Street Epistemology: Buddhist Truth

Finally sharing with you a months-long street epistemology session with a Buddhist who contacted us through Facebook. We discuss confidence, evidence, and how to determine what is objectively true. Glenn is 100% confident in an ‘energy force’…

You will see that Glenn seems to very much enjoy telling me as much as possible about his Buddhism. There were a few challenging aspects to this conversation. One was Glenn’s increasingly long and detailed answers – he was not brief! It would take me a long time to parse through and pick out the one point to ask a question about. Another was trying to keep Glenn from veering off from the questions and getting answers to the difficult ones.


Glenn

Hi, i am just curious what is the core belief of an Atheist? do u pray? what is the fundamental goal in life?

 

Derek

Hi Glenn, thanks for contacting us. My name is Derek.

All the term “atheist” means is that we don’t find any compelling evidence to believe in any gods. To be “atheist” doesn’t say anything about what that person’s goals are in life are or what their political views are. Some atheists might do secular meditation and some do not – everyone is different.

Is there a god or gods in which you believe?

 

Glenn

I am practicing a very practical Buddhism that does not focus on rituals but of the teachings or core philosophy of Buddhism particularly the Lotus school of Mahayana of Nichiren sect. In Mahayana Buddhism, the concept of god or gods is not the same way of western religion who is someone greater than us, an omnipotent, that control the destiny of all beings.Rather, they are just symbolic and positive forces of life which manifest as “good fortune” who practices the correct Way.

 

Derek

Oh, cool. So is your practice secular, or are there supernatural elements to it?

 

Glenn

my practice is more pragmatic with the importance of having reverent belief or faith to the visible and invisible things that we experience in our life. This central philosophy is encapsulated in our prayer/mantra of NAM MYOHO RENGE KY0..it comes from the combinations of sanskrit and sino-japanese characters

 

Derek

What kind of invisible things do you have belief in?

 

Glenn

It’s the mysterious nature of our lives and the things around us. In the character of MYOHO, “myo” means mystic or profound while “ho” law or phenomena which together called Mystic Law . All things and phenomena are manifestations of this law like our minds and bodies are the mysterious nature which trillion of our cells worked together to form a powerful living being(microcosm). The so called “self” in Buddhism refers to the universal life that defines as “neither existence nor non-existence”(Ku) which is the essence of Life that pervades all phenomena(myoho). Our feelings and thoughts from moment to moment are ” myo” or invisible while our bodies and cells are “ho” all phenomena. The same thing with the outer world, the invisible laws such as weather and four Seasons and all heavenly bodies work together to form a cosmos in accordance with the Law. The universe is a dynamic ocean of life, which is its true nature “Ku”, that generates all Life at anytime in accordance with the laws(of physics) and at the right condition.

It is also myoho that our own lives is an embodiment of the Buddha’s mind.

 

Derek

I’m a little confused by the term “universal life” – what is this exactly?


A week or two went by…


Derek

I’ve not spoken to many Buddhists before – I really hope we can continue this conversation so I can learn more about your beliefs.

 

Glenn

hi Derek, sorry i was quite busy and i really wanted to reply u sooner.. anyways, with regards to “universal life” Life connotes inherent energy or force that is within us and in the universe itself. What basically differ us individually is our physical body. But looking deeply of our inner dimension is that we are all One which share the characteristics and we, our energy, are constantly abiding and one is interconnected of everything. The law of Dependent Origination which the Gautama Buddha teaches us is that nothing in this world exist in isolation. The whole universe exist by virtue of their relationship with other phenomena. And since our lives are interconnected, the life-energy within us can affect and change our world both personal and social level.

