TRUST in another person and if you trust someone ENOUGH, you'll just do as requested....up to a point that is.
Frankly, I see it almost like in the category of getting someone drunk, where they lose their inhibitions and will do things they wouldn't have the courage to do while sober.

There is nothing magical/supernatural about hypnosis.

There is nothing I could ever find that showed one's so called former life could be found using hypnosis, and trust me when I say, I used to believe in this sort of stuff a long time ago, so I would actually be pleased if the evidence actually showed we all got another chance to live again and again.... and maybe even again.
However, what I might happen to WISH for, doesn't make that thing a reality.

Not for you, not for me, not for anyone!!


ATF (Who thinks folks put far too much in this idea, that a huge amount of faith in something, can somehow make it real)

Amitabha said...

Dear boomSLANG (and other reading on this post): Thank you for your prompt interest in my remarks.
(Just call me Amitabha will do. Sorry about my English skills because I am a native Chinese speaker.)

(1) Natural Selection: IMHO, the Selection theory is only part of the truth. I believe there is some spiritual element behind the genetic modification mechanism. For example, most crows are interested in frogs. However, in a remote island in South America there is one kind of poisonous frog (forgot its name) whose body’s toxin is capable of killing thousands of crows. Crows recognize this animal by its bright orange color and will always avoid them. However, there is a special snake species whose diet is that poisonous frog. The snake developed a special anti-toxin that provides resistance to the toxin. Despite so, the snake will have to shut down all its metabolic system (similarly to passing into a coma) in order to recover after ingesting the frog.

Scientist tends to explain that that is a toxin-vs.-antitoxin war in the long course of evolution of both frogs and snakes. However, if you study the case carefully, it may not be fully natural selection. Let’s say if due to a genetic mutation a certain frog developed a more potent toxin that manage to kill the snake, and happened to be ingested by the snake. The snake went to a coma and eventually died. What happen to the newly mutant frog? It also will have to die! Unless (the dying frog in the snake stomach managed to mate to another dying frog in concentrated digestive fluids, in an air free environment, and quickly give rises to tadpoles in one nanosecond, and the tadpoles escaped out of the snake stomach, and at least one survived), there is no chance for the frog to pass down its genetic code to its offspring and hence that is some difficulties in the natural selection mechanism based on present theory.

In science we made assumptions, but some of the assumptions have yet to be proven. How come genetically identical twins developed entire different IQs and personalities? Some even have different preferences (one left and the other right, for example)! If you have an open-mind, you will also see there are many other difficult cases. Using genetic makeup to explain the behavior, personality and IQ of living creatures, like the white supremacy and Nazism, is very dangerous. This, I believe, is the “superstition” of science.

In general, I believe in evolution, but I believe natural selection is only part of the equation of evolution.

(2) Past life and Hypnosis – Hypnosis is a power tool invented by the West. Past life recall by hypnosis is now carefully studied. I am not saying that 100% of the cases are true evidence of our past life recalls, but some important cases cannot be explained by suggestion or coincidence alone. For example, under a hypnosis a child can recall his/her past life’s parent name, his/her best friends, their past home, how he/she died. In some cases, the child can even speak in a foreign language that he/she has absolutely no prior knowledge. In many cases, the child can be proven that he/she has never traveled before and if the data in his/her recall happened to be verifiable after careful investigation.

In China, past life recall is not done by hypnosis, but my plain memory alone. In Northern China, a number of counties have customs that when a child speaks shortly after birth, the child must be a demon and must be killed. I am sure this may also have happened to the West but I believe if happened, the cases invites few publicity because the Western culture prohibits the belief of such incidences.

For your reading pleasure, below is one of the stories I recently translated:

“Rolling a ferry twenty years ago, there came a fish with two heads of gold.”

In China, the central government rules all provinces. The provincial government is sub-divided into county governments. This is one of the judicial records from a county’s magistracy in Ching Dynasty.

One time there was a father and a son in that county. The son was born very intelligent and used to be very filial and obedient. However, soon after the son turned twenty he changed to a monster. He always argued with the father upon the slightest dispute. In his anger he frequently beat up his father. As the days went by the situation escalated and the son resorted to clubs and sticks. One day he almost killed his father. The poor old man was weak and could not resist. So he appealed to the county’s magistracy for his case.

Beating up parents was highly unusual and highly unacceptable in the old feudal Chinese society. The magistrate quickly summoned the son to the court. The son could not manage to give any explanation at all. So the magistrate ordered a corporal punishment of slamming twenty planks into the buttock.

After the punishment the son was later released. On that night the son did not go home but went to appeal his case to a Taoist temple. On the same night the magistrate had a vivid dream. He dreamt that an old man, dressed as the Magistrate of the Beyond approached him and complained that he made a bad case this morning (regarding the punishment of the son).

The old man in the dream told the magistrate, “According to human jurisdiction, you may have made a good case. However, according to the jurisdiction in the beyond, you have made a very bad case and punished the wrong person.”

The magistrate was very puzzled and asked the old man for his advice.

The old man told the magistrate to summon the old man to court the next day and told him the lyrical phrase: “Rolling a ferry twenty years ago, there came a fish with two heads of gold.”

The next day the magistrate indeed summoned the old man to court, told him about the story and the lyrical phrase in his dream and asked him if he could help to understand the case. Immediately the old man fell to his knees and pleaded for mercy from the magistrate.


After intense fear and a long calming down period, the old man slowly told the magistrate what had happened some twenty years ago.

The old man had been operating a ferry across the river for a living until twenty years ago something happened and changed his fortune.

The ferry was usually operating during rush hours (in early mornings and late evenings) when most passengers crossed the river to report to work for to go back home. In between rush hours he used to rest by the riverbank to wait for the occasional chartered rides by small group of individuals.

One afternoon a young man dressed as a scholar with a large baggage approached him and asked the ferryman for a chartered ride across the river. He was the only passenger.

Upon boarding the ferry the young passenger tripped and fell down. Out from his baggage a few pieces of silver nugget dropped out. The passenger was quick to pick up the silver nugget and put back to his baggage, but the event did not escape the ferryman’s eyes and his greed.

After rolling the ferry to the middle of the river, the ferryman suddenly shouted,” Did you see that? A huge gold fish with two heads! A two-headed fish!”

Without knowing this was a trick, the young passenger rushed to see the fictitious fish. “Where is it? Where is it?”, asked the young passenger. So the ferryman pointed to the water and said, “You must look down more into the water in order to see the fish. It is right there.” So the young passenger bent his body down even further. The ferryman seized this opportunity to lift up the passenger’s legs from behind and pushed him into the water.

No body was since found and no one knew about this past events that happened twenty years ago. The ferryman took all the silver nuggets in the bag and became very well off. With a sense of guilt he gave up his business in ferrying and operated a small grocery shop. After nine months his wife gave birth to a boy and was a born prodigy.

Even after hearing the father’s story the magistrate could not do anything but to release the old man due to the restriction of the law but the magistracy continue to monitor the case.

It was reported that the son continued to torture his dad for an extended period of three years. However, the old man has accepted his fate and all the tortures were not fatal. Only after the three years of torture did the son stop and regain his normal conscience again.

It is indeed a story that worth considering regarding the Law of Causality.

Note: I will response to your other comments in another post

Amitabha

Amitabha said...

Dear boomSLANG (and other reading on this post): This is the last part of my response to your comment.

‘.."documentation"? The word is very vague. Perhaps you mean, published, peer-reviewed literature from the scientific community? If so, I'd be curious to see any such source that supports the notion that an invisible, uncaused, self-existing mind "Caused" everything into existence, using "telepathy”’

(1) Documentation: The documentations I cited are mainly from several sources during the 1500+ years of Buddhism experience. One source is from publications of very well known government officers or playwrights. Another is from county’s judicial records (as in my previous translated story). Yet another form is from records from the temple (I will tell you another story shortly after). I also had direct experiences from my close friends and myself. Unlike the West, we do not publish this in scientific journals (at least not yet). At this time, formal study of such phenomena is still not ready, even in China, mainly because of the difficulties in producing the same result in a lab. Recently, many Buddhist practitioners publish their own experience in the web. I took a very cautious attitude to study such articles. I normally see if the story made sense or have consistency with other stories, and to see if it works under similar circumstances.

In Taiwan, there is a documentation of one living woman who came back to life using another woman’s body (who has been pronounced dead). After waking up, the woman spoke in a totally different dialect. She could no longer recognize anyone, including her parents. But she insisted that she was another person with the name Ju Xao Hua (朱秀華). She described how she was killed, the period in the beyond, and how she was arranged to come back again as a human body. A TV-serial has been dedicated to investigate the case and found her story to be quite credible. The lady is Lin Wang Yieo (林罔腰) and is still alive today! If you or your friend can understand Chinese, cut and paste the names in Google and soon you will arrive at lots of documentation regarding this event.

(2) Cause and effect. The invisible mind causing the phenomena of the World is a day-to-day observable fact. All buildings are designed by human’s mind. All deeds good or evils are also originated from the mind. The mind is not only invisible, but also has no form. Note that the brain is not actually the mind machine per se. It is just an interface. A perfect healthy brain can be in coma forever. Without the mind the brain is nothing. Everything in this world is actually transient and hence illusionary (unreal). This is a paradox: Things that are real have no form! Because the mind is not made up of matter, it is not subjected to aging or any kind of destruction. Believe it or not, once our life has ended, the mind will take another form of life. It may even exist only by itself. This is not identical to reincarnation. However, the Cosmo has a memory effect. Every of our actions are memorized. Some day, in some life form, you will have to receive the effect of such action. This mechanism of life is called karma.


I am ending this comment by another of my translated story:

(This story is from a record of a Buddhist temple, the author was a butcher before he converted to a monk and wrote his experience).

Once there was a temple on the top of a hill. Below the hill there was a village. The temple erected a big bell to give timing signals, or to call for a gathering. At dawn, the monks would sound the bell (by hitting with a big log). This would signal the monks to wake up to do the daily religious cultivation. Some villagers also relied on the sound of the bell to wake up and start work.

One morning, the temple bell did not sound. One butcher woke up and discovered that he was too late for the market because he should have slaughtered his pig hours ago. Since he also helped support the temple’s expenditure, he was so angry of the monks’ “laziness”. He rushed to the temple and made a big farce. The monks let him see the Abbot of the temple and had a very surprised result.

“It is my order not to sound the bell just for this morning,” said the Abbot, “I am very apologetic to whatever loss has caused to you. However, last night l dreamt of one green dress woman who came forward and knelt down in front of me to request that I not sound the temple bell next morning. She told me in tears that in doing so, six of her young children would be killed. She said she was not sad about herself, but she could not bear to see the kids’ life be take away. I thought this was just a dream. However, five other monks in the temple reported to me the same story this morning. We therefore took the matter seriously and decided not to sound the bell this time.” The other monks who experienced the same dream also came forward to talk to the butcher.

The butcher went back home very reluctantly. Upon arrival his worker rushed to report to him that one of the pigs (that supposed to be slaughtered this morning) gave birth to six piglets.

The butcher was extremely shocked. Shortly after, he closed his business and became a monk in the same temple.


Amitabha

Jim Arvo said...

Amitabha,

You failed to mention whether the pig wore a green dress.

boomSLANG said...

Amitabha, aka "buddist/scientist",

Forgive me, but I must tell you that I'm seriously underwelmed; I'm unimpressed with your latest back-to-back posts. In the bulk of what you said, what I see is a lot of fallacious arguments, some of which include--but are not limited to--non sequitur, appeals to emotion, question begging, and a heaping helping of anecdotal "evidence"..i.e...cute little unverifiable parables that are meant to illustrate a principle, and/or, a moral. I would be willing to bet a large sum of money that most, if not all of said parables, are are nothing but cultural passed-down urban legend.

Nonetheless, I go over a few select points now that I'm done giggling at Jim Arvo's green dress joke:

Amitabha: Natural Selection: IMHO, the Selection theory is only part of the truth. I believe there is some spiritual element behind the genetic modification mechanism.

The crucial difference being, we have verifiable, tangible evidence, for the former "part"...and none of the like evidence for the latter "part". And BTW, this illustrates, perfectly, the difference between a "belief", and "knowledge". In other words, when you say "spiritual element", you essentially say nothing at all...that is, unless you can verify a "spirital" existence, of some sort. If you cannot, then your hypothesis is reduced to a "belief"..nothing more.

Next, you talk rather in depthly about a certain snake being resistant to a poisonous dart frog. For economy of time & space, I won't quote it. You then hypothesize:

Let’s say if due to a genetic mutation a certain frog developed a more potent toxin that manage to kill the snake, and happened to be ingested by the snake. The snake went to a coma and eventually died. What happen to the newly mutant frog? It also will have to die!

There are around 75 different species of poisonous dart frogs, all with varying color patterns. Perhaps, snakes will evolve to identify--either by sight, or scent---with the frog that is lethal to them, and simply avoid it...the same way birds will avoid a milk snake, due to it's color pattern mimicking the deadly coral snake.

Now, even if you find that explanation unsatisfactory, you still haven't provided any evidence that there is "spiritual" explanation for why there might be "gliches" in the evolutionary food chain.

Amitabha: In science we made assumptions, but some of the assumptions have yet to be proven.

You claim to be a "scientist"? I now find that extremely hard to believe. The whole POINT of "science" is to avoid "assumptions", and to remove as much bias as possible.

Amitabha: How come genetically identical twins developed entire different IQs and personalities?

Because they have entirely different brains, and chances are, entirely different experiences, thus, forming entirely different views of reality, and the world around them.

Amitabha: Using genetic makeup to explain the behavior, personality and IQ of living creatures, like the white supremacy and Nazism, is very dangerous. This, I believe, is the “superstition” of science.

Again, science is the antithesis of "superstition". Good grief! Furthermore, who is suggesting that racism and bigotry are "genetic"?

Amitabha: In general, I believe in evolution, but I believe natural selection is only part of the equation of evolution.

Yes, yes....we've already established this. You "believe" that there is a "gap" in evolution, and you attempt to fill that "gap" with something "spiritual" and/or, something "Cosmic", etc. However, you've presented no convincing evidence that there is any such "Cosmic" influence taking over where "evolution" allegedly leaves off.

Amitabha: Past life and Hypnosis – Hypnosis is a power tool invented by the West. Past life recall by hypnosis is now carefully studied. I am not saying that 100% of the cases are true evidence of our past life recalls, but some important cases cannot be explained by suggestion or coincidence alone.

Again, more things that "cannot be explained", yet, you attempt to explain them with mysticism. Moreover, if you admit that some "past life recalls" are fraudulent, and/or, not genuine--as you will probably concede that most are--then why wouldn't it make sense that the "hits" are, in fact, suggestion, and/or, coincidence?

Amitabha: Documentation: The documentations I cited are mainly from several sources during the 1500+ years of Buddhism experience. One source is from publications of very well known government officers or playwrights. Another is from county’s judicial records (as in my previous translated story). Yet another form is from records from the temple (I will tell you another story shortly after). I also had direct experiences from my close friends and myself. Unlike the West, we do not publish this in scientific journals (at least not yet).[bold added]

How convenient.

you continue...At this time, formal study of such phenomena is still not ready, even in China, mainly because of the difficulties in producing the same result in a lab.

Right. It cannot be consistantly reproduced in a lab. Imagine that.

You say: Cause and effect. The invisible mind causing the phenomena of the World is a day-to-day observable fact.

Um, whAT "phenomena"??? Like, progress? What are you talking about, specifically?

Amitabha: The mind is not only invisible, but also has no form. Note that the brain is not actually the mind machine per se. It is just an interface. A perfect healthy brain can be in coma forever. Without the mind the brain is nothing

You've got it backwards---without the brain, the mind is nothing. If, as you suggest, a "mind" can function independent of a brain, then people who suffer from such things as mental retardation, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, stoke, etc., would NOT be affected in the least. BTW, you speak of comas---why, then, are most people who end up in a coma, victims of physical head trauma? Why would a non-physical "mind" suffer from a coma?

Amitabha: Everything in this world is actually transient and hence illusionary (unreal). This is a paradox: Things that are real have no form! Because the mind is not made up of matter, it is not subjected to aging or any kind of destruction.

Again, these wild, mystical assertions of yours are entirely baseless.

BTW, if a "mind" can suffer the effects of being in a "coma"(since you posit that a healthy brain cannot be affected by one), then that clearly shows that, yes, the "mind" can be subject to "destruction". Several of your statements are completely contradictory(like I need to point that out)

Amitabha: Believe it or not, once our life has ended, the mind will take another form of life

Hey!....guess what!? NO, I don't believe it....as firstly, it's illogical---how will a presumably form-LESS "mind" exist in another "form"? Again, blatant contradiction. 'Try again?

Secondly, there's not one shred of evidence for post-mortem "life"; there's no evidence that consciousness survives the death of the physical brain. In fact, all the evidence points to the "self" being totally dependent on the brain---which would explain why Alzheimer's patients lose their "identities".

Amitabha: However, the Cosmo has a memory effect. Every of our actions are memorized.

Really? Memorized whERE, exactly? We require a brain for memory. After all, we don't store past memories in our livers, spleens, or intestines---we store them in our brains. Hence, if the "Cosmos" stores memories, they must be stored somewhere---whERE???

Amitabha: Some day, in some life form, you will have to receive the effect of such action. This mechanism of life is called karma.

'Seems like a watered-down version of the type of threats we're accustomed to hearing from Christians. Regardless, the fact that good things happen to extremely evil people, and bad things happen to very kind people, is all the evidence I need to say that "karma" is bunk. Not-to-mention, when/if the world's population exceeds those of the dead. It seems there will be a "soul" shortage.

Amitabha said...

Dear ATF: Thank you for your feedback and queries.

“If all 'souls' (energy or whatever) are reincarnated, then I see a problem with an ever-growing human population over the 'thousands' of years humans have been around.”

In Buddhism we prefer not to use the word “reincarnation” for two important reasons. First, reincarnate literally means taking over another fleshly body and to live again. This may not always be the case because some forms of lives you may not even need a fleshy body. Second, reincarnation has a connotation of a continuation of an everlasting self. According to the Dharma, nothing is permanent. The only permanence is the course of changing! While we can see our body changes years after years, can we not see our mind changes even faster (sometimes from one moment to another)? Therefore, rebirth will be a better word to describe the change of life form.

According to the Buddha, there are countless of worlds (or planets) similar to ours, though not all worlds are directly observable under the uncultivated eyes. This is similar to the theory of the parallel universes. Also, human form is only the one of the six life forms of cyclic existence (the others are heaven dwellers, animals, ghost, asuras and hell dwellers). In our earth alone, the other life forms are far more than humans. Therefore, even a seeming huge increase in the human number will have little effect on the overall numbers of other life forms. (FYI: Some reputable monks said that this time a world or several worlds similar to ours is/are undergoing the destruction process. Some beings that have former association with our world are seeking rebirth here. I am not sure whether this is true or not.)

FYI: Whenever there was a war, there would be a baby boom. Also, some animals (such as coyotes) will have a baby boom when they are killed in large number.

Also FYI: 2600+ years ago, the Buddha repeatedly told us that he observed tens of thousands of sentient beings under even a droplet of water. Therefore, the monks were required to use a cloth net to filter the water from the rivers when taken for drinking. “This will minimize killing, though there will still beings that escaped the filter”, said the Buddha. Remember this was 2600+ years ago!

“Do souls/spirts 'mate' and produce new 'baby' souls, that would then take a physical human body?”

When souls/spirits mate, if the other soul is not ready to take over, the result will be a failed fertilization or a stillborn. Life reproduction (esp. in humans) is something other than mere genetic recombination. This explains why many fertile couples have difficulty in conception.

“Do you believe (as some do) that former human souls also exist inside other life forms and if so, would our present lives determine if we next become human again (if we deserve it) or get reduced to an urban city Rat?”

Yes, I do. In fact, I have countless of reports of people who recall their former lives as animals and ghosts. If you observe carefully, the ghost and animal instincts are still within us. Therefore, to be a human and be able to hear the Dharma, even for a very short moment, is an extremely rare opportunity indeed. Please cherish it.

“If this is your thinking, then what non-god force is determining who gets to be human and who becomes the Rat?”

In the universe, there are two great forces that determine your future destiny. The first is the karmic force. This is the force created by your past actions. It is like a seed planted into the soil. Under the correct circumstances it will sprout out and grow into the corresponding plants. (Karmic force is so great that even a Buddha cannot escape the consequence when all the conditions ripened. The only difference is that a Buddha can ride through the consequence without suffering while we can’t.) The other is our will power. It is our mind that creates everything. In fact, the two great forces are the same – mind (or will) power. One is the past mind and the other is the present mind. An enlightened man will have a mind that can overcome the karmic force (or at least the sufferings) and to change his destiny. Therefore, if you have committed very heavy karma that is sucking you into the Rat domain, the only fighting force to get you out of this is your will power.

I shall use a past story to illustrate this point.

A monk in a Taiwanese temple told this story some 40 years ago. He had a diligent layman disciple who always came to the temple to hear the Dharma. At lunch this disciple always wrapped his right arm with a cloth. This had been for years, even during the hottest summers. One day the monk asked his disciple to come into a room and asked him of his “funny” act. The disciple show him unwillingly of his right arm that bore a strong resemblance to a pig’s forearm.

The disciples told the monk that he recalled his past life was a pig! Before that he was a very dishonest man. He could even remember his past name and location of that life. Upon the death of his human body he found himself walking on a very cold country road. After very long period of enduring the bone piercing bitter cold he saw a small house on the roadside. He opened the door and found a jacket hanging on the lobby wall. Because of this bitter cold he subconsciously put the jacket on his body. Very soon he found himself born in a pig’s pan with some other piglets. The pig’s life was very miserable and he could end his life only when he was slaughtered and had all the meat sold. After that he found himself back on the same bitterly cold road again. And he went into another building for shelter. He found a nice wool overcoat hanging on the wall inside. Again, he unconsciously tried to take the coat for warmth. As soon as he touched the coat he suddenly remembered the horrific past experience. He forced himself to run out of the house regardless of the bitter cold. He swore that even he has to die in the cold he would not want to be a pig again. After a very long suffering period he managed to reborn as a human, but his right arm was still covered with a different kind of long gray hair similar to the pig’s. Because he could remember what happened to the past, he was a devoted Buddhist. He passed away 10 years ago. The monk was so remorseful that he could not manage to take a screen shot of his arm from this shy disciple before his death.

