On the question of ultimate reality: Specifically for Xain

Hey @snowcity (Xain), this is specifically for you.*

I’m late to this party, but…I’ve been lurking in your conversations here, and I believe I know where you’re coming from in a way others may not.

I do have a thought on this. But before I approach that, I want to ask you to ponder something.

You wrote:

It’s not trivial, it’s questions about the nature of existence.
And
That’s not true. I’m trying to solve these things and I can’t do it on my own.
And
when those pass me by this lingering doubt sinks in that there might be some hidden wisdom that I’m not seeing.
And
I mean my alarms went off pretty quick for this, but then I read the comments. Plus combine that with it being a Zen koan and how “it’s open to many interpretations” makes it hard to dismiss him.
And
Some are well written and (if I’m being honest) use big words so I makes me believe them more
And
To me such accounts seem to be proof as to the truth of the claims being asserted.
And
So apparently Koans aren’t these statements that are “open to interpretation”, they do have an answer and supposedly the answer given shows how far one is on the path.
And
the point here is getting at what is the truth not what you want to live by.
And
Except that’s not what it’s about at all, it’s about getting at the truth and not what makes you feel better.
And
If I were to build a philosophy based on what is acceptable to me that would be confirmation bias and ignoring reality as it truly is.
 

I think I hear what you’re saying here, Xain: that an objective truth about reality exists, and that is what you seek … not simply placation or appeasement. That’s why it can’t be something you make up in your own head, because such a thing would just be wishful thinking, not objective truth.

Do I hear you correctly?

If so, then I first want you to ponder this.

Your quest for objective truth, at least in your discussion here in CFI, has centered on your readings about Buddhism on the specific websites you’ve mentioned.

But what if the objective truth is to be found in an entirely different system of thought?

What if the objective truth is actually to be found in the Moravian Church? Or the Assemblies of God? Or Greek Orthodox Christianity? What if it is in The Bahá’í Faith? Or Reform Judaism, Sunni Islam, Shaktism, Zorastrianism, Taoism or Hausa Animism?

I’m sure you realize that my list above could be tens of thousands long.

You have probably heard some version of this old joke:

MR. SNIFF: What are you looking for?
MR. SNOOP: A five-dollar bill.
MR. SNIFF: Are you sure you lost it on this street?
MR SNOOP: Oh no! I lost it in the next block, but I’m lookin’ up here because the light is better.

Currently, your light seems better under the lamppost of the particular websites about Buddhism that you happen to be looking at. But “the truth” could actually be located beneath any of thousands of lampposts you AREN’T looking beneath.

What then, Xain…?

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*A note to everyone else:

I’m opening up a respectful dialogue with Xain, not a “debate.”

I’m not saying no one else can comment. This is in a forum, not a DM. However, I respectfully request that if you feel tempted to respond with anything snarky or sarcastic to either of us, you please save it. I’m not on a blind fishing exploration. I’m trying to help somebody. Thanks.

Thank you.

You miss the mark. The difference between Buddhism and the rest is that Buddhism has actual logic and reason and (from what I am told) psychology to back it up, it’s not like the “rest” that you mention.

 

The thing is that I don’t want to live a lie, but Buddhism has ruined many things I held dear by pointing out they are illusions or lies. So it’s not about being comfortable or piecing something together, it’s about being right even if that means it hurts.

Truthfully I would be better off forgetting all about Buddhism, but I can’t

IMO, Buddhism is a useful philosophy. It teaches introspection and respect for others.

Three Universal Truths Everything in life is impermanent and always changing. Because nothing is permanent, a life based on possessing things or persons doesn't make you happy. There is no eternal, unchanging soul and "self" is just a collection of changing characteristics or attributes.

Four Noble Truths
Human life has a lot of suffering.
The cause of suffering is greed.
There is an end to suffering.
The way to end suffering is to follow the Middle Path.

Buddha then taught people not to worship him as a god. He said they should take responsibility for their own lives and actions. He taught that the Middle Way was the way to nirvana. The Middle Way meant not leading a life of luxury and indulgence but also not one of too much fasting and hardship. There are eight guides for following the Middle path.

