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At the end of the day, How do we know that any of it is true (Awakening - Nibbana)?


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The world is rich with the knowledge of the Buddhas teachings.

Canonical works, a vast array of publications, forum discussions, Sangha gatherings, Teachers, The Internet.

This includes teachings, nuances of meaning, as well as the methods practice.

Many of those mired to various degrees in Dukkha, find a level of solace in the comfort that there is something more, a state free from suffering.

After engaging in social settings, the feedback I get is of an extremist, akin to a bible basher.

No attempt to convert anyone, but more an exchange of ideas such as impermanent/conditioned vs permanent/unconditioned and similar.

Do I really sound like my Christian relatives?

This led me to the bigger question.

How do we know any of it (Nibbana - end of Dukkha) is true?

Some have practiced for decades without fruit.

Even the Ven Maha Boowa, upon awakening, viewed his passed lives and said: "My, the number of past lives I've lived is so great, the bodies would fill all of Thailand?

He also categorized four groups, most incapable of any form of understanding let alone the ability to Awaken.

We're often given the assurance we can find personal proof for ourselves through practice.

Given the probability the greater portion on the negative side of the ledger, such prrof or validation appears to border on the improbable.

I haven't been personally dissuaded, but I think it is a valid question.

Edited by rockyysdt
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Interesting subject. It is nice to have thinkers discussing a subject that I am not used to on TV. My impression is that there are many paths to finding the truth about anything. One path may suit

Dear Rockyysdt, Not knowing if any of it is true is a gift of great beauty and power. When this is the "given," then it is your own experience that counts. Some do believe they have not received

If it is real to you...and for you...then it is as real as it gets...

At the end of the day, everyone's experience is subjective, isn't it? Cognitive Therapy as pioneered by Burns at the University of Pennsylvania attempts to have suffering people change their interpretation of events, hence their thoughts, to relieve their unhappiness. I see this as being in consonance with Buddhist practice just different in its specific objectives. I ventured the opinion before that nibbana could be subjectively experienced by taking many approaches but I guess that this is getting close to blasphemy in the opinion of Buddhist practitioners and my post was removed. I hope that it won't be this time. My Buddhist monk friends don't find my views to be outrageous, but I guess that they are quite liberal in their thinking.

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At the end of the day, everyone's experience is subjective, isn't it? Cognitive Therapy as pioneered by Burns at the University of Pennsylvania attempts to have suffering people change their interpretation of events, hence their thoughts, to relieve their unhappiness. I see this as being in consonance with Buddhist practice just different in its specific objectives. I ventured the opinion before that nibbana could be subjectively experienced by taking many approaches but I guess that this is getting close to blasphemy in the opinion of Buddhist practitioners and my post was removed. I hope that it won't be this time. My Buddhist monk friends don't find my views to be outrageous, but I guess that they are quite liberal in their thinking.

Hi Dog.

My questions still hold but you have an interesting viewpoint.

My understanding is that the aim is to establish a deep level of Samahdi in which one pointed concentration results in a state beyond thought.

As the state is beyond thought, it has nothing to do with interpretation of thought or memory.

The instruction is that contemplation shouldn't occur until practice allows one to easily enter and maintain deep level of Samahdi (a conscious state absent of thought) for long periods.

Those who contemplate during simple relaxation states, have their conclusions tainted by thought, memory & belief (conditioning) as well as external influences such as cognitive therapy.

Whilst on this reasoning, many Buddhists, immersed in doctrine without practice are in danger of replacing one set of beliefs with another, rather than discovering what actually is via practice.

Edited by rockyysdt
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I agree with the OP ("I haven't been personally dissuaded, but I think it is a valid question" )and personally I can think of many ways to dissuade but only one way to persuade; that is to experience it for oneself. However as the OP pointed out this seems very unlikely.

If it was easy though I guess everyone would be a non returner and there would be no one left here to ponder.

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Being in no position to tell anyone about anything, don't listen to a word I say.

What is it? "Seek not to become Buddha, seek what Buddha sought".

It isn't unless it is, it doesn't unless it does, all the same thing, just different sides or views of it.

My favorite aspect of Buddhism is that it (in my unqualified view) has no requirement of faith: it is not "if that, then this", cause and effect. If you're striving for a result it will retreat as fast as you can run. You could say it comes to you but it's already here.