“Now I have to say that I have yet to read ANY legit study done (that has proved to a skeptic), where hypnosis has generated any positive proof of anyone having a former verifiable life on earth.”

Dear ATF and boomSLANG: This is a common problem with our habit of understand and acceptance – Must we have legit study and belief that has been accepted by everyone in the world before we can accept it? If you observe very carefully, a lot of useful knowledge was acquired long before the scientific community’s acceptance. One such example is the development of acupuncture. FYI: This art has been practiced extensively in almost all hospitals in China as a supportive anesthesia. Despite such an easily reproduced phenomenon that has a history of thousands of years in China, it has yet to be accepted by the Western science. Is it because when a phenomenon cannot be fully explained that we can never believe it in? When you are in grave danger needing such a procedure, will it be too late? I am not forcing an answer here, but I have a different view that I would like to share with you.

Note that in this world everything is a faith – an established belief that may be essential to daily life. Have you ever wetted your bed while sleeping? I did! (the last incident was some 20 years ago). Because I dreamt that I was “high-tided” and went to the toilet. I am sure that most of us had this experience before. Next time when you go to the toilet, are you 100% sure that you are not dreaming? If not, we have to base on our faith – the established belief that we pee to the toilet bowl and not on the bed.

Therefore, everyone has a certain faith in something. Those who insisted that they are skeptics are having faith in doubting!

The difference is that we have “wise faith” and “blind faith”. I am suggesting a way to develop a “wise faith”.

- When things are happening every day and is mainly (and easily) reproducible.
- When the mechanism of the phenomena makes sense under our prior knowledge. For example, we never actually see a neutrino from any apparatus, but we deduce its existence from its effect. We have never seen our ancestors but we accept it.
- When the same or grossly consistent information from a phenomenon is received from a very large diversity of independent sources. (This is like asking for direction in the city. Never ask only a single person but to gather information from at least three persons from various locations.) Christian’s belief is centered on the Bible. Only the Bible is self-vindicating. The Koran is also developed from the same book. There are no alternate theories or experiments to support Creationism or Omnipotence. Therefore, the belief in God is nothing but a blind faith.

“e.g. In the recent book "SPOOK" by Mary Roach, this reincarnation subject is …, but they failed every time to do so..”

As I have stated, not all the cases in past life recall is easily verifiable. May be most of the cases (say 99%) are fraud. However, without a full investigation, are you sure that 100% are untrue? Therefore, we must have an open mind and study the cases carefully. Without fully understanding the mechanism and hastily conclude that things are true or untrue is equally superstitious. Scientists are not immune to such mistakes.

Finally, I would like to advise that Buddhism is not a religion, but rather, an education that only a very privileged group of people is able to fully understand and accept it. Those who can read the Chinese scripts and be able to access the original records are in extreme privilege because they can afford to analyze mountains of useful past records. I am spending my valuable time trying to introduce some information that you may never be able to access. However, unlike Christians, I am not forcing anyone to accept a blind faith.

(I will answer boomSLANG’s latest comment in another post soon)

Amitabha

Amitabha said...

Dear Jim: Thanks for your interest too.

“You failed to mention whether the pig wore a green dress.”

I am a translator, not a storyteller. If there is no mention in the record I will not fabricate any explanation.

AtheistToothFairy said...

Amitabha wrote:

(1) Natural Selection: IMHO....... However, there is a special snake species whose diet is that poisonous frog. The snake developed a special anti-toxin that provides resistance to the toxin. Despite so, the snake will have to shut down all its metabolic system (similarly to passing into a coma) in order to recover after ingesting the frog.

...... Let’s say if due to a genetic mutation a certain frog developed a more potent toxin that manage to kill the snake, and happened to be ingested by the snake. The snake went to a coma and eventually died. What happen to the newly mutant frog? It also will have to die! Unless (the dying frog in the snake stomach managed to mate to another dying frog in concentrated digestive fluids, in an air free environment, and quickly give rises to tadpoles in one nanosecond, and the tadpoles escaped out of the snake stomach, and at least one survived), there is no chance for the frog to pass down its genetic code to its offspring and hence that is some difficulties in the natural selection mechanism based on present theory.

--------------
Amitabha,

First, let me say that I'm no evolution expert, but I'm not ignorant of it's methods either.

Try as I may to search the internet for the snake/frog scenario you describe here, I have not seen any information that validates this particular scenario of yours.

I've seen articles that show how a snake eats poisonous frogs, and then in turn, uses the frog's poison for it's own defence.
I've seen that many of these poisonous frogs do not produce their own poison, but obtain it from the ants they eat.

I saw no article that described any type of snake that would swallow a poisonous frog whole and then subsequently goes into a coma, waiting to recover from the frog's poison.
Snakes in general do 'sleep' while digesting their meals, so maybe that is what you meant?

To the contrary (as I suspected), the snake will FIRST bite the poisonous frog, without swallowing it .
Hence, snakes learn which frogs they can swallow whole and which they have to 'test' first.
It's then not necessary for the snake to die, nor to use this 'coma' method you describe here to survive that poison.

If the frogs get their poison from what they eat (such as ants), then I don't see why we need a frog to escape the snakes belly in order for the frog to become more poisonous over time.
Wouldn't it be fairly easy for a frog to become more poisonous by just eating more ants or perhaps ants that contain a higher level of poison etc.

So if the snake need not die from a super-poison frog it swallowed in one gulp, and frogs seem to be able to adjust their toxicity levels without any god like intervention, then I see no reason to think that some supernatural force is at work here.

Now maybe I'm missing something, not being an expert like yourself, but it sure seems to me that the theory of evolution is evolving life just fine without any external influence from the mystical world you seem to promote here to us.

REF:
http://news.softpedia.com/news/How-Can-Snakes-Eat-Poisonous-Frogs-70691.shtml

Some snakes have 'a preference' for them, even venomous frogs, like the Australian northern death adder, and can feed on them without getting intoxicated. Some of the adder's preys have skins releasing powerful venoms or sticky foams that can kill the snake.

The adder is highly venomous and in the case of non-poisonous frogs, the snake swallows immediately its prey. This is not the case with the toxic frogs, which are bitten and immediately released. Then the snake waits the venom to have its effect, till the poison or foam in the dead frog's skin degrades to benign chemicals.

"The frog usually hops some distance before dying, but the snake can easily track the frog down using its forked tongue and sensitive olfactory system," said co-author Ben Phillips of the University of Sydney.

The team was amazed to find that the snake tuned its behavior according with the frog species: in the case of the Australian marbled frog (Lymnodinastes), the foam dries in 10 minutes following the death of the amphibian, while the adder starts to eat the frog 12 minutes following the bite, but in the case of Dahl's aquatic frog (Litoria), the skin poison turns inactive in 30 minutes after the death and the adder will start eating the corpse 40 minutes after poisoning the animal.

How does the snake adjust its behavior? It appears that frog toxins from the snake's poisoning bite persists in the snake's mouth in non-dangerous, low levels.

"So they seem to wait until they can't taste the toxin before attempting to eat the frog," Phillips told LiveScience.

"Often they go and taste, then drop the prey before waiting a further five minutes or so and trying again."

As the snake kills before the frog, natural selection cannot operate in frogs for longer-lasting toxins.

"The common assumption is that snakes are pretty stupid, and to them a frog is a frog. But here we see a snake that effectively discriminates between frog species and then deals with each species in an appropriate manner," said Phillips.



ATF (Who also does NOT take urban legends as evidence, to bolster a claim)

boomSLANG said...

(I will answer boomSLANG’s latest comment in another post soon)

Amitabha


No, please!....I beg of you, do NOT address my comments, as it will be a complete waste of your time. You, like many religionists---and even though you don't consider Buddhism a "religion"---have the same type of ingrained conviction as any other religionist we see. And also like them, you have nothing to substantiate your beliefs, but hearsay...i.e.. "The Buddha said" this, that, and the other thing. Oh, and half a dozen statements starting with, "FYI"...as if you are the final authority on metaphysics. Annoying, quite frankly. The same with Christians..i.e.."Jesus said"...blah, blah, blah. And why is true?...why, of course, because "Jesus said it!".

Oh yeah, I like this one---Buddhism is not a religion, but rather, an education that only a very privileged group of people is able to fully understand and accept it.

Uh huh...one cannot understand Buddhism until they accept Buddhism as true. Boy, that one sounds all-too familiar.

And please, grasshopper!...please stop already with the parables(i.e..the "translations"). There are hundreds, if not THOUSANDS, of similar anecdotal stories as the ones you tell, currently circulating the internet.... yet, interestingly, they "support" religions other than Buddhism---and much like you, their respective religionists insist they have The One Universal Truth. Although, your hypothesis that because we can subconsciously train ourselves to hold our "pee" in our sleep, therefore, there is something "Cosmic" going on, is a new one on me....and quite amusing, I might add.

Again, please spare me, m'kay? Thanks.

Amitabha said...

Dear boomSLANG:

“… I'm unimpressed with your latest back-to-back posts. In the bulk of what you said, what I see is a lot of fallacious arguments, some of which include--but are not limited to--non sequitur, appeals to emotion, question begging, and a heaping helping of anecdotal "evidence"..i.e...cute little unverifiable parables that are meant to illustrate a principle, and/or, a moral. I would be willing to bet a large sum of money that most, if not all of said parables, are are nothing but cultural passed-down urban legend.”

I think we should not let emotion and prejudice overwhelm our judgment, as seems to be indicative in your comments.

I am not citing fables. The sources of the documentations have been listed in my former comment. I am not a salesman asking you to agree to any agenda such that a certain organization will get some financial supports from followers. Therefore, you don’t have to be so emotional and impulsive. If you wanna dismiss all of them it is OK for me. Remember the definition of “faith” in my previous comment?

“There are around 75 different species of poisonous dart frogs…, you still haven't provided any evidence that there is "spiritual" explanation for why there might be "gliches" in the evolutionary food chain.”

Thank you for the info. I am amazed at your knowledge in zoology! However, I incline to believe that both the poisonous frogs and the snakes that prey on them are also fighting a war in the spiritual domain. When either of them dies, their consciousness is revising their fighting strategy in the next life. It is like raging an ending war of revenge. Hence their genetic modifications are governed by the mind as well. Therefore, despite death and total destruction of their body, the knowledge of modification managed to pass through the spiritual domain. Remember what I mentioned regarding the baby boom after the wars and certain animals’ baby boom after a large amount of them has been killed?

“You claim to be a "scientist"? I now find that extremely hard to believe. The whole POINT of "science" is to avoid "assumptions", and to remove as much bias as possible. “

You are making the mistake of taking things too personal when you encounter views that you have never heard of before. As an independent thinker, you should focus on the points I made instead of attacking me in general.

I am not sure you are involved in Physical Science. We almost always make assumptions before developing a mathematical model. Remember the Ideal Gas Law in high school physics? Do you still remember how the Ideal Gas Law equation is derived? It was based on a number of assumptions.
Newton’s law is also based on assumptions. In his theory of mechanics he assumed that velocity combination is a linear. This was based on the theory that distance combination is linear. This poised a huge problem when we tried to use in Michaelson Morley experiment. Einstein is a free thinker. He pushed Newton’s assumptions aside and re-modeled his own assumption (i.e. speed of light is invariant) and hence published the great theory of Relativity. Therefore, scientists do make assumptions and sometimes can make inaccurate or even bad assumptions.

The correlation assumption between genetic makeup and personality/IQ/instincts is one such bad assumption. Also, we tend to believe that it is the brain that stores memories. However, why long-term memories are the last to sacrifice during the degeneration of the brain due to diseases? Can you take some brain out, put into a machine and to decipher the guy’s memory objectively? No, we don’t have the slightest clues! In fact, the more we look into the brain, the more we discovered that it was almost homogeneous. It is more an interface than a CPU by itself.

Psychology has a very long history with us. However, when other natural science progress leaps and bounces, psychology is lacking behind, to an almost standstill - to nothing more than classifications. So far, we can only use tranquilizer to calm down severe mental patients. There is no direct evidence that any mental patient has been completely healed by medical therapy alone. This leads to the suspicion that we are walking on the wrong path. Our science is revolving on the study of matters. We model everything based on this assumption. We keep on denying the formless spiritual existence that controls our physical body. Perhaps the study of Buddhism can compensate for this.

“you continue...At this time, formal study of such phenomena is still not ready, even in China, mainly because of the difficulties in producing the same result in a lab. Right. It cannot be consistantly reproduced in a lab. Imagine that.”

If you have enough knowledge, many “scientific” events are also not consistently reproducible, esp. when human or animal is involved. For example, how do you test a certain economic policy’s repeatability? How to you reproduce a true crime scene in the court (without the help of audio-visual recorder previously installed in the scene)? How come even the most potent medicine does not have 100% curing rate? Therefore, a consistently reproducible result is the easiest model to establish a belief, and such models are in the minority, unfortunately.

“You say: Cause and effect. The invisible mind causing the phenomena of the World is a day-to-day observable fact. Um, whAT "phenomena"??? Like, progress? What are you talking about, specifically?”

The PC you use. The keyboard you typed. The car you drive. The house you live in. All are created from the invisible mind. Without the human mind’s creation and hard work, our civilization will never appear. Note that mind (the true master) is not really the brain (the interface). Medical records indicates that even a very substantial amount of brain is removed there is no substantial change of personality or memory. In case of brain diseases such as Alzheimer, Pakinson, mad cow, or even mental diseases it is the degeneration of the interface instead of the mind. Therefore, we can also use this to deduce that after we die, we still have our consciousness (The other way is to observe the inherit personality and base memory that come with us at our birth).

“Amitabha: However, the Cosmo has a memory effect. Every of our actions are memorized. Really? Memorized whERE, exactly? We require a brain for memory. After all, we don't store past memories in our livers, spleens, or intestines---we store them in our brains. Hence, if the "Cosmos" stores memories, they must be stored somewhere---whERE???”

Memories are stored everywhere. Most of them are stored inside our consciousness. Remember we have a few laws of physics? Do you still remember that we also have the law of conservation of information? Information, which is basically formless, cannot be destroyed - at least in theory. It is the technical hurdle to recover information from the environment.

Thanks again for your feedback. All comments are welcome.

Amitabha

Amitabha said...

Dear boomSLANG:

“No, please!....I beg of you, do NOT address my comments, as it will be a complete waste of your time.”

So do you want me to ignore you? Yes I will. Before that, I wanna make a few remarks from your seemingly emotional statements…

“ And also like them, you have nothing to substantiate your beliefs, but hearsay...i.e.. "The Buddha said" this, that,...why, of course, because "Jesus said it!".

Can we establish all our knowledge without citing an established and reliable reference? Why we always said according to Newton’s first law of motion,…, according to Einstein’s relativity… I understand that you are sick of Christianity where followers always cite the Bible as authority and the sole directive and explanation of life. However, citing reference is not the true weakness of Christianity. The weakness is that they only have one reference and do not actually encourage parallel reference or reasoning. In Buddhism, what Buddha said is not an authority. In fact, believing in what he said is not good enough. We must be able to experiment in order to fully understand and apply the knowledge to put an end to suffering. I know I have a religious tone (which most people here are a very sick of), but I wish we can keep an open-minded attitude here. If we don’t change this attitude, we are just switching from one religion (of Christianity) to another religion (of rejection no matter what).

“Oh yeah, I like this one---Buddhism is not a religion, but rather, an education that only a very privileged group of people is able to fully understand and accept it. Uh huh...one cannot understand Buddhism until they accept Buddhism as true. Boy, that one sounds all-too familiar.”

Religion is something that you can live with or without it. Education is something if you are in lack of, you will make grave mistakes and suffer irreparable damage to yourself and others. Education can withstand challenge, is verifiable, and will not change with time. You don’t have to fully accept Buddhism in order to understand the Dharma.

“And please, grasshopper!...please stop already with the parables(i.e..the "translations"). There are hundreds, if not THOUSANDS, of similar anecdotal stories as the ones you tell, currently circulating the internet.... yet, interestingly, they "support" religions other than Buddhism---and much like you, their respective religionists insist they have The One Universal Truth. Although, your hypothesis that because we can subconsciously train ourselves to hold our "pee" in our sleep, therefore, there is something "Cosmic" going on, is a new one on me....and quite amusing, I might add.
Again, please spare me, m'kay? Thanks.”

Are you afraid that your blind faith (of doubting) be challenged? There was a saying that “Once bitten by a poisonous snake (without the frog’s anti-venous), you will be scared of strings for three years”. I understand your unpleasant past and hence the present phobia. I’ll let you go. As I have told you, what I translated may not be all parables. I translated them because I have similar personal experiences. If you insist to reject all the stories it is fine with me.

I will come back to you after three years, hee hee…

Amitabha
(the humble grasshopper of the Solin Temple)

Amitabha said...

Dear ATF:

Thanks for the information about the poisonous snake and frog evolution theory (with your assumptions).

Grasshopper Amitabha

Amitabha said...

Dear boomSLANG, ATF, Jim_Arvo and other readers:

Below is a story told by my brother Steve during his career with an insurance company in Hongkong in the year 1985. He worked in the Human Resources Department. Note that I did not make up this story myself.

One day, a young man went to Steve’s office and asked if his uncle had bought any life insurance there. His uncle had no direct family member and was reported missing to the police by one of his friends after an unusual flood. The young man told the claim officer that he dreamt of his uncle on three consecutive nights, asking him to approach this insurance company because he felt down from a rocky seaside while fishing. He told the nephew that he was trapped and was in severe suffering. He told him to approach Steve’s insurance company for assistance because he was his insurance policy's beneficiary.

The claim officer immediately dismissed his claim and laugh at him. “I also dreamt that HSBC bank is mine days and nights, but I don’t have your courage to make this claim”, the officer told the young man.

However, this young man was very persistent. So the claim officer did a search on the client’s record. To his surprise that this young man’s uncle’s was indeed his client and he did list his nephew as the sole beneficiary.

The officer told the young man that despite the verification, they are in no position to help his uncle. The young man burst to tears and ask the company to do something.

The officer then told the young man that he could help make a call to the police, but his seemingly ridiculous case may not be accepted.

The company indeed made the call to the police. To everyone’s surprise, the police did take up the case and arrived at the office shortly after. The police officers asked the young man whether he was sure of the location of his uncle. The young man said he dreamt three times of the scene shown by the uncle and he was absolutely sure where it was.

The police immediately called up a rescue team with the Fire Office. In order to be sure, Steve and his colleagues also follow the rescue team to the alleged drowning site. The Fire Officer ordered a team of divers to search under the turbid seawater. The search had been conducted for six hours until it was almost sunset. The young man was very embarrassed and agreed to the rescue team to give up the search. At this time, a senior officer made a bizarre suggestion.

He prepared a motorboat and bought some bread. He asked the young man to sit on the motorboat together with the rescue officers. “Throw one bit of bread to the water and call your uncle’s name loudly”, the officer told the young man.

Everyone thought it was a ritual to say good-bye to the deceased. They slowly moved the boat to the open water while the young man throw the bread and called his uncle. Upon the third throw of the bread and the third call, the body of his uncle surfaced up near the motorboat and everyone on the scene, including Steve, was in extreme shock and speechless for a few minutes.

The uncle was hence pronounced dead on site and the insurance company paid up the premium to the young man shortly after.

(I can provide you with more information to verify this case if you are interested to do the investigation.)

Amitabha

Jim Arvo said...

Amitabha,

I'm afraid there is one thing you said that I simply cannot let pass, as it is demonstrably incorrect, and I've devoted much of my life to correcting this error whenever I see it committed. To BoomSLANG you said, and I quote:

"So do you want me to ignore you? Yes I will. Before that, I wanna make a few remarks from your seemingly emotional statements…"

Now, sir, I wish to direct you to the wording of this elliptical statement of yours, and the blatant error you've committed; the error that simply must be stamped out. Do you see it? Please, sir, in the future, kindly refrain from using "wanna" as if it were a word! It is a most frightful and unsanctioned contraction of the words "want to". This abomination has been creeping into the English lexicon, exacerbated by text messaging, and it is producing yet another generation of unregenerate illiterates.

Thank you, and carry on.

P.S. Should you learn the color of the pig's dress, please do inform us.

boomSLANG said...

Just as I said---a complete, and utter waste of time.

Ali Baba, you will inevitably drive yourself insane here. After all, this is what happens when you repeat the same thing... over, and over, and over...again, and again, and again... but yet, expect a different result.

At least you are consistent, though. Yes, once more, your arguments amount to: affirming the consequence, appeals to authority, appeals to emotion, non sequitur.....and again, sickening amounts of anecdotal "evidence".

Here, allow me to illustrate the latter type of evidence, so you get an idea of how you come across to others:

Me: This story is TRUE, everybody; I'm NOT making it up!

(already convinced, aren't you?)

According to my grandmother, my great-grandmother would get rid of warts(a type of virus) by taking a kernel of corn, rub it on the affected area, and chant "wart be gone in the name of the Spirit!".(in Pennsylvania Dutch) Then, she'd toss the kernel of corn over her right shoulder, while looking into a fullmoon. She would repeat this ritual for three days in a row, and low-and-behold, the wart would vanish!!

Ali Baba, this is exactly how you sound, each and every time you type one of your "translations" as "evidence". The point is, if we could get rid of warts using the above procedure, people wouldn't be paying large somes of money for medical doctors to freeze their warts off.

The same holds true for... uh, locating dead bodies with bread. Ali', if locating dead bodies with a loaf of bread was a fail-prove, tried-and-true, objective way to do so, then the world's private investigators, police depts, and Centers for Missing Persons would stock loaves and loaves of bread in their pantries, cruisers, and mobile units. What you have, is likely an old wive's tale, relative to your culture---one that you are touting as "evidence" for something. And even if you could verify said situation, you could NOT rule out plain ol' coincidence.