There is no such thing as single source or or the First Cause as espoused by monotheistic religion. Because Life itself is unfathomable in accordance with “Causes and Conditions”. That is the Buddhist Law

The network of causes and conditions that bring any “thing” into existence is actually a never-ending process with no boundaries. So in this sense, Buddhism never speaks of “creation” or “destruction,” “birth” or “death,” “appearance” or “disappearance,” because that way of talking about things misses the infinite open-endedness and inclusivity of the process which is the reality behind the “things” that we perceive and try to grasp. This holds true for chairs, people, planets, or universes. This is the other reason why Buddhism does not speak of a creation or a Creator, because the reality of life, the universe, and everything defies such concepts.

 

Derek

No problem, Glenn. Ok, there is a lot to unpack there! I’m really interested to know people’s reasons for believing what they believe. From your description, I’m seeing a couple of distinct beliefs that we could explore (and correct me if these are not correct):

(1) That there exists an “inherent energy or force” permeating the universe. You also referred to this as “life energy”.

(2) This energy force can affect and change our world in some way. Does that sound right?


You see now the difficulty I’m having with the long, ambiguous answers. I have to choose something to focus on. I’d feel more comfortable with something like “rebirth” or “karma” but I don’t want to be the one choosing the belief. To try to avoid the long answers I try presenting options to choose from instead (this can be good or bad – you don’t want to limit the conversation but I felt I had to do something.) Glenn gives a short answer, great, but you see it is really just a deepity. In retrospect, I might have probed more here for definition before asking his confidence level.


Glenn

Yes, that is right. Anger, Depression and sadness is a form of energy so as Wisdom, courage love and compassion is also a form of energy which both exhibits the qualities of life.

 

Derek

Good. And, if I were to ask you tell me your confidence level that this energy force exists (is objectively true) on a scale of 0 – 100, where 0 is no confidence at all that the belief is true, and 100 is absolute certainty without doubt that the belief is true, where would you put yourself?

 

Glenn

100.. because Buddhism put emphasis on Actual proof over theoretical and documentary proof

 

Derek

That’s very confident – what’s the number one piece of evidence that brings your confidence to 100?

Glenn

the proof evidence is that my life has changed over the course of practicing its teachings that true happiness lies in developing our self not by some imaginary being.. our happiness and suffering depends on our karmic force or action that we take upon and that every action consciously or unconsciously can contribute changes in our lives and society as a whole. It is very important in Mahayana Buddhist philosophy, the role of a Bodhisattva, an altruistic behavior in developing our “true self” that is connected of everything that the life of each individual,including ours, is the most precious thing. As Nichiren Daishonin, the founder and 13th century japanese reformist buddhist teacher, which i uphold succinctly puts it ” Life is the foremost of all treasures. It is expounded that even the treasures of the entire major world system cannot equal the value of one’s body and life. Even the treasures that fill the major world system are no substitute for life..” A major world system is equivalent to a modern concept of a single Galaxy.

 

Derek

So if I’m reading you correctly, your evidence of the existence of the energy force is that your life changed as you followed the teachings. How did you determine though that it was the energy force, and not just practices you performed, that caused the change?

 

Glenn

it is very important in Buddhism called practice. It is like we are digging up the jewel within or the deep well extracting water in it. As science puts it ” In every action there is corresponding reaction”

 

Derek

I see that the practices are important to you. I’m really interested though to find out how you determined that the energy force exists and is a causal factor in change.

 

Glenn

as I’ve said, all things or phenomena exist by virtue of relationship with others or environment. For example, we have that capacity to Love and forgive our enemies only by then when we came in contact with others..we can’t experience love unless there is a stimulus or external factor.. Nevertheless, it is there ready to express at the right time and condition.

 

Derek

I’m having trouble relating your descriptions of what the energy force is and/or does to how I can determine if that force exists. Can I measure this force? What is it composed of, would that be electrons or…?

 

Glenn

Energy is the ability to do work. It manifest as courage, compassion, joy, wisdom etc which are the qualities of Life. When u look around, our planet earth and the universe are brimming with vibrant Life of joy and compassionate activity. Just like our bodies, organs, blood, heart and veins always pumping out working closely together as a whole.

