My view on Buddhist Doctrine

These days, my existential beliefs are more in line with Buddhism, and to some degree, to the less crazy/commercial parts of New Age. Kabbalah, which I loathed for years as an atheist, is also one of my favorite sources for knowledge nowadays too. However, I don’t follow dogmas and doctrines blindly. Everything goes through the logic analyzer in my own head before I accept it as possible Truth. It’s in my nature to question everything. These are the things I have trouble believing in:

1. Re-incarnation

I do believe in re-incarnation, just not in the way Buddhism and other religions explain it. I have trouble believing that “me”, Eugenia, re-incarnates again as the “same soul” in another body. Sure, I accept that parts of the Source (“God”/Universe consciousness) re-incarnate constantly, but not that the SAME soul part is re-incarnating “as is” to another body. In other words, I believe in RECYCLING of consciousness, not in re-incarnation. This just makes logical sense to me if I try to visual it and understand it in terms of a computer program. For example, if you had some memory reserved for a 3D-generated human, let’s say, 25 MBs of data, and then you dump that data from memory (i.e. the person dies), that data then is lost (ego-loss). Then, the memory is freed and joins the rest of free memory (becomes One with the All). Then, it’s time to use some memory again, for another part of the 3D environment. You grab 35 MB of memory to depict a 3D elephant, or 2 MB of memory to depict a 3D insect. So, if you use that same memory range that previously the 3D human was occupying, it means that he either added 10 MBs to his “soul” to become an elephant, or he lost 23 MBs to become an insect. Which means, that the re-incarnated version of the human is not the same as before anymore. It makes no sense to use that memory range to depict humans only, because that’s a very gross way of optimizing things (plus, humans didn’t always exist). So, from this I conclude that the person that died earlier, is NOT the same soul-part as the one that get re-incarnated. So a more accurate description of the process would be “recycling”, and not “re-incarnation”. When you die, your soul doesn’t come back as another person. It gets recycled, and it can become a gazillion pieces, recycled to various things (inanimate things too, since these are made of “God” too). Everything is in as-needed basis.

But you see, this is an unpopular belief (I haven’t seen it mentioned anywhere before). No one would follow Buddhism if the doctrine would be all about “you die, but PARTS of you come back as some random things in the universe”. It’s depressing to think of yourself re-incarnated as a bunch of rocks or bacteria, for example. But the described system of recycling makes more sense to me than the little fairy tales of hope that various religions have been indoctrinating to people for eons. I think it’s time to grow up, and understand that when we die, we lose our ego/identity, our “soul” temporarily becomes One with the All, and then it gets recycled into whatever is needed by the system, which is NOT necessarily “another human”. The chances of coming back with the exact same “soul” as a sentient being, is astronomically small in my view.

Now, having said that, I do believe that consciousness evolves, just like the physical universe, its planets and its life on them evolves. When we get recycled, we go through the Morphic field, as Dr Rupert Sheldrake has described it. We get information from it regarding the species we get recycled to (“instinct”), but we also contribute back to it by simply living as one of these species. The Morphic field is possibly ordered by species, with new subfields emerging when new species are getting emerged between neighboring species. There’s no real distinction between species or even inanimate things in reality, they’re just ordered arrays. When seeing the whole thing, it contains the consciousness of the universe, not just that of a specific species. So living as a particular species, it contributes consciousness back to the field, just like when our body dies it becomes food for plants (compost). Everything gets recycled. Everything is energy anyway, so it can’t be destroyed, it can only be transformed.

Regarding past lives, it’s possible that the information gathered during hypnosis is real, but that doesn’t mean that they’re “your” lives. They could be anyone’s, since in reality, you’re Everyone and Everything, and you’re “reading” these past lives info from the morphic field.

