Buddha claimed that he witnessed the cessation of all things, including God. How could this be explained by a Christian?


#125

I tend to agree, but this isn’t a unanimous opinion in Buddhism. I’ve heard he is all-knowing but doesn’t know all things simultaneously. I’ve heard he knows all that he needs to know if the situation calls for it. And some even say is all-knowing period.

"That is not so, because of its purifiedness. Because the Enlightened
One’s objective field is purified and it is unthinkable. Otherwise
there would be no unthinkableness in the knowledge of the Enlightened
One, the Blessed One, if it occured in the same way as ordinary
people. So, although it occurs with all dhammas as its object, it
nevertheless does so making those dhammas quite clearly defined, as
though it had a single dhamma as its object. This is what is
unthinkable here. 'There is as much knowledge as there is knowable,
there is as much knowable as there is knowledge; the knowledge is
limited by the knowable, the knowable is limited by the knowledge’
(Ps.ii 195). So he is Fully Enlightened because he has rightly and by
himself discovered all dhammas together and separately, simultaneously
and successively, according to his wish’(Pm.190-91).

from Visuddhimagga,
VII,note 7. 9 the paramathamanjusa)

Even if it is someone different, it’s still in the Buddhist tradition. If one has the ability to come back from the dead and be eternal, wouldn’t that still contradict the Buddhist dharma of impermanence?


#126

AIUI = As I Understand It.

Then we have two things: unchanging substratum and changing appearance. The appearance is changing and not eternal. What of the substance? An acorn changes into an oak tree which changes/produces a lot of acorns, some of which turn into an oak tree and the cycle repeats. Hence, each acorn contains the substratum of an acorn/oak which originated from the original oak tree which produced the acorn. Hence the oak/acorn substratum changed from non-existent (at the time before the acorn was produced) to existent at the current time. Since there was a time when the acorn/oak substratum did not exist then it cannot be eternal.

Matter can easily be seen. A water molecule can be observed with the correct instruments. It may present itself in the form of a gas as steam, in the form of a liquid as water or in the form of a solid as ice. The underlying molecules can be observed.

You seem to be talking of a more philosophical Matter/Substance etc. To me that is just a reified concept which I reject.

If it is eternal than it was not created by God. Anything eternal does not have a beginning/cause/creation. Is God then the creator of most of the universe, but not all of it?

Then you are denying the reality of causation, causation is mere appearance, not present in the substratum. There is no change or causation here, just eternal sameness.

If the acorn is the same as the oak tree, because their underlying substratum is the same, then there is no causation and no change. If the substratum of the cause is identical to the substratum of the effect then we have neither cause nor change.

rossum


#127

Why cannot God generate His own will internally? Any God who answers prayers, as the Abrahamic God says he does (e.g. Matthew 18:19) can obviously be influenced by external factors.

No He is not. Does God exist? Did He cause Himself? He may be the creator of many things, but He is not the cause of Himself.

Why not? Parents cause a child, yet the child can make a request to the parents, causing the parents to act. This is the same as God answering prayers, the effect having a retroactive effect on the cause.

What you are describing here is an indifferent God, who is completely unaffected by any and all actions coming from creation. That is not how the God of the Bible is described. God loves all men; can He be unaffected by those He loves? I do not think you are correct here.

rossum


#128

I am of the “he knew all he needed to know” school.

Coming back from the dead is not problem, we all do it. Advanced Bodhisattvas can do it deliberately, despite not having to. I have not studied Tantrism to any depth, and on the surface what the story says does indeed appear to contradict standard Buddhism. However, Tantric texts are often deliberately written to be difficult for non-initiates to understand. Without the accompanying oral transmission from a Master, the written text is essentially meaningless. For example:

Where one has awoken to the sameness of the Thunderbolt, there is great enlightenment, because the Thunderbolt is exceedingly compact.

Perfection of Wisdom in 150 lines

rossum


#129

Buddha claimed that he witnessed the cessation of all things, including God. How could this be explained by a Christian?

Buddha was wrong…


#130

If you could respond in a more timely manner then conversation may be worthwhile but not many days later I suggest :wink:.