I Love how you can't talk about this without it being nonsensical!

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There's a reason they call these 'faiths'.

Even if, in practice, you experience something that subjectively feels like awakening and that you can attach such a label too, it does not prove that the Buddhist cosmology (etc.) is correct. That will always be a 'leap of faith'. Don't forget that many other religions (including Christianity, Islam/Sufism, etc.) have practices that lead to similar subjective experiences. It could be that they are all tapping into the same 'ultimate truth', though coming from different starting points, or they may simply all be generating the same physiological/psychological responses through their own forms of practice.

All this is to say that the outcomes of practice can never prove the validity of a theological/cosmological/philosophical system even if they may persuade the individual practitioner. [All IMHO]

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"Truth" is only what we wish to believe? At the end of the day, how about just being a good person toward your fellow humans? And stop worrying about some "supposed" future life - that smacks of being, somewhat, self-centered! coffee1.gif

I'm not scared of death, only of dying.

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There's a reason they call these 'faiths'.

Thread drift alert-

Is Buddhism a "Faith"?

I don't believe that it is in the west, at least not as practiced by most westerners in the west. The practice consists mostly of meditation, with some instruction- at least in places like Spirit Rock (Vipassana), which is what I am familiar with.

Yet there seems to be another way of Buddhism, that does involve prayer and is more Church-like: that is, asking a higher power for intervention in some way, either through granting strength, influencing outcome, or whatever.

Are there two branches of Buddhism, one largely direct and more of a philosophy or practice than a religion, and one that takes place in a more Faith based access through the Monk or Spiritual Leader form?

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I worry about this too.

But what it comes down to, for me is:

I know, from direct experience, that this life/conditioned existence is Dhukka.

I know, from direct experience, that what I experience as life/the world/ is a mental creation that changes drastically when my frame of mind changes.

I also know, from both direct observation and from science, that what I can perceive is not the totality of what is. My dog and cat for example, hear sounds that I do not. Microscopes make visible things the eyes do not see.

Obviously then "reality" as I experience it...aka Dhukka.... is at best only a partial truth and a mental construct.

Now where things get difficult and require a leap of faith is the idea that it is possible for me to "wake up" from this mental construct to a direct experience of the true reality. Having not done so, I can only go by:

- my intuition and the fact that while I have not awakened, I am incremental more awake now than I was, and every once in a while I have a sort of subliminal almost-glimpse of something else.

-teachings of persons that were, based on the parts of their teachings that I am able to verify by experience or reason, very wise and very ethical people and thus unlikely to have lied.

It is far from satisfactory but it's all I have, and what is the alternative?

For me it is not a problem of social encounters because I don't try to convince people of any of this, I don't even discuss it unless someone asks me (and they seldom do) and even then I limit my replies to what they asked and only until their attention wanders, which is usually pretty fast.

But it is a problem internally, a constant struggle. It is said that Mara knows each person's weak spot and goes for it. Mine is intellectual doubt, for sure. I think Western backgrounds make us especially susceptible to this, or at least my background does.

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The only thing in this world that is real is consciousness. Eastern philosophy and quantum mechanics actually agree on this. The only thing that is real, is that which does not change. All material objects change, only consciousness (soul) does not change. The exterior world is "maya" illusion. So, in reality, there is no out there, out there. Read "autobiography of a yogi" a chapter called the law of miracles, it gets into this concept in a unique way.

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Even the Ven Maha Boowa, upon awakening, viewed his passed lives and said: "My, the number of past lives I've lived is so great, the bodies would fill all of Thailand?

I don't know much about this kind of buddhism, but it seems that the question should have been decided while this man lived. If he could "view his past lives" in any meaningful way, should it not have been trivial for him to prove this by sharing knowledge that could not have been obtained any other way?

Do we know if Ven Maha Boowa ever made such an attempt? Or offered an explanation as to why doing so would not be helpful?

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Even the Ven Maha Boowa, upon awakening, viewed his passed lives and said: "My, the number of past lives I've lived is so great, the bodies would fill all of Thailand?

I don't know much about this kind of buddhism, but it seems that the question should have been decided while this man lived. If he could "view his past lives" in any meaningful way, should it not have been trivial for him to prove this by sharing knowledge that could not have been obtained any other way?