The Eightfold Path
Right understanding and viewpoint (based on the Four Noble Truths).
Right values and attitude (compassion rather than selfishness).
Right speech (don’t tell lies, avoid harsh, abusive speech, avoid gossip).
Right action (help others, live honestly, don’t harm living things, take care of the environment).
Right work (do something useful, avoid jobs which harm others).
Right effort (encourage good, helpful thoughts, discourage unwholesome destructive thoughts).
Right mindfulness (be aware of what you feel, think and do).
Right meditation (calm mind, practice meditation which leads to nirvana).


https://uri.org/kids/world-religions/buddhist-beliefs

Tee; To catch you up with my discussions with Xian:

I tried asking him a similar question, specifically comparing Christianity to Buddhism. He gave a short answer like the one here. Early on, he talked about the brain scans that were done on some Buddhists that earned them the headline “happiest people”. I tried to explain that was not an accurate headline, but he continues to believe there is something special about Buddhist meditation. Not too long ago he admitted he has been going about his search all wrong. I don’t remember his exact words. He stopped doing his “so and so is false” posts for a while, but is back at it now.

@lausten

Tee; To catch you up with my discussions with Xian:
Yes — I saw that; I actually read through all of them.

I saw that you and @write4u spent a lot of time & effort trying to help.

@write4u

IMO, Buddhism is a useful philosophy. It teaches introspection and respect for others.
The interesting thing about Buddhism is how elements of it can be incorporated into a variety of religions and philosophies, since (as was included in the points you posted here) Buddha never claimed to be a god and didn't demand to be worshipped like one.

So, a lot of Christians, Jews and even atheists can apply ideas of Buddhism into their own practices.

Of course, the simple elements ARE the simple ones. The problem is when you go in too deep, deeper than you want to be, and you can’t get back out. That is where @snowcity seems to be. @snowcity

Truthfully I would be better off forgetting all about Buddhism, but I can’t
I know, @snowcity. I believe you.

@snowcity

 

You miss the mark.
Respectfully, Xain, I don't think I have.

I think I understand more than you assume. I am asking you to articulate some things clearly, though. Okay?

The thing is that I don’t want to live a lie, but Buddhism has ruined many things I held dear by pointing out they are illusions or lies.
It's often said that "people believe whatever they want to believe." But this is untrue. At least, it's untrue for many of us.

You don’t “want” to believe the things you care about are illusions or lies, Xain. In fact, if you could flip a switch and NOT worry about this, you probably would, right? But you can’t.

So it’s not about being comfortable or piecing something together, it’s about being right even if that means it hurts.
If you look through the quotes of yours that I highlighted in my OP, you will see that I included several where you say exactly this.

Then, I said to you:

I think I hear what you’re saying here, Xain: that an objective truth about reality exists, and that is what you seek … not simply placation or appeasement. That’s why it can’t be something you make up in your own head, because such a thing would just be wishful thinking, not objective truth.

Do I hear you correctly?


That is what I said to begin with. So, am I still “missing the mark?”

 

The thing is that I only believe Buddhism because it is Buddhism and that because a Buddhist said something that it is the truth. Also because their philosophical arguments seem pretty unassailable.

》The thing is that I only believe Buddhism because it is Buddhism and that because a Buddhist said something that it is the truth. Also because their philosophical arguments seem pretty unassailable.《
Yes, @snowcity, I understood that part.

About “because a Buddhist said something that it is the truth,” I’m certain you understand the truth has to be based on more than just that, right? Because Scientologists say Scientology is “the truth,” Muslims say Islam is “the truth,” etc. etc.?

You realize that if you had FIRST stumbled upon a book or website by one of them, that would not make Scientology or Islam any more objectively “true” than Buddhism is to you, right…?

So…

I’m not trying to change your mind with anything I say. (I am an atheist, and not trying to “convert” anyone from, or to, anything). I’m simply pointing out something in addition to what you say.

》The difference between Buddhism and the rest is that Buddhism has actual logic and reason and (from what I am told) psychology to back it up, it’s not like the “rest” that you mention.《
Well, regarding logic and reason...that is philosophy, and there have been literally thousands of Christian philosophers out there.

Just a very small few of them…

In Hellenist thought:

Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Irenaeus of Lyons, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Augustine of Hippo, Athanasius of Alexandria, Dioscorus of Aphrodito, Gregory of Nyssa, Gregory of Nazianzus, Basil the Great

In the Medieval era (800s to 1500s CE):

Peter Abelard, Anselm of Canterbury, Thomas Aquinas, William of Ockham, John Duns Scotus, Albert of Saxony, Roger Bacon, Gabriel Biel, Hildegard of Bingen, Johannes Scotus Eriugena, Marsilius of Inghen, Albertus Magnus

During the Renaissance and Reformation (1400s to 1600s):

René Descartes, Jacobus Arminius, Francis Bacon,Jean Bodin, Desiderius Erasmus, Hugo Grotius, Marsilio Ficino,Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, Huldrych Zwingli

In the modern era (1600s to today):

Thomas Browne, Galileo Galileir, John Locke, Isaac Newton, Blaise Pascal, Immanuel Kant, Karl Leonhard Reinhold, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Karl Barth, G. K. Chesterton, Fyodor Dostoevsky, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Karl Barth, Søren Kierkegaard, Reinhold Niebuhr,
Edith Stein, Albert Schweitzer, Leo Tolstoy, Frederick Buechner, David Bentley Hart, Simone Weil

Re. psychology, yes: a lot of psychologists incorporate Buddhist principles in therapy. “Mindfulness” is the Big Thing in psychology right now, and that came out of Buddhism.