Modern physics in attempting to discover the essence of matter. What scientists have discovered is that there is no actual, easily identifiable “thing” at the basis of matter. Subatomic particles, the building blocks of the physical world that we inhabit, appear to oscillate between states of being and nonbeing. Instead of a fixed “thing” in a particular place, we find only shifting waves of probability. At this level, the world is actually a highly fluid and unpredictable place, essentially without substance. It is this non-substantial nature of reality that the Buddhist concept of Emptiness(KU) describes.

Ku also elucidates the latent potential(energy) inherent in life. Consider how, when we are in the grip of a powerful emotion, such as anger, this expresses itself in our entire being–our glaring expression, raised voice, tensed body and so on. When our temper cools, the anger disappears. What has happened to it? We know anger still exists somewhere within us, but until something causes us to feel angry again, we can find no evidence of its existence. To all intents and purposes, it has ceased to exist. The rest of the time, as with our anger, they are in a state of latency or ku: they exist and yet they do not…

 

Derek

Sorry if I am being thick-headed – you’ll need to take it slower with me

 

Glenn

its okay..

 

Derek

I’m still wondering about how to be certain that the energy force is true. Can I measure this force? What is it composed of, would that be electrons or…?

How can you be certain that the effects you experience are definitively attributable to an invisible, unmeasurable force.?

 

Glenn

i think it could be that electrons which composed of positive and negative energy but as far as science advance there is smaller than electrons and atoms..it is beyond immeasurable force..

 


Great! He’s had to answer “i think”, which I consider an inadvertent admission that he is not sure of something. Still hard to understand though.


Derek

What does that mean exactly “beyond immeasurable force”?

 

Glenn

what i mean is that when we examined into the nature of life down to the smallest particles we find it only unfathomable or immeasurable..like what is Gravity really?? can we measure the gravity..

 

Derek

We can measure gravity, yes. Do you mean that we have not fully explained subatomic particles? Personally, if there is something that has not yet been explained by science, I just say “I don’t know”. I’m curious how you can be at 100% confidence level (zero doubt) about the energy force which has not been seen or measured.

For comparison, I’ve talked to Christians who are 100% confident that the changes in their lives are a result of their practices and prayers to a Christian god. I want to know true things – what criteria should I use to find out who is correct?

 


Glenn marks the question with a “thumbs-up” emoji, but doesn’t reply for a few weeks…


Derek

Glenn, would love to continue if you are still interested.

Derek

Hi Glenn – noticed you “liked” the last question I posed to you. Have you had a chance to give any further thought to that question?

 

Glenn

As fas as Buddhist Reality is concerned, the Buddha spoke about the “true Entity of all phenomena” or simply called SadDharma(Mystic Law)in which the true aspect is void or without form but it is also manifest in all phenomena or living things. This true entity which is the alluding principle that gives rise to all phenomena. It is this principle that there is NO distinction between the creator and the creature. The ultimate and all-abiding Law hat the Buddha perceived may be another name for some people’s concept of God. On the other hand, a person who cannot believe in an anthropomorphic God can see an underlying energy to the universe. The breadth of Buddhism encompasses both views and focuses on the individual. There is no one to blame – and no one to implore for salvation. In Buddhism, no God or supernatural entity plans and shapes our fates. In Western religion, you can bring yourself closer to God through your faith, but you can never become God. In Buddhism, one could never be separate from the wisdom of God, because the ultimate wisdom already exists in the heart of every person. Through Buddhist practice, we seek to call forth that portion of the universal life force existing originally and eternally within – what we call Buddhahood – and manifest it by becoming a Buddha. It is the discovery of this objective law or truth itself, as it manifests within the individual, that creates spiritual value, not some exterior power or being.

