Faith and Doubt

Historical context may be annoying, but how could any actual being teach outside of it? To do so would be ineffective, and perhaps cause lasting harm to establishing Dhamma and Sangha, which have been beneficial for many over centuries.
In this era, for instance, such non-context-appropriate scripture might lead to theories of the Buddha being an extraterrestrial alien; which might well have the same effect as other can’t -be-human theories, i.e. invalidating that Awakening was or could be a human achievement, from diligent efforts.


Apparently everything is relative, fragmented, metaphorical, and science is just a belief system.
And from my window the earth also looks pretty flat.



then you are already biased and its hard to find the truth then

Yes, there is a limit to our senses. Beyond that what we got is only theories.

“Aparāpi tisso paññā – cintāmayā paññā, sutamayā paññā, bhāvanāmayā paññā.

When we have first two, we can make it out to the last. First two are vital to achieve the last. Satipaṭṭhānasutta and related explaination in patisambhidhamagga would be enough to practice meditation . Put this first, then the rest.


I think you kinda nailed it. :joy:

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If I remember right, the cases regarded by the likes of Stevenson and Tucker as “suggestive of reincarnation” actually number in the tens, not the thousands. But even if they did number in the thousands, or even the tens of thousands, what of it? It would hardly count as negative evidence against the Appakasuttas given that there are billions of people who do not have any memories suggestive of a former life as a human.

I don’t wish to increase your doubt further (or maybe that might be a good thing :woman_shrugging:), but science thinks that the Buddha is equally wrong about the core teachings too. For example in the four noble truths the Buddha suggests that “death is suffering” and current science is about 100% sure that death is the end of suffering. And that’s before science even considers the second and fourth noble truths! :wink:


‘dukkha’ has more aspcts than ‘suffering’. Also I don’t think that ‘science’ has proof for after-death events. There is a difference between “We have proven that there is nothing” and “There is not enough evidence”


Yes, well. I guess that this is not the place for a discussion on the philosophy of science. However, it’s not that there is not enough evidence. It is that there is no evidence. I am reminded of Russells Teapot.

‘Science’ is a different beast to the ‘scientific method’. My understanding is that the scientific consensus at this time is that there is a point of death (which does not fit with the Buddhist concept of death as process afaik) and that there is no experience of dukkha (as generally understood by Buddhists) after that point. Do you have a different understanding of the scientific consensus on death?

Continuous rebirth is a core element of dukkha though, and science doesn’t have much to say about that.

No, I don’t know what the consensus is. But if scientists are honest they distinguish between what they can verify, falsify, and where they make educated guesses. And there is lots to verify and falsify when it comes to the material aspect of death. Regarding the immaterial aspect they’d have to disclose their assumption about consciousness and awareness. If you see consciousness solely as an emergent phenomenon of the material nervous system and brain then necessarily it ends with the death of the brain. If you are agnostic about consciousness/awareness etc. then there is also uncertainty about the after-death.

I assume that many scientiests are materialists in the former sense. But actually they should leave it to the philosophers to investigate life and consciousness for after-death is simply not the domain of natural sciences.

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There is no such thing as a consensus about life/death and beyond amongst scientists. It’s all about who you lend an ear to, and I have listened to many scientists that say there is a common consensus that “we just don’t know” …

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Yes. Consciousness as an emergent property of brain. That is the assumption that most of the Consciousness Scientists that I have looked into make in their work. It is certainly the assumption that the guys at my local consciousness science centre (at the University of Sussex UK) make. Even though they say that they “just don’t know”, when you look at their work and question them in a little more detail, that assumption is definitely running through it. I think they just do not want to get involved with a discussion with religious types.

Having said that, there are others who are outside of the field such as Donald Hoffman who does make different assumptions.

Hah! Well yes. But then they might point out that all the other stuff like standard ‘physics’ used to be in the domain of philosophy and they’ve taken that off the philosophers, so why not this too? :wink:

I’ve also have heard it presented, that there is a lack of interest to discuss this amongst themself because it rocks the boat for mainstream scientism.
And the old dogma of not discuss religions is also nice to use as an excuse because there are not as many religious people as there are spiritual ones.