As for the above.,like many Catholics commenting on Buddhist concepts without real understanding research or reflection the same seems to be happening above. That may be my fault - but I have pointed you to the keywords you can research for yourself if you are interested.

But just to assist:

Then we have two things: unchanging substratum and changing appearance.

No we don’t have two “things”. We have one existing thing.
We do have two components of change/life which together form a single existing thing. We refer to existing things as “substance” in Aristotelian/Catholic philosophy. So “matter” (the substratum) is not a “substance” in its own right - though we can infer its presence in substances.

A modern example of discerning a “thing” (which may or may not exist in its own right) in something else are the non-naturally occurring chemical elements such as cobalt. Its presence in a variety of different substances was well known due to the characteristic blue/red colour it gives to such differing compounds. But it only exists in these in ionic form…not in its pure nascent state.
With the rise of modern science and electricity we are able to extract these metals from such ancient compounds which never in the history of the world could ever be found naturally - they are too reactive. this is a poor example of what I ma trying to communicate but it should suffice. “Matter” can be inferred to “exist” when united with a “form” but it doesn’t exist in and by itself.

The appearance is changing and not eternal.

Yes, material substances always corrupt eventually. That does not mean the underlying matter corrupts. it simply gets expressed in a new form. It is eternal, though form (and any given substance composed of matter and form) eventually changes to another form/substance …often with the addition of more matter or less matter from elsewhere.

Hence the oak/acorn substratum changed from non-existent (at the time before the acorn was produced) to existent at the current time. Since there was a time when the acorn/oak substratum did not exist then it cannot be eternal.

Your use of the terminology is inconsistent.

The acorn that falls from the oak tree obviously takes with it some of the matter that once belong to the oak tree. As the acorn grows in the ground it is taking more matter from the earth, the air and even the energy of the sun (energy is a form of matter, even if its very small). The matter is therefore neither created nor destroyed but simply getting passed around between multiple forms - some forms are growing their substance and preserving the form, others are decaying and the form is being lost. Forms come and go, the substratum of such change is eternal.

CONTINUED…


#131

Since there was a time when the acorn/oak substratum did not exist then it cannot be eternal.

You have confused “matter” and “substance”. Substance is the integral concrete entity itself (this acorn, this oak tree). Yes the substance lasts only a short while, its form changes to another form via the medium of its hidden matter which is passed on to another form.

That form may resurrect again in a new acorn one day. Perhaps we can say the “map” or “essence” of a form is eternal (funny how the same form called “acorn” keeps popping up all over the world) but individual acorns are not.
However matter is eternal…but we can never see it with our eyes because it has no characteristic “form” of its own. It has no “essence”. But we can infer its necessary presence with the mind. For if it did not exist there could be no corruption or growth from one substance to another.


#132

Such observations as above are no more “mental constructs” than “causality” which I am sure you accept in your daily life even if it is also a “mental construct”.

I find you reject some mental constructs and yet accept others in a somewhat arbitrary and inconsistent manner.

You surely accept the existence of “substances” in daily life also. If you didn’t then all you would “see” are moving colors, noises, pressures. but we don’t. We integrate them into individual forms. We see repeated forms (“universals”). And even in the repeated examples of universals (eg humans) we recognise individuality (Jim, Peter , Jane). Lots of mental constructs there. You can mentally reject them - but life would not be possible if you did.

If it is eternal than it was not created by God. Anything eternal does not have a beginning/cause/creation. Is God then the creator of most of the universe, but not all of it?

I have no problem with that - other than the fact that “prime matter” cannot exist on its own as mentioned above.

Then you are denying the reality of causation, causation is mere appearance, not present in the substratum. There is no change or causation here, just eternal sameness.

Quite the contrary. The ancients held that causality cannot be explained if there is not a substratum to allow change to take place in the first place. Otherwise how can one form slowly replace another form which is the very definition of material change. Your acorn from an oak tree is a good example of this necessity.

If the acorn is the same as the oak tree,

An acorn is not the same as an oak tree. That is why they have different names. Names refer to forms. But yes, the acorn does receive its matter from the oak tree as part of the oak tree turns into an acorn. And one day the oak tree will die and it is no longer an oak tree. Its matter will slowly turn into rotting vegetation and feed many other life forms and the remainder lie on the floor of the forest as organic chemicals.