Do we know if Ven Maha Boowa ever made such an attempt? Or offered an explanation as to why doing so would not be helpful?

Yes, this was part of the point being made in the opening post.

Ven Maha Boowa was explaining his path (practice & insights) to and of Awakening.

The only way to be able to become aware of such things is through Awakening, a state which can only be known/understood through self experience.

Edited by rockyysdt
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Even the Ven Maha Boowa, upon awakening, viewed his passed lives and said: "My, the number of past lives I've lived is so great, the bodies would fill all of Thailand?

I don't know much about this kind of buddhism, but it seems that the question should have been decided while this man lived. If he could "view his past lives" in any meaningful way, should it not have been trivial for him to prove this by sharing knowledge that could not have been obtained any other way?

Do we know if Ven Maha Boowa ever made such an attempt? Or offered an explanation as to why doing so would not be helpful?

Yes, this was part of the point being made in the opening post.

Ven Maha Boowa was explaining his path (practice & insights) to and of Awakening.

The only way to be able to become aware of such things is through Awakening, a state which can only be known/understood through self experience.

But the OP's question was, to simplify, should we take the more extreme claims of Buddhist teachers seriously?

When it comes to Ven Maha Boowa, some of the other claims that he makes - being able to view past lives - should be verifiable. It should be possible for such an individual to reveal some historic fact that can be verified by archeology or some other method. He should be able to "prove" that he can see his past lives. And if so, then certainly we should take his claims regarding the possibility of the complete cessation of suffering and achievement of nirvana very seriously.

However, if he is (was) unable to provide any kind of proof that he really can see past lives, then we should take that into account when evaluating the plausibility of everything else he says... No?

Edited by cocopops
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On the subject of Reincarnation - can can someone who believes in this explain how approx 150 years ago the human population was 1 billion whereas today its some 7 billion.

If 1 billion souls were reincarnated over this period where did the other 6 billion come from ?

Perhaps we should start a million years ago when the human population was only in the thousands.

The illusion of the Mind trickes us into thinking it is more then just a manifestation of the Brain. This allows us to forget that we are just another hairy Ape that came down from the trees.

Edited by pattayasnowman
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Even the Ven Maha Boowa, upon awakening, viewed his passed lives and said: "My, the number of past lives I've lived is so great, the bodies would fill all of Thailand?

I don't know much about this kind of buddhism, but it seems that the question should have been decided while this man lived. If he could "view his past lives" in any meaningful way, should it not have been trivial for him to prove this by sharing knowledge that could not have been obtained any other way?

Do we know if Ven Maha Boowa ever made such an attempt? Or offered an explanation as to why doing so would not be helpful?

Yes, this was part of the point being made in the opening post.

Ven Maha Boowa was explaining his path (practice & insights) to and of Awakening.

The only way to be able to become aware of such things is through Awakening, a state which can only be known/understood through self experience.

But the OP's question was, to simplify, should we take the more extreme claims of Buddhist teachers seriously?

When it comes to Ven Maha Boowa, some of the other claims that he makes - being able to view past lives - should be verifiable. It should be possible for such an individual to reveal some historic fact that can be verified by archeology or some other method. He should be able to "prove" that he can see his past lives. And if so, then certainly we should take his claims regarding the possibility of the complete cessation of suffering and achievement of nirvana very seriously.

However, if he is (was) unable to provide any kind of proof that he really can see past lives, then we should take that into account when evaluating the plausibility of everything else he says... No?

I see what you mean.

In order to bring more along, although Awakening is a personal experience, he could have given a list of lives with information which could be investigated.

But then, how could he prove that each of those lives were actually incarnations or re births of himself?

What he did say though was this:

