Saturday, December 18, 2004

My Reply to My Dad (2)

This is my reply to my papa's email (2) following his pronouncement that my belief conforms to Buddhism- 11 December 2004

hi papa,
i barely have any idea who's grandmother's brother.... not so close with them....

I am fine, and sorry for late reply, as i was working in the weekdays, dont really have time to reply your email, therefore weekends will be the time where i can sit down and write to you.

Actually i have some comment on what you said about enlightenment and buddha's teaching about eternal life.
I dont mean any offence but i would say that Buddhism is a religion that does NOT teach "eternity".

Of cos i am not saying out of ignorance, i have evidents. And my evidents are in 2 perspectives.

The first perspective is through Buddhism's theology (doctrines). According to the teaching of Buddha, there is nothing such as ETERNAL LIFE.
Buddha taught about Impermanece ("Anicca" in pali-sanskrit) apart from Suffering (Dukkha), and No-self (Anatta). These are the "Three Marks of Existence" -the central of Buddhism.
And Impermanence simply means all things never last forever. In another words, Buddha talked about Impermanence as being the nature of all conditioned phenomena. Buddha, himself never taught "eternality", so therefore, if ever any buddhist that believes in eternal life is not a true follower of Buddha.

Which buddhist master taught you about "eternality"? I would advise you not to listen to him if you want to continue to be a true follower of Buddha because that master is not teaching what Buddha taught about Anicca, Dukkha and Anatta. I think the person that taught you about "Buddhism eternity" is either misinterpret the TIPITAKA (the Pali Canon- scriptures of Buddhism) or he blended (added) his own teaching into the true Buddhism. And by doing this, he is creating his own religion, and that is dangerous.

The second perspective is the historical factor. From the above, i have list out from Buddha's own teaching that he NEVER taught anything about eternity.
And now i am going to assume to you that even if Buddha taught about eternity, he was NOT the first person in human history to talked about it.
Approximately 1,000 years before Buddha was born, there was a person name Abraham who was one of the earliest human that came across the word "ETERNITY".
It is recorded very clearly, "I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you."
Everlasting means "last forever". This is the "eternal" promise from God to Abraham 1,000 years before Buddha was born. Therefore, even though if Buddha did teach about eternity (which in reality he had not), he was not the first.

Hence, from these 2 perspectives- Buddhism doctrines and Historical factor- Eternal life is never being taught by Buddha.

Ok, papa, hope you will read this with an open mind and without any bias but weight the evidents which i have listed.

Thanks for your time reading this email. I am looking forward for your reply.


Jack The LOT{B}R said...

The Patisambhidamagga taught:
Nibanna is
1. Nissaranattha (total release of dukkha)
2. Vivekattha (void of dukkha)
3. Asankhatattha (total release from the need of rejuvenation)
3. Amatattha (eternal)

The Dhammapada:
All conditioned things are impermanent (annika)
All conditioned things are suffering (dukka)
All conditioned OR unconditioned things are selfless (anata)

Notice that the two buddhist discourses actually taught that there indeed is "eternity". The Nibbana (an unconditioned thing) is said to be "amatattha", that is everlasting, secure from death, forever, eternal. The Dhammapada in stating that "conditioned/contingent things" are "annika" and "dukka" while both the "conditioned/contingent AND uncontitioned/incontingent things" are "annata" implied that the "unconditioned/incontingent" is spared from "annika" and "dukka". Therefore, incontingent things (nibbana, the dhamma etc) are NOT annika, i.e. they are eternal.

Sze Zeng said...

Thanks for the comment.

Buddhism break down because of what you stated.
From how i look at your comment, you are saying:

"Dhamma is inconditioned, therefore it is eternal. Nibbana (nirvana) is inconditioned, thus, it is eternal"

The first reason that you are responsible for the breakdown; the word "conditioned" implies something to be conformed to a certain principles.

1)Dhamma has been "conditioned" to be eternal. Nirvana has been "conditioned" to be eternal.
2) Dhammapada first premise on conditioned things: All conditioned things are impermanent(annika).
3) Therefore Dhamma and Nirvana are impermanent.

Both Dhamma and Nirvana are imperatively conforming to "amatattha" (Eternaity). Therefore they are, in fact, CONDITIONED.

Secondly, if Dhamma is eternal, Dhammapada's principle of conditioned things are Annika (impermanent) is also eternal. Then, this conditioned statement of saying the conditioned Dhammapada is also Annika (impermanent). Hence, Dhammapada is not eternal. This is a CONTRADICTION.

Jack The LOT{B}R said...

how can u say that the unconditioned/incontingent existence is "conditioned" to certain characteristics? Eternality is an inherent characteristic of an incontingent (i think it's more correct english to say "non-contingent") existence because:

1.It's existence was not an effect of a cause
2. This means that there can be no point where "it" (i.e. the incontingent thing) did not exist.
3. Therefore, at this very moment, It has existed from eternity till now. And in the next second, it has existed from eternity+1second = forever. So it goes on. But the point is, a non-contingent thing has an eternal existence; and also it's not affected by time - it's not an effect of a cause, therefore there is no question of time declension.

So, "eternity" is not a condition of non-contingent/unconditioned thing as you have said, but vice versa or more accurately, the non-contingent thing give rise to the concept of eternity, hence a condition to it for without such kind of existence, eternity will not be known.
The Dhamma is an unconditioned thing. Therefore it is not accurate to say that It was “conditioned” to be eternal. If so the philosophical distinction of conditioned/unconditioned things will break. But rather, as I have shown above, it was such unconditioned things as the dhamma that gave rise (or conditioned) the concept of eternity and timelessness &c. There is no question of dhamma being impermanent wutsoever.

The Buddha did not give conditions to the dhamma or nibbana when he relates these things to “amatattha”. He is merely declaring that these things are “amatattha”. It’s just like me saying, “You are ugly”. I am not saying that, “if it’s ugly (a condition), it is sze zeng”, but merely stating wut already is inherent in you (your characteristics). Okie, not a perfect analogy, but try to swallow it k.

Sze Zeng said...
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Sze Zeng said...

Thanks for your comment Lord of the (blog)rings.

But what i meant is what i meant. Amatattha is eternity. What makes "Eternity" eternity? It is simply of its metaphysic precondition; that is "eternal".

In another word, eternal is the condition of Eternity- Amatattha. I would not use the word inherent "characteristic" because character can only attributes to beings. God and man has inherent character but time and space do not. They merely have condition.

There seems to be some confusion on the Buddhist understanding of metaphysic precondition. There are 7 different views of metaphysic, namely; Theism, Atheism, Finite godism, Pantheism, Panentheism, Deism, and Polytheism.
And there are 2 different metaphysical existences: Monism and Pluralism.

The famous Monism Philosopher is Parmenides, while Plato, Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas defended Pluralism. Yet only Thomas Aquinas succeed in distinguishing the difference between beings in his "Actuality" in existence and "Potentiality" in essence argument.

Anyway, Being has character, and things has condition.
Nibbana is not a being. Therefore it is absurd to say it has inherent character. Its metaphysical precondition is unsound.

bibi2012 said...

After reading all your comments I just want to add that the teachings of the Buddha has nothing to do with religion as you refer to in your first reply to your dad.