2. Karma

If my… calculations above are correct, this means that there’s no such thing as karma. After death, Hitler never got punished for anything either. Everything simply is. The Universe simply strives for novelty, and wants to experience itself any way possible. Including ways we humans perceive as “evil”. There’s no judgement after death, this is accepted nowadays among mystics. I’d go one level further and say that there’s no karma either. It’s impossible to think of a memory range being punished by reusing it in a way that makes it feel pain. It’s not logical to make a memory range have a negative recycling, because that would mean that the whole program would become unstable. All memory is equal, no matter what they were selected to depict. It’s stupid to think otherwise. You’re important to the system, but you’re not more or less special than everything else. Not even special enough to get in trouble to give you a negative experience if you were “bad” in your previous life. Therefore, I think karma is hogwash.

Please note that I don’t accept that these views are nihilism. I simply see them as logical interpretations of mystical beliefs: in how such a system/consciousness would work to manifest a holographic universe and to also loan its intellect to “power” conscious beings while at it. It makes no sense to create whole rules and laws of “this” soul and “that” soul etc. That’s redundant crap in the grand scheme of things. All it matters is going forward with the system.

Also, please note that I don’t equate our Universe & life with a dry computer program. But that doesn’t mean that this is not how the whole thing roughly works. It’s simply a way to visualize it in order to make sense of things. Besides, as above, so below. So whose to say that they’re not all too similar in function?

3. Nirvana

We established above there’s only recycling and constant growth for the Universe, for its quest for novelty and “experience”. And there you have a bunch of monks, who say “fuck this, I don’t want to get recycled again”. The way I see this, is like going against the program. They make their memory range unavailable by opting out of the program. Now, let me say that this isn’t a holy thing, neither it’s a sin. It’s simply a state of Being, a choice. A choice that I’m not even sure if it actually works (it’s possible that Buddha thought that if he reaches Nirvana he doesn’t get re-incarnated again, only to find himself recycled yet again after his death). But if it does work, well, that’s cool too. There are those “evil” people who want to thrive in separation, and the “holy” ones, who take the way out of the equation (or so they think). Either way is acceptable by the One, because all the One wants to do is experience “different things”. Life is an illusory game after all.

And this brings me to one point where I do agree with Buddhism in a big way: “The Middle Way”. The middle way is simply living a life as a normal person. Not a monk, and not a gangster either. But rather, a life proper to the species you got recycled in. Just live your life to your highest enjoyment, and experience life as lucidly as you can, and you have already fulfilled your role. You don’t need to “do” anything special, unless such instruction was given to you during the recycling (e.g. “find the cure for cancer”). But for most people, it’s not more complicated than the Universe telling them: “let me experience through your eyes, not much else you must do, just fucking live”.

I’ll have to reiterate once more on this blog: the meaning of life is life itself.

At the end, as many psychedelic users have been shown on their trips, and Buddhism also says, everything is as it should be. Everything is perfect. When you die, you’d know that for sure.

Update: I should add here that I find very beneficial for people to meditate or take the right entheogens in order to discover their true selves. The I AM. That part is indeed very useful since it ceases existential problems for most. Some call that “enlightenment”. But after your session of remembering of who you really are, you come back down, and you live your life the best you can.

12 Comments »

joseph wrote on December 26th, 2013 at 2:04 PM PST:

Thanks for wasting my time reading this hoping for some inspiration.


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Eugenia wrote on December 26th, 2013 at 2:46 PM PST:

So what you’re saying is that inspiration is what you’re seeking when reading spiritual-related things? And you’re doing this by trying to delude yourself with fairy tales? But when someone points obvious holes in these fairy tales, somehow that is a “waste of time”?

Look, I think Buddhism is the most “accurate” religion that this planet has seen. But in my personal opinion, it’s also mixed with Hinduism and Bonism (pre-Buddhist religion), and the result is yet another mash-up of information with myth, in order to make people feel better about their sure death.