Then, to compound things, you feel the need to butcher, splice, and dice, my original quote. Here is that display, of either carelessness, or deceit:

"And also like them, you have nothing to substantiate your beliefs, but hearsay...i.e.. 'The Buddha said' this, that,...why, of course, because 'Jesus said it!'."

Here is my original quote in it's entirety, and also in context:

You, like many religionists---and even though you don't consider Buddhism a 'religion'---have the same type of ingrained conviction as any other religionist we see. And also like them, you have nothing to substantiate your beliefs, but hearsay...i.e.. 'The Buddha said' this, that, and the other thing. Oh, and half a dozen statements starting with, 'FYI'...as if you are the final authority on metaphysics. Annoying, quite frankly. The same with Christians..i.e..'Jesus said'...blah, blah, blah. And why is [it] true?...why, of course, because 'Jesus said it!'."

Previously, you said: Buddhism is not a religion, but rather, an education that only a very privileged group of people is able to fully understand and accept it.

To which I responded: "Oh yeah, I like this one---Uh huh...one cannot understand Buddhism until they accept Buddhism as true. *Boy, that one sounds all-too familiar."

*Let me clarify this: when I said/say it sounds familiar, I mean that it's the very same philosophically circular reasoning we get from Christians...i.e.. You cannot understand the Holy Spirit until you accept the Holy Spirit! In other words, when you believe and accept it as true, then it all makes sense! Evidently, the same is true with Buddhism---one cannot understand it, until they accept it as true.

Um, duh?

Recently, you said: Religion is something that you can live with or without it. Education is something if you are in lack of, you will make grave mistakes and suffer irreparable damage to yourself and others. Education can withstand challenge, is verifiable, and will not change with time. You don’t have to fully accept Buddhism in order to understand the Dharma.

This amounts to thinly veiled ad hominem. The implication is that, if one cannot, or will not, grasp the concepts of Buddhism(the "Dharma"), then they are lacking, or missing out on an education, and thus, uneducated to a degree. How arrogant.

I know I have a religious tone (which most people here are a very sick of), but I wish we can keep an open-minded attitude here.

An attempt at honesty, but followed-up with more arrogance...i.e.. the implication that if we cannot, or will not, accept your arguments/philosophies as Universally True, then we are being close-minded.

If we don’t change this attitude, we are just switching from one religion (of Christianity) to another religion (of rejection no matter what).

I'm sorry?.. "rejection no matter what"? Please, take a minute and see strawman argument.

Now, rejection in lack of CREDIBLE EVIDENCE???...yes!

Buh bye!

alan h said...

Amitabha, you wrote:

In fact, the more we look into the brain, the more we discovered that it was almost homogeneous

Amitabha, that is incorrect, the brain is highly differentiated (although plastic to some degree)

List of regions in the human brain


Medical records indicates that even a very substantial amount of brain is removed there is no substantial change of personality or memory

That is also incorrect, brain injury can cause major changes to personality and memory:

Coping with Behavior Problems after Head Injury

Traumatic brain injury

Amitabha, you claim to be open minded, but I suspect you will dismiss any evidence that does not support your beliefs.

AtheistToothFairy said...

alan h wrote:
Amitabha wrote:
In fact, the more we look into the brain, the more we discovered that it was almost homogeneous

----
Thanks alan for your input on this brain issue.

I have known of a particular well-known brain injury case for many years now, that proves our Amitabha assertion had to be incorrect.

This is the story of that case.
http://www.damninteresting.com/?p=231

Here are some excerpts of that brain injury incident

In 1848, a twenty-five-year-old construction foreman named Phineas Gage won nationwide fame by way of a hole in his head. While working on a railroad project in Vermont, he experienced a severe brain injury when a three-foot-long, fourteen pound tamping iron was violently propelled through his skull. Astonishingly, he lived to tell about it...........

Gage was fitful, irreverent, indulging at times in the grossest profanity (which was not previously his custom), manifesting but little deference for his fellows, impatient of restraint or advice when it conflicts with his desires, at times pertinaciously obstinate, yet capricious and vacillating, devising many plans of future operations, which are no sooner arranged than they are abandoned in turn for others appearing more feasible. A child in his intellectual capacity and manifestations, he has the animal passions of a strong man. Previous to his injury, although untrained in the schools, he possessed a well-balanced mind, and was looked upon by those who knew him as a shrewd, smart businessman, very energetic and persistent in executing all his plans of operation. In this regard his mind was radically changed, so decidedly that his friends and acquaintances said he was 'no longer Gage'.


As Boomslang said, the brain is the whole enchilada and everything that makes up our minds, resides solely in that gray matter.


ATF (who knows of many more brain injury/disease cases, that greatly have changed a person's brain functions and personality)

AtheistToothFairy said...

To Amitabha:

Your current text I'm replying to will be marked with ">>", while my previous text is marked with "ATF:"

I do have to admit that you not only have a good command of the English language, but certainly exhibit intelligence to boot.

However; intelligence---without verifiable evidence to back a claim, really won't change the minds of someone who looks at things with a critical eye.
As Skeptic Mike Shermer is fond of saying, "Smart people believe weird things for non-smart reasons, but can use their smartness to defend those weird things very convincingly"


That said now, let's look at your reply to me.

ATF:“If all 'souls' (energy or whatever) are reincarnated, then I see a problem with an ever-growing human population over the 'thousands' of years humans have been around.”

>>In Buddhism we prefer not to use the word “reincarnation” for two important reasons. First, reincarnate literally means taking over another fleshly body and to live again. This may not always be the case because some forms of lives you may not even need a fleshy body.

So if this 'soul' doesn't happen to enter another fleshly body right away, then where do you suppose it resides, and for how long and who/what decides when it's time to enter yet another living organism?
I mean, you claim no god is at the helm of all this, so are you saying it's all done via some cosmic auto-pilot?


>>Second, reincarnation has a connotation of a continuation of an everlasting self. According to the Dharma, nothing is permanent. The only permanence is the course of changing! While we can see our body changes years after years, can we not see our mind changes even faster (sometimes from one moment to another)? Therefore, rebirth will be a better word to describe the change of life form.

In a nutshell you're saying here that the only thing that doesn't change is change itself.
Well, that's pretty much a given fact of life.
So far, the Dharma then seems to state the obvious, no?

Because I wasn't all that familiar with this Dharma that you seem to cite (as xtians cite their bibles with overzealous assurances), I took the time to look it up on the net.


This is what I just found about Dharma from.... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhist_philosophy

Early Buddhist philosophers and exegetes created a pluralist metaphysical and phenomenological system in which all experiences of people, things, and events, can be broken down into smaller and smaller perceptual or perceptual-ontological units called dharmas. These dharmas (roughly synonymous with "phenomena") were interpreted differently by different schools: some held they were real, some held only some were real, some held all were illusory, some held they were empty, some held they were intrinsically associated with suffering, etc.

Seems that your Dharma believers have the same types of disagreements, that xtians do about their bible creeds. Why does that not surprise me in the least.


>>According to the Buddha, there are countless of worlds (or planets) similar to ours, though not all worlds are directly observable under the uncultivated eyes. This is similar to the theory of the parallel universes. Also, human form is only the one of the six life forms of cyclic existence (the others are heaven dwellers, animals, ghost, asuras and hell dwellers). In our earth alone, the other life forms are far more than humans. Therefore, even a seeming huge increase in the human number will have little effect on the overall numbers of other life forms. (FYI: Some reputable monks said that this time a world or several worlds similar to ours is/are undergoing the destruction process. Some beings that have former association with our world are seeking rebirth here. I am not sure whether this is true or not.)

I will tell you that I love science fiction and what you say here, sure would be fitting OF science fiction plots.

Parallel universes are a mere theory at this point and a world not observable by "uncultivated eyes" sure puts your creed in the realm of the supernatural.
The term uncultivated is mysterious in itself. It's as if you're saying our physical eye's have to change somehow in order to be able to observe these 'invisible' worlds?
I take it that these special worlds are not part of our known universe, but perhaps exists in some other dimension?

So far, you have no better case than anyone else who makes supernatural claims of realms beyond the human senses.
We can dream up whatever fantasy world we WISH to exist, but fantasy and/or wishful thinking does not change reality.

Can you prove these special worlds actually exist, other than with hearsay evidence?

You also speak of ghost and hell dwellers.
Well, if hell is not a physical place on this earth, then these "hell dwellers" have no more proof than the xtians have for their bible hell.

I also have never seen any valid proof for 'ghosts', so if you're stating that we have ghosts roaming this earth, then again, you need to prove that claim before anyone even mildly skeptical, is going to buy into that claim.
I have absolutely no reason to believe ghost are real, so you have a long ways to go to justify your claim of them....at least with me you do.


>>FYI: Whenever there was a war, there would be a baby boom. Also, some animals (such as coyotes) will have a baby boom when they are killed in large number.

While I won't deny that baby boom's occur AFTER a war is over with, I don't know why you feel this fact is caused by anything other than basic human nature, along with opportunity.

As far as animals repopulating after their population has suffered a tragedy, I see again no reason to think this has anything to do with more than them trying to get their numbers back to a level that their environment can support.

Are you making a supernatural claim that a given animal population; which dwindles or increases with their food supply, is instead responding to 'souls' looking for a home?
If so, you must already realize that you believe this on faith alone, as I can't see how it could be proven out.


>>Also FYI: 2600+ years ago, the Buddha repeatedly told us that he observed tens of thousands of sentient beings under even a droplet of water. Therefore, the monks were required to use a cloth net to filter the water from the rivers when taken for drinking. “This will minimize killing, though there will still beings that escaped the filter”, said the Buddha. Remember this was 2600+ years ago!

No way!!
Even if one supposed this Buddha had a microscope to see thousands of bacteria in a drop of water, one would then have to assume each bacteria was a sentient being in itself.
Sorry, you'll never convince me of that.

If this Buddha was right, then each time someone drank water, they landed up killing millions of innocent sentient beings.
Sounds to me like they should have stopped drinking water altogether, just to save millions of sentient beings, and gave up their own ONE human life instead.

Also, if this were true, then that would mean that each of us is composed of billions of tiny sentient beings.
Again, I'm not buying this....at all.

ATF:“Do souls/spirts 'mate' and produce new 'baby' souls, that would then take a physical human body?”

>>When souls/spirits mate, if the other soul is not ready to take over, the result will be a failed fertilization or a stillborn. Life reproduction (esp. in humans) is something other than mere genetic recombination. This explains why many fertile couples have difficulty in conception.

WOW, that's a real stretch of imagination, if you ask me.
So now you're saying that the failures some couples have to get pregnant, aren't caused by problems with their bodies or problems with their sperm/eggs, but these problems stem from spirits not yet ready to bond with a new life?

You also makes it sound like these souls can mate without a physical body....was that your intent?

ATF:“Do you believe (as some do) that former human souls also exist inside other life forms and if so, would our present lives determine if we next become human again (if we deserve it) or get reduced to an urban city Rat?”

>>Yes, I do. In fact, I have countless of reports of people who recall their former lives as animals and ghosts. If you observe carefully, the ghost and animal instincts are still within us. Therefore, to be a human and be able to hear the Dharma, even for a very short moment, is an extremely rare opportunity indeed. Please cherish it.

Sorry, I can't "cherish" something I've never experienced and most likely, never will.
I have no 'ghost' instincts in me and I suspect anyone who does, has a very active imagination going for them.

Now animal instincts might make some sense, but only because we evolved from lower life forms. i.e. animal ancestors.
That does NOT mean that if we feel animalistic that it's because of something coming from a spirit part of us.

ATF:“If this is your thinking, then what non-god force is determining who gets to be human and who becomes the Rat?”

>>In the universe, there are two great forces that determine your future destiny. The first is the karmic force. This is the force created by your past actions. It is like a seed planted into the soil. Under the correct circumstances it will sprout out and grow into the corresponding plants.

Okay, you have a theory here of karmic forces.
It doesn't matter who thought up this concept, but where is the proof such a 'force' exist?

On a side note, I have to wonder how it is that most of us have no idea about this force, but someone thousands of years ago figured it all out, without any technology to aid them in such a grand quest.

>> (Karmic force is so great that even a Buddha cannot escape the consequence when all the conditions ripened. The only difference is that a Buddha can ride through the consequence without suffering while we can’t.)

Again, how do you KNOW this is true?

Sounds very much like a fairy tale to me.
Let's suppose your assertion is true. How would any physical human come to realize this knowledge?
Sorry, but I didn't "get-the-memo" here on this.


>>The other is our will power. It is our mind that creates everything. In fact, the two great forces are the same – mind (or will) power. One is the past mind and the other is the present mind. An enlightened man will have a mind that can overcome the karmic force (or at least the sufferings) and to change his destiny. Therefore, if you have committed very heavy karma that is sucking you into the Rat domain, the only fighting force to get you out of this is your will power.

WHEW....so then where/what is this force of the universe, that would be responsible for sucking me into a Rat in my next life?
If our next life depends on what we do in this life, who/what is the great 'supervisor', making sure everyone follows the proper path in their destiny?
Are you saying it's our own minds;as if a human's mind is made stronger or weaker by how good/bad they were in this lifetime?

You can't tell me that this doesn't sound very far-fetched, right.

>>I shall use a past story to illustrate this point.

Listen my friend, Boomslang has a valid point here, in that stories won't do a thing to help your case here. I have no way of verifying such stories as being more than fables, and certainly no way to verify the details of such fables, aren't just hearsay or flat out lies.
If I thought the supernatural world was real and accessible by us, then your stories might be able to fine-tune my thinking about that unnatural world, but you have a long way to go to even prove such a supernatural world(s) exist to me.

Every group of folks who claim ANYTHING supernatural or incredible, have stories and other weak forms of so called 'evidence', but anytime one starts to look closely at their evidence, that evidence falls apart quickly.

If such things were of reality, then it should be EASY to prove them out and one shouldn't see them as rare happenings, nor should it be very hard to find credible evidence to support such claims. For some reason, the 'evidence' of such things never holds up under any scrutiny.


>>This is a common problem with our habit of understand and acceptance – Must we have legit study and belief that has been accepted by everyone in the world before we can accept it?

Frankly, YES!!!
Now I won't say the world has to be convinced, but at the very least, the results have to be verifiable and repeatable by those who don't have an agenda in the conclusion of such studies.
My experience with any group claiming something extraordinary, is that they mold the evidence to their liking.
i.e. they cheat, either intentionally or by ignorance of the scientific methods.


>>If you observe very carefully, a lot of useful knowledge was acquired long before the scientific community’s acceptance. One such example is the development of acupuncture. FYI: This art has been practiced extensively in almost all hospitals in China as a supportive anesthesia.

If you were looking to bolster your case to me by citing acupuncture, then I have to tell you that I'm a huge skeptic in the claims made for it.
Now it MIGHT be possible that one can use it to 'numb' certain nerves, even if that numbness is only in the belief that it will have such an effect, but anything beyond that use has no evidence to show it works as some say it does.

I do NOT think there is anything great about acupuncture and I certainly would never recommend it to heal a person.
There is no science behind the mechanism it claims as a basis for it working.
The tests I've seen done here in the USA, have yet to show it does anymore than relax a person, much as a good massage would also do.

>> When you are in grave danger needing such a procedure, will it be too late? I am not forcing an answer here, but I have a different view that I would like to share with you.

I don't think I'd ever be in 'grave danger' of needing acupuncture.
Thanks, but I'll just stick with proven medical methods, if you don't mind.

>>Therefore, everyone has a certain faith in something. Those who insisted that they are skeptics are having faith in doubting!

I think we would need to define what you mean by 'faith'.
I think there is some confusion about the difference between what you see as faith, and what I see as "earned TRUST".

I disagree that us skeptics have faith in doubting.
That makes it sound like we refuse to weigh the evidence of an assertion.
That said, I will say that we do not have the time to chase after the thousands of extraordinary claims that are made. Therefore, based on previous knowledge/experience, many claims must be dismissed from the start.

For instance, plenty of research has been done with the psuedo-science of divining for underground water. So if someone makes a claim that they have this talent, as some do each day of the week, then should we waste our time testing each and every person that makes this claim, or should we expend our energy/time looking at claims that are new?

We have many here in the USA who are sure ghost exists and that they can detect them, yet all their evidence so far is based on hearsay, natural explanations and their own minds creating the very evidence they seek to find.
Same for Aliens flying around in UFO's.


>>- When things are happening every day and is mainly (and easily) reproducible.
- When the mechanism of the phenomena makes sense under our prior knowledge. For example, we never actually see a neutrino from any apparatus, but we deduce its existence from its effect. We have never seen our ancestors but we accept it.

In both cases here you cite, we are not speaking about anything supernatural, so it's far easier to believe in their reality, than the claims you make sir.

ATF:“e.g. In the recent book "SPOOK" by Mary Roach, this reincarnation subject is …, but they failed every time to do so..”

>>As I have stated, not all the cases in past life recall is easily verifiable. May be most of the cases (say 99%) are fraud. However, without a full investigation, are you sure that 100% are untrue? Therefore, we must have an open mind and study the cases carefully. Without fully understanding the mechanism and hastily conclude that things are true or untrue is equally superstitious. Scientists are not immune to such mistakes.

So then tell me, if this rebirth process is so ever-present, then it should be EASY to find evidence of it and not have to weed through this 99% fraud rate.
Also, if it was real, then we wouldn't have this need for so many folks to be faking it, right.

So, if the best you can do is to find a mere 1% that aren't easily explained away, well, I'm sorry, but you'll have to do better to convince most of us here; I should think.

>>Finally, I would like to advise that Buddhism is not a religion, but rather, an education that only a very privileged group of people is able to fully understand and accept it. Those who can read the Chinese scripts and be able to access the original records are in extreme privilege because they can afford to analyze mountains of useful past records. I am spending my valuable time trying to introduce some information that you may never be able to access. However, unlike Christians, I am not forcing anyone to accept a blind faith.

It sure sounds like a religion to me, albeit, lacking some single creator god being.
It has all the elements of a religious belief.

It uses piss poor hearsay evidence, requires a ton of blind faith, requires a belief in things beyond the natural and spends a lot of it's energy trying to explain life.
From what I read, it's also very much about the quality of "righteousness", but uses that quest for living the right type of life, for the purpose of climbing the 'ladder' to a better next life.

What your 'religion' seems to be lacking, is a definitive force that is controlling all these claims you cite here. Without a god in control, then one has to speculate that when the universe was formed, that some part of it was made supernatural and some force of that realm is responsible for determining the destiny of every living thing on this planet...maybe even right down to an ameba; from the sounds of it.

Tell you what sir, I'll take a chance that your ideas here are only remotely possible, at best.
Given that I could pick a lot of things in life that have a remote chance of being factual, but choose to ignore such things for good reason, then why would I jump on your bandwagon without solid evidence for your claims?
That to me is no better than betting your week's salary on a race horse, just because some stranger whispered you a tip at the race track.

So, if I doomed to become a Rat in my next life, well, then I'm pretty sure it will be a SHORT life, as rats don't live very long, do they....LOL

BTW....just how would a rat know it has to live a proper life, in order to become a dog in the next life?
Do they just automatically move up the food chain ladder until they reach the human level, and it's only then that some invisible forces out there, decide on their next fate?

Frankly, your beliefs just sound like another means to get the vast majority to behave in a desired manner. Not really much different, than the way Christianity works, in that regard.
The xtian faith hands out a reward of heaven if one does as required and a punishment of hell if one ignores those requirements.
Your belief does about the same thing, in that how you live your life will render you a reward of a better next life or a punishment of a lower based next life.

All these ideas are man-made my friend. Can you prove that the ideas of your beliefs originated from some grand cosmic source?

Isn't it far more likely that some clever minded person way back when, sat down and thought all these things up, all on his/her own.
I think so, I really really do!!


ATF (Who thinks if anything supernatural exists out there, it should not be hiding itself so dang well, from the casual observers on this planet)

Amitabha said...

Thanks for all the feedback and supports! I believe the more we debate the clearer is the truth reviewed as long as we have an open-mind.

Dear boomSlang: You are getting very impulsive and irrational here. Most Christians are drawn to the religion by impulsiveness and irrationality. I am surprised to know that even after they managed to wake up to the fallacy of the religion, some of them have not managed to realize their root cause of making the mistake (of being gulled to Christianity) in the first place. It is now Jan 7, 2008. The three years detoxication/rehabilitation period has not been up yet. My rope-like writing style bears too much resemblance of a venomous snake that once hurt you. So I should leave you alone until Jan 7, 2011.

Dear Jim_Arvo: Thanks for the correction. I will refrain from using the “wanna” and shall replace it by “want to”. As I have said in my earlier post, I am not a native English writer and speaker. One of my objectives of writing to this blog is to improve my English writing skills. I am grateful of your assistance.

Dear Alan_h and ATF: The brain is differentiated in functions but homogenous physically - they are all neurons! Strictly speaking, it is differentiated by preference. In fact, if you removed any part of the brain and the corresponding functions are lost, some other part of the brain will have the potential to take over the missing function. That is what I meant by homogenous.

In case of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), there is a considerably minor change of behaviour. In fact, we don’t have to undergo a TBI. In other circumstances, anyone (who were under the influence of alcohol, drugs, course of losing a close relative or job, or after bitten by a snake) will also suffer from a similar change of behaviour. As we get older our behaviour also changes. What I mentioned is a substantial change of personality proportional to the injury. For example, there is no major loss of the person of major memories, the way to use his language/accent, the knowledge to drive a vehicle, the education received, keeping his major preference (such as the using of left or right side of the hand, favourite foods and colours). Therefore, the integrity of the brain has no convincing correlating evidence to the integrity of the mind (at the spiritual level).

Finally, just an advice to everyone: Wisdom, in some aspect, can be measured as the capability to foresee and predict the occurrence of a problem. Some people manage to understand a problem by gathering lots of third party data (such as the jurisdiction in the court) and to conclude the result. Some people can only do this by a few personal experience. Some other will only accept the result by lots of repeated personal experiences that incurred heavy losses. Yet, a few other individual will keep denying a fact regardless of the losses and number of personal experiences, or draw the wrong conclusion. It is up to you to judge who is the best attitude toward life.