#133

May I ask why?

Why wouldn’t he be able to know all things simultaneously at once?


#134

God does not cause himself, he exists a se, i.e., by his very nature.

We do not exist by our very nature and neither do our wills. That means our wills, though “free” to some extent must be underwritten in their action by God’s grace and will, and operate contingent upon the causal reality around us. This need not imply our wills are caused, necessarily, but do operate within a set of contingencies without which our wills would be essentially meaningless since we do not create our own circumstances. That is not true of God’s will which is not contingent upon anything outside of God’s nature and circumstances within which his will operates are also created by God’s will and power.

It doesn’t make sense to claim that creation (the causal order) in some sense changes God when God brought that entire causal order and all its contingencies into existence to begin with.

That means we, based upon a working knowledge of our own wills and the contingent causality within which we operate, are not in a position to extrapolate what may or may not be true of God’s will and how contingent existence may or may not affect God’s will.


#135

My apologies. I was in Glasgow for a few day’s holiday.

One single thing cannot have two opposed properties. Specifically it cannot be both unchanging and changing. A compound thing can have opposed properties, but then we can analyse it into its various components and treat each component separately. A chessboard is both black and white because it is a compound of black squares and white squares.

Matter is not eternal; all matter (i.e. mass/energy) in the universe started at the Big Bang. Any eternal matter would have had to pre-exist the Big Bang.

We agree that substance is not eternal. It is an internal mental construct which we apply to external objects.

Acorns are not eternal; there was a time when neither oak trees nor acorns existed. How can an “essence” of X exist if there is no X. There was once an “essence of Dodo”, there is now no “essence of Dodo” anywhere. If an essence is attached to a set of material objects, like acorns or dodos, then that essence cannot be eternal.

You also have the problem of when essence-of-acorn changes to essence-of-oak-tree. Is there an intermediate essence-of-sapling or not? The change as the acorn grows in continuous; how do you split that continuous change into essences? One essence every day? every hour? every minute? every second? Or is there no change in essence at all? That would deny the reality of change.

Continued…

rossum


#136

As I said, you are reifying an internal mental construct: “we can infer its necessary presence with the mind.” I reject all such reifications. In order to see the real external world as best we can, we need to strip away all the internal constructs we have erected inside our minds. Those constructs are not real, just as the ‘water’ in a mirage is not real.

I accept causality, but I do not accept Causality as an eternal reified principle floating free eternally in the universe. For one thing, the standard macroscopic notion of causality breaks down at the quantum level, where things can happen uncaused, and both cause and effect can switch places and many quantum interactions can run as easily forwards as backwards.

I accept then as temporary useful constructs. I do not see them as Eternal Principles.

I do not reject them, but I try to be aware that they are my internal mental constructs. They have their existence purely inside my head. For example, inside my head Chris is a happy person, but some days Chris is not happy. The external Chris is not an exact match for my internal model ‘Chris’.

If the substratum is permanent and unchanging then there is no real change: substratum becomes substratum so no real change. If the substratum changes, then you need a sub-substratum to handle the change in the substratum, and a sub-sub-substratum to handle the change in the sub-substratum and so on.

An unchanging substratum denies the reality of change, it is mere appearance. For Buddhists that is unacceptable since change is ubiquitous. Change is essential for both enlightenment and salvation.

rossum


#137

The Buddha was human, not a god. There are limitations on what a human can retain in his mind.

rossum


#138

Before that act of creation, God was not the Creator. That would have been an incorrect description and a false claim. After the act of creation then God is the Creator.

A “Creator” who has not created anything is making a false claim. The description “Creator” is contingent on the existence of something created. God may not be contingent, but some of His descriptions and titles are: Creator or Father for example.

rossum


#139

God is eternal. There is no before with God. The only “before” is the relative one vis a vis from the perspective of beings in time. So we presume a before which is not so from Gods eternal perspective. The universe as a whole space-time phenomenon could exist eternally.