If you want inspiration, then the only way to get some true inspiration is to free yourself from attachment, including that of “re-incarnating well”, “reaching nirvana”, etc. ?Just live your life well. That’s both my philosophy, and The Middle Way’s.


Joseph wrote on December 26th, 2013 at 5:57 PM PST:

But I don’t want to free myself from attachment, aka STRUCTURE. Karma is a form of such structure that has elevated humans above what we were for tens of thousands of years- beasts who murdered and stole from each other. It took thousands of years to spread the world religions such as the far east ones. It keeps us in line. Humans are better with structure, not chaos. It took Thousands of years just to raise the average lifespan to 40.


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Eugenia wrote on December 26th, 2013 at 10:01 PM PST:

Please be serious. The vast majority of people in the world don’t know what “karma” is (since Christianity is the most popular religion these days). What you’re suggesting is that the carmic law is bringing us fear, and keeps us in line. Fear is the opposite of love. Are you suggesting that the universal consciousness is keeping its creation in check via fear? I thought it was all about love and compassion!

Please re-read your comment, because if that’s what you’re saying, then you’re admitting the lameness of karma. In that case, it’s not different than the Christian fairy tale of Heaven and Hell. Stories, created to keep people in check.

True evolution and mental liberation comes when you don’t need a stick to do the right thing.


John S wrote on December 27th, 2013 at 2:06 AM PST:

Hi Eugenia,
Thanks for this article. I like the concept that the universe uses US as cameras – to be it’s eyes and ears. Don’t ask me if that’s true or not 🙂 My guess is that the more we can open the umbrella of our awareness, the better the camera.

One of the most beautiful films I’ve seen recently is one called “Samsara”, with English subtitles.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0196069/?ref_=fn_al_tt_2
The journey of a young Tibetan monk through illusion (or Samsara). You don’t have to be a believer of anything to enjoy this one.

And one of my most profound insights came when I realised there IS no enlightenment and nothing to reach. As you said so well, just being ordinary is enough. No sticks is GOOD!

John


Bruce Carleton wrote on December 27th, 2013 at 5:20 AM PST:

I ran across thispost on Zite. I’d like to add my two cents. First off, I would categorize myself as a Secular Buddhist. I put it in initial caps to make it seem like a real thing, but that might be kind of a stretch. One of the primary go-to guys for Secular Buddhism is Stephen Batchelor. You can check out his Website, or his books “Buddhism without Beliefs” and “Confession of a Buddhist Atheist” for a good overview. The best Website for discussions, articles, podcasts, etc., along these lines is secularbuddhism.org. Now, what I think:

On Reincarnation:

Yeah, I’m pretty much with you there. Most systems of Buddhist thought adhere to the idea that somehow something, which we can’t call a “soul” since “not-soul” is one of the founding features of the Dharma, moves from one body into another. I’ve never heard any explanation of how that might work that makes any sense, so I take my cue from the Buddha: “Do not go by oral traditions, by lineage of teaching, by hearsay, by a collection of scriptures, by logical reasoning, by inferential reasoning, by reflection on reasons, by the acceptance of a view after pondering it, by the seeming competence of the speaker, or because you think, ‘The ascetic is our teacher.’ But when you know for yourselves, ‘These things are blamable; these things are censured by the wise; these things, if undertaken and practised, lead to harm and suffering,’ then you should abandon them. … These things are wholesome, these things are blameless; these things are praised by the wise; these things, if undertaken and practised, lead to welfare and happiness, then you should engage in them.” This is from Stephen Batchelor’s translation of the Kalama Sutta from the Anguttara Nikaya.

You’re right that belief in reincarnation is central to most Buddhist belief systems, and if you reject it you will be seen by many as apostate. Fortunately there is no Saudi Arabia in Buddhism, so the worst that’s likely to happen in this case is that they’ll look at you askance. But there are many like me who share your opinion.