"The mind is like a parachute. It only works when it is open"

Amitabha

boomSLANG said...

Amitabha ends his most recent post, with..."The mind is like a parachute. It only works when it is open"

Which, of course, is a thinly-veiled implication that if I/we don't readily, and eagerly, buy into his on-slaught of personal testimony, anecdotal story-telling, unproven mystical assertions---oh, and for me, personally, that would also include what follows below---then everyone is being "close-minded":

The three years detoxication/rehabilitation period has not been up yet. My rope-like writing style bears too much resemblance of a venomous snake that once hurt you. So I should leave you alone until Jan 7, 2011.

Lol. Yeah, uh huh.

Congratulations, Amitabha....you are officially insane. You are ill, with self-delusion. Get help. There are several ex-Buddhist support groups available to you. Good luck. Ssssssss.

AtheistToothFairy said...

To Amitabha:

Did you even bother to read the articles that Alan_h and I posted for YOU TO READ?

It would seem NOT, because you continue to believe that brain damage can't change one's personality (etc.) in a significant manner.

It had been very well documented that such drastic changes do in fact, occur.
To state otherwise, is to ignore the obvious.

As far as the brain's ability to heal itself goes.
I know folks who are in the field of rehabilitating people who suffered traumatic brain injuries, and while some eventually do get back lost functions/memories, MANY NEVER DO.

It is so blatantly obvious that a brain injury can affect both physical functions as well as cause great changes to our very 'being' , or 'mind' if you will.
If such changes become permanent, as they OFTEN do, then how can you be so sure that the essence of a person remains unchanged.
If the brain/mind suffers such extensive damage, then how could one ever achieve the next better life, that you claim we all must strive for?

So far my friend, you have not brought to the table any trustworthy evidence to support the belief system you choose to abide by.

Here is my evaluation of what I've seen from you so far:

1. You dispute what medical science has clearly shown to be factual about our brains.

2. You have yet to prove to us that your snake/frog story is factual.

3. You use one hearsay story after the next to try and swing us to your way of thinking and I'm not sure why you would think that we would buy into such stories; that clearly have no means to persuade anyone, other than a believer in your faith.

4. There is a huge difference between having an open mind, and having a mind so open that it refuses to ever filter an extraordinary claim put to it.
i.e. While a parachute needs to be open to function, that parachute will not work very well if it's full of [logical] holes.

5. Like with most religions, your own was formed by some ancient humans, who never proved what they could easily convince others of.

Most people seem to have this inner need to discover the meaning-of-life and there are plenty of folks who are more than willing to fill in that gap FOR THEM.

Their are many who hate not understanding the mysteries of the universe and will cherish someone who comes along with some mystical explanation that satisfies their innate curiosity.
Each ancient society is wrought with tales of how the earth and humans, came to exist.

Your beliefs are no different in trying to satisfy those ancient questions, and while they may satisfy you for your own personal reasons, they will not satisfy most of us who NOW require proof before again believing in the impossible/improbable.

Who knows, maybe the case you made did have an effect on some potential converts here that will read your thoughts, but I really think you are looking for gullible mystic-minded fish within a tank filled with skeptical sharks.


ATF (Who is sure Mike Shermer is right about some intelligent people)

Amitabha said...

Dear AtheistToothFairy: Thank you for your appraisal of my comment. Also thank you for dedicating a considerable amount of time in responding to what I said. Below are my comments using your notation of >> to define your original note:

>> However; intelligence---without verifiable evidence to back a claim, really won't change the minds of someone who looks at things with a critical eye.

What do you mean by “verifiable evidence”? If the several independent and trustworthy witnesses consistently told the judge in the court about an event, should the judge ask if they could reproduce (NOT describe) the event in front of him as verifiable evidence?

As mentioned in my previous mail (that you have probably overlooked) I defined “faith” as a system of established belief. This is my definition. In a formal debate, a definition is not challengeable.

I also said, “If you do not believe in anything, then you have the faith of doubting!”

Using this definition, everyone needs a certain faith to do something. There is a saying that “In the dream everything is so real. After waking up nothing is left behind.” Are you sure that at that moment of certain experience it is not a dream? Therefore, faith is essential to living.

I am not making a claim here, and I am not fighting a court case with you. I regard this forum as a mean to do some high-level intellectual exchanges. Therefore, I wish everyone to look at my idea objectively of how to develop a wise faith in my previous post.

>>As Skeptic Mike Shermer is fond of saying, "Smart people believe weird things for non-smart reasons, but can use their smartness to defend those weird things very convincingly"

I wish Mike Shermer had put down a firm definition of “Smart” or “Smartness”. In this World, many believe that if they can take good advantage of a situation for their own (esp. short-term) personal gain, even at the expense of orders, as long as they can avoid being caught, it is very “smart” move. However, they would not realize that sometimes such short-term personal gain may lead to severe long-term suffering in the future. Therefore, it is up to our wisdom to judge “smartness”.
If a person is really smart, he will evaluate both the short-term and long-term benefits from any of his actions. A truly “smart” person will be one of great compassion, enjoying other's happiness as much as his own, and is willing to sacrifice himself for the benefit of others.

>> So if this 'soul' doesn't happen to enter another fleshly body right away, then where do you suppose it resides, and for how long and who/what decides when it's time to enter yet another living organism?

Upon your death, this ‘soul’ (consciousness) will take a subtle form of body, very much like your body in a dream. It depends on your attachment. If you are very attached to your property, you may end up staying around the property until 1. you are tired of it, or 2. the total destruction of the property, or 3. a better opportunity to rebirth in another living organism. However, what you can perceive in the beyond can be very different from the perception while you are still alive.

>>I mean, you claim no god is at the helm of all this, so are you saying it's all done via some cosmic auto-pilot?

The destination and period for the rebirth is dependent on the force of the past (as the result of your past actions), or karmic force, as well as the force of the present will power. Therefore, our formless mind is the creator of everything.

>> In a nutshell you're saying here that the only thing that doesn't change is change itself. Well, that's pretty much a given fact of life.
So far, the Dharma then seems to state the obvious, no?

You are right. The Dharma is the study of Mother Nature. It is an alternative to natural science because it provides the missing part of the scientific answer and solution. There is no such thing as "supernatural" per se once you have a full understanding of the Dharma.

>> Because I wasn't all that familiar with this Dharma that you seem to cite (as xtians cite their bibles with overzealous assurances), I took the time to look it up on the net.

The core of the Dharma is the “Four Noble Truth” and the “Eight-fold Path”. One good web site on the net is http://www.thebigview.com/buddhism/fourtruths.html

Few Buddhists are overzealous to cite the Dharma because they regard this as an education. This is different from a religion (you must believe in order to go to heaven or you are cast to hell with Satan as the saying: “You are either with me or against me”) or a commodity (such that more followers will finance or support the organization), or a pressure group (such that there will be more sympathizers to dominate politics and the way of living).

In Buddhism, we believe that only a very few privilege group of people can be able to understand the Dharma. Even less are the one who can practise and benefit from it. This is not because of their intellectual level, but because these privileged handful of people has repeatedly heard the Dharma many lives before, and probably from many other Buddhas, for a countless number of times.

Therefore, we do not force sell the Dharma to everyone on the street, or use military and/or economical might/colonization to conquer a country in order to force everyone to believe in the Dharma. In China, Buddhism was officially invited from India dated back to the Han Dynasty some 1500 years ago. This invitation had been continuing regardless of the dynasties until 350 years ago. Thereafter, India’s Buddhism was slowly eradicated by the Muslims. The monks were killed and the oldest temples were destroyed. Instead of waging a defensive war, the remaining Buddhists moved out of India. At present, the major treasure of the Dharma is still in China, Taiwan, and other Asian countries.

Amitabha
(To be continued in the next post)

Amitabha said...

Dear AtheistToothFairy:
(This is a continuation of my comment in the former post)

>> Early Buddhist philosophers and exegetes created a pluralist metaphysical and phenomenological system in which all experiences of people, things, and events, can be broken down into smaller and smaller perceptual or perceptual-ontological units called dharmas. These dharmas (roughly synonymous with "phenomena") were interpreted differently by different schools: some held they were real, some held only some were real, some held all were illusory, some held they were empty, some held they were intrinsically associated with suffering, etc. Seems that your Dharma believers have the same types of disagreements, that xtians do about their bible creeds. Why does that not surprise me in the least.

Anyone who has studied the Dharma diligently for just a few years can easily explain to you that all the seemingly disagreements are different stages of learning.

Let me illustrate this using our mainstream mathematics as an analogy.

In the primary school, the teacher will prohibit math that involves subtracting a big number from a small number. He/she will tell you that you can’t take more than what is available. (4-3=1, but 3-4 is not allowed). Does it make sense? For the primary school pupils, it does!

In the early secondary school, the teachers explain that it is OK to take more from than what is available as long as you remember to return. Therefore concept of negative number is introduced. (4-3=1; 3-4=-1). However, the teachers will also say that taking the root of a negative number is meaningless, because there is no such number. We accepted it.

In the upper secondary school, the teachers changed the concept again. They now say that taking the root of a negative number is OK. It is called “imaginary number”. We use this concept extensively in the study of linear electric circuits.

What a confusion! But it all makes sense by now.

We use the term “dharma” (lower case d) to define the phenomena of everything, because the present phenomenon is caused by an action. Thus dharma is also the result of the action.

Therefore, in a general sense, dharma is defined as “the general phenomena of causes and effects from the past, present and future.”
The teaching of the Buddha in explaining these general phenomena and the wisdom to seek happiness and eradicate suffering is called the Dharma (upper case D).

Just like a movie, a phenomenon can be categorized as real. If the theatre is not really showing, why do you have to pay for the ticket?

Also like a movie, a phenomenon can be illusory. The movie appears to be moving but it is actually a series of rapidly changing picture frames.

There are no real human, objects or scenery on the screen. Once the electricity is switched off, it is null and void. Get it?

Because it movie is illusory, null and void, it is therefore empty.

If the movie is good, you enjoyed it and you attached to it. You are influenced by the characters and philosophy of it. As a result you may also committed the same mistakes from the weakness of the characters and/or philosophy. Sometimes you tried very hard to see such movies but you can’t. You craved for the missing of it at whatever cost you can afford. This is suffering.

Life is just a movie. It possesses the features of real, illusory, empty and suffering at the same time. It all depends on the state of mind.

Amitabha: “According to the Buddha, there are countless of worlds (or planets) similar to ours…”

>> I will tell you that I love science fiction and what you say here, sure would be fitting OF science fiction plots.

Have you not realized that many inventions are stemmed from the idea of science fiction plots? Though we have not yet discovered any planet similar to ours, the probability of such planets in the boundless universe is almost 100%. Why are you so sure that such worlds can only exist in science fiction plots? (Blind) faith in doubting?! Or do you still believe that God created the Earth and Jesus is His only son? Since the only son cannot be sent more than once to die on the cross; therefore we should have only one Earth? Are you an Ex-ex-xtian in disguise?

>> I take it that these special worlds are not part of our known universe, but perhaps exists in some other dimension?

They can be in the other dimension. They can also be at the further side of the universe.

>>So far, you have no better case than anyone else who makes supernatural claims of realms beyond the human senses.
We can dream up whatever fantasy world we WISH to exist, but fantasy and/or wishful thinking does not change reality

Fantasy does and will change reality. Therefore we have great writers and inventors. Indulging in bad fantasies may also give rise to real mental patients. It all originated from our mind and how and whether you can manage to materialize fantasy. In all of my posted stories none of them is beyond the human senses, at least not beyond the senses of the person involved.

In the absolute sense, the commonly known “reality”, or whatever that has forms, is liable to destruction and annihilation. Take some old family photos and look at them in front of the mirror. Soon you’ll be able to realize that everything is indeed illusory.

>> Can you prove these special worlds actually exist, other than with hearsay evidence?

Can you prove Bin Laden actually planned the 9-11? Are you so sure that the CNN movie shots are not fabricated? Are you sure that other TV channels also fabricated their shots because no one can move you back to time and place where Bin Laden made the planning?

>> You also speak of ghost and hell dwellers.
Well, if hell is not a physical place on this earth, then these "hell dwellers" have no more proof than the xtians have for their bible hell.

I have already explained how a wise faith is derived. This applies to accepting the existence of ghost and hell dwellers. If you have the habit of discrediting all records and insist on repeatable evidence to make any judgement, I am sure that you can’t make any useful decision other than barely daily routine.

FYI: The concept of hell in xtians and in Buddhists are very different. 1. xtians believe that hell is eternal suffering. Buddhists believe that hell dwelling, despite its exceedingly long time span, is not eternal. 2. xtians believe that when you don’t believe in God/Jesus you will definitely be sent to hell. Buddhists believe that hell dwelling only belongs to those who caused the greatest suffering to others regardless of your belief.
3. xtians believe that if you belief in God you will be sent to heaven, otherwise you will be cast to hell. Buddha never cast anyone to hell. The falling to the hell domain is basically caused by your own previous evil actions. Despite so, the Buddha is determined to go to hell and ferry anyone out of suffering as long as the dwellers can and willing to be ferried.

Hell can be visualized right on this Earth in many developing countries. Look at most parts of Africa, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Amitabha: “FYI: Whenever there was a war, there would be a baby boom…”

>> As far as animals repopulating after their population has suffered a tragedy, I see again no reason to think this has anything to do with more than them trying to get their numbers back to a level that their environment can support.

At the end of wars, the people are in great distress. Food and cover is scarce. It is not a supportive environment for population boom.

For animals, the environmental support is basically the same (as in coyotes) before or after a mass slaughtering because they normally don’t significant competing each other for food. In actual fact, studies have shown that such population boom is boosted by a sharp increase in fertility. Therefore, your alternative explanation is not convincing.

>>Even if one supposed this Buddha had a microscope to see thousands of bacteria in a drop of water, one would then have to assume each bacteria was a sentient being in itself.
Sorry, you'll never convince me of that.

The Buddha never needs any telescope to observe the far universe or a microscope to see the tiniest particle of matter, or worlds in a multitude of dimension. Also, he can see the past and the future in all directions. He possesses the power of seeing these using a naked eye. When you become a Buddha you have the same power too. Do you think it is a fiction? It will no longer be a fiction as long as you are enlightened. I don’t want to force a belief here.

According to the Buddha, everything that shows reluctance to be hurt or be killed is a sentient being by definition. Even when you strike a microscopic animal using an electric stimulus, there is a detectable sign of rejection by the animal. As long as they have such feelings, they are sentient beings.
>> If this Buddha was right, then each time someone drank water, they landed up killing millions of innocent sentient beings. Sounds to me like they should have stopped drinking water altogether, just to save millions of sentient beings, and gave up their own ONE human life instead.

In my previous post, did you not read that the Buddha asked their disciples to use a cloth filter to MINIMIZE killing?

Do you mean since killing one rat is killing, killing one person is also killing? Or killing one person is no different from killing hundreds of them (because killing is killing)? Anyone who has such attitude bears the mindset of a serial killer. Such run-away attitude, unfortunately, is present in many people’s mind. The Coquitlam pig farmer in BC Canada is one of such examples. When firearms can be sold to everyone in a supermarket and even kids can easily get access of it, what a suffering if we cannot rectify such dreadful mindsets!

I define perfection is a direction, not a destination. Therefore, we have to weigh the gain and the loss in order to draw the line. The Buddha stressed on walking the “Middle Way” because moving too much to either extremes creates suffering. We can only do our best to minimize killing in whatever circumstance permits. Using a cloth filter, many particles, parasites and bacteria can be removed. This is a responsible procedure during Buddha’s time (esp. when alternative water sterilisation is not available).

For those who have committed unjust killing of higher animals and even humans, please repent immediately and stop any further killing. You are not helping the natural selection of weeding out the weak, but you are asking the mechanism to reject you from returning to this game.

Note that karma is linear and cumulative. In the human world, we may get the same punishment regardless of the number of victims you have murdered. In the beyond, you will have to get the more severe punishment you caused to EACH of the individuals. When the hellish punishment series is over, you will have to become murder victims (in human or animal forms) the same number of times of your past murders in your future lives again. Therefore, if you do not put a brake on your evil actions, it is not worth it.

Amitabha: “When souls/spirits mate, if the other soul is not ready to take over, the result will be a failed fertilization or a stillborn…”

>> You also makes it sound like these souls can mate without a physical body....was that your intent?

It is up to you to buy into this idea. When souls mate, it does need a physical body in order to produce newborns. In other realms of the six cyclic existences other than humans and most animals, mating is normally not the way to make newborns. In the ghost domain, your first appearance will normally resemble your last appearance in the human domain. Therefore, ghosts who died with mutilated body will possess a bloody and deformed body, though by will power such body can be changed to a better shape in later time.

ATF, I hope you can adopt a more objective attitude towards what I said. So far most cases of infertility and stillborn are not fully understood, have you got all the answers?

>> Sorry, I can't "cherish" something I've never experienced and most likely, never will.

You are already cherishing the chance of hearing the Dharma. Otherwise, you won’t have gone to such a great length to argue with me.

Amitabha: Karmic force is so great that even a Buddha cannot escape the consequence when all the conditions ripened. The only difference is that a Buddha can ride through the consequence without suffering while we can’t.

>> Again, how do you KNOW this is true?

The Buddha himself talked about it (see the Nirvana Sutra http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nirvana_Sutra ). Buddha experienced sickness and death. This karmic force is applied to everyone. When you are born, you will be subjected to aging, sickness and death regardless of your lifespan. If you do not want aging, sickness and death, the only way is not to be born again.

The only difference is that the Buddha did not suffer – because he still expounded the Dharma even during sickness and just before death at the age of 80.

Amitabha: >>The other is our will power. It is our mind that creates everything…

>> WHEW....so then where/what is this force of the universe, that would be responsible for sucking me into a Rat in my next life?

What force did it suck you into believing in Christianity before? Have I not said that this is your mind power?

>> If our next life depends on what we do in this life, who/what is the great 'supervisor', making sure everyone follows the proper path in their destiny?

In this life, your repeated actions turned into habits. A conglomeration of habits forms your personality. Personality alters your destiny. You – yourself – are this great ‘supervisor’. This is up to you to follow the whatever path in the destiny that you created.

>> Are you saying it's our own minds; as if a human's mind is made stronger or weaker by how good/bad they were in this lifetime?

Our true mind (in the Dharma we called it the “Buddha Nature” or the Eighth consciousness) is invariant. It is the same as in everyone, animals, ghost…, and even the Buddha. The difference is the personality (our Sixth and Seventh Consciousness) are the hijackers. The more we weaken the hijackers, the more Buddha Nature can be seen and the more wisdom we can develop. When the hijackers are fully subdued, we become the Buddha. Therefore, we cannot let our sensory illusion and emotions takes over.

Personality is influenced by external factors such as drugs, social environments, brain traumas/diseases, etc. However, our Buddha Nature has never changed. An untrained mind will be dragged by our capricious personality. When we are praised, we feel happy. When we are viciously attacked, we feel angry. When we have a chance to take hold of something valuable but not belonging to us, we feel greedy and want to keep it to ourselves. When we suffer great loss we feel sad and even gone mad. Therefore, the difference between a Buddha and us is that the Buddha is his own master while we are our own slaves.

>> Listen my friend, Boomslang has a valid point here, in that stories won't do a thing to help your case here… If I thought the supernatural world was real and accessible by us, then your stories might be able to fine-tune my thinking about that unnatural world, but you have a long way to go to even prove such a supernatural world(s) exist to me.

I am not trying to convince you into any belief or drawing into any conclusion. I am here to just provide you the information I have accessed. However, I strongly encourage all of you to do some research on similar phenomena that has recorded elsewhere. Just like asking for a direction in a city, never ask only one person. Otherwise, you will fall into the same trap as what Christianity has created.

In the Dharma there is no such word as “supernatural” because it has the connotation of something come out of a pure imagination. You feel odd and disbelief of the records I posted not because they are supernatural, but because you have not developed the appropriate insights.

Amitabha: “If you observe very carefully, a lot of useful knowledge was acquired long before the scientific community’s acceptance. One such example is the development of acupuncture. FYI: This art has been practiced extensively in almost all hospitals in China as a supportive anesthesia.”

>> If you were looking to bolster your case to me by citing acupuncture, then I have to tell you that I'm a huge skeptic in the claims made for it…

ATF: If you do not believe what I told you regarding the popularity acupuncture practice in China’s medicine, there are tons of credible references on the web. Below are just two examples:
http://autoimmunedisease.suite101.com/blog.cfm/acupuncture_today
http://www.natural-animal-health.co.uk/Acupuncture.htm

When even overwhelming published evidence of acupuncture success in the West could not convince you, you are simply too arrogant. There is no hope for you to understand the Dharma in this forum.

>>I do NOT think there is anything great about acupuncture and I certainly would never recommend it to heal a person…

If you happened to get severely injured and to await an urgent surgical operation in some part of Asia, and if the traditional western anaesthesia is running out, or chances are that you would not recover from anaesthesia, and if there is already an established acupunctural procedure in the Hospital, would you rather die than to accept acupunctural to numb your body?

>> It (Buddhism) uses piss poor hearsay evidence, requires a ton of blind faith, requires a belief in things beyond the natural and spends a lot of it's energy trying to explain life.

How do you know what I presented is poor hearsay evidence? Are you the person involved in the stories? Have you presented your data to prove otherwise?

Do you have to personally experience all types of tortures, or drugs, or diseases, in order to write a book about them? A blind faith is the established belief stems from a single source. Buddhism never encourages such dangerous practice. May be your arrogance has severe masked your capability to reason and to understand the points I made repeatedly to present in this forum.

I think we all should avoid making the same mistake of getting too personal and too self-centred.

>> So, if I doomed to become a Rat in my next life, well, then I'm pretty sure it will be a SHORT life, as rats don't live very long, do they....LOL

If you have not created your own destiny to be a Rat in your next life, it will never happen to you. However, once you are in the animal or ghost domain, it will be very hard to get out. This is similar to many poor African countries. You can be in a vicious cycle. Life after life you may still be in the same domain. It is not a laughing matter.