All living beings must fall into one of these four categories. As I investigated the nature of the world, it separated naturally, of its own accord, into these four types of individuals. I could see that superior individuals existed in that multitude of humanity which I had felt so discouraged about teaching. Ugghaåitaññý: they were fully prepared to cross beyond in an instant. In descending order: there were vipacitaññý, those progressing quickly toward the goal; then, the neyya, whose desire to lie down and take it easy competes with their desire to be diligent. Do you see what I mean? Those two opposing forces are vying for supremacy within their hearts. And finally padaparama: those who are human in physical appearance only. They have gained nothing at all to enhance their future prospects. Death for such people is death without distinction. There is only one possible direction they can go—down. And they fall further and further with each successive death. The way up is blocked, for they have gained absolutely nothing beneficial to take along with them. They can only go down. Remember this well! This teaching comes straight from my heart. Do you think I am bluffing and telling you deliberate falsehoods? When compared with a heart that’s absolutely pure, the world is one big refuse bin, containing different grades of garbage. From the highest, ugghaåitaññý, to the lowest and most common grade, padaparama, all possible types are gathered together in the same great receptacle. The entire world of conventional reality is one big contaminated mix of good things and bad things. Do you understand? In my investigation, I sifted through this huge pile of garbage and uncovered four distinct grades of living beings.

If you study human behavior you'll find most have beliefs and look for things which support those beliefs, rather than be truly open to investigation.

Perhaps, Ven Maha Boowa understood that no amount of proof will persuade those mired in their beliefs?

Edited by rockyysdt
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Interesting subject. It is nice to have thinkers discussing a subject that I am not used to on TV.

My impression is that there are many paths to finding the truth about anything. One path may suit one person, another another. At the end of the day, my personal experience is that one must have courage to face the truth. We always want what we want and not what is sometimes clearly staring us in the face. We are in constant denial of what might seem obvious. The only way of finding anything is to have the courage to go down a path to find out whether all these books and people are telling us the truth and to accept the disappointment when we find out it is all lies and rubbish, and then to have the courage to continue our path to further experiment with.

As far as I am concerned, belief is mankind’s biggest enemy. We believe something and, therefore, go around in circles trying to justify it to be true rather than being open-minded and admitting that we don’t really know. Most people are like children wanting a big daddy to show them the way. It is only when you stand on your own two feet that learning and discovery can take place. If you need to join a group in order to feel safe and comfortable, then you will only ever experience that belief system and feel comfortable in that cul-de-sac and go no further! Aaaaahh, comfort and security – that is what we want!

Perhaps we were all brought here to experience the adventure of discovery, to annihilate lies and deceit within ourselves; perhaps this is the only objective in life.

There are many things that I like in Buddhism but I have never found anyone truly enlightened, or maybe enlightenment is not what I envisaged it to be!

"finding the right path to truth

having courage to face the truth

not being in denial of what might seem obvious

standing on your own two feet

learning and discovering"

1. These are all abstract notions which have different meanings from moment to moment according to changing circumstances which are beyond your control and hence mean nothing.

2. There can be no satisfaction in them as long as you are seeking.

3. The original OP question and subsequent replies have come about because of Point 2.

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Interesting subject. It is nice to have thinkers discussing a subject that I am not used to on TV.

My impression is that there are many paths to finding the truth about anything. One path may suit one person, another another. At the end of the day, my personal experience is that one must have courage to face the truth. We always want what we want and not what is sometimes clearly staring us in the face. We are in constant denial of what might seem obvious. The only way of finding anything is to have the courage to go down a path to find out whether all these books and people are telling us the truth and to accept the disappointment when we find out it is all lies and rubbish, and then to have the courage to continue our path to further experiment with.

As far as I am concerned, belief is mankind’s biggest enemy. We believe something and, therefore, go around in circles trying to justify it to be true rather than being open-minded and admitting that we don’t really know. Most people are like children wanting a big daddy to show them the way. It is only when you stand on your own two feet that learning and discovery can take place. If you need to join a group in order to feel safe and comfortable, then you will only ever experience that belief system and feel comfortable in that cul-de-sac and go no further! Aaaaahh, comfort and security – that is what we want!

Perhaps we were all brought here to experience the adventure of discovery, to annihilate lies and deceit within ourselves; perhaps this is the only objective in life.

There are many things that I like in Buddhism but I have never found anyone truly enlightened, or maybe enlightenment is not what I envisaged it to be!

"finding the right path to truth

having courage to face the truth

not being in denial of what might seem obvious

standing on your own two feet

learning and discovering"

1. These are all abstract notions which have different meanings from moment to moment according to changing circumstances which are beyond your control and hence mean nothing.

