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Buddhist ethical system is illegitimate without rebirth

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Re: Buddhist ethical system is illegitimate without rebirth

Postby Samsaric Spiral on Thu Dec 03, 2015 4:46 pm

chankin1937 wrote:As for morality, actions which sustain the specialist, interdependent group we are members of and assist in achieving the goals of those members are deemed good. We measure the effectiveness of such action by how much peace-of-mind – happiness - the action produces - not in each individual member - but in the group as a whole.
Thus the thief may derive a good deal of happiness from a successful robbery but the group in which he operates does not and the bonds that hold the group together will be weakened. Therefore his act is immoral. The advantages of group membership being so important, necessitate that the group be sustained at all times.
Surely, that’s as “normative” as you can get and it is totally independent of any religious belief.
Colin


Why don't you defend your utilitarianism then?

"Utilitarianism, which holds that an action is right if it leads to the most happiness for the greatest number of people ("happiness" here is defined as the maximization of pleasure and the minimization of pain). The origins of Utilitarianism can be traced back as far as the Greek philosopher Epicurus, but its full formulation is usually credited to Jeremy Betham, with John Stuart Mill as its foremost proponent."

Read the criticisms of utilitarianism here: http://www.philosophybasics.com/branch_ ... anism.html

Criticisms of Utilitarianism

It has been argued that measuring and comparing happiness among different people is impossible, not only in practice, but even in principle. Defenders argue that the same problem is sucessfully overcome in everyday life, and that rough estimates are usually sufficient.

Another dilemma of Utilitarianism is that the pleasure of a sadist should have the same importance as the pleasure of an altruist, although proponents have countered that sadists are relatively few and so their effective influence would be minimal, and that the hurt suffered by others would counterbalance any pleasure registered by the sadist. Furthermore, the sadist's pleasure is superficial and temporary, thus it is detrimental to the sadist's long term well-being.

Another argument is that sometimes a long time is needed to weigh all the evidence and reach a definite conclusion on the relative costs and benefits of an action. Utilitarians admit that certain knowledge of consequences is sometimes impossible, but argue that best estimates of the consequences or predictions based on the past are usually sufficient.

A very specific argument against Utilitarianism has been put forward on the grounds that Determinism is either true or false: if it is true, then we have no real choice over our actions; if it is false, then the consequences of our actions are unpredictable, not least because they will depend on the actions of others whom we cannot predict.

Utilitarianism has been criticized for only looking at the results of actions, not at the desires or intentions which motivate them, which many people also consider important. Thus, an action intended to cause harm but that inadvertently causes good results would be judged equal to the result from an action done with good intentions.

Utilitarians may argue that justification of slavery, torture or mass murder would require unrealistically large benefits to outweigh the direct and extreme suffering to the victims, as well as taking into consideration of the indirect impact of social acceptance of inhumane policies (e.g. general anxiety and fear might increase for all if human rights are commonly ignored).

Other critics have made objections to the following: the right and wrong dichotomy implicit in Utilitarianism, whereby a "good" act (e.g. a charitable donation) may be branded as a wrong action (e.g. if there is an alternative donation to a more efficient charity); Utilitarianism does not take account of the fact that human nature is dynamic and changing, so the concept of a single utility for all humans is one-dimensional and not useful; Utilitarians have no ultimate justification for primarily valuing pleasure, other than the tautological on that "this is the way it should be".

Some Consequentialists consider that, although happiness an important consequence, other consequences such as justice or equality should also be valued and taken into consideration, regardless of whether they increase happiness or not.
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Re: Buddhist ethical system is illegitimate without rebirth