By tapping into this vast inner potential, our Buddha nature, we find unlimited resources of wisdom, courage and compassion. Instead of avoiding or fearing our problems, we learn to confront them with joyful vigor, confident in our ability to surmount whatever life throws in our path. But on a day-to-day basis, this higher self, this enlightened state, is hidden from view. This fundamental aspect of the human predicament is illustrated in the Buddhist parable “The Gem in the Robe,” as told in the Lotus Sutra. It is the story of a poor man who visits a wealthy friend: The house was a very prosperous one and [the poor man] was served many trays of delicacies. The friend took a priceless jewel, sewed it in the lining of the poor man’s robe, gave it without a word and then went away, and the man, being asleep, knew nothing of it. After the man had gotten up, he journeyed here and there to other countries, seeking food and clothing to keep himself alive, finding it very difficult to provide for his livelihood. He made do with what little he could get and never hoped for anything finer, unaware that in the lining of his robe he had a priceless jewel. Later the close friend who had given him the jewel happened to meet the poor man and after sharply rebuking him, showed him the jewel sewed in the robe. When the poor man saw the jewel, his heart was filled with great joy, for he was rich, possessed of wealth and goods sufficient to satisfy the five desires. We are like that man..” This parable depicts the blindness of human beings to the preciousness of their lives and the fundamental life-condition of Buddhahood realizing true nature of our existence.

 

Derek

Thanks Glenn, you are very descriptive. The parable is a nice reminder. If I understand you correctly, you believe the universal energy force exists. By what method do you come to the conclusion, with zero doubt, that it exists?

From my perspective, I like to find out what methods people use to conclude their belief is objectively true. I really want to believe true things (no matter how good or bad they might sound).

 

Glenn

In Buddhism, it is observing the true entity of life by understanding the laws within it and thereby obtaining Wisdom is the mother of all virtues in buddhism along with compassion deepens our wisdom.

 

Derek

I’m not sure I understand – how does “understanding the laws” confirm the existence of the energy force?

 

Glenn

our mind has the ability to discern things and events by rational understanding through our Five senses…and by understanding our minds or life we gain wisdom especially the wisdom of the Buddha

It is for this reason the starting point why Buddhism exist. It exist on the basic question of the four universal sufferings of Birth, old age, sickness and death and how we could transcend these four sufferings and establish a solid and diamond self or absolute happiness– that is enlightenment

 

Derek

So, is it through your five senses that you, personally, came to 100% confidence that the energy force exists?

 

Glenn

when u look around the world, everything is constantly changing..our minds are receptive from moment to moment by various emotions and stimulus and being alive itself is a testament that life is made of energies and not static mechanism and as we grow old our bodies and energy becomes weaker..the same thing with stars, planets and universes..

 

Derek

Can we always trust our human senses to determine what is true? Are our human senses a reliable way to confirm the existence of a universal energy life force? And – if a Christian creationist tells me a similar thing – that they use their five senses, they look around at the world and say “look – the world is so complex and beautiful, there can be no doubt it was designed by my (Christian) God”, would you say in that case that they are wrong? Aren’t their senses unreliable in this case?

 

Glenn

i believe that we all have the capacities to grasp the nature of Reality whether we call it God or Higher self, Energy or Consciousness.. Buddhism teaches that all knowledge in the world are ultimately seeking to universal Truth and are part of Buddhist truth. Hence, it is non dogmatic, scientific and practical philosophy that accords with Reason.

 

Derek

Hi, Glenn, sorry I was away all week on business. I wanted to ask you, what is your definition of “truth” here? It sounds like we might be using the term differently.

 


Should probably have asked for his “truth” definition earlier. We spend a lot of time on that but it is usually a good idea to make sure you aren’t talking past one another.