>> BTW....just how would a rat know it has to live a proper life, in order to become a dog in the next life?

Have you not got any hint from the story of the lay Buddhist disciple’s story in the Taiwanese temple (regarding the severe difficulties shedding his pig’s karma in his previous life)?

>> Frankly, your beliefs just sound like another means to get the vast majority to behave in a desired manner. Not really much different, than the way Christianity works, in that regard.

Yes, my wish is to introduce the concept of Causality to the vast majority in order to help to eradicate suffering. We are now living in a very dangerous era and there are signs that the danger is forever growing. We are all sitting on a huge time bomb. This is not because there is a doomsday that God will destroy the world, but because our technological advance has surpassed our mental capacity. The over-simplified model of natural selection gives rises to bullying, invasion, violence domination and injustice. As I have mentioned before, high-tech lethal weapons are easily available, so are drugs and drug related crimes. People are forever more self-centred. We spent too much time on improving material comforts and sensory satisfaction without improving our spiritual maturity. All these are because we have ignored the great wisdom of the past. We only read what we would like to believe and discredit blindly of whatever that is not in the mainstream culture.

Is it worth it to live in a society like this without doing anything?

Amitabha

Amitabha said...

Dear AtheistToothFairy:

>> Did you even bother to read the articles that Alan_h and I posted for YOU TO READ?

In posting, try to limit the use of the upper case letters. It is like a making a rowdy noise. Thanks for expressing your urgency and interest in my reply but you must allow me some time to give you a “smart” reply, mustn’t you?

>> It had been very well documented that such drastic changes do in fact, occur. To state otherwise, is to ignore the obvious… It is so blatantly obvious that a brain injury can affect both physical functions as well as cause great changes to our very 'being' , or 'mind' if you will.

I don’t think you have read my previous post carefully, or even do any reading at all. I am now restating my comments below:

“In case of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), there is a considerably minor change of behaviour…What I mentioned is a substantial change of personality proportional to the injury. For example, there is no major loss of the person of major memories, the way to use his language/accent, the knowledge to drive a vehicle, the education received, keeping his major preference (such as the using of left or right side of the hand, favourite foods and colours). Therefore, the integrity of the brain has no convincing correlating evidence to the integrity of the mind (at the spiritual level).”

In the above comment I have already defined what I meant by “substantial change of personality”. I don’t want to argue meaninglessly with you about definitions.

>>As far as the brain's ability to heal itself goes.
I know folks who are in the field of rehabilitating people who suffered traumatic brain injuries, and while some eventually do get back lost functions/memories, MANY NEVER DO.

I think I have addressed this already in my original comment:

“Dear Alan_h and ATF: The brain is differentiated in functions but homogenous physically - … some other part of the brain will have the potential to take over the missing function. That is what I meant by homogenous.”

Did you not see I use the word **potential**? Your statement “some eventually do get back lost functions/memories” is clearly supporting what I have described. Other than TBI, there are many ways to lost functions/memories too. Are you sure that those who never do is really never? Or are they not given enough time and the correct rehabilitating procedures? Do you know that the long term memory process of the brain is still not clearly understood by science?

>>1. You dispute what medical science has clearly shown to be factual about our brains.

Our medical science has understood very little about the brain regarding memory and personality. This is factual. I have stated my points in my previous post about the difficulties in deciphering the memory from the brain objectively using a non-human interface. So far no one has any single clue to do that.

>>2. You have yet to prove to us that your snake/frog story is factual.

Again you have not read the post carefully (or is my writing skill too poor?). The snake/frog documentary is what I watched from the Discovery Channel. In the documentary the whole frog was swallowed and the snake went to hiding afterwords in order to get into a deep sleep (in order to shut down the metabolic process while neutralizing the frog's toxin). It is different from what described by other audience that the snake actually tried “tasting” or testing the poisonous frog. It is not my story, but my query whether the pure Natural Selection process is fully responsible for the surviving frogs (other the one being eaten) to modify the poison potency. A few theories (assumptions) were posted on the forum but so far no concrete conclusion has been reached about the process (if the frog was swallowed whole without testing).

>>3. You use one hearsay story after the next to try and swing us to your way of thinking and I'm not sure why you would think that we would buy into such stories; that clearly have no means to persuade anyone, other than a believer in your faith.

I have addressed your points in my previous post. I am quite tired of re-stating it now.

>>4. There is a huge difference between having an open mind, and having a mind so open that it refuses to ever filter an extraordinary claim put to it.
i.e. While a parachute needs to be open to function, that parachute will not work very well if it's full of [logical] holes.

Sometimes it is better to open a “holed” parachutes than insisting not to open it at all, as long as the hole is not fatally big. (In fact, many parachutes have holes.)

>>5. Like with most religions, your own was formed by some ancient humans, who never proved what they could easily convince others of.

You use the word “ancient” with a sense of prejudice. If it is wisdom (as stated in the Four Noble Truth), it will withstand the passage of time. Otherwise, it should not be called "wisdom", but "knowledge" instead. If you have enough insights, you don’t need any proof because the events are continuously happening in front of you.

>> Their are many who hate not understanding the mysteries of the universe and will cherish someone who comes along with some mystical explanation that satisfies their innate curiosity.

I have already stated my way to establish a wise faith. If you do not and refuse to accept an explanation, it will forever be mystical.

>> Who knows, maybe the case you made did have an effect on some potential converts here that will read your thoughts, but I really think you are looking for gullible mystic-minded fish within a tank filled with skeptical sharks.

I am not trying to convert any one. There are no fish or sceptical sharks in the tank (the forum). What I have seen are Buddhas who are staging as mundane beings in disguise in order to test my Dharma knowledge, my presentation skill, patience and compassion in preparation to ferry sentient beings from suffering.

Thank you all!

Amitabha.

Astreja said...

Amitabha,

Are you familiar with the concept of "Expedient Means" (mentioned in chapters 2 and 25 of the Lotus Sutra, and no doubt elsewhere in the Buddhist canon)?

Perhaps you've chosen the wrong vehicle and presentation for your message. It seems to be getting lost amidst all the semantic quibbling and splitting of Buddha-hairs.

Amitabha said...

Dear Astreja: Thank you for your support and your enquiry on the Lotus Sutra.

>> Are you familiar with the concept of "Expedient Means" (mentioned in chapters 2 and 25 of the Lotus Sutra, and no doubt elsewhere in the Buddhist canon)?

Lotus Sutra is one of the last Buddhist Sutras (followed by Earth Store Bodhisattva Sutra and the Nirvana Sutra). These three Sutras represent the concluding phase of the Buddha’s teaching.

In Buddha’s Canon, we can see there are two major Vehicles. Those in the Pali Canon stressed more on the Lesser Vehicle (Hinayana) teachings. Those in the Sanskrit Cannon stress more on the Greater Vehicle (Mahayana) teachings. Several Mahayana Sutras, esp. in the Vimalakīrti Sutra, the Hinayana practitioners (including the most achieved Arahants) were mocked or even belittled. In order to make a good summary of why these two Vehicles were taught and to settle the differences, the Buddha expounded the Lotus Sutra.

"Expedient Means" in the Lotus Sutra, as in other Sutras, is what I have explained in the math learning stages analogy posted previously.

Since the Dharma is profound, many will think it was nothing but a complex mythology, fairy tales, hearsay, as many of the other audiences commented in this forum. In order to enable sentient beings with varying levels of capacities to benefit from his teachings, the Buddha expounded the appropriate level of Dharma accordingly. That is so called “Expedient Means”. In teaching primary school kids, you can’t introduce the theory of complex numbers to them upon Day One, though this is the ultimate form of the number system. Therefore, various number forms are introduced in the teaching of math. Likewise in introducing the Dharma, the Buddha expounded the basic Law of Causality to the sentient beings at the entry level, the Hinayana teachings to the “Voice Hearing” disciples as the intermediate level, and the Mahayana teachings to the Bodhisattva disciples at the advanced level.

In the Lotus Sutra, the Buddha explained that a real Arahant, would finally exit from Nirvana and proceed on the Mahayana path to finally become a Buddha. Therefore, all paths finally lead to the same goal.

I hope the above explanation is helpful to you.

>> Perhaps you've chosen the wrong vehicle and presentation for your message. It seems to be getting lost amidst all the semantic quibbling and splitting of Buddha-hairs.

I tried to explain the Dharma at the entry level. I did not even use the Lesser Vehicle.

When certain strong medicine is applied to a fresh wound, the patient may experience pain and even seizures. This analogy applies to the many of the audiences of this forum who have never heard of the Dharma before and holding a strong and erroneous view on Buddhism as another form of God-centered religion, as in Christianity where they have formally been gulled into. Therefore, the rejection is expected.

I am sure that after getting use to the side effect of the medicine, the wound will slowly heal and the patient will get a better health. During the 2600+ years of the Dharma teaching history, countless debates have been conducted. Because the truth will get more obvious as more healthy debates are held, I am sure that the Buddha would not mind to grow a few more spare hairs for splitting.

Amitabha

boomSLANG said...

Astreja...Perhaps you've[Amitabha] chosen the wrong vehicle and presentation for your message. It seems to be getting lost amidst all the semantic quibbling and splitting of Buddha-hairs.

Amen, Sister in Reason.

Furthermore, no amount of wordy philosophizing will ever cover up the 'face-value' internal inconsistencies that we see in the "metaphysical" camp(s). For just one quick example: The point of these lovely lectures is presumably a lesson to avoid "suffering". Yet, out of the other corner of their mouth, they'll turn right around and tell you that "suffering" is crucial--that it is actually necessary, in order to "learn"; in order to achieve "Enlightenment".

But anyway, as I was saying....

Turd dressed in Barbie crothes don't become breautiful rady.....it still turd. ~ Ancient Eastern Proverb.

(I know, I know...that was bad. I'll probably come back as a paper-weight, now. lol)

Astreja said...

Amitabha: "I tried to explain the Dharma at the entry level. I did not even use the Lesser Vehicle."

I'm just going by the reception you've received here, luv. In My definitely not humble opinion, Ex-Christian.net is not the appropriate place for what you're attempting. To illustrate with one of your own quotes:

"When certain strong medicine is applied to a fresh wound, the patient may experience pain and even seizures..."

I would like to respectfully point out that this site is a recovery zone and sounding board for people who have had extremely negative and often traumatic experiences with religion. As much as you want to bring your version of enlightenment to us, we do tend to get rather testy when someone shows up unbidden and pours "medicine" into open wounds without our prior consent.

Amitabha said...

Dear Astreja:

Thanks for your advice.

>>Ex-Christian.net is not the appropriate place for what you're attempting.

So far I feel otherwise. I have a lot of constructive and highly intellectual exchanges, esp. regarding brain memory, personality, evolution, frog/snake poison wars, presentation skills, etc. There are a lot to learn from this forum. As I have mentioned before, I saw no one but Buddhas here.

>>I would like to respectfully point out that this site is a recovery zone and sounding board for people who have had extremely negative and often traumatic experiences with religion

I understand. Therefore, I did not even mention the Dharma in my first posting. It was the curiosity of some readers to ask for more questions. Therefore, I have to introduce some more opinions and information that happened to be in line with the Dharma.

>>we do tend to get rather testy when someone shows up unbidden and pours "medicine" into open wounds without our prior consent.

Since this is a forum where comments are openly invited for posting, and all postings have been reviewed before approval by the webmaster, I think I have not done anything “without prior consent”.

Also, I don’t think I poured anything into “open wounds”. I placed the “medicine” like opinions and it is up to the individuals to take it. The “medicine” was mild at the beginning, but more potent solution was made available to some readers upon demand. At the last glance, I found even the most aggressive reader finally used the words “these lovely lectures” to describe my postings. I think the Dharma is very well received and I am very grateful for the feedbacks.

Amitabha

boomSLANG said...

Amitabha...The “medicine” was mild at the beginning, but more potent solution was made available to some readers upon demand.

Speaking for myself, only---if the visitors should happen to read the Exchristian site disclaimer(and I would highly recommend this), but yet, they still decide that they need to bludgeon us to death with their "one-size-fits-all" philosophical renderings of the "One Universal Truth®", then the only thing that I "demand" is convincing evidence for that claim. So far - and in my view - that "demand" has not been met by any visiting Christian, Taoist, Buddhist, Muslim, Scientologist...or any other proponent of the supernatural, or metaphysical.


Amitabha...I found even the most aggressive reader finally used the words “these lovely lectures” to describe my postings.

Due to the language barrier; and due to the limitations of "text only" communication, I cannot be 100% certain, if either you missed the sarcasm when I previously said, "these lovely lectures", or... if your ethnicity would even allow you enough wit to fire it right back at me. Although I highly doubt the latter, nonetheless, I'll play it safe: I, personally, don't find your lectures "lovely" in the least bit, Amitabha. In fact, quite the contrary---I find them arrogant, condescending, chock-full of logical fallacies, and riddled with thinly veiled ad hominem.

Bye now.

Amitabha said...

Dear boomSLANG: Today is still Jan 2008. I thought you would prefer me to ignore you for at least three years. So are you asking for a even more potent remedy during our recovery and rehabilitation period? May be you have learned to receive it well, huh?

>>I "demand" is convincing evidence for that claim

I have addressed this a number of times before. The problem is not that I do not have convincing evidence, it is that you don't have the insights to see the evidence that occurs everyday. After the rehab. and recovery, you will be in a better position to gather your own evidence and determine if it is convincing. Again, I am not arguing aboout definitions with you.

>> I, personally, don't find your lectures "lovely" in the least bit, Amitabha. In fact, quite the contrary---I find them arrogant, condescending, chock-full of logical fallacies, and riddled with thinly veiled ad hominem.

This is more like mud slinging. The descriptions are still very subjective, unsubstantiated, emotional and personal. However, your continuing to read and comment on my posting has verfied that you are now cherishing your chance to hear the Dharma. As I have mentioned before, those who managed to understand the Dharma are ones who have heard it many times before, probably from many other Buddhas. Regardless of your comments, I still believe you are in fact a Buddhas in disguise.

Thank you.

Amitabha

boomSLANG said...

Amitabha...Dear boomSLANG: Today is still Jan 2008. I thought you would prefer me to ignore you for at least three years.

Dear Amitabha,

You may have a glich in your "interface".(Here in the West, we sometimes call that, "selective memory")

Simple: What happened was, at one point, you said you'd be back at a later time to finish addressing my comments. I merely responded, tongue-in-cheek, that that wouldn't be necessary; that it would be a waste of your time. Now let me be clear---I meant the "waste of time" part, because as I predicted, you've done NOT one thing differently since then; you've done not one thing to correct your fallacious reasoning, and/or, verify your anecdotal stories---the ones that you call "evidence".

Now, as for if you "ignore" me, or not, I really couldn't give a shit less(here in the West, that means I'm indifferent) Either way, I never said that I wouldn't pop in periodically and critique what you, or some other mystic, might try to pass off as Universal Truth. In your case, I'm intrigued, because although you deny your philosophies are religiously based, the patterns, and approach, are just like that of any funamentalist Christian I've ever seen in here. Yes, your conclusions obviously point to different unverifiable metaphyscial concepts, but your methodology - plus, your reactions when people disagree with you - are exactly the same. That's right, Amitabha...the rage is slowly seeping.

Amitabha...So are you asking for a even more potent remedy during our recovery and rehabilitation period?

A "remedy"? No - thank you for condescending....but I'll pass, all the same.

And BTW, "rehabilitation" is a humanistic principle. Coversely, your philosophy embraces human suffering. According to the "three marks of existence" in Buddhism, the first is "Dukkha"...or, suffering. There's apparently a "point" to our "suffering"... yet, you seem to want to interfere with that "point". That is anti-"dharma". Tsk, tsk....I think Buddha would be disappointed.

Amitabha...May be you have learned to receive it well, huh?

What I've learned, is that you are no different from any other supernaturalist/mystic I've ever come across. As I've said, when taken at face-value - and once your remove the mystical, wordy, double talk - your philosophy has many internal contradictions/philosophical inconsistencies. And IMO, when it comes to addressing/solving them, you haven't scratched the surface.

Amitabha...Regardless of your comments, I still believe you are in fact a Buddhas in disguise.

And perhaps you are a Catholic in disguise.

Thank you.

Amitabha said...

Dear boomSLANG:

Glad to see your comments again! Keep it up!

I am not sure why you are still so emotional and personal. I have already addressed most of your definition-arguing comment. You reserve the right to your own judgement.

However, there are some new and interesting points you raised that I will like to address:

>> According to the "three marks of existence" in Buddhism, the first is "Dukkha"...or, suffering. There's apparently a "point" to our "suffering"... yet, you seem to want to interfere with that "point".

The First Noble Truth is “Dukkha”. That is right. I am glad that not only you have finally heard the Dharma, you have also done some studies into it. You should have done this years ago.

Do you know why we would prefer to use the word “Dukkha” rather than “suffering”? That is because they are not identical. One of the best references for its definition is at http://www.themystica.com/mystica/articles/d/dukkha.html

The definition is important to avoid meaningless arguments.

However, “Dukkha” is not an English word, the rest of the Buddhist Sutra we use the word “suffering”.

According to the Law of Causality, you reap what you sowed. If we have to work hard for a job and if the job will eventually bring rewards to justify the unpleasant feelings in the course of hard work, this is not Dukkha, though somebody may call it “suffering”.

Many in this forum have experienced Dukkha because no justifiable gain has been experienced after years or even decades of efforts and life have been wasted in Christianity. This is defined as "not getting what one wants" - second paragraph, second line of the link.

Since “suffering” may be the necessary evil to achieve our goal (i.e. to eradicate Dukkha), we have to exercise “wise faith” or a calculated risk before we invest too much into something we are not very sure of. As I have repeatedly told the forum of the simple wisdom: “Ask at least three people from various sources when asking for directions in the city.” Have you ever investigated Buddhism before committing to Christianity? Have you exercised some basic reasoning about the two cores of xtian’s fallacy: “Omnipotence” and “Creationism”? You don’t need viable and repeatable evidence in order to realize it!

>> Tsk, tsk....I think Buddha would be disappointed.

Thank you for reminding. Yes, the Buddhas are definitely disappointed in me because my cultivation is shallow. Also, I failed to make everyone calm enough to interpret the Dharma. I will continue to learn form every one of you.

Regards,

Amitabha

Amitabha said...

Dear boomSLANG, ATF, Astreja and others:

This is a continuation of my last post to boomSLANG regarding my views on Omnipotence and Creationship.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Omnipotence

In order to investigate if omnipotence exists, we can apply basic reasoning.

If somebody is omnipotent, ask him or her: Can you create a stone that you cannot lift up? Can you create a problem you cannot solve?

Regardless of yes or no be the answer, the omnipotent somebody is no longer omnipotent.

If anyone is omnipotent, the universe will be out of balance. It is like a massive chain reaction due to the dominance.

If anyone is omnipotent, all problems in the universe will be solved. How come there are so many problems and sufferings in this world?

Omnipotence is a pure imagination created by our ignorance.

--------------------

Who created us?

In the early days of Descartes, he proposed that the world is like a watch. Like any other products, it must have a watchmaker in order to have the watch brought to existence. Apparently, he tried to make a statement as close to the Biblical belief as possible.

Descartes was a very reputed and respected philosopher and mathematicians. His centuries-old analytical geometry is probably still one of the most important mathematical tools even to this date.

Let us examine this watchmaker theory by basic reasoning again.

If we observe the watch clearly, it is composed of metal, glass, leather or plastic, and even semi-conductor circuitry. Just the parts alone, we can see there are in fact numerous “creators” in various fields such as miners, metallurgists, watch glass manufacturers, IC foundries, just to name a very few.

What about the design of the style? What about the marketing and sales personnel? We cannot ignore them for bringing the watch to our wrist.

This is just the first line of “creators”. If we ply deeper, we will realized that any part of the design of the watch is not abruptly generated. The design or fabrication technology is probably learned and modified from others. If we stretch the origin of the creation, we will notice that there are actually countless creators.

If one creator cannot make something as simple as a watch, how can a sole creator make the universe?

If “infinitely many watchmakers” replace the words “a watchmaker” in Descartes’ hypothesis, it will be a more accurate description.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I have used the above rationals to pull myself from the last second ditch to the Christianity trap before I even knew the Dharma.

All comments are welcome.

Amitabha

boomSLANG said...

Dear boomSLANG: Glad to see your comments again! Keep it up!

As I said - and obviously, as you still fail to grasp - I never indicated that I would cease commenting. Is that clear, yet? Again, I think there may be a reading comprehension problem on your end, this, on top of the language barrier. Oh joy.[/sarcasm]

I am not sure why you are still so emotional and personal.

Oh?..you're not sure? Okay, well let's be "sure", then. But first, **fuck you.

Okay, moving right along...

Have you taken the time to read the site's disclaimer?.. and/or, have you taken the time to read any of the testimonies on this site? OR... did you just skim-read a few of the front-page articles before you then took it upon yourself to start preaching, judging, and assuming that your worldview is something that everyone MUST be subjected to??? Notice, that this is a direct question.

Until I hear back, I'm going to guess that it's the latter scenario that is much more likely. If I'm wrong, and you understand and can sympathize with our position, then you certainly aren't being very sensitive to the fact that I, as well as many others here, have wasted great portions of our lives being told by religious figureheads, strangers, friends, and even family members, that they possess the One Absolute Universal Truth®, and that we MUST adopt this "Truth", lest we suffer bodily harm in "another life".....i.e "threats".(See here**, above, for what I say to "threats" and such arrogance)

Now, before I go further, have you absorbed what I just said? Do you understand it? I think you do understand it, considering something you said previously:

Amitabha: "I know I have a religious tone (which most people here are a very sick of)"

Precisely, yet - and also like the Christian visitors we encounter - you unceasingly minister, despite that fact. THAT is disrespectful, not-to-mention, arrogant. Yes, arrogant. And such behavior warrants "emotional" responses, as one other poster tried to point out to you.