Postby Samsaric Spiral on Fri Dec 04, 2015 3:04 am

My friend gives a good explanation of rebirth from Mahayana context:
The key to understanding reincarnation is to separate it from the nonsense of the Buddhists, the idea that it is an assembling of disassembled parts, and the nonsense of the Greeks, specifically the Pythagoreans, who thought it's as if a soul jumps from a body to another "physically", as it were. To understand true reincarnation one has to see the Universe does not "come" from a physical Big Bang that was a historical event. Instead, it emanates from the Self - from my Self. So reincarnation is not a soul jumping from a body to another; instead, it is the Universe exploding, expanding, evolving, coagulating, from the Self; and then retracting back into the Self, which reabsorbs it. This is a "solipsistic" version of reincarnation, which is the only one that makes sense, but it cannot be empirically proven, obviously! If one is graced with a single experience in contemplation whereby the world disappears (is reabsorbed into the Self) then one is given the experience which verifies this process. It can happen while one is still alive! "Incarnation" really means that the true Self puts an avatar, a puppet there, as a protagonist in the theatre of his illusory play. (This is also the inner meaning of Christianity I think! Christians are too stupid to understand Christ really refers to them, their lives: we are all "Christs"/avatars sent by our true Self (God) to carry the cross until we can recognize the unity between our individuality and our universality "on the Golgotha of Absolute Spirit" to paraphrase Hegel!)

(As a metaphor / analogy you can think of each life-cycle as a dream the Self is having. It is all the same Person; but multiple dreams. We can have multiple dreams in a single night. In one dream, I am this or that person, Zakaj or Zephyr, in another I am the Seventh Patriarch, in the third dream I am a businessman, and then a hermit, and then an attractive woman, etc. They seem to follow one another as if chronologically but they really don't (hence I think the whole question of quantum reversibility is irrelevant to this)... in the end the dreamer wakes up and realizes nothing was actually going on... the lives, the dreams, the protagonists, it was all Him!)


Ivan Titor's artwork conveys what he is saying. Keep scrolling down:

http://titor.cz/tagged/artworks/

As I look at some of his painting, who am I who is looking? The paintings are a big question mark on the person looking at the painting itself ... it is as if they posit you as God looking at moments / memories of the process of Creation ... Quite amazing, but this is only my interpretation.
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Re: Buddhist ethical system is illegitimate without rebirth

Postby chankin1937 on Fri Dec 04, 2015 3:19 pm

[Samsaric Spiral wrote: Why don't you defend your utilitarianism then?
"Utilitarianism, which holds that an action is right if it leads to the most happiness for the greatest number of people ("happiness" here is defined as the maximization of pleasure and the minimization of pain).


Hello Samsaric Spiral,
First, I define happiness as the maximisation of peace-of-mind which is modified by pleasure and pain.
It has been argued that measuring and comparing happiness among different people is impossible, not only in practice, but even in principle.


How about we just ask them how they feel about it. After all, that is the primary criterion .

Another dilemma of Utilitarianism is that the pleasure of a sadist should have the same importance as the pleasure of an altruist,


The act may well be good for the sadist but it will certainly be bad for the community in which he lives. That makes it immoral and of astronomically less important. The maintenance of an interdependent, specialist community is of paramount importance..

Another argument is that sometimes a long time is needed to weigh all the evidence and reach a definite conclusion on the relative costs and benefits of an action.


We don’t have to stick with a solution to a problem if unexpected disadvantages crop up in the future. We are an adaptable race. An irrigation system built to water the fields of one community can be modified if it is found to destroy the agriculture of communities downstream.

A very specific argument against Utilitarianism has been put forward on the grounds that Determinism is either true or false: if it is true, then we have no real choice over our actions; if it is false, then the consequences of our actions are unpredictable, not least because they will depend on the actions of others whom we cannot predict.


Determinism is true in that there is only one correct solution to any particular problem. Whether or not we find it is another matter. We can always modify the irrigation system at a later date!

Utilitarianism has been criticized for only looking at the results of actions.


How can anyone be criticised for that?

not at the desires or intentions which motivate them, which many people also consider important.


Vitally so! We always act to our benefit so far as it in our ability to do so.

Thus, an action intended to cause harm but that inadvertently causes good results would be judged equal to the result from an action done with good intentions.


Any action that intentionally causes harm is immoral because it is designed to reduce the peace-of-mind of the community. The fact that it inadvertently caused good results does not redeem it. We can count ourselves lucky that the incompetence of the perpetrators rescued us from the consequences they intended .In no way can it be considered equal to intentionally good acts.