 

Glenn

We defined the Ultimate Truth as the “Law of life”(dharma), which is the underlying principle or truth behind all phenomena. It is also called the Buddha nature or the mind of Enlightenment, the essential Law or the Greater Life of the cosmos itself to which Gautama Buddha was awakened to the Law of Impermanence. In addition to his understanding of impermanence, the interrelatedness of all things. The universe and everything in it are in flux, arising and ceasing, appearing and disappearing, in an unending cycle of change conditioned by the law of causation. All things are subject to the law of cause and effect, and consequently nothing can exist independently of other things. This Buddhistic concept of causation is also known as “dependent origination “, the mystic aspect of life in which all things in the universe interrelate and influence one another in an unending cycle of birth and death.

 

Derek

I meant more the definition of the word “truth”. From what you just said, it sounds like you are talking about objective truth – the facts of the universe; facts that are true and the same for everybody. Its that a correct reading of your use of the word?

 

Glenn

Yes i am talking about the objective Reality in the outer world(physical) as well as the Reality of our own perceptions, feelings and aspirations(mental aspect) that we experienced in life. Both Physical and mental are integral part of of Buddhist Reality which is called the Middle Way.

 

Derek

Glad I asked. Could you give me your definition of the word “reality” then? I’m not quite sure if you mean there are multiple realities (physical, mental, Buddhist) or a single objective reality (again, facts that are true or false for everyone,) or if you mean a single reality and are just labelling different parts of it.

 

Glenn

Oh..this is getting deeper and subtle truths especially the Lotus teaching which speaks about the “3,000 realms in a single Mind” as expounded by 6th century Great Teacher Tientai of china that is based on Ultimate teaching of Buddha, the Lotus sutra.

It employs a phenomenological approach, describing all the kaleidoscopic emotions and mental states that human beings are subject to at any given moment. The theory of three thousand realms in a single moment of life holds that all the innumerable phenomena of the universe are encompassed in a single moment of a common mortal’s life.

This principle teaches that “one’s life at each moment or thought” (Ichinen)“ contains great potentials” . In other words, At each moment, one’s life has the power to shape one’s future and influence the environment. Thus, the macrocosm is within microcosm. Th true reality is found right here and now. Heaven and Hell or various mental states are not fixed reality. It is a condition or state of mind from moment to moment.

 

Derek

If some things are “subtle” or hard to understand, or not obvious to all people at all times – that is fine, I understand that. What I just want to confirm though is that there is a single set of true facts about how the universe (humans included in that) work. That is to say, some people can be wrong in their picture of what they consider the true objective facts of how the universe functions. I feel like it is important to establish that so we are on the same page as a basis for more dialogue. Hope I’m making sense

 

Glenn

I believe so that seeking Knowledge is step closer to Reality. In the buddhist terminology, the self Awakened(pratyekabuddhas), one who is enlightened through direct experience, as well Voice Hearer(Shrivaka) whom knowledge is gained through teachings or learnings from others called 2Vehicles(these are people of highly academic and scientist of today) are part of the four Noble Worlds in the 10 dharma realms which Bodhisattva and highest Buddhahood is the ultimate goal in Life that is pervaded with Wisdom and compassion that is lacking in the world of 2 Vehicles mentioned as Knowledge and Wisdom are different things.

 

Derek

Gaining knowledge is a step closer to reality, I think we agree. But can you answer more directly – when a Christian is 100% confident in her knowledge that the earth is only 6000 years old and that people lived at the same time as dinosaurs … do you not agree that this knowledge is not a true picture of reality?

 


You see I’ve tried to foist the Outsider Test for Faith on him a few times now and he usually avoids it completely. You see his answer to what is true depends on how well it fits with Buddhist teachings, unless disproven by science. This is not a great worldview. Is this what he really means, or is this a language barrier issue? I try to find out.