But just for the record, Amitabha, you have not one - NOT ONE characteristic/attribute that I can see, that I find admirable, or desirable.... in this life, or any "other" life. Yes, you, and your approach to "sharing" your mystical philosophies, are again, no different than any fundamentalist Christian I've ever encountered. That said, let's take note of a few things:

Christian fundamentalists say: "God" doesn't send us to "Hell"; we "send ourselves".

You say: "Buddha never cast anyone to hell. The falling to the hell domain is basically caused by your own previous evil actions."

Christians say: "Christianity is not a religion..it is a relationship".

You say: "I would like to advise that Buddhism is not a religion, but rather, an education.."

Regarding Christianity, Christians say: "Only people who accept the Holy Spirit, can understand the Holy Bible."

Regarding the "Dharma/dharma", you say: "Only a very privileged group of people is able to fully understand and accept it."

Christians say: "If there is a watch, then there is a watchmaker..therefore, God exists."

You say: "If 'infinitely many watchmakers' replace the words 'a watchmaker' in Descartes’ hypothesis, it will be a more accurate description....which implies, "many" gods exist.

Christians say: "Atheism takes faith".

You say: "Those who insisted that they are skeptics are having faith in doubting!"

(yet, interestingly, both Christians and Buddhists are "skeptical" of each other)

Anyway, the similarities are uncanny.

And... if we continue investigating this, your "evidence" is no better, either. If you could stop ministering for a second and take a look around this site, it won't be long before you'll stumble across some of the myriad anecdotal stories from Christians who swear that said reports are directly attributed to "Jesus".

Well, Amitabha, I've got news for you---your stories, i.e.. your "translations", are no different. Please, I implore you to let this sink into your head---stories of two-headed fish, piglets, butchers, and locating dead bodies with a loaves of bread, etc. etc... does NOTHING to prove that there exists a metaphysical reality---much less, one that you are in touch with. You've failed to make your case, I'm sorry.

Amitabha: Do you know why we would prefer to use the word “Dukkha” rather than “suffering”? That is because they are not identical. One of the best references for its definition is at http://www.themystica.com/mystica/articles/d/dukkha.html

Amitabha, I got my "definition" from Wikipedia. And that must be a reliable source, because you used it for something else. It says that “Dukkha” means "suffering". Period.

Listen closely---you cannot, and will not, escape the fact that your worldview EMBRACES human suffering. Again, it is necessary, and unavoidable, according to Buddhist teachings---and furthermore, it would play a role in the law of "Karma", or else such a concept would be pointless.

You seem to be taking bits and pieces of what YOU wish Buddhism was, and attempting to shoe-horn them/weasle-word them into YOUR worldview, and calling it "Buddhism". Oh...and interestingly, that is yet ONE MORE tactic that Christians are guilty of...i.e. twisting, and amending their religion to suit themselves.

Amitabha: As I have repeatedly told the forum of the simple wisdom: “Ask at least three people from various sources when asking for directions in the city.”

*Thank you. And of course, this little analogy only illustrates that there may be more than one true set of directions.

So, are you now conceding that there is more than one path to "Enlightenment", other than "Buddhism"?

*Here in the West, you've committed what's known as, "shooting yourself in the foot". You've become good at this, grasshopper.

Can I ask your age, Amitabha? To be clear, I mean the age of your physical body - in this life; in this existence. The reason being, is this will be a factor as to if I'll continue responding.

Anonymous said...

Dear boomSLANG:

If you send someone a present, but the receiver does not actually take it. If in the future, the present appears to be extremely valuable and everyone want to claim ownership of it, who should ultimately has the ownership (of that present)?

Grasshopper Amitabha

boomSLANG said...

Dear Ali Baba,

Thanks-so-much, for giving me, yet, one more thing to add to my previous comparison analysis---that would be, the list of "Buddhist" concepts/analogies/motifs, compared to "Christian" concepts/analogies/motifs.

The Christian says: blah, blah, blah...the free gift of salvation. So, if you blah, blah, blah, blah, blah....then who's fault is that?...God's?..or your own?

You say: "If you send someone a present, but the receiver does not actually take it. If in the future, the present appears to be extremely valuable and everyone [wants] to claim ownership of it, who should ultimately [have] the ownership (of that present)?"

Again, thank you.

boomSLANG said...

Dear Ali Baba,

I think perhaps I should've explained myself better(at least, for your benefit)

What I meant, previously, was that analogies are only to help illustrate a point/a premise.

Now, the point of my analogy was/is that "analogies" are not to be used as "evidence", whether they make logical sense, or whether they don't. Let's assume, for sake of argument, that both the previous Christian example regarding "salvation", as well as your own analogy, are cohhesive and make logical sense. So, is the Christian premise--that biblegod exists-- therefore, true? No, of course not. The same with your "present" analogy--it is not evidence for the metaphysical claims of Buddhism.

Shalom!

Anonymous said...

Dear boomSLANG:

Thanks for the typo corrections, but you have not indicated that you have not (and probably do not have the capability to) answer the question:

"If you send someone a present, but the receiver does not actually take it, who should ultimately have the ownership (of that present)?"

I will wait until you have that capacity.

Nice talking to you.

Amitabha

boomSLANG said...

"If you send someone a present, but the receiver does not actually take it, who should ultimately have the ownership (of that present)?"

Answer: Whoever bought, and whoever can produce the receipt for, said "present".

Now, if you don't mind, please address the following, since my last post regarding "analogies" evidently went over your head:

Lucky the Leprechaun is harvesting lucky clovers on your property, and he happens to trip on a sprinkler and break his hip. The court rules that it is you, Amitabha, who is ultimately liable to pay for his hip replacement surgery.

Now, are you prepared, and willing, to write a check to a leprechaun?

Do you see my point, yet? Jesus christ, I really hope so.

Anonymous said...

Dear boomSlang:

>>Do you see my point, yet? Jesus christ...

All right! So you are not an Ex-Christian... Or do you believe I am Jeus Christ the Buddha?

Thanks for your answer to my question: "If you send someone a present, but the receiver does not actually take it, who should ultimately have the ownership (of that present)?"

>>... Whoever bought, and whoever can produce the receipt for, said "present".

That's right. After the refusal, the original owner that bought the present will have the ultimate ownership of that present.

The present is like your anger, language abuses, slinging muds, names calling...

I've refused all of that. Therefore, all these are now belonging to you.

Bye now...

Amitabha

p.s. I am glad that you have retracted all that in your latest comments. At least you know how to put a brake on torturing yourself!

Astreja said...

(sighs heavily) I much prefer Shakyamuni's five-second lecture to Kasyapa. One flower, and zero word salad.

And Kasyapa actually smiled when he 'got' the message.

(sticks shocking pink Post-It note bearing the message 'We are not smiling' right in the center of Amitabha's forehead)

Oh, and the First Noble Truth is "Sarva duhkha", or "Everywhere there is duhkha/suffering/unhealthy attachment".

Or My personal favourite translation, "Life's a bitch and then you die."

boomSLANG said...

Amitabha...That's right. After the refusal, the original owner that bought the present will have the ultimate ownership of that present.

The present is like your anger, language abuses, slinging muds, names calling...

I've refused all of that. Therefore, all these are now belonging to you.


Ah, but you overlook one very crucial point in your analogy(which isn't entirely shocking), and that, of course, is that I'm NOT offering you my position, arguments, sentiments - or anything else - conditionally. In other words, you are perfectly free to reject every word I've ever written, and be on your merry, mystical, Masterful way. Let's remember, I didn't come looking for 'Amitabha' to give him any "present"---no, he came to me.

Furthermore, need I point out that it is your "present" that is being offered conditionally? Yes, according to your "Dharmas", "Karmas", "Chakras", and Dogmas...I will "suffer" as a lesser being in a supposed "next life" - and I will presumably keep suffering - until I adopt your religious philosophies.

In other words, just like the Christian, or Muslim, your offer your 'present' with implicit threats, if I don't accept it. 'See the difference now? Oh, shit....what am I saying?....of course you don't see the difference---because you, like any religious fundamentalist, cannot see outside the cultural philosophy that's been drilled into your head.

So, my mystical friend, I'll keep, and own, my emotions.... and you take your "one-size-fits-all" religious convictions with you. 'Deal?

Toodles.

AtheistToothFairy said...

To Amitabha:

Hello Amitabha,

I haven't been able to reply to you till now, but I have monitored the exchanges between yourself and some of our members.
I will be honest with you and inform you that your arguments are not swaying me to your philosophy, but did you really think they would?

I'm going to reply to your post to me in several parts, as there is too much to reply to in one post alone.

You words are marked with "//"

//What do you mean by “verifiable evidence”? If the several independent and trustworthy witnesses consistently told the judge in the court about an event, should the judge ask if they could reproduce (NOT describe) the event in front of him as verifiable evidence?

Amitabha, I would ask for the same evidence as I would from any supernatural claim being made.
If you don't understand what type of evidence that would consist of, then I suggest you visit the websites of James Randi or Mike Shermer; both being well known skeptics of the supernatural.

As far as 'witness' testimony in courtrooms goes, if the *only* evidence is one witness to an event, then the chances of getting a conviction are slim.
Even if there is more than one witness, one has to look for consistency across the accounts they present.

Even if they all seem to have seen the same things, when it comes to things of the supernatural, one can't simply accept what a group thinks they saw happen, as there is much more than observation to consider when entering this special claimed realm.
More on that in a second.

In any case, we are not talking about courtroom evidence here, where a jury is required to make a guilty/not-guilty decision.
A jury *opinion* is of great weight in deciding the fate of someone on trial, but we need more than opinion when it comes to the special things that you wish us to believe.

Things of the supernatural variety are not put on trial in some subjective courtroom environment, but rather the claims of the supernatural must be testable and repeatable.
While you believe your witnesses were trustworthy, I can make the same "trustworthy" witness argument for many bogus medical cures, that also use personal testimonies (witness) as proof their product works wonders etc..

Another example would be the folks who divine for hidden water.

Now and then they do get a 'HIT' when hunting for water beneath the ground.
If a few folks happen to be standing around watching this process, and saw the person really find water using some crooked forked stick, then they certainly could be expected to be witnesses to what they actually saw happen.

How valuable do you think their testimonies would be towards proving that forked sticks can find hidden water?
This is where having them testify in court, wouldn't prove anything beyond the one event they observed. Thus, just because they all saw this event happen, doesn't mean it's cause was from something unnatural.

See, for all the times witnesses were around to see the forked stick NOT discover any water, no one would be spreading miracle rumors around, of the failure.
Folks who desire supernatural things to be real, have been proven to recall all the HITS they get and ignore all the misses.

Hence, we now see the difference between how a courtroom functions and how science itself MUST function. Science may start with opinions but it never ends there, as it can in a courtroom setting.

Chance alone, dictates that odd things will occur now and then.

A true miracle would be if such odd things NEVER occurred.
For instance, if rare combinations of playing cards didn't come up anywhere in the country for a solid month, amongst the huge population that plays poker every day, then you would have something supernatural going on.
On the flip side of this, is the person who happens to get that rare combination and swears that some force of the universe made it happen for them.

So no Amitabha, the so called evidence you have so far provided us, is no better than the very common testimonies we hear all the time from supernatural believers of anything.
While YOU may put your faith in such testimonies, I am darn sure you aren't looking very closely and are just taking someone's word as to these incidents occurring. Even if some did occur, one would still need to investigate the whole picture and not just go by what folks believe they were a witness to.

In any case, I sure wouldn't make a life changing decision based on testimony from someone I don't know, who is assuring me that an experience was true.

Frankly, we've had xtians come in here, not just claiming they knew someone who experienced a miracle, but that they themselves experienced some godly miracle.
Should we jump on their bandwagon because of their own testimony to us?

Sorry, no one here will believe such things on mere hearsay from a stranger posting to us.
Heck, it would take a lot to convince me at this point that anything supernatural, that folks lay claim to, is actually of reality.
I've seen far too many examples of how folks can be easily swayed into believing the extraordinary, and really, it's not hard to fool most folks in that regard.

End Part 1

ATF (Who see's no reason to find religion, of any kind)

AtheistToothFairy said...

To Amitabha: Part 2 now

Hello Amitabha,

//As mentioned in my previous mail (that you have probably overlooked) I defined “faith” as a system of established belief. This is my definition. In a formal debate, a definition is not challengeable.
I also said, “If you do not believe in anything, then you have the faith of doubting!”


Firstly, when did I agree to *your* definition of 'faith', for our debate?

You say I have the 'faith of doubting'.
I think my doubting is based on my experience and those of many others, who have searched for evidence of extraordinary things, but alas, found nothing.
The track record for those who make supernatural claims, is dismal at best.

Let me ask you this then, should one have faith in any supernatural claim, until one can disprove that claim?
It would seem this is your way of thinking?
Must we disprove unicorns existing on Pluto, before we can have 'faith' that it's highly improbable they could exist there?
Really, how much 'faith' would it take to discount such a possibility?

If you have spent decades of your life trying to verify supernatural claims and not a single claim was ever proven to be true, then it's a safe bet that such a special realm of existence won't show itself anytime soon to us.
I wouldn't call that 'faith' at all, but instead, a 'reasonable conclusion', based on the total failure of the folks who believe in the supernatural, to provide evidence for their claims.

Really, if so many things on earth were occurring of the supernatural variety, how difficult would it be to find a few verifiable cases that would prove that is the case.
e.g. In the past several decades we've had thousands of reports where folks witnessed a UFO in the sky, along with some of them swearing that aliens stole them from their bed to experiment on their bodies.
One would almost assume from the numbers reported each year, that something odd must be going on, but yet after all these decades of time, why hasn't some tangible proof ever revealed itself to skeptics?

The incidents you cite as evidence, surely wouldn't be happening only in your country, but would be common throughout the world, yes?
If that is true, we should be seeing them daily here in the USA?
Then why aren't these occurrences so obvious, such that they can't be denied, not even by us skeptics?

ATF: Skeptic Mike Shermer is fond of saying, "Smart people believe weird things for non-smart reasons, but can use their smartness to defend those weird things very convincingly"

//I wish Mike Shermer had put down a firm definition of “Smart” or “Smartness”. In this World, many believe that if they can take good advantage of a situation for their own (esp. short-term) personal gain, even at the expense of orders, as long as they can avoid being caught, it is very “smart” move.

Mister Shermer was obviously not talking about con-men here.

I think it was pretty obvious what he meant by "smart".
Simply put, you can have someone who is obviously intelligent and knows how to think critically, but yet this same person will use those talents to try and justify something they WISH to believe in, but lack real proof thereof. Therefore, they are good at finding clever ways to dismiss contrary evidence to their *desired* conclusion, while digging deep to find anything to support it.

//If a person is really smart, he will evaluate both the short-term and long-term benefits from any of his actions. A truly “smart” person will be one of great compassion, enjoying other's happiness as much as his own, and is willing to sacrifice himself for the benefit of others.

Please tell me what being smart has to do with one's compassion towards another?
How many well known criminals were very smart, but had zero compassion in them?

I also see no correlation with being smart and willing to sacrifice oneself for the benefit of others. The dumbest person can have that quality you're seeking, so I don't think intelligence has much to do with that trait, now does it?

End Part 2


ATF (Who will be glad to believe in things supernatural, as soon as proof is provided for it)

AtheistToothFairy said...

To Amitabha: Part 3 now

Hello Amitabha,

//Upon your death, this ‘soul’ (consciousness) will take a subtle form of body, very much like your body in a dream. It depends on your attachment. If you are very attached to your property, you may end up staying around the property until 1. you are tired of it, or 2. the total destruction of the property, or 3. a better opportunity to rebirth in another living organism. However, what you can perceive in the beyond can be very different from the perception while you are still alive.

Amitabha,
You state all these fun-facts here, but really, how can you KNOW these things are of reality?
Is it because some 'wise' man a long time ago wrote it down in a book somewhere?

Now, why would a soul hang around their former property, when they should be able to move about the universe and satisfy the natural curiosity we all have about it?

If what you say is the case, then each soul must be able to make such a choice for itself, yes?
Is it a matter of free will then?

What if that property was a simple cave and the soul decided never to leave it, would they be able to stay there for thousands of years, never moving up or down the 'ladder' of fate?
Gee, sounds to me that if you knew you lived a bad life and were destined to live as a rat in the next one, you might want to hang around your former property forever, no?

Now, how do you know what a soul perceives of their former place of residence, would be very different than it was while they had a body?
In what ways would it differ and how did we come to have this 'difference' knowledge?


//The destination and period for the rebirth is dependent on the force of the past (as the result of your past actions), or karmic force, as well as the force of the present will power. Therefore, our formless mind is the creator of everything.

So you're saying the things we do in this life, feeds some external force, and that force itself then determines where our next lives will be spent?
Sounds to me like this 'force' is just an alternate for the xtian god, who would normally make those choices for us.
So we basically are trading an all-knowing xtian god for some mindless 'force' then, hmmm.

Doesn't that sound just a little bit preposterous to your cognitive thinking?

//You are right. The Dharma is the study of Mother Nature. It is an alternative to natural science because it provides the missing part of the scientific answer and solution. There is no such thing as "supernatural" per se once you have a full understanding of the Dharma.

Once again, us humans lack some certain knowledge and many can't cope with the not-knowing, so what do most folks do. They invent a THING to fill in the gaps in the knowledge.
For xtians, that gap filler is their creator god.
For you, it's some Dharma alternative that attempts to explain those gaps we hate.

Just because someone long ago came up with a few ideas to fill in those gaps, doesn't mean a thing towards proving this person had some great insight into a hidden reality.
I see no difference between this Dharma acting as a filler for gaps, than for science fiction novels to explain the same. Just because someone had some ideas about how things MIGHT work, doesn't at all make those things a fact.
The human mind is quite clever when it comes to creating works of fiction, so again, I ask you how you can be certain this Dharma is the ultimate answer to so many age-old questions?


//In Buddhism, we believe that only a very few privilege group of people can be able to understand the Dharma. Even less are the one who can practise and benefit from it. This is not because of their intellectual level, but because these privileged handful of people has repeatedly heard the Dharma many lives before, and probably from many other Buddhas, for a countless number of times.

One of the techniques for brainwashing an individual, is to constantly REPEAT the thing you wish them to believe to be true.
Many folks will believe a fallacy because they've heard it so often, so they just assume it must be factual.
The many fallacy's that SCOPE.COM cites, has everything to do with the things folks believe, because it's been said for so long and so often.

In the case for your Dharma, one has to have been exposed to it, not just for one lifetime, but for several, in order to be privileged in it's hidden knowledge.
Seems to me that if you keep reading this Dharma over and over, that you can't help but to assume what it says is true.
Oddly enough, that is what the xtian religion pretty much does with it's members. It keeps repeating the same old-song so often, that the mind learns to accept those things as factual.

Now, you again have no evidence that a person will gain this hidden knowledge of the Dharma from having lived multiple lives. I haven't seen any proof that anyone gets more than one life, let alone can carry along previous Dharma knowledge from past lives they claim to have had.

If such a person were to reveal some hidden meanings of this Dharma to you, based on their claim of previous lives, how could one tell the difference between them actually having such accumulated knowledge, and that person just making up knowledge that they wish for others to believe.
Seems to me if someone wanted some fame&glory, all they need do is to claim previous existences and communicate some 'new' knowledge of this Dharma.
Afterall, if only a very select few can have such knowledge, then who are the judges that would decide if this new knowledge was valid or not?

That would be like my trying to correct a college exam on a subject I had little knowledge of.
The person taking the test knows more than I do, so who am I to know if they are wrong or not.
Who would know if a wanna-bee Buddha was lying through his/her teeth, or actually had some insight to your Dharma?

Doesn't this very much resemble the wacko xtian cult leaders, who offer their great new revelations/interpretation, of god's-word. How many folks have fallen for this con-game...LOTS I'm sorry to report.
What makes you think that some so called 'followers' of Buddha, wouldn't play the same sort of game, for their own agendas?

Humans are humans, and many humans just have the nature to screw with others, for whatever selfish motive they might have.
I'm quite sure your religion is not immune from such devious folks?

End Part 3


ATF (Who thinks all religion is nothing but some elaborate con-job)

Anonymous said...

Dear ATF:

Thank you for the voluminous reply.

>> You words are marked with "//"
That looks like a C/C++ technique to “comment out” some coding line. If this involves several paragraphs, may be you can also use the /*…*/ notation too.

>> I will be honest with you and inform you that your arguments are not swaying me to your philosophy, but did you really think they would?

You should NOT be swayed by anyone just by hearing information from one source only, esp. when on the web where you don’t really know my background. As I told the forum the Old Investigation Wisdom: “When asking for directions in the city, always approach three or more persons”. Failing to do so is a blind faith – a common mistake made by many people in this forum.

BTW: You have also supported this philosophy by your following comment:

>> As far as 'witness' testimony in courtrooms goes, if the *only* evidence is one witness to an event, then the chances of getting a conviction are slim. Even if there is more than one witness, one has to look for consistency across the accounts they present.

That’s right! How true!

>> Amitabha, I would ask for the same evidence as I would from any supernatural claim being made. If you don't understand what type of evidence that would consist of, then I suggest you visit the websites of James Randi or Mike Shermer; both being well known skeptics of the supernatural.

ATF: It is pointless to ask for evidence in this Forum. Even if I claim to have the same evidence to be measured to the same standard defined by your references, how could I present it to you? If I point to you to some web sites, how do you know the evidence presented there are credible?


Therefore, it depends how you establish a belief.

===How a belief can be established===

The Dharma suggested at least three ways to establish a belief. This applied to everything in life in general.
(1) Personal experiences.
(2) Logical deduction from existing facts and established theories.
(3) Words from a very trustable source. We don’t have very much such source nowadays because even the government has demonstrated to be lying. Therefore, we may need to apply the Old Investigation Wisdom in place of this.

I will refer to this section in my later comment.

“Supernatural” is generated from ignorance that once removed, it will be reclassified as either “untrue”, “imagination”, or “newly discovered fact”.

>>… I suggest you visit the websites of James Randi or Mike Shermer…

An independent thinker would avoid quoting references from anyone whenever possible.