Utilitarians may argue that justification of slavery, torture or mass murder would require unrealistically large benefits to outweigh the direct and extreme suffering to the victims, as well as taking into consideration of the indirect impact of social acceptance of inhumane policies (e.g. general anxiety and fear might increase for all if human rights are commonly ignored).


Yes, it’s pretty hard to justify slavery and mass murder especially as the one often went hand in hand with the other. (Slaves chained together being thrown overboard!)


Other critics have made objections to the following: the right and wrong dichotomy implicit in Utilitarianism, whereby a "good" act (e.g. a charitable donation) may be branded as a wrong action (e.g. if there is an alternative donation to a more efficient charity)


There is a right action but we cannot be blamed for not doing it every time. The information we have to hand may make it impossible to determine which is the most effective charitable institution. We can always remedy the mistake later when the facts emerge. In any event, how can a charitable donation ever be wrong?

Utilitarianism does not take account of the fact that human nature is dynamic and changing, so the concept of a single utility for all humans is one-dimensional and not useful; Utilitarians have no ultimate justification for primarily valuing pleasure, other than the tautological on that "this is the way it should be".


First, there is only one common human goal and that is to maximise peace-of-mind in the community. It is permanent and unchanging - Buddhists call it enlightenment. We are not valuing pleasure – we are valuing peace-of-mind. We value it by how it feels.

Some Consequentialists consider that, although happiness an important consequence, other consequences such as justice or equality should also be valued and taken into consideration, regardless of whether they increase happiness or not.
[/quote]

Justice and equality are valued because they contribute to peace of mind.
The criticisms seem to concentrate on the fallibility of us humans rather than the validity of the philosophy itself.

Colin
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Re: Buddhist ethical system is illegitimate without rebirth

Postby desert_woodworker on Fri Dec 04, 2015 8:25 pm

Colin,

chankin1937 wrote:You have this strange idea that awakening is something more than Kensho or Satori. That once you empty your mind of conscious mental activity compassion and wisdom will bloom. No amount of logical argument can persuade you of the ridiculousness of this fixation. The essence of Kensho is quiet mind – the temporary end of conscious mental activity – no further action can possibly take place for as long as the experience lasts.

"Strange", to you, I know. It's clear you have no inkling. So, not strange to me that you thus see this truth as "strange".

This is why I suggest you ask a teacher about this, and other "things". I have no recognized authority from which to speak, except experience. A teacher has experience, PLUS a recognized ability to teach. And a teacher's experience is probably more thorough and refined in many aspects than mine. Ask any teacher HERE!, about how and when true Wisdom and Compassion arise.

[oops, phone call... ]

Right. Again, ask any teacher here about the arising of true compassion, and true wisdom. We (in Zen Buddhism) are not talking about "ordinary" so-called wisdom, and so-called compassion. We are talking about what arises within the awakened state.

No words can instill the awakened state in you, but others who report from it, and about it -- such as I have done -- may enable you to recognize that my report(ing) on this is not only not anomalous, but is of the essence of the result(s) of correct practice, and of sudden-awakening, and subsequent practice following the "Great Death, followed by a Resurrection", or etc.

Yes, before you throw out more invective and get yourself deeper into a hole, please survey the teachers here. Please. Let them tell you that I am all wet, and that our Ch'an- and Zen-Buddhist ancestors are all wet, too. Again, I ask kindly, "please". Life is short. Don't remain in a dark corner needlessly. Start a thread to the teachers. It's (technically) easy (to do). :O:

--Joe

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Re: Buddhist ethical system is illegitimate without rebirth

Postby desert_woodworker on Fri Dec 04, 2015 9:19 pm

Colin,

chankin1937 wrote:Attend the sangha by all means, but don’t pretend there is any advantage to be gained by doing so. Other than setting raw beginners off on the (hopefully) right path

(Tens of) Thousands of Ch'an-, Seon-, Thien-, and Zen-Buddhist practitioners are practicing this week away from home in seclusion and silence for seven-days and nights together in the most rigorous sesshin of the year, around the world. I suspect none are "raw" beginners. Teachers and sanghas are working hard, to support the intensive practice of all gathered, to "touch the Mind", or "gather the Mind" (lit. meaning of "sesshin"). Hail!

