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03 May 2010 @ 09:48 pm
logic and buddhism  
So it's my 4 week of beginners classes on Tibetan buddhism and most, I'm very glad I'm going. It's giving me better outlook in a way that people have happily noticed. It's giving me, and, from what I can tell, them more happiness. Since this is a main goal, great!

But the thing I'm finding frustration is that, even though the ultimate goal is to make yourself a better person so you can create happiness for all beings, they seem to emphasis that before you can do that, you must believe in karmic law and reincarnation. They seem to feel logic support it, but that logic is still lost on me. The logic, as explained when I ask, seems circular. You suffer because karmic law says in past life you created a non-virtue and past lives must exist because without it karmic law can't make sense. I also find the motivation of creating virtue so that YOU personally won't be reincarnated as a lower being being rather self-centric. Now, they do believe that you should take care of yourself, so that might be a branch of that, but I feel like just wanting the world to be a better place should be motivation enough and that my motivation for believing the rest should be good enough and that I don't need "becoming an enlightened being in a future life" to be the only reason and motivation for trying to create more happiness in the world for myself and for others. That doesn't make logical sense to me. If I'm motivated to make the net happiness better, shouldn't that be enough of a place to start? I'm only frustrated because so much seems useful, but I feel like I'm not welcome to follow the path unless I change my beliefs for something that is proclaiming it is based on logic. I will continue to learn, since I'm still welcome to do that, and continue to cultivate my new outlook, since it is benefiting me, but I think I am not cut out to be a full Buddhist.

While struggling with this, some other thoughts come to mind. Our lack of memory of past lives is not evidence they do not exist, since most of us don't have memories before the age of 4 or so, which we have a lot of evidence we existed before our memories begin.
mathhobbitmathhobbit on May 4th, 2010 01:50 am (UTC)
Oooh, thanks for the warning! I definitely don't want to believe in reincarnation.
Someone I am is waiting for my courageforgotten_aria on May 4th, 2010 02:00 am (UTC)
Don't let this dissuade you from attending a class. There's a lot of good in what she says.
A little nightnacht_musik on May 4th, 2010 02:18 am (UTC)
Hmm. I've read some books on buddhist thinking which are purely about theory of self and relation to the world, with no statement or dependence on what I'd call "religion", and certainly no mention of reincarnation or some kind of cosmic karmic law. I'd be happy to loan you any of my books, if you're interested -- a couple by Pema Chodron in the clearly-buddhist camp, and one by (Chris?) Germer which is more of a psychology book with heavy buddhist leanings.

Someone I am is waiting for my courageforgotten_aria on May 4th, 2010 02:25 am (UTC)
I have plenty of books that don't mention it at all. I'd actually like some books that do. I want to understand better, even if I can never believe.
Someone I am is waiting for my courageforgotten_aria on May 4th, 2010 02:27 am (UTC)
Part of the problem is that while they encourage book learning, they feel that learning without a teacher isn't as useful, and I really agree. I wasn't really able to put into practice any of what I read until I started to attend the classes, and then I started to see how to make things work.
David Policardpolicar on May 4th, 2010 04:36 am (UTC)
For what it's worth, I agree with you that there are many different ways to engage with a practice of happiness without embracing any particular beliefs and without accepting any particular logic as supporting (let alone proving) those beliefs, and I would be reluctant to engage with teachers who had the attitude you describe.

That said, reincarnation is a cosmology I resonate with, personally. But I think it's absurd to consider it provable in the way you describe your teachers doing.