2. There can be no satisfaction in them as long as you are seeking.

3. The original OP question and subsequent replies have come about because of Point 2.

Point 1. - Do you honestly think that “changing circumstances which are beyond your control and hence mean nothing” is true? That is a belief as far as I am concerned! If what you say is true, then we are just incapable robots designed for no purpose at all. This belief system is an easy way out of denying that whatever is created is our fault – we don’t like a finger pointed at us, we prefer to point it at others, or to ‘uncontrollable circumstances’! As far as I am concerned, we are in total control; we attract to us what needs to be seen within us, but we refuse to see because it is usually too hurtful.

Point 2. - “Satisfaction”? If I understand you correctly, there is only satisfaction when you are not seeking. Do you expect satisfaction? That is the problem – we want satisfaction, comfort, security, etc., when we follow a path or don’t follow a path. It is desire for satisfaction, reward, comfort, security, that blocks the way. When you expect nothing but the truth, no matter how horrible it is, then things can be ‘seen’ in their true light and ‘heard’ in their true context.

That is my experience so far anyway.

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There can be no satisfaction in them as long as you are seeking.

Some of the simplest things can be the most profound.

Perhaps part of the answer is to simply be?

In order to just be, you need to practice to be, which is in itself a contradiction, but don't let that worry you. That too will fall away.
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Interesting subject. It is nice to have thinkers discussing a subject that I am not used to on TV.

My impression is that there are many paths to finding the truth about anything. One path may suit one person, another another. At the end of the day, my personal experience is that one must have courage to face the truth. We always want what we want and not what is sometimes clearly staring us in the face. We are in constant denial of what might seem obvious. The only way of finding anything is to have the courage to go down a path to find out whether all these books and people are telling us the truth and to accept the disappointment when we find out it is all lies and rubbish, and then to have the courage to continue our path to further experiment with.

As far as I am concerned, belief is mankind’s biggest enemy. We believe something and, therefore, go around in circles trying to justify it to be true rather than being open-minded and admitting that we don’t really know. Most people are like children wanting a big daddy to show them the way. It is only when you stand on your own two feet that learning and discovery can take place. If you need to join a group in order to feel safe and comfortable, then you will only ever experience that belief system and feel comfortable in that cul-de-sac and go no further! Aaaaahh, comfort and security – that is what we want!

Perhaps we were all brought here to experience the adventure of discovery, to annihilate lies and deceit within ourselves; perhaps this is the only objective in life.

There are many things that I like in Buddhism but I have never found anyone truly enlightened, or maybe enlightenment is not what I envisaged it to be!

"finding the right path to truth

having courage to face the truth

not being in denial of what might seem obvious

standing on your own two feet

learning and discovering"

1. These are all abstract notions which have different meanings from moment to moment according to changing circumstances which are beyond your control and hence mean nothing.

2. There can be no satisfaction in them as long as you are seeking.

3. The original OP question and subsequent replies have come about because of Point 2.

Point 1. - Do you honestly think that “changing circumstances which are beyond your control and hence mean nothing” is true? That is a belief as far as I am concerned! If what you say is true, then we are just incapable robots designed for no purpose at all. This belief system is an easy way out of denying that whatever is created is our fault – we don’t like a finger pointed at us, we prefer to point it at others, or to ‘uncontrollable circumstances’! As far as I am concerned, we are in total control; we attract to us what needs to be seen within us, but we refuse to see because it is usually too hurtful.

Point 2. - “Satisfaction”? If I understand you correctly, there is only satisfaction when you are not seeking. Do you expect satisfaction? That is the problem – we want satisfaction, comfort, security, etc., when we follow a path or don’t follow a path. It is desire for satisfaction, reward, comfort, security, that blocks the way. When you expect nothing but the truth, no matter how horrible it is, then things can be ‘seen’ in their true light and ‘heard’ in their true context.

That is my experience so far anyway.

Find out first if there is a "you" in control. What is this "you" to which "you" refer?
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By your knowing some of the lingo, you must already know that the answer to your question is a matter of personal insight, usually based on long contemplation or shorter on tantric practice.

Buddha taught that it is up to the person to decide his belief and recommended a practice to help obtain a good one, but ultimately it is up to the person. "Is any of it true?" is actually a silly question of someone on the first steps of the path where final truth still matters to the person.

"Final truth" is actually an attachment.... and hope you know to try to disengage attachments.

Chasing "awakening" and "nirvana" are also silly activities, called striving, and those too need to be disengaged. You need a teacher very much; you must, these days, suffer much. sad.png

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