"Pretend"? Really, you must reduce your ignorant invective, here.

Please, sir, "Get a clue"... . :Namaste:

Other practitioners here... cut Colin some slack. He's not had the advantages of working with a teacher and sangha. Thus, well... he sports a story-book reader's "appreciation" of our topic. Pshaww. No blame! (unless there is. But I rather sense it's an innocence born of ignorance. Lamentable, and forgivable. Just as when a newly-adopted cat pees outside her litter-box. All things in time... with luck).

:Namaste:, All,

--J.
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Re: Buddhist ethical system is illegitimate without rebirth

Postby Samsaric Spiral on Sat Dec 05, 2015 1:04 am

Good Ivan Titor pics:

http://vk.com/wall-36153215_1152

Also, I figured out the word for the negative utilitarianism in Buddhism. It's called Ahimsa (Pali: avihiṃsā):

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ahimsa

Ahimsa (Sanskrit: अहिंसा; IAST: ahimsā, Pāli:[1] avihiṃsā) is a term meaning 'not to injure' and 'compassion'. The word is derived from the Sanskrit root hiṃs – to strike; hiṃsā is injury or harm, a-hiṃsā is the opposite of this, i.e. cause no injury, do no harm.[2][3] Ahimsa is also referred to as nonviolence, and it applies to all living beings - including all animals - according to many Indian religions.[4]


"Rebirth without transmigration" exists only to strengthen Ahimsa. The problem with Zen Buddhist schools in Northern Europe and USA is that they have abandoned Ahimsa because of materialist / physicalist biases. They think following precepts, cultivating virtue and moral conduct, is sufficient, called "sila". Sila revolves around the principle of ahimsa, and rebirth without transmigration exists to justify ahimsa. Also, pradnya (knowledge) depends on sila and helps orient ethical action.

9. There is another piece of evidence which is more direct than circumstantial, which almost amounts to a definition of Ahimsa. He has said: "Love all, so that you may not wish to kill any." This is a positive way of stating the principle of Ahimsa.
10. From this it appears that the doctrine of Ahimsa does not say "Kill not." It says, "Love all."
11. In the light of these statements, it is quite easy to have a clear understanding of what the Buddha meant by Ahimsa.
12. It is quite clear that Buddha meant to make a distinction between will to kill and need to kill.
13. He did not ban killing where there was need to kill.
14. What he banned was killing where there was nothing but the will to kill.
15. So understood, there is no confusion in the Buddhist doctrine of Ahimsa.

20. Jainism has in it the will never to kill.
21. The Buddha's Ahimsa is quite in keeping with his middle path.
22. To put it differently, the Buddha made a distinction between Principle and Rule. He did not make Ahimsa a matter of Rule. He enunciated it as a matter of Principle or way of life.
23. In this he no doubt acted very wisely.
24. A principle leaves you freedom to act. A rule does not. Rule either breaks you, or you break the rule.


Source: http://www.columbia.edu/itc/mealac/prit ... html#03_02

My own recent addition is to add that the middle-way of ahimsa involves not harming highly intelligent beings like greater apes, cetaceans, elephants, and corvids. This is due to an increase in Vidya (knowledge) in animal cognition research.

17. No doubt he leaves it to every individual to decide whether the need to kill is there. But with whom else could it be left? Man has Pradnya, and he must use it.
18. A moral man may be trusted to draw the line at the right point.


The line should be drawn at the capacity for metacognition or "theory of mind".

Ahimsa is basically Schopenhauer's ethics:

"Schopenhauer regards 'normative ethics', the attempt to establish the fundamental principle or principles of morality over which Kant laboured so long and hard, as a non-discipline since it is simple common sense. The supreme principle of morality, as everyone knows, is just 'harm no one; on the contrary help everyone as much as you can" (BM:69).

Schopenhauer says that egoistic action is not always 'wrong (Unrecht)'. Provided it does not cause harm to others it is 'right'. On the other hand, given the competitive situation in which we find ourselves, egoistic action is, inevitably, very often wrong. It is, indeed, the sole source of wrongdoing. The sole source of wrong-doing, in other words, is the inflicting of harm on others, 'denying' their wills, in the course of 'asserting' one's own (WR I: 334)."
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Re: Buddhist ethical system is illegitimate without rebirth

Postby desert_woodworker on Sat Dec 05, 2015 2:25 am

SS,

"Ahimsa" is simply "not-harming", or "non-harming".