>> “Things of the supernatural variety are not put on trial in some subjective courtroom environment, but rather the claims of the supernatural must be testable and repeatable.”

Only dead objects are truly testable and repeatable under the identical required test environment. As I have mentioned in my former post, this technique will not be very useful whenever a living body (esp. sentient being) is involved. E.g., even germination of (seemingly identically healthy) seeds is not always 100%.

>> While you believe your witnesses were trustworthy, I can make the same "trustworthy" witness argument for many bogus medical cures, that also use personal testimonies (witness) as proof their product works wonders etc.

When asking for directions in the streets, do you have the resources to investigate if the persons asked are trustworthy? (The information from the internet is of no difference to that from the streets.)

>> Another example would be the folks who divine for hidden water.
Now and then they do get a 'HIT' when hunting for water beneath the ground. If a few folks happen to be standing around watching this process, and saw the person really find water using some crooked forked stick, then they certainly could be expected to be witnesses to what they actually saw happen. How valuable do you think their testimonies would be towards proving that forked sticks can find hidden water?

This process is known as dowsing. A reputable reference is at
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dowsing
Personally, I have not witnessed dowsing. In the recent drought of Australia, the media has reported and interviewed somebody who has successfully used this “technique” to found some sizeable amount of underground water. Though most of the claimed dowsers have not objectively or repeatedly demonstrated of their claimed capability, some do (as mentioned in the link). Therefore, it is unwise to fully reject all the claims. Since looking for water in a drought stricken land is not successfully achievable by our present scientific means, if we run into water shortage problem, and we can found some one who already has some track records of successful dowsing, and the charge is reasonable and affordable, why not engage him to give a try?

Note that dowsing is not done by Christian’s methods only. In California, Venerable Master Hsuan Hua, the founding monk of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas (CTTB) also used a method similar to dowsing to solve the water problem:
http://www.trifter.com/USA-&-Canada/California/The-City-of-Ten-Thousand-Buddhas-.37672
If you are genuinely very interested in proof and evidence, instead of unconditionally rejecting all my claims; why not make a call to the CTTB and verify this? Otherwise, I would feel that you are just a skeptic for the sole purpose of being a skeptic.

>> Folks who desire supernatural things to be real, have been proven to recall all the HITS they get and ignore all the misses.

Therefore, it is important to identify who got the most HITS and their success rates. If some one has more than 70% proven HITS, I would consider it is a “good” dowser. Remember even the best sharp shooter cannot guarantee a 100% HITs at the bullseye.

>> This is where having them testify in court, wouldn't prove anything beyond the one event they observed. Thus, just because they all saw this event happen, doesn't mean it's cause was from something unnatural.

If more than three independent and trustworthily witnesses reported that they saw the same event, this is a very likely event. Who cares this event is nature or unnatural? How much we know about nature after all?

>> Hence, we now see the difference between how a courtroom functions and how science itself MUST function. Science may start with opinions but it never ends there, as it can in a courtroom setting.

As I have pointed out : Science, a subset of reasoning, works best at testing dead objects.
Reasoning works best at all instances.
In life we accepted both courtroom functions AND science functions because we accept reasoning.

>> So no Amitabha, the so called evidence you have so far provided us, is no better than the very common testimonies we hear all the time from supernatural believers of anything.

I cited some facts that I personally considered as evidences owing to my privileged background, but I presented them to the forum as references. As I have mentioned earlier: I never (and can never) post any evidence to this forum.

>> While YOU may put your faith in such testimonies, I am darn sure you aren't looking very closely and are just taking someone's word as to these incidents occurring.

I do not put any blind faith in any testimonies. Many of the incidences are in line with my personal encounters and experiments.

>>Even if some did occur, one would still need to investigate the whole picture and not just go by what folks believe they were a witness to.

Strongly agreed. Use the old wisdom of “Street Direction Enquiry” as the starting point. Never fall back to the same mistake again.

>> In any case, I sure wouldn't make a life changing decision based on testimony from someone I don't know, who is assuring me that an experience was true.

In this world there are two groups of vulnerable people: Those who are unconditional skeptics (I hope you are not) and are those who are extremely gullible. A wise man should walk the Middle Way between these two extremes.

>> Firstly, when did I agree to *your* definition of 'faith', for our debate?

A definition is a convenient way to save the repetition of a large number of words. It is nothing but a label.

Have you realized that most of the daily used words have different meanings (such as religion, happy, beautiful, miserable…) to different people? If we want to focus on a topic, we must narrow down the conditions. Therefore, definition is necessary. You can have your definition of faith and I can have my own.

In a formal debate, definitions (alternate or private) are not challengeable. You can refer to the web page:
http://flynn.debating.net/mmuguide.htm
It states that
“…A team can define the debate in any way they choose and it is up to the other teams in the debate to question their approach. Adjudicators cannot compare the definition to what they think the definition should be. Instead, adjudicators should evaluate the effect of the definition. …”

Therefore, I won’t waste time on meaningless exchanges.

>> I think my doubting is based on my experience and those of many others, who have searched for evidence of extraordinary things, but alas, found nothing.

Perhaps you should broaden your scope of searching. The documentaries in many cable TV channels can also provide some references.

Also, you don’t have to depend on “hearsay” testimony from anyone to understand the Dharma. The best validations are some keen observations and insights into day-to-day events. I can elaborate on this upon request.

>> Let me ask you this then, should one have faith in any supernatural claim, until one can disprove that claim.

If “supernatural” is defined as “extraordinary, unexplained, claimed and not-so-easily reproducible events”, then establishing a faith into totally believing in it or totally rejecting it is equally dangerous. Remember what I said about the “Middle Way between the two extremes”?

Personally, I think sometimes a faith does not need to be a 100%.

However, if that “supernatural” event bears similarity of other established events within your previous knowledge, you should develop a faith by proportion.

For example, if you have not seen any spacecraft on the Mars with your own eyes, based on the observation of airplanes and knowledge of physics, you should develop some strong faith that the Mars spacecraft exists. [Ref “===How a belief can be established===, Method (2)”]

Another example: If your trustworthy brother and two of your very close friends (among other ordinary friends) have personally experienced ghostly phenomena. Within experiencing the same phenomena yourself, you should also develop some faith that ghost might exist. [Ref “===How a belief can be established===, Method (3)”]

This is known as a calculated (number-based) faith. It depends on how you would like to arrive at that “faith-index”. For me, if the faith index is better than 70%, I will assume it as truth. If it is below 30%, I will assume it as fake. I will also be willing to change my faith index when new evidence has proven otherwise.

>> e.g. In the past several decades we've had thousands of reports where folks witnessed a UFO in the sky, along with some of them swearing that aliens stole them from their bed to experiment on their bodies. One would almost assume from the numbers reported each year, that something odd must be going on, but yet after all these decades of time, why hasn't some tangible proof ever revealed itself to skeptics?

One of my brother has personally seen UFO among with hundreds of beachers within 20 meters of spatial distance. The sightings were also reported by the local weather bureaux. The features of the sighting are consistent with many other reports. My brother was a UFO skeptics before until he witnessed this. Personally, I have 95% faith index on higher life forms on other planets, but 60% on the authenticity of UFO sightings in general. I think even if you have seen a few times, it does not necessary that you can see it again. Therefore, a 100% faith index is hard to achieve indeed.

>> The incidents you cite as evidence, surely wouldn't be happening only in your country, but would be common throughout the world, yes?
If that is true, we should be seeing them daily here in the USA?
Then why aren't these occurrences so obvious, such that they can't be denied, not even by us skeptics?

I cited the incidents by translation as an intent to provide some references, but I never intended to post it as “evidence”. This is another reminder.

Do you believe in haunted house? May be not (0% faith). I have 90% faith in it, because I personally experienced similar events. Using that as an analogy in the US: You should see daily reports on haunted properties right? Using your own rational: “Then why aren't these occurrences so obvious, such that they can't be denied, not even by us skeptics?”

Haunted house reports are uncommon basically because of several important reasons:

(1) So far, no systematic methods – scientific or (Western) religious – has been demonstrated to be effective to correct the situation. At the end, the property owners will be asked to leave that property. Nothing has really changed after the scientific investigation or exorcism other than (mostly bad) publicity.
(2) Publishing such reports will have a very negative effect on the owners in any attempt to get rid of the property and recover the investment.
(3) Your friends or colleagues may think you and your family members are mad or hallucinating.

If you are the owner, what are the incentives to report your haunted property to the media? Even if there are, will it offset your lost?

>> Mister Shermer was obviously not talking about con-men here.

Wait! How do you know that? Any evidence to support your claim? Remember what you have asked?

>> I think it was pretty obvious what he meant by "smart".
Simply put, you can have someone who is obviously intelligent and knows how to think critically, but yet this same person will use those talents to try and justify something they WISH to believe in, but lack real proof thereof. Therefore, they are good at finding clever ways to dismiss contrary evidence to their *desired* conclusion, while digging deep to find anything to support it.

Without being the person, how do you know that he does not have the real proof? Alternatively, how do you regard your so-called “contrary evidence” is good enough? Remember that to prove the existence of something is easy, while proving the non-existence is very difficult.

Amitabha: // If a person is really smart, he will evaluate both the short-term and long-term benefits from any of his actions. A truly “smart” person will be one of great compassion, enjoying other's happiness as much as his own, and is willing to sacrifice himself for the benefit of others.

>>Please tell me what being smart has to do with one's compassion towards another?

I measured “smartness” as the capability to seek happiness and eradicate sufferings. I define “smartness” as a synonym to “wisdom”.

Any one, who does not have compassion, despite its cleverness, is a selfish and self-centred person. Any such person will be void of real friends and therefore will not be happy.

Other than making real friends, compassion is also a driving force out of attachment. Whenever you have attachment, you will have cravings. Since nothing in the World really lasts, cravings will eventually lead to suffering.

Our body is just a rental vehicle. The worldly treasure that you own is borrowed from society for your short-term custody. Some day you will have to return them all. A smart person will treasure the higher form of happiness by deriving by how your treasure has been put to good uses and the joys from the recipients.

Are you measured to the “smartness” that I have pointed out?

>> How many well known criminals were very smart, but had zero compassion in them?

In the Dharma, no criminals are smart. What they have gained will eventually be lost. And they will lose big eventually.

>> I also see no correlation with being smart and willing to sacrifice oneself for the benefit of others.

Have you ever seen anyone who has never sacrifice himself for the benefit of others in this World? If not, you are now living in hell.

Therefore, smartness can be measured of under what circumstances and how much you can give up in the trade of better good for others. These others can be your closest friends, children, and parent to even a stranger. Sacrifice can range from a few dollars to your entire life.

Even animals have demonstrated such compassion. Haven’t you?

//Upon your death, this ‘soul’ (consciousness) will take a subtle form of body, very much like your body in a dream. It depends on your attachment. If you are very attached to your property, you may end up staying around the property until 1. you are tired of it, or 2. the total destruction of the property, or 3. a better opportunity to rebirth in another living organism. However, what you can perceive in the beyond can be very different from the perception while you are still alive.

>> The dumbest person can have that quality [willing to sacrifice oneself for the benefit of others] you're seeking, so I don't think intelligence has much to do with that trait, now does it?

If the “dumbest” person can have that quality, he is definitely very wise indeed!

>> You state all these fun-facts here, but really, how can you KNOW these things are of reality? Is it because some 'wise' man a long time ago wrote it down in a book somewhere?

What is reality? This is a profound question…

One time Zhuang Jou (庄子), a Taoist scholar, sat under a tree and fell asleep. He dreamt that he was a beautiful butterfly flying among the flowers. He could smell the pollens and fragrant of the flower he visited. Suddenly, he experienced a strong wind that blew him (as a butterfly in his dream) down to a tree.

He woke up and saw a butterfly flying among the flowers nearby.

He asked himself for a long time: “Am I a human who is dreaming as butterfly or am I a butterfly who is dreaming as human?”

Many people believe that upon death, it would be similar to a candle being blown out and all consciousness would end.

For me, this question came to my final conclusion after studying the Surangama Sutra. I drawn my own conclusion that life exists after death using Ref “===How a belief can be established===, Methods (2) and (3).

FYI: The translated sutra is available at
http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/surangama.pdf

It is Methods (3) because it was expounded by the Buddha.
It is Method (2) because it can be easily visualized.

This is a relatively long sutra. However, the section I would like to focus is the section where King Prasenajit started asking the Buddha. The excerpt is below:

*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*
King Prasenajit then rose and said to the Buddha:

‘Before I received the Buddha’s instruction, I met (Kakuda)
Kàtyàyana and (Sa¤jaya) Vairàtãputra who both said that when the body died, its annihilation was called Nirvàõa. Although I have now met the Buddha, I am still not clear about this. All those here who are still in the stream of transmigration wish to know how to realize that mind and prove that it is beyond birth and death”

The Buddha said to King Prasenajit: “Great King, I now ask you about your body of flesh and blood: is it permanent and indestructible like a diamond, or does it change and decay?”

(The king replied:) “My body will decay and finally be destroyed.”

The Buddha asked: “Great King, you have not yet died, how do you know that your body will be destroyed?”

The king replied: “World Honoured One, though my impermanent, changing and decaying body is not yet dead, I observe that it changes and decays without a moment’s pause and is bound to “go out like a fire that gradually burns out and will be reduced to naught.”

The Buddha asked: “Yes, Great King, you are old now but how do you look compared to when you were a child?”
The king replied: “World Honoured One, when I was a child, my skin glowed and when I grew up, I was full of vigour, but now I age and weaken, I grow thin and my spirits are dull, my hair is white and my face wrinkled so that I know I shall not live much longer; there is no comparison between now and when I was full of vitality.’

The Buddha said: “Great King, your appearance should not decline.”

The king replied: “World Honoured One, it has been changing all the time too imperceptibly for me to notice it. With the constant change of seasons, I have become what I am now. Why? Because when I was twenty, though still young, I already looked older than when I was ten, while at thirty I was older still. As I am now sixty-two, I am older than
at fifty when I was stronger. World Honoured One, I notice this imperceptible change in every decade, but when I look into it closely, (I see that) it has occurred yearly, monthly and daily, but in each moment of thought. That is why I know that my body is destined to final destruction.

The Buddha said: “Great King, you observe this ceaseless change and know that you will die, but do you know that when you do, there is that which is in your body and does not die?”

The king brought his two palms together and said: “I really do not know.”

The Buddha continued: “I will now show you the (self-) nature which is beyond birth and death. Great King, how old were you when you first saw the Ganges?”

The King replied: “When I was three my mother took me to worship the deva Jãva. As we crossed the river, I knew it was the Ganges.”

The Buddha asked: “Great King, as you just said, you were older at twenty than at ten, and until you were sixty, as days, months and years succeeded one another, your (body) changed in every moment of thought. When you saw the Ganges at three, was its water (the same as it was) when you were thirteen?”

The king replied: “It was the same when I was three and thirteen, and still is now that I am sixty-two.”



The Buddha said: “Great King, though your face is wrinkled, the nature of this essence of your seeing is not. Therefore, that which is wrinkled changes and that which is free from wrinkles is unchanging. The changing is subject to destruction whereas the unchanging fundamentally is beyond birth and death; how can it be subject to your birth and death? Why do you bring out Maskari Goàliputra’s (wrong) teaching on total annihilation at the end of this life?”

Upon hearing this, the king realized that after death, there will be (no annihilation but) life again in other transmigrations. He and the whole assembly were happy and enthusiastic at the Teaching which they had never heard before.

*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*

The term “Buddha Nature” has been defined in the earlier sections (not shown) of the Sutra,. In the eyes, it is the “seeing”. When we opened our eyes, we acquired the vision of the environment. When we closed our eyes in a dark room, we see the black abbess in from of us. Regardless of our eyes’ and the environment, we still have the ‘seeing’. (Otherwise, how do we know we that the vision is/is not acquired?)

The same analogy applied to all our other senses.

Therefore, in the eyes, the Buddha Nature appears as the “seeing”.
In the ears the Buddha Nature appears as the “hearing”, and so forth.

In the King Prasenajit’s section, the Buddha described how “Buddha Nature” that presents in everyone, is unwrinkled and unchanging. Therefore, we will still have that after our death.

What a profound logical deduction!

(End of Part 1)

.:webmaster:. said...

Jesus this, Allah that, Dharma something else again...

Yawn...

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...

stronger now said...

Argumentum verbosium.

And that was just part one.

Jim Arvo said...

Stronger, don't forget the closely related fallacy of Argumentum ad nauseam, which includes the all-important aspect of involuntary regurgitation.

Just trying to help... :-)

stronger now said...

LOL!

boomSLANG said...

Oh, looky here...."Amitabha" has come back once more....'wait, let me be more specific - he has come back TO US once more, to try and once again give US a "present"..i.e..the very special "gift" of subjecting us to miles and miles and miles of the same ol' metaphysical, unvarifiable mumbo jumbo as before, in which he claims to possess knowledge of the One Universal Truth.

This is especially ironic, in that this comes after he made another one of his goofy analogies in an attempt to illustrate how he views people's responses when they disagree with his views...i.e..as a "present" that he ultimately does not want. But yet, here HE is again, with HIS "present", and with it, the same ol' conditions attached to it. In other words, it's just like Christianity, only, with different make-believe characters.

I wonder, is being an arrogant, self-righteous hypocrite, highly regarded in the, uh, "Dharma"?

BTW, this is your mess, Toothfairy....he actually stopped posting before. lol(j/k)

.:webmaster:. said...

And let's not leave out the consanguineously synonymous sibling: argumentum ad infinitum.

Anonymous said...

ATF: (This is Part 2)

>> Now, why would a soul hang around their former property, when they should be able to move about the universe and satisfy the natural curiosity we all have about it?

Why would AFT [c.f. a soul] hang around this web page [c.f. former property] when he should be able to venture on more other interesting web pages [c.f. the universe…] or do something else and satisfy the natural curiosity he all has about it?

Can you tell a drug/alcohol addiction to quit?
Have you ever experienced that you know something is not good for you but you can’t control but to hang on?

The only escape when you finally manage to let go of carving and hence suffering.

>> If what you say is the case, then each soul must be able to make such a choice for itself, yes? Is it a matter of free will then?

You have a choice to leave suffering, but you may not have the determination to break away attachment. It is your will but not necessary a free will.

If every one is fond of ignoring the insignificant disputes and conflicts, what a lovely world it will be?
Do we have a choice?
Can we do it?
Are you willing to forget and forgo everything in this Earth and move forward to another plane at the critical moment?

>> Gee, sounds to me that if you knew you lived a bad life and were destined to live as a rat in the next one, you might want to hang around your former property forever, no?

Would you like to hang around a smelly toilet after using it? FYI: I do have numerous documentations that people reborn as an animal around the former property. Nothing is forever, including rat, cave, or this Earth.

>> Now, how do you know what a soul perceives of their former place of residence, would be very different than it was while they had a body? In what ways would it differ and how did we come to have this 'difference' knowledge?

I have reports from a large variety of documentations with origins sited by my earlier post.

In the West, we have many psychic investigations documented from many countries (including the UK, US, Canada, Australia and NZ). The reports are strikingly consistent.

Just to mention a few points: The beings from the beyond (the ghost domain) will feel much colder than while they were living on Earth. During even our hottest summer time, the beyond environment is very cool. During winters, the beyond environment is extremely harsh and bitter. They can never see the sun. The skies are always grey and filled with clouds, even when our World experienced a full son with clear skies. Ghosts are almost constantly hungry.

Actually, you don’t have to experience death before you can experience these ghostly perceptions. In this human world, we still have fragments of the rest of the other domains. When you have a chronic high fever, this is what will happen to the ghost’s perception of the weather. If you have other metabolic diseases, you will experience hunger but will not be able to take food through the normal GI tract. You prefer to die but you can’t. If such period lengthens, you are virtually a ghost living in the human world.

>> So you're saying the things we do in this life, feeds some external force, and that force itself then determines where our next lives will be spent? Sounds to me like this 'force' is just an alternate for the xtian god, who would normally make those choices for us.

Have you not read all my previous posts? I think I have stated this very clearly. Below is the re-statement:

“In this life, your repeated actions turned into habits. A conglomeration of habits forms your personality. Personality alters your destiny. You – yourself – are this great ‘supervisor’. This is up to you to follow the whatever path in the destiny that you created.”

Is this an external force?

>> Once again, us humans lack some certain knowledge and many can't cope with the not-knowing, so what do most folks do. They invent a THING to fill in the gaps in the knowledge.
For xtians, that gap filler is their creator god.
For you, it's some Dharma alternative that attempts to explain those gaps we hate.

As long as we are not satisfied with sufferings, we will continue to look for the solution until one day our sufferings can be resolved. I hope you can find a solution and not another hateful filler.

FYI: If you are humble enough to look into the Dharma, you will discover that it is not just filler.

Also: If you found my posting regarding the Dharma hateful, do say so and I will ignore your future posts.

>> Just because someone had some ideas about how things MIGHT work, doesn't at all make those things a fact.

If you are not interested in the ideas, why bother?
If you think they might work, why not give some objective investigations to see if those things are facts? As an engineer, I am sure you are able to do so.

>> The human mind is quite clever when it comes to creating works of fiction, so again, I ask you how you can be certain this Dharma is the ultimate answer to so many age-old questions?

As I have told you, I have already conducted my own experiments. I have gone through all the three Methods suggested by the Dharma. If you don’t find my postings hateful, I can continue to elaborate.

>> One of the techniques for brainwashing an individual, is to constantly REPEAT the thing you wish them to believe to be true.

That theory about brainwashing is true. However, I feel that you are repeating asking me the same question time and time again. Should I give you a different answer every time you post me the same question?

>> In the case for your Dharma, one has to have been exposed to it, not just for one lifetime, but for several, in order to be privileged in it's hidden knowledge.

The Dharma is everything about the universe. It is not a hidden knowledge but we have hidden wisdom. Until one day such hidden wisdom is fully exploited we would be able to fully understand the Dharma.

>>Seems to me that if you keep reading this Dharma over and over, that you can't help but to assume what it says is true.