 

Glenn

A belief should be valid unless it is proven principle or scientific facts and it disagrees also with Buddhist beliefs in which we believe that the earth is billions years of age that is proven by science. In Buddhist cosmology, the four periods of time corresponding to the four stages in the cycle of formation, continuance, decline, and disintegration that a world is said to undergo. The four kalpas are explained in the Long Āgama Sutra and The Dharma Analysis Treasury. In the kalpa of formation, a world takes shape in space, and a variety of sentient beings appear on it. In the kalpa of continuance, living beings conduct their life-activities. In the kalpa of decline, the land is destroyed by natural disasters, and living beings gradually diminish and then disappear completely. In the kalpa of disintegration, complete destruction has taken place, and nothing exists. One complete cycle of the four kalpas is called a major kalpa.

A regular kalpa is approximately 16 million years long (16,798,000 years), and a small kalpa is 1000 regular kalpas, or about 16 billion years. Further, a medium kalpa is roughly 320 billion years, the equivalent of 20 small kalpas. A great kalpa is 4 medium kalpas, or around 1.28 trillion years.

Buddha had not spoken about the exact length of the maha-kalpa in number of years. However, he had given several astounding analogies to understand it.

  1. Imagine a huge empty cube at the beginning of a kalpa, approximately 16 miles in each side. Once every 100 years, you insert a tiny mustard seed into the cube. According to the Buddha, the huge cube will be filled even before the kalpa ends.
  2. Imagine a gigantic rocky mountain at the beginning of kalpa, approximately 16 x 16 x 16 miles (dwarfing Mount Everest). You take a small piece of silk and wipe the mountain once every 100 years. According to the Buddha, the mountain will be completely depleted even before the kalpa ends.

In one situation, some monks wanted to know how many kalpas had died so far. The Buddha gave the analogy:

  1. If you count the total number of sand particles at the depths of the Ganges river, from where it begins to where it ends at the sea, even that number will be less than the number of passed kalpas.

Each of these four kalpas—the kalpa of formation, the kalpa of continuance, the kalpa of decline, and the kalpa of disintegration—lasts for twenty small kalpas. A regular kalpa is approximately 16 million years long (16,798,000 years), and a small kalpa is 1000 regular kalpas, or about 16 billion years. Further, a medium kalpa is roughly 320 billion years, the equivalent of 20 small kalpas. A great kalpa is 4 medium kalpas, or around 1.28 trillion years

 

Derek

My goal is to believe true things, so again, I’m most interested in how people come to confidence that their beliefs are true. Now, you just said something very interesting and I want to make sure I understand exactly what you mean. You said “A belief should be valid unless it is proven principle or scientific facts and it disagrees also with Buddhist beliefs”. Does this sentence mean:

(A) A belief should be considered true as long as it is a Buddhist belief and hasn’t yet been contradicted by scientific facts or

(B) A belief that contradicts a Buddhist belief should also be considered true unless it is contradicted by scientific facts? or

(C) Any belief can be considered true until contradicted by scientific facts or

(D) We should only hold certainty in beliefs that have scientific backing.

Which of those, A, B, C or D most closely reflects your own view?

 

Glenn

What i mean is the D. However, there are beliefs in buddhism that is not proven by science such as the Life after death and rebirth that is closely interconnected to the laws of Karma, the law of Causality.

But i think the Law of conservation of energy is parallel thought to the concept of Rebirth.

 

Derek

So rebirth is something you personally believe in as well? Since you answered “D” above, does that mean you have less than 100% confidence in rebirth?

 

Glenn

Not at all.. there are scientist who believes in rebirth. Professor Julian Huxley, the distinguished British scientist who was Director General of UNESCO believed that rebirth was quite in harmony with scientific thinking: “There is nothing against a permanently surviving spirit-individuality being in some way given off at death, as a definite wireless message is given off by a sending apparatus working in a particular ways. But it must be remembered that the wireless message only becomes a message again when it comes in contact with a new, material structure – the receiver. So with our possible spirit-emanation. It would never think or feel unless again “embodied” in some way. our personalities are so based on body that it is really impossible to think of survival which would be in any true sense personal without a body of sorts. I can think of something being given off which could bear the same relation to men and women as a wireless message to the transmitting apparatus for mind”.