Methinks you put far too much store in the semantics surrounding the meaning of creator. A writer of books is still a writer even if no product exists or is in the offing. All the skills to make that individual an author exist prior to him/her actually having written a book. The written piece is actually tangible proof that the skills were in place, but isn’t what makes the person a writer. They aren’t a writer because of the book, the book exists because the person is/was a writer before the piece’s existence.


#140

In the absence of time it is not possible to separate cause and effect. The cause must exist before the effect. If “before” is meaningless then we cannot distinguish between the two.

Time itself is also eternal, by definition: there is no time when time did not exist. Time has existed for all time.

An author who has not actually written any books is making a false claim. A parent who has not had any children is likewise making a false claim.

Two strangers are talking at a party:

“What do you do?”

“I’m a creator.”

“So, what do you create?”

“I create … universes.”

“Wow! How many universes have you created?”

“Erm … well …” he shuffles his feet and looks embarrassed, “none actually.”

“Oh my, is that the time. Sorry, I have to rush.”

rossum


#141

If you really want to go into the truth of this Catholic philosophy I suggest, as below, a little research rather than 5 minutes reflection.

I have repeatedly advised that matter and form, while composing a single substance, are co principles or “components”. They are not “properties”. The observation is technically called “hylomorphism” if you do wish to research this important framework beneath most Catholic teaching.

In any case I don’t understand your objection. We see everyday examples of change and stability at the same time. Wood gets carved, it is still wood. The ancients call that an “accidental change” because the substance itself is still preserved (its still wood). Then there are other cases where the substance is corrupted. For example slaking quickline or burning charcoal. Quicklime (Calcium oxide) gets heavier because it eventually turns into a new substance (slaked lime or Calcium Hydroxide). The ancient called this “substantial change” which runs deeper.

But in both cases the underlying matter, whether augmented or reduced, is never destroyed but passed on to other forms in a closed system - just as the chemists tell us.

So I do not see how stability and change cannot exist in the same substance or be discerned in a complete system. Sure, burning charcoal looks like the matter is completely destroyed. But in fact it simply combined with the air and floated off. The weight that floated off is exactly the same weight as that you put the flame to. Changing forms move upon a sea of unchanging matter just like small waves rippling across the unchanging water of a mountain lake.
There is no inherent contradiction I can see in this model properly understood.

Your logic above is as much a “mental construct” imposed on reality as is anything else.

Matter is not eternal; all matter (i.e. mass/energy) in the universe started at the Big Bang. Any eternal matter would have had to pre-exist the Big Bang.

That is but one hypothesis of many. It is not illogical to hold that the universe is eternal - as did the ancients. Even the Church has taught that an eternal cosmos is not an inconsistent position even though it denies this in favour of Creation. Nr is the big-bang theory necessarily a denial of eternity. There could have been an eternity of repeated big bangs as the universe expands then contracts back to a point. Who would ever know?


#142

Acorns are not eternal

As I suggest you need to digest what I am giving you and perhaps do some research. An organisation doesn’t hold a philosophy 3000 years old that can be so easily denied. If one has found a silver bullet denial in 5 minutes that suggests we have not grasped the point I suggest.

In fact what I said was that the “form” or “essence” that enables us to recognise and define an acorn is in a sense eternal. In your thinking, the “mental construct”, the “idea” is in a sense eternal.
Nor is it purely subjective. Once understood it enables us to recognise acorns all over the world. There is something objective in it…how is it that the acorn has travelled all around the world? It hasn’t of course, they are different acorns…but they are still acorns not strawberries. The form of acorn is in some sense unchanging and eternal as is a unicorn which has never existed. It lives in many minds as much as it does in matter. An eternal mental construct…yet not a purely subjective or arbitrary or meaningless mental construct. It links to reality somehow. But yes this is a diversion from the issue of concrete forms (substances) as opposed to mental forms.

You also have the problem of when essence-of-acorn changes to essence-of-oak-tree. Is there an intermediate essence-of-sapling or not?

Now you begin to see the necessity of matter as a linking substratum in which two forms gradually arise within each other, grow and eventually separate, modify or switch. It doesn’t matter if we cannot tell exactly at which point the new form is self-subsistent. It clearly happens eventually.