Don't read too much into it, but what it IS. What is IS, is enough. To itself. And to Beings.

Don't think, improperly, that's it's so cozy with Western philosophical ideas.

Because, well... it's just "non-harming". Yet, that's big stuff, in the Hindu tradition, particularly.

If Western folks say, OK, yes, it's just non-harming, then, great. But we do not have ('Olde... ' ) Western philosophical figures saying that, ...because they (in the West) had never yet heard of "ahimsa". Thus, all such supposed connections and commentaries are simply MOOT, and imaginary, too, promulgated only by, and among, modern dreamers, and dis-informationalists. These attributions are too specious even to be called "FALSE". :lol2: But they are more along the lines of simple "nonsense"!

I hope this "registers". ;)

--Joe
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Re: Buddhist ethical system is illegitimate without rebirth

Postby Samsaric Spiral on Sat Dec 05, 2015 2:37 am

desert_woodworker wrote:"Ahimsa" is simply "not-harming", or "non-harming".


The Western world for ahimsa is either "negative utilitarianism" OR "negative consequentialism" (i.e., "focuses on minimizing bad consequences rather than promoting good consequences. This may actually require active intervention to prevent harm from being done, or may only require passive avoidance of bad outcomes"). They mean the same thing.

Ahimsa was also big in Buddhist tradition, if you check my quotes.
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Re: Buddhist ethical system is illegitimate without rebirth

Postby desert_woodworker on Sat Dec 05, 2015 2:45 am

SS,

SS wrote:The Western world for ahimsa is "negative utilitarianism" OR "negative consequentialism". They mean the same thing.

Not so.

Western philosophers are (probably?) not as dumb as you think!, to make that equivalence. At least, I hope not.

Of course, things COULD have gone so badly downhill, ...in the past 40 years, when I've had no influence on the field, ...by choice. :lol2:

But I think you've only just misspoken, instead. :)X Easy enough to do, sometimes. Don't ask me how I know.

--Joe
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Re: Buddhist ethical system is illegitimate without rebirth

Postby Samsaric Spiral on Sat Dec 05, 2015 2:52 am

desert_woodworker wrote:SS,

SS wrote:The Western world for ahimsa is "negative utilitarianism" OR "negative consequentialism". They mean the same thing.

Not so.

Western philosophers are (probably?) not as dumb as you think!, to make that equivalence. At least, I hope not.

Of course, things COULD have gone so badly downhill, ...in the past 40 years, when I've had no influence on the field, ...by choice. :lol2:

But I think you've only just misspoken, instead. :)X Easy enough to do, sometimes. Don't ask me how I know.

--Joe


Ahimsa is normative, is what I'm saying. The magnitude of it differs in the traditions of Jainism, Hinduism, and Buddhism. Ahimsa is applied within the context of the Middle Way in Buddhism whereas in Jainism it is applied to extremes, such as Sallekhana.

It gives an impetus to certain kinds of action over others.
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Re: Buddhist ethical system is illegitimate without rebirth

Postby desert_woodworker on Sat Dec 05, 2015 2:58 am

SS wrote:Ahimsa is an ought is what I'm saying. The magnitude of it differs in the traditions of Jainism, Hinduism, and Buddhism. Ahimsa is applied within the context of the Middle Way in Buddhist whereas in Jainism it is applied to extremes, such as Sallekhana.

However, it is an ought, but it gives an impetus to certain kinds of action over others.

Good points! Thank you, SS!

The Hindu, and Buddhist way, is the simple and generally accessible way, for all practitioners, and even "outsiders", to "understand", if they read about, or hear about, ahimsa, having nothing to do in particular with the "middle". nor "extremes". Do you see the difference?