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Because they are not skilled enough in the philosophy of consciousness. Modern Buddhists for the most part are neither I might add.

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This is disturbing. It is a train of thought that leads me to memories of Joseph Mengele and his experiments with suffering in the service of science.

If one is inflicted with pain, something is measured.
If one expires, the measurement ceases.
Repeat with twins.

AN4.171:6.4: There is a reincarnation where the intention of others is effective, not one’s own.

Please let us not put science on a pedestal without regard for consequence.

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Alexa is an emergent property of the Amazon Echo too isn’t it?

Now, the hard questions…

  1. When Alexa learns in response to user inputs and changes its behaviour, does Alexa ‘mature/ grow old’?
  2. If a hardware issue occurs is Alexa ‘sick’?
  3. At what point in the lifecycle of the Amazon Echo will Alexa ‘die’?
  4. If a new Amazon Echo is procured (thankfully they don’t reproduce {yet!}) and has similar characteristics/ responses to the device that ‘died’ can it be said that Alexa has been ‘reborn’?
  5. Does Alexa think that we are ‘Gods’?


Don’t laugh! For all you know, the Alexas of that dimension are heatedlydiscussing it right now!


Currently Alexa lacks identity view. There is no craving for continued existence. Humans, being idiots, think it clever to give AI identity view.
That may be the last mistake we make.

There is this thing in AI called a Recurrent Neural Network (RNN) that is basically a consciousness mechanism that feeds on itself. Within an RNN, name and form arise on their own.

SN12.64:3.3: If there is desire, relishing, and craving for consciousness as fuel, consciousness becomes established there and grows.

They have recently discovered that RNN’s can be modeled using analog circuitry. Indeed, analog RNN’s promise to be faster and more energy-efficient than digital computer RNNs. What this means is that there will no longer be a need for cloud tethering of AI. Alexa, Siri and Assistant are all hosted in the cloud and require an internet connection. Analog RNN’s will be fast and efficient enough for mobile autonomous AI agents. I see Spot. See Spot run. Hi Spot. Welcome.

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SuttaCentral hosts MilindaPanha here:



Just to let you know this topic is being moved to watercooler :slightly_smiling_face:

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Agree. But faith it is said should be balanced by wisdom. A positive quality. Not by negative qualities such as scepticism.

An interesting sutta;

Mendicants, a faithful gentleman gets five benefits. What five?

The good persons in the world show compassion first to the faithful, not so much to the unfaithful.

They first approach the faithful, not so much the unfaithful.

They first receive alms from the faithful, not so much the unfaithful.

They first teach Dhamma to the faithful, not so much the unfaithful.

When their body breaks up, after death, the faithful are reborn in a good place, a heavenly realm.

A faithful gentleman gets these five benefits.
Suppose there was a great banyan tree at a level crossroads. It would become a refuge for birds from all around. In the same way, a faithful gentleman becomes a refuge for many people—monks, nuns, laywomen, and laymen.

With its branches, leaves, and fruit,
a great tree with its strong trunk,
firmly-rooted and fruit-bearing,
supports many birds.

It’s a lovely place,
frequented by the sky-soarers.
Those that need shade go in the shade,
those that need fruit enjoy the fruit.

So too, a faithful individual
is perfect in ethics,
humble and kind,
sweet, friendly, and tender.

Those free of greed, freed of hate,
free of delusion, undefiled,
fields of merit for the world,
associate with such a person.

They teach them the Dhamma,
that dispels all suffering.
Understanding this teaching,
they’re extinguished without defilements.”

So, when Enlightened Beings appear in the world they first teach to the faithful?
I think what is meant here is faith as a general quality of the heart. An open heart. An heart not so full. A humble heart that sees the vastness and mystery of existence.

The beginning of all wisdom is to understand that you don’t know. To know is the enemy of all learning. To be sure is the enemy of wisdom.
~Victor Villasenor