The Dharma is not for reading, but for applying it to eradicate sufferings. Are you reading science over and over that you can’t help but to assume what it says is true? I hope not.

>> Now, you again have no evidence that a person will gain this hidden knowledge of the Dharma from having lived multiple lives. I haven't seen any proof that anyone gets more than one life, let alone can carry along previous Dharma knowledge from past lives they claim to have had.

You are now repeating your question about the theory of the existence of previous life. I have addressed this in my previous post.

>> If such a person were to reveal some hidden meanings of this Dharma to you, based on their claim of previous lives, how could one tell the difference between them actually having such accumulated knowledge, and that person just making up knowledge that they wish for others to believe.

As I have stated earlier, there are no hidden meanings of the Dharma, only your hidden wisdom. You don’t have to worry if the knowledge is a make-up for others to believe. You need to verify if this is indeed knowledge yourself.

>> Seems to me if someone wanted some fame&glory…

Anyone who is looking for fame and glory is NEVER a Dharma practitioner. Fame and glory are like poisons that nurture craving and self-ego.

A true Dharma practitioner will have compassion. He dedicated his valuable personal time to write his experience and advise people how to have good reasoning to understand Mother Nature and to eradicate suffering. He will endure everyone’s name-callings, bad and even vulgar words, meaningless and baseless attacks and negative (sometimes even viscous) feedbacks. Because he thinks that anyone who managed to catch a snap shot of the wisdom, he will be benefited from a later life when the Dharma is heard again from another source and time.

>>… all they need do is to claim previous existences and communicate some 'new' knowledge of this Dharma.

As I have told the forum earlier: The Dharma is not knowledge but wisdom. Knowledge changes with time where wisdom is forever true.

>> Afterall, if only a very select few can have such knowledge, then who are the judges that would decide if this new knowledge was valid or not?

I bet you are not into Product Research and Development where you need to be an independent thinker.

An independent thinker would not need a judge to decide the validity of any new knowledge. However, a privilege position is a great access to the independent thinker.

Had Einstein not given his education opportunities and his job to work in the Patents Office of Switzerland to access to the documentation of the forefront researches, he would have a more difficult time to finalize his Theory of Relativity.

It takes a lot of good karma in your ex-lives in order to be in the privilege position to become great achievers. Dharma is of no exceptions. No one selects you into the few other than your will and determination in the past. Are you able to look into the Dharma against your old and negative feelings about supernatural, dogma and religions?

>> Doesn't this very much resemble the wacko xtian cult leaders, who offer their great new revelations/interpretation, of god's-word. How many folks have fallen for this con-game...LOTS I'm sorry to report.
What makes you think that some so called 'followers' of Buddha, wouldn't play the same sort of game, for their own agendas?

I think most people in this forum are ignorant to the Buddhist setup.

Religious (esp. cult leaders) ask you to follow a dogma without questioning and to pray to a non-existing deity for an answer. They have physical assembly pressurizing people to attend and donate money and time.

A true follower of the Dharma would normally study and cultivate by himself until the insights and wisdom developed. Even there will be monkhood and layman gatherings; they are normally for group studying on the Dharma and to answer some questions or to give advices. Sometimes, achieved monks/nuns who developed powers can be able to solve problems for the disciples upon request. There is no pressurization for donation or attendance in a typical Buddhist assembly. Even as a monk, anytime you are free to return to laymanship or to move to another temple to stay. There is no god’s-word other than friendly advices. The study system of the Dharma is very similar to studying in a university in quest of knowledge.

Unlike the xtians preaching, the Dharma talks are hardly repeating simply because the sutras are extremely voluminous. Even full-time monk do not have enough time to read all the sutras in his lifetime. Therefore, the expounding of the same sutra is rare, much less brainwashing.

In the West, you can hardly hear the Dharma. This is probably your first time and the last. Therefore, how can you have any chance of being brainwashed?

>> Humans are humans, and many humans just have the nature to screw with others, for whatever selfish motive they might have.
I'm quite sure your religion is not immune from such devious folks?

Anyone who have selfish motive is not a Dharma practitioner. As I have mentioned, selfish and self-centering are generated from greed and attachment. I am not sure what you meant by “screw”. I post the Dharma in this hostile and negative forum not for fame, glory, or personally gain. I don’t use my real name or mentioned any organization that you are asked to support. But as I said before, a true Dharma practitioner have compassion and would like to help to relieve suffering by suggesting an alternative way to view life and nature. You may not appreciate the Dharma, but at least I hope you can appreciate my intention.

Amitabha

(Anyone who does not want me to reply to your post please state explicitly in your comment – for I have a lot of other important things to do at present. Otherwise, I would try to reply to anyone who genuinely wants to ask me some new questions. Thanks.)

Astreja said...

First things first: I have begun to suspect that Amitabha was an overzealous Christian evangelical in a prior life; converted to Pure Land Buddhism; but clung to the fanatical must-tell-everyone-good-news attitude.

"In the West, you can hardly hear the Dharma. This is probably your first time and the last."

Au contraire. I, Myself, have heard about the Dharma from multiple sources and have known about it for over thirty years. It isn't nearly as scarce as you seem to think it is.

"Unlike the xtians preaching, the Dharma talks are hardly repeating simply because the sutras are extremely voluminous. Even full-time monk do not have enough time to read all the sutras in his lifetime. Therefore, the expounding of the same sutra is rare, much less brainwashing."

Although the Tripitaka is indeed voluminous, there is a tendency for one or several favourite sutras to be recited and studied on a regular basis. (I, Myself, have bits and pieces of both the Lotus and Heart sutras indelibly burned into My neurons through such repetition.)

"It takes a lot of good karma in your ex-lives in order to be in the privilege position to become great achievers."

The existence of karma and past lives remain to be proven. And, in My opinion and experience, the strongest indicator of future achievement is desire for achievement.

As the psychologist David McClelland pointed out some years ago in his Learned Needs theory, some individuals desire power (nPow); others feel a need for companionship and affiliation (nAff); and some are most motivated by achievement (nAch).

These needs do not come from some mythical past life, but are initially shaped by childhood experiences and by values education promulgated by one's family, friends and community. They can also be changed by appropriate training later in life; they are most certainly *not* immutable qualities stuck to us with karmic glue.

And, finally,

"However, I incline to believe that both the poisonous frogs and the snakes that prey on them are also fighting a war in the spiritual domain."

Quoted for "WTF???"

.:webmaster:. said...

That settles it in my mind. Buddhism is just as screwy as all the rest of the lunatic religions.

AtheistToothFairy said...

My last thoughts about Amitabha:

Firstly:

boomSLANG wrote:
"BTW, this is your mess, Toothfairy....he actually stopped posting before. lol(j/k)"

Well Boom', just like most of us at times can't ignore certain xtian trolls, I wanted to give Amitabha one more chance to try and explain his odd beliefs.

Did I expect any great revelations. NO.
Do we give visiting xtians a chance to make their case. I think we do, at least for awhile anyway.
So yes Boom', it is indeed a mess that I (re-) created and I'm sure the price I'll pay, will be to exist as a Sewer Rat in my next life...LOL.
(I was actually hoping for the role of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle...oh well)

Okay, moving on now....

In his last two replies to me, it has become quite obvious that Amitabha is what I like to call a "Mystic", regardless of his association with a mainstream world religion.

I'm not sure how much of our communications problems are from a language barrier, a cultural barrier, but it's obvious that we can't even agree on what the word 'smart' means.
It's difficult at best, to debate with someone where such differences can interfere with the topic at hand.

He obviously has a need to in his life to grab onto any desirable extraordinary belief he can find.
He makes excuses for not being able to supply evidence to this forum, but in fact he could.
One could state HERE some future event (or some yet undiscovered fact) in detail, where perhaps one of his fellow Buddhist would assert some special (mystical) knowledge and it would then come to our attention at some near future point in time.
I would think that these 'souls' that exist, when in-between a physical life on earth, could give them special information that could have only come form unnatural sources.

He believes in aliens visiting earth in UFO's and has no problem with folks finding water underground using twigs dangling from their fingertips. He is sure haunted houses are of reality, yet many for a very long time now have sought evidence of this, only to come up empty handed; with only intangible evidence to show for their grand efforts.
He is convinced that evolution is being guided by some spirit world and just like creationists will do, he'll try hard to find any tiny bits of proof to support that theory, while ignoring the more standard and accepted conclusions of science.

It seems obvious to me that he will believe in something FIRST, then hunt for evidence to support that belief. This is not so different than the rest of the believers of supernatural things, where they make up their minds on some flimsy evidence and then search high and low for anything that might additionally fit their agenda.
This behavior is similar to our xtians, who grasp at straws in an attempt to prove their jesus was a son of god; who did all kinds of marvelous things on earth.

He assigns a value to his faith, for things unnatural, which if it exceeds a certain value, that thing is okay to believe as being real. Naturally, there is no empirical measuring stick being used to obtain that faith number, so it's once again subjective.
I guess if I put enough faith into believing in pink unicorns, that faith will make it come true, hmm.

He denies that evil people can be 'smart', for a reason I can't seem to comprehend.
Perhaps he confuses wisdom with smartness, but that still wouldn't discount an evil person being wise about certain things in life, while being unwise about other things.
He thinks 'compassion' is driven by 'wisdom' and I fail to see why these two qualities would automatically be connected to each other?

As xtians here love to quote their bible, he loves to tell a million hearsay stories, which are suppose to convince us that his extended-world is reality.

He claims to know that the ghost realm would feel cold, it's skies are grey and filled with clouds, yet again, these 'facts' are nothing more than some person describing what they think this other world would be like; or perhaps them claiming to have existed there previously.
So just like we are suppose to take some human's word for the existence of the xtian god, we should not question if this special realm actually exist as claimed.
We should just have faith that because some great guru(s) said so, that it must be true.

His religion seems to attempt to suppress the human ego; or 'pride' if you like that word better.
It sure sounds like it's all about submission to some greater force, which of course, is no different than what jesus wants from his followers.
Sorry, but until such a force is proven to exist and is worthy of my submission, it will never happen from this earthly based human.

Amitabha has a unique, interesting, and I dare say; very clever way of twisting the world around him, to fit his desired conclusion about it's (hidden) secret nature.
He see's 'evidence' where no valid evidence can be shown to exist, and his faith gets bolstered with each magical seeming story he hears about.
He loves to cite those who claim to have witnessed something extraordinary, but does any skeptic really research any of these events. I doubt they do or we would have all heard about it if such things were discovered to be both valid and of the supernatural.

I do not believe that there is some worldwide conspiracy to suppress the supernatural from being discovered by us. So very many folks still believe in many aspects of that magical realm that surely by now one of them would have brought forth some non-disputable evidence to the world, yes?

If divining for water worked for even some, far beyond just sheer chance, then how difficult is it to prove that out. Not very difficult at all in fact.
Enough believers are out there in this water finding pseudo-science to easily find at least one person who can do it routinely. Has such a person ever surfaced....Ummm, NOPE.

If we really do have all these UFO's flying in our skies each day, as many suppose is the case, then why don't we by now have far better evidence for them?
Why are the video's of such things either fuzzy or found out to be hoaxes.
Are these aliens so perfect that with all these ships flying around, not even one has crashed for us to investigate.
Don't even think of using the Roswell incident, as that has been well proven to be nothing out of the ordinary.

Why is it that saucer shaped ships didn't start showing up all over the place, until the news media (and then later Hollywood), started to show us what UFO's might look like.
Why is it that aliens are reported to look very much like what Hollywood has rendered them to look like?
e.g. Hollywood somehow knew ahead of time that these current aliens would have huge eye's

Why is it folks used to be abducted by witches or fairy's in their sleep, when such things were popular in society, but they quickly vanished when folks stopped talking about them.
When society began a fascination with aliens and UFO's, suddenly we had an outbreak of UFO's flying over even major cities throughout the world.
Could their be some huge worldwide conspiracy to cover up all these alien visits.
How would such a conspiracy ever be kept secret when we can't even cover up far less important matters of government.

Yet, our friend Amitabha see's no reason to discount all these things as being just folk's imagination. Why is it so hard for him to realize that it's his imagination that has supplied the faith of his odd beliefs. He then hunts for any tiny piece of conjecture one can dig up to support his chosen view of the world.

Has anyone out there ever heard a verifiable case where a person supplied positive verifiable evidence to support the idea that they once lived out a previous life?
I know of a few who tried to convince the experts of this, only to be found-out later that it was nothing but a hoax, or that they were telling stories that they themselves had once been told.

If most of us have lived a previous life, then why is it so difficult to recall any details of that life. Why is it only a tiny chosen FEW have found the ability to recall that old life?
(Ever notice it's always just a special "chosen few" who get those benefits for anything extraordinary in our world?)

What force in the universe that is responsible for moving our souls from one life to the next, would also have the 'smarts' to conceal our previous lives from us, but at the same time screw up and let just a few slip past that previous life-filter, letting that rare person know they had lived before.

Why is it all the case studies done in India where reincarnation is a popular belief, have proven that no such thing happened. There is a huge population in that country that insist reincarnation is the norm, yet not one of them so far has produced anything verifiable to support such an assertion.

No, just as you can't talk most fundies out of their beliefs using reason, we won't ever talk Amitabha out of his notions either. He most likely has put far too much work into his belief system to be able to logically see it's failures and shortcomings.
There is some thing inside his nature that has a huge need to believe in something beyond the normal reality we all know-and-love.
This 'thing' about his nature is not really all that different than anyone who has a need to believe in something bigger than ourselves. Be that a saviour jesus to make us immortal or some advanced aliens come to our rescue, or any supernatural belief that would make a person FEEL less scared about our own end of existence.

It seems so many can't stand the idea of not knowing the answers to the age old questions..."What is the meaning of life" and "What happens when we die".
To that end, some will always create answers for these questions and what better tool to use in that quest, than forming some religion to help answer them.

I have to admit that once again I'm feeling 'disappointment', by yet another assertion of the supernatural that once again fails to show more than the folks who have faith in it, and once again, have no clear cut evidence to back up their misguided faith.

Do I really ask for much when I ask for just ONE piece of evidence for anything supernatural that would be impossible to dismiss?

Is it asking too much for a UFO with a dozen aliens aboard, to stop playing hide and seek games with us (like god does) and land in a major city, whereupon they show themselves to all?
Is it too much to ask the folks like John Edwards who speak to the dead, to cull some information from them that is specific enough to prove it wasn't a trick.
With all the fortune tellers we have had for eons now, why don't they routinely win at lotto or in Vegas?

We have many who claim to be able to heal people, be them religious or not, yet not one has ever been shown to do this magic when it counts.
Why is it we have folks who claim to find water with sticks, but no one has stepped forward with an ability to find the much needed OIL hidden away in the earth?
Isn't one liquid the same as another, hmm.

We have ghost hunters that use all types of technology that THEY claim can reveal those mysterious ghost, but at the same time it never does the job well enough to prove them with any certainty...WHY?
Shouldn't most hospitals be haunted, considering that is where so many actually die?
If ghost occasionally make contact with us humans, then why is it seemingly such a rare event and not happening all the time, in every place in the world?
Is their some ghost-boss that only allows a 'chosen few' to make contact and then controls what information they are allowed to tell us about the next world?

Ever notice that everything supernatural always has some desire to remain mostly hidden from us. Ghost hide, God hides, Satan Hides, Angels Hide, and of course those aliens are big on hiding from us; but not totally for some strange unexplained reason.
Souls leaving a dead body never reveal themselves to us before they head off to god-knows-where. Yet, on certain ghost-holidays they get to come back from wherever, to toy with us, but in obscure ways only.

I assert that if there is some other hidden 'world', that it's not making contact with us humans and the only contact with such worlds is exactly the same contact the xtian god makes with xtians, which is one of great imagination alone.


ATF (Who is still opened minded in the quest for ANYTHING supernatural, but won't be holding his breath waiting for it to show up)

Anonymous said...

For ATF: (Thank you for our feedback again)

I have hoped that you would be one of the very few independent thinkers in this forum.

To my disappointment, it appears that either you have not spent good effort at least in analysing my points, or you would like to tow the line with the rest of the forum members under peer pressure.

I have already replied to all your comments in my previous posts. To avoid a long and boring (“Argumentum ad nauseam” or “Argumentum verbosium”) reply, here is my summary:
(1) I did not “troll” into this forum because I was attracted to the title “There is No God”. In addition to my posted reasoning supporting this title, I also believe that there is no external force other than your own – your past and your present wills – that carves your destiny. So far, nobody has challenged this point.
(2) The Dharma is nothing to do with “submission to any greater force” as I have stated above. I think you have missed my point with a VERY wide margin.
(3) I have never intended to post any great revelations or evidence. I am suggesting an alternate direction to look at Mother Nature from the ideas of a mainstream religion older and more profound than Christianity.
(4) I do not request anyone to believe my anecdotes. These are nothing but FYIs. Since even scientific research papers can be falsified, we have to objectively examine all alleged reports with great care.
(5) Only dead objects can have 100% behavioural repeatability under the same testing conditions. When living organism and esp. humanity is concern, there is always some uncertainty. Therefore, we have a term called “calculated risk” and to establish a wise faith. Again, no one has successfully challenged this.
(6) Definition is a convenient way to repeat a large amount of words. Arguing on definitions is pointless. Making unorthodox definitions in an argument does not necessarily indicate a language barrier.
(7) Instead of believing in folk’s imagination, I started my investigation into the Dharma after a series of personal experience. However, my personal experience will be hearsay to most biased people in this forum.
(8) If we cannot even clearly remember what we did last year, how can we expect that we can remember our previous life? Since we know that some prodigy can compose music at the age of 5, why should we not ask ourselves that if that exists, how come not everyone can do the same?
(9) It seems that everyone in this forum is looking for identical ideas and rejecting any ideas that is “foreign” without applying basic reasoning. This is like “in breeding”. Eventually, everyone will make the same mistake. Such a conformed system of beliefs is of no difference from a religious cult.

For Astreja:

>> Au contraire. I, Myself, have heard about the Dharma from multiple sources and have known about it for over thirty years.

I am shocked that you have heard the Dharma for 30+ years. In your photo you appeared (the most) to be in the early 40. How long and when were you into Christianity? Have you posted your religious experience in the forum? If so, can you let me take a look?

>> It isn't nearly as scarce as you seem to think it is.

I think you have not fully understood what I meant. If the Dharma is heard from multiple Buddhist sources (by people sharing the same belief), such sources are not exactly multiple (independent). I heard documentations supporting the Dharma from other religions such as Taoism and even from writers who do not have any religions at all! Are you prestigious enough to read such documentations?

>> Although the Tripitaka is indeed voluminous, there is a tendency for one or several favourite sutras to be recited and studied on a regular basis. (I, Myself, have bits and pieces of both the Lotus and Heart sutras indelibly burned into My neurons through such repetition.)

You would not understand the sutras by repeated recitals alone. The most important milestone in the Dharma is the development of wisdom and insights. Such development will be exhibited as a change of personality, health and destiny.

Heart Sutra is very concise but hard to understand. It is expounded by the great Bodhisattva Avaloketesvara to Sariputta, the chief and most accomplished Arahant of Shakyamuni. It is therefore not a good Sutra for beginners. In the Sutra, how do you interpret the key sentence in the sutra “Form is Emptiness. Emptiness is Form.”?

For .:webmaster:.:

>> Buddhism is just as screwy as all the rest of the lunatic religions.

If you look at the world in an upside down position, the world will appear as upside down. If a religion can make the world peaceful, compassionate and self-reliance, and has been accepted as one of the mainstream religions for 2600 years, does it matter if someone would look at it as “screwy” and “lunatic”?

Amitabha

Astreja said...

Amitabha: "I am shocked that you have heard the Dharma for 30+ years. In your photo you appeared (the most) to be in the early 40. How long and when were you into Christianity? Have you posted your religious experience in the forum? If so, can you let me take a look?"

Sure. It's right here. (Oh, and I turned fifty last year. I've been investigating Buddhism on and off since my late teens.)

"In the [Heart] Sutra, how do you interpret the key sentence in the sutra 'Form is Emptiness. Emptiness is Form.'?"

I interpret this as:

The phenomena we experience in this world create likenesses of themselves in our brains... We are constantly accepting sensory input, analyzing it, classifying it, and creating a representation of the world. 'Form is Emptiness, Emptiness is Form' marks the still point between sensations and objects and our mind's reaction to them. This is where we perceive the universe with the least amount of mental bias... In the moment before we start naming, valuing and reacting to what we perceive.

Anonymous said...

Dear Astreja:

I have read your post. It is a good write-up. I am quite surprised by the repeated spammings of xtians evangelists in your post.

Regarding the key sentence[s] ‘Form is Emptiness; emptiness is form’ in the Heart Sutra, I have the following remarks excerpted from some Chinese references:
(1) Form is just one of the five skandhas. It is basically solidity, earth element, and shape. (The other skandhas such as ‘analysing’, ‘classifying’ and ‘mind’s reaction’ are included by a similar argument in the following verses of the Heart Sutra.)
(2) These two clauses look the same, but not identical. That is one of the reasons why the Heart Sutra is hard to understand for beginners. The ‘emptiness’ of the first clause describes impermanent, unsubstantiated and illusory nature of form. The Dharma maintained that we should not be too attached to form in order to cut down craving and hence suffering. However, the ‘emptiness’ in the second clause is ‘true emptiness’. It actually means the formless mind. Therefore, another sentence for ‘Emptiness is form’ is ‘Formless mind creates everything’.
(3) ‘Form is Emptiness’ is the summary of mainly the Diamond Sutra that represents the illusory and void theory of matters. ‘Emptiness is Form’ is the summary of several sutras that represent the true and powerful formless mind. These include the Surangama Sutra, Vimalakirti-nirdesa Sutra and other Pure Land Sutras.

Compared to the Heart Sutra, the Lotus Sutra is even more difficult to understand. In the Lotus Sutra assembly, many Arahants were like blind and deaf. In fact, five thousand audiences were so confused that they left the assembly just before Shakyamuni started the Expedient Devices Chapter. Therefore, it is advisable to choose the sutras that best suited for our level.

Amitabha

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