For Shakyamuni Buddha himself Final revelation(according to Lotus sutra) that he attained Buddhahood since the inconceivable past not in his present life. Elsewhere in earlier agama sutras also during his enlightenment under the Bodhi tree in deep meditation, he had experienced clear recollections of his past lives. With this, He then clarifies the nature of the threefold world(the world we live in) that he correctly perceives with this wisdom, saying: “..The thus come one perceives the true aspect of the threefold world exactly as it is. There is no ebb or flow of birth and death, and there is no existing in this world and later entering extinction. It is neither substantial nor empty, neither consistent nor diverse. Nor is it what those who dwell in the threefold world perceive it to be. All such things the thus come one sees clearly and without error..”(Lotu sutra)

In this passage Shakyamuni is directly applying the reality of the life of the Buddha enlightened since the remote past to the beings of the threefold world. And the comparison is entirely valid that there is in fact no difference between the true entity of life of beings of the threefold world and that of the Buddha enlightened since the remote past. This, therefore, is an exact description of the true nature of the lives of all beings of the threefold world. In other words, our lives in their original state exist eternally together with the life of the universe; they are without beginning or end. When certain conditions are attained, we manifest birth. And, in time, we recede again into the universe, entering a state of rest. This is the nature of our death. It is not the case that our lives are terminated through death; rather, it could be said that death is an expedient means necessary for us to lead a fresh and vigorous existence in the future. The same also applies to nature the 4 cycle of Winter, spring, summer and autumn and the 4 Kalpas of the heavenly bodies.

 

Derek

Sorry, I’m confused about how you can say that you agree with “(D) We should only hold certainty in beliefs that have scientific backing” but also have 100% confidence in rebirth, which you said was not proven. The reason you offered was that there are scientists who think rebirth is possible. But there are scientists of all religions that disagree on everything – so how can we know which scientist’s idea can be used and which can be rejected?

 

Glenn

I believe there is no contradiction of science with rebirth as it goes with the physical laws of nature. If we think our lives is part of this process it is not hard to believe that our energy-self applies also to these universal laws and it takes faith and understanding with this principle.

 

Derek

What would you need to observe, or what test could a scientist perform that would disprove the idea that rebirth is real and true?

 

Glenn

“..The thus come one perceives the true aspect of the threefold world exactly as it is. There is no ebb or flow of birth and death, and there is no existing in this world and later entering extinction. It is neither substantial nor empty, neither consistent nor diverse. Nor is it what those who dwell in the threefold world perceive it to be. All such things the thus come one sees clearly and without error..”(Lotu sutra)….. I THINK THIS WISDOM correlates with scientific laws of the Law of Conservation Energy which means that energy can neither be created nor destroyed; rather, it can only be transformed from one form to another. Buddhism teaches that what transmigrates is karma. Karma is a grammatical variation of the Sanskrit karman, which means act or action. Karma refers to potentials in the inner, unconscious realm of life created through one’s actions in the past or present, which, respectively, after being activated by external stimuli, manifest as results in the present or future. According to Buddhism, life takes on no physical entity after death, nor does a “spirit” or “soul” continue to exist as a fixed entity. There is no fixed self that lives on as an unchanging entity. Shakyamuni Buddha concluded that it is karma itself that continues. Our circumstances in this present lifetime are the effect of our past actions (karma), and our actions in the present determine the circumstances of our lives in the future. In other words, the influence of our actions carries on from one existence to the next, transcending the life and death of the human being.

 

Derek

What would you need to observe, or what test could a scientist perform that would disprove the idea that rebirth (defined as trans-mitigation of karma) is real and true?


Glenn never responded after this point. I prodded him once again a few weeks later and let him know I planned to publish the chat, and asked if he wanted to follow-up, but I suppose he lost interest or could not come up with an answer. I thanked him for the learning opportunity.

 

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