But there are has also been a lot of merging of psychology and Christian theology, and psychologists who use Christianity in their practice. G.C. Dilsaveri, Norman Vincent Peale and Clyde M. Narramore are some important names there. Carl Jung incorporated Christian symbology into archetypes when he founded the whole field of analytical psychology.

So it isn’t true to say that Buddhism alone has logic and reason, and psychology to back it up. Others do too (and not just Christianity).

If you are honestly seeking the truth … how will you know it, if you haven’t studied all of these? (I’m assuming you have not.)

I don’t. It’s just the testimonies from people who follow it say so so I believe it.

 

Like when they say that we don’t miss actual people just the times we had with them, which hurts because I thought it was the people. When I share this people say it’s not true but because a Buddhist site said it then it must be so.

@snowcity

Oh, okay. I guess you’re right. Buddhism is the truth, and the only truth.

Sorry for bothering you. Take care.

 

You still don’t get it do you.

You still don’t get it do you.
I sure don't. That is, I don't get why you would say something like this and expect anyone to take you seriously.
The thing is that I only believe Buddhism because it is Buddhism and that because a Buddhist said something that it is the truth.
This is known as a tautology
LOGIC a statement that is true by necessity or by virtue of its logical form.
It's true, but that doesn't mean it has use as a statement. It's just a statement that's true to you. Kinda of like, "well, it is what it is".

@snowcity

You still don’t get it do you

 


I’m feeling a little discouraged right now, because I honestly think I do…to the extent that anyone can “understand” what someone else is going through.

I’ve dedicated some time and effort here, Xian, because I believe that I experienced something very similar to what you seem to be experiencing.

I think I have been respectful and validating. I have even expressly asked that others be respectful of you, also.

I don’t expect you to change your thinking.

I’m not telling you that Buddhism isn’t true.

I’m not telling you to “just stop worrying about this,” because I honestly don’t believe that you can.

I’m not berating you, nor am I expressing frustration or exasperation.

This is what I see, Xain, based on what you have written here (and I assume you are a “he,” but let me know if I’m using the wrong pronoun):

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Xain is deeply concerned about the meaning of life.

It’s very important that he believe what is objectively true, not just what he wants to believe, or what he creates in his own mind.

Xain has read testimonies from Buddhists who say Buddhist beliefs and practices are true. The experiences people have shared about Buddhism sound real and convincing.

Xain wants to believe what he has read about Buddhism, but he is also unsure. What if he is wrong?

Xain keeps asking himself this (What if?) and seeking confirmation from others. But whatever they say, pro or con, doesn’t feel right.

Xain feels trapped between needing and wanting to believe, and needing and wanting to believe the truth, whatever it is. But how can he know for sure?

Actually, Xain wishes he could stop thinking about this. But he can’t. It just goes around and around in his head, unsettled, and he can’t be sure.

The not-knowing, the what-iffig, the rumination, is causing Xain tremendous anxiety.

He looks around and thinks it’s weird that no one else seems to care about this…but also wishes he were more like them, because life would be easier if Xain didn’t have to care about this…about whether or not Buddhism holds the true meaning of life.

It’s an awful burden, and it feels like there is no escape.

 


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@snowcity, can you let me know if I am understanding you? If not, can you explain what I have wrong?

 

Xain said,

Like when they say that we don’t miss actual people just the times we had with them, which hurts because I thought it was the people. When I share this people say it’s not true but because a Buddhist site said it then it must be so.


You might want to cite Kahlil Gibran: “we weep for that which was once our delight”

It does feel like there is no escape.

@snowcity

 

It does feel like there is no escape
So that was the only thing, in all that I took the time to write, that was correct?

Okay. Well, again, I guess I’m as off-base as everyone else.

I’m sorry if you are suffering (I can’t really tell). I guess I can’t help, either.

Sorry.

(#2)

@snowcity You know I started this thread specifically for you, right?

And I read through every single one of your posts and comments.

I actually took some time and effort to begin a respectful dialogue with you.

But (and I almost NEVER say this to people!) it seems pretty clear that you DON’T want to be helped, or even heard or understood.

So, forgive me for wasting your time. Take care.