I like your metaphor of computer memory, and “recycling” seems like a good way to describe what you (and I) think might be what’s going on when someone dies. But I have to part ways with you when you start getting into the the theories of Rupert Sheldrake. You can find an interesting debate between Deepak Chopra and Michael Shermer at skeptic.com where Sheldrake comes up a lot. In this case, Shermer’s point of view dovetails with my own.

On Karma:

This is obviously closely tied in with reincarnation, so the same things apply here as were mentioned above. Keep in mind, also, that the word “karma” just means “action.” So the position that there’s no such thing as karma becomes problematic. When you get right down to it, actions have effects, and so on. If I burp, that gas goes out into the air where it will eventually be breathed in over and over, and in some cases maybe some component of that gas will be incorporated into a body, which will eventually die and decompose, and the cycle will continue. That’s my idea of what karma is.

So what you’re really saying is that karma doesn’t attach itself to a particular “soul” and manifest itself in future lives. It seems highly likely that the Buddha bought into the belief system of his time and place that karma acted that way. He even added a moral dimension to it, setting up the Buddhist belief that good actions lead to better rebirth and eventual release from the cycle of samsara. But just because that was probably his point of view doesn’t mean it has to be mine. Here’s another quote from “scripture” [via Batchelor, again, from the Samyutta Nikaya] that I like: “And what, bhikkhus [i.e. monks], is the all? The eye and forms, the ear and sounds, the nose and odours, the tongue and tastes, the body and tactile sensations, the mind and dhammas [i.e. thoughts and other less-than-physical phenomena]. This is called the all. If anyone, bhikkhus, should speak thus: ‘Having rejected this all, I shall make known another all’ — that would be a mere empty boast on his part. If he were questioned he would not be able to reply and, further, he would meet with vexation. For what reason? Because, bhikkhus, that all would not be within his domain.” In other words, all that we can be sure of is what we can observe. For me, that can pretty much be summed us as “science.”

On Nirvana:

It’s hard to get a handle on what that word even means in Buddhist thought. There is a pretty wide range of states (or non-states?) that are posited by different systems. Since I am a secularist (meaning one who is concerned with the here-and-now rather than the eternal), I take it to be a state one can attain in this lifetime, and one which is not supernatural or even supernormal. I think I’d describe nirvana something like a relatively high level of freedom from the ties of the attraction/aversion equation that is the hallmark of all beings.

Anyway, thanks for giving me a soapbox to climb up on for this little exegesis.

— Bruce Carleton


joseph wrote on December 27th, 2013 at 4:06 PM PST:

“be serious”.

I’m dead serious, you just may not grasp my concepts as much as I would have hoped.

“it’s not different than the Christian fairy tale of Heaven and Hell. Stories, created to keep people in check.”

Nope, not fear. Hope actually. Karma helps people in their present life as well as their reincarnated lives.

The Hindus and Buddists are much more tolerating than the Christians, so I prefer them. But the actual reality of the situation is that the more strict control imposed by the Christians have resulted in their subsequent advanced development as a whole, like it or not. Obviously there were winners and losers in the game but Christian nations overall are most prosperous. The reason for this is structured beliefs.

You yourself have a structured mindset. You want want to simplify through your comparison to digital memory. Never mind the fact that memory may also have a spiritual, or “invisible” component.


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Eugenia wrote on December 27th, 2013 at 5:37 PM PST:

John: Can’t find that movie on Netflix, thanks for the suggestion though! 🙂

Bruce: I agree that there’s action-reaction in the universe, but as you explained, I have trouble believing that it acts-reacts across different lives of the same soul. It simply reacts to whatever it reacts to. Sure, by doing any act, you change the course of all history, and so if you re-incarnate into another body, you will live a timeline that was manipulated into existence by that action of your older self. But I don’t believe that if you kill someone for example, you re-incarnate in another body, and the re-incarnation of the dead person will do you harm in your new life, in order to pay you back. That part is nonsense IMHO.