Not to mention what putative Western philosophers would have to say about it. Although, again, I think and hope that they (Westerners) would default to the original and simple Hindu understanding of the word, and the practice. But Western philosophers' way, since the disastrous death of Socrates, is unfortunately to think, and to gab, and to write, and not necessarily to behave well. Alas and alack.

It was found, not surprisingly, that even the "Sophists" could not teach "virtue".

I myself, as a Buddhist practitioner, would say that true Wisdom and true Compassion do NOT arise merely as a result of conviction by someone TALKING to us. A whole hell of a lot of dedicated practice of the right kind -- and in the right way(s) -- is necessary for these virtues and functions to arise FROM THE HUMAN BODY.

For details on this, see a Zen Buddhist teacher.

--Joe
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Re: Buddhist ethical system is illegitimate without rebirth

Postby Samsaric Spiral on Sat Dec 05, 2015 5:02 pm

desert_woodworker wrote:I myself, as a Buddhist practitioner, would say that true Wisdom and true Compassion do NOT arise merely as a result of conviction by someone TALKING to us.


The Kalama Sutta encourages to think and decide for oneself.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

A combination of prajna and pradnya is needed for sila which is utilized for ahimsa.

A whole hell of a lot of dedicated practice of the right kind -- and in the right way(s) -- is necessary for these virtues and functions to arise FROM THE HUMAN BODY.


Not everything ethically related in life is a priori. We had to research a lot to realize certain animals have a nearly commiserate depth of experience, which is a posteriori. Likewise, lawyers research past cases a lot for new ones.

For details on this, see a Zen Buddhist teacher.


My teacher said to deeply consider his advice, but that he's not the absolute word of authority. He's said plenty of specious things I disagree with, one involving a weird reinterpretation of a major historical event. He's also said stuff I agree with.
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Re: Buddhist ethical system is illegitimate without rebirth

Postby desert_woodworker on Sun Dec 06, 2015 1:14 am

Samsaric Spiral wrote:My teacher said to deeply consider his advice, but that he's not the absolute word of authority. He's said plenty of specious things I disagree with, one involving a weird reinterpretation of a major historical event. He's also said stuff I agree with.

Roger that.

No, I'm not suggesting here that folks will do well to consult teachers for information on History, nor even (!) on technical Buddhadharma. Rather, on practice techniques, and on discipline for oneself, in order to enable Samadhi to come on. Etc.

This is not rocket-science (nor rocket-engineering, more to the point). But it requires correctness. "Make no mistake". Else, the utterances made by Zen Buddhists throughout millennia will forever continue to remain obscure (no, SS, I don't mean to YOU, but to the general reader of these ZFI threads).

best,

--Joe
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Re: Buddhist ethical system is illegitimate without rebirth

Postby desert_woodworker on Sun Dec 06, 2015 1:26 am

SS,

Samsaric Spiral wrote:Ahimsa is normative, is what I'm saying.

Lovely. But, no. It could be descriptive!

For example, a Buddha does not kill; a Buddha does not harm.

Prospective Buddhas will look at such a statement and say, "Hey, that's not a COMMANDMENT, it's an example, instead, of what one can emulate". But!, stronger, it's what one can confidently expect to exemplify, naturally, as a result of correct practice.

It can come to eventuate, i.e.

Definitely -- the key is correct practice.

--Joe
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Re: Buddhist ethical system is illegitimate without rebirth

Postby desert_woodworker on Mon Dec 07, 2015 12:21 am

SS,

Samsaric Spiral wrote:The Kalama Sutta encourages to think and decide for oneself.

So some say, yes.

Speaking of "Kalama", for you and others, I suggest a reading of Thanissaro Bhikkhu's essay: "Lost in Quotation". It's relevant. ;)

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... ation.html

best,

--Joe
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Re: Buddhist ethical system is illegitimate without rebirth

Postby Samsaric Spiral on Wed Dec 09, 2015 10:27 pm

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Re: Buddhist ethical system is illegitimate without rebirth

Postby desert_woodworker on Wed Dec 09, 2015 10:39 pm

No comment, SS?

I'll view, if you'll comment. Or introduce.

"No washie, no clickie".

(ouch; an inversion and editing of an old cliche; but, it's for a good 'cause' ). :peace: :lol2:

--J.
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