#143

That “reifying” is useful and predictable and practical and makes it possible to live suggests it is not a pure fantasy we have the option of ignoring. You can reject this as much as you wish but the fact you are an adult means you have accepted it and make judgements and choices accordingly.

Nor would you contemplate Buddhist or Catholic teachings or science if you didn’t make use of mental constructs.

You would therefore seem inconsistent to reject some mental constructs (and not others) simply because they are “mental constructs”. You need something other if you wish to remain consistent.
Most of us call that “a reason” or “logic” or even some form of “evidence”.
You reification thing then doesn’t really work for me. Even the statement “everything changes” seems to involve “reification.” and mental constructs. Perhaps one shouldnt even speak if one took this line of thought seriously.

For one thing, the standard macroscopic notion of causality breaks down at the quantum level, where things can happen uncaused

There’s a real lot of mental constructs in quantum physics (given its non intuitive) - yet because it supports your view you don’t seem to consider rejecting them. That’s confusing.

I accept then as temporary useful constructs. I do not see them as Eternal Principles.

That’s clear enough but its arbitrary and therefore makes discourse impossible as everyone is condemned ultimately to solipsism. Doesn’t seem a useful religion to me if that truly is Buddhism.

I do not reject them, but I try to be aware that they are my internal mental constructs. They have their existence purely inside my head.

That moral insight is great but its not metaphysics, which is what I believe discussions re causality are about. I am thinking you might be confusing the two.

If the substratum is permanent and unchanging then there is no real change:

Again we come back to an uncritiqued assumption that it has to be an all or nothing win-lose scenario. Maybe life is more complicated than this over-simplified mental construct of all change or no change.

For Buddhists that is unacceptable since change is ubiquitous.

I find this personal absolute rather dissonant for a true Buddhist approach to reality.
For myself I am a sentient being before being Catholic or Buddhist. nor do I live by imposed mantras or dogmatic truths. “I” have something in me that pre-exists such “faith” in authority which either allows me to accept or reject such faith. And it is an ongoing process not something irrevocably given.


#144

Then “substance” is a compound entity, not a unitary entity. Hence we can analyse each component separately.

I am talking more about the mental image of the wood in our mind than the external real word. Since our senses are imperfect we can never know the real wood; all we have is the imperfect model of the wood that our brains construct. We project those imperfect internal models onto the real world, and all too often make the mistake of seeing those internal models as a part of external reality.

A Zen story:

On a cold winter night, a big snow storm hit the city and the temple where Dharma Master Dan Xia served as a Monk got snowed in. Cut off from outside traffic, the fuel delivery man could not get to the Zen Monastery. Soon it ran out of heating fuel after a few days and everybody was shivering in the cold. The monks could not even cook their meals.

Dan Xia began to remove the wooden Buddha Statues from the display and put them into the fireplace.

“What are you doing?” the monks were shocked to see that the holy Buddha Statues were being burnt inside the fire place. “You are burning our holy religious artefacts! You are insulting the Buddha!”

“Are these statues alive and do they have any Buddha nature?” asked Master Dan Xia.

“Of course not,” replied the monks. “They are made of wood. They cannot have Buddha Nature.”

“OK. Then they are just pieces of firewood and therefore can be used as heating fuel,” said Master Dan Xia. “Can you pass me another piece of firewood please? I need some warmth.”

The next day, the snow storm had gone and Dan Xia went into town and brought back some replacement Buddha Statues. After putting them on the displays, he began to kneel down and burn incense sticks to them.

“Are you worshipping firewood?” asked the monks who were confused about what he was doing.

“No. I am treating these statues as holy artefacts and am honouring the Buddha,” replied Dan Xia.

In a compound system that is perfectly possible. A chessboard can be both black and white because it is a compound of black squares and white squares. If it were single, not compound, then the law of the excluded middle applies: “X is black” and “X is not-black” cannot both be simultaneously true of the same X.

No it is not eternal, unless your mind is also eternal and unchanging. A child’s mental image of a candy is different from the adult’s mental image of the same candy, especially when the adult is trying to lose weight.

rossum


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