Recently I mentioned some of my past life hypnosis sessions. In my pre-previous life I was burned alive by my father (who supposedly happens to be my current father too). He killed me because I left home to go and live by my own in the 1800s. Guess what. I did the same thing in this life. He didn’t kill me this time (although he probably wanted to a bit, hah!), but most importantly, I didn’t kill him back. Our relationship is not strained. So either these hypnotic states were fantasy, or they showed me the lives of souls that were not “me” per se, or I forgave him and didn’t care for revenge, or karma doesn’t exist.


Bruce Carleton wrote on December 28th, 2013 at 5:53 AM PST:

Eugenia: This is only my opinion, of course, but I see the story you told of recovery of a past life as being a way the subconscious part of your “self” had of coming to terms with a situation in this life. Whether your way of seeing it (revelation of a past life) or mine (self-psychotherapy) is closer to the truth might not matter much, and since we have no definitive evidence either way, this is one of those situations where we can agree to approach the question from two different angles without too much friction. It seems that your angle worked out very well, in that you didn’t get killed by your dad this time around, and, in fact, have an ongoing relationship with him. I’d say that means your approach was validated, to some degree. On the other hand, there are undoubtedly people who would see a revelation that their current father was someone who had murdered them in a past life as a valid reason to take more drastic preventive measures — you can see how that might go wrong. My way of looking at it is that you can take your feelings about your father that led you to think he killed you in a past life and deal with them as something going on in the here-and-now.

About karma, though, let me repeat: I don’t believe that there is a force (or particle?) that clings to whatever is left of ourselves after we die, and which carries specific information about our actions that will effect whatever entity it is that someone says is moving from body to body. But since the word “karma” just means “action,” I avoid denying that karma exists. But that’s just semantics.

I’m not sure that I understand your point of view on this, though. It seems that you believe that some entity (we’ll call it “spirit”) existed in a body in the 1800s, and was reborn into your present body where it could work out existing issues with another spirit, that of your father in the 1800s, which was also reborn into your current father’s body. And you two have, indeed, kind of worked things out. It’s hard to see how that is not what Hindus and Buddhists mean when they talk about karma from past lives coming to fruition in this one.


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Eugenia wrote on December 28th, 2013 at 3:57 PM PST:

>. It seems that you believe that some entity (we’ll call it “spirit”) existed in a body in the 1800s

No, I don’t particularly believe that what I saw occurred for real. It’s just what I experienced in the late 1990s, after a series of hypnotic sessions. At the time I was a Christian. Soon after I became an atheist for over 10 years. I became spiritual, with an Eastern flavor, just this past May.


Andre wrote on December 29th, 2013 at 4:02 PM PST:

What you describe looks like pantheism. What’s the purpose of evolving your consciousness if you lose your individuality and identity when you die? Who or what will evolve? BTW action-reaction is a law of physics. Isn’t it?


Bruce Carleton wrote on December 30th, 2013 at 5:22 AM PST:

Andre,
What do you mean by pantheism? I’m curious because don’t see that in what Eugenia described. And yes, action-reaction” could be a succinct way of summing up Newton’d 3rd Law of Motion. But keep in mind that the laws and theories of science are just our way of making the things that happen around us fit our narrative of the world. It’s like grammar (more my line of expertise, having been an ESL teacher in the past, while never having been a scientist): people talk in patterns, so grammarians come up with “rules” to classify those patterns, and then those rules are put forth as the definition of how we’re supposed to talk. Sometimes those rules make sense (it can be harder to understand someone when they don’t make their subject and verb agree), and sometimes they don’t (like Churchill said, sometimes a preposition is the best thing to end a sentence with). I think we should look at science the same way. When the theories work in practice, we adhere to them to a certain extent. But that doesn’t mean the universe cares much about what we say it should do. Keep in mind that some of Newton’s laws got turned on their head when quantum physics popped up. They’re still a practical way of keeping things in order, but they’re not the final word.


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