GUNARATNE RESPONDS TO HIS CRITICS
Posted on March 2nd, 2013

By Shelton Gunaratne

 Responding to my review essay on paticca samuppada  (Lankaweb, 25 Feb. 2013) commentator Ben Silva shouts, “BUT IN SCIENCE WE NEED VERIFIABLE EVIDENCE AND A SOLID BODY OF THEORY, obeying known laws of nature. Is journalist Shelton G an expert on molecular biology, genetics, epigenome field etc. to talk about the mechanics of birth?”

 The likes of Ben Silva (BS) will not find “truth” in anything outside verifiable phenomena backed by so-called “science,” an invention of the imperial West to maintain global intellectual dominance when it realized that its ploy of Orientalism (downgrading the cultures of the colonized peoples) failed to work.  Immanuel Wallerstein, the originator of world-systems analysis and a merciless critic of social science, asserts that the seemingly objective  “scientific method” is a mere “Trojan horse” the West put in place to perpetuate the domination of the West over the rest. 

BS and his ilk are materialists who delight in denigrating Buddha Dhamma for its alleged naivetƒÆ’†’© in supporting non-violence and inducing people to slash their ignorance by curtailing their lobha (greed), dosa (hatred) and moha (delusion).  These materialists are brainwashed by their Western education to believe in a self/soul, individualism, survival of the fittest (as in the Hobbesian state of nature), capitalist values, scientism, etc.

BS is right when he asserts that I am not a specialist in biosciences, but only a journalist. What BS may not know is that as a doctoral candidate I spent three years learning communication theory and methodology. Therefore, I know what scientific methodology is. I learned that science has vastly improved the human condition, but it has vast limitations too. For example, an estimated 84 percent of our universe constitutes dark matter. But science cannot measure it. Science also cannot find the First Cause, viz., the origin of the singularity that gave rise to the universe.

Science can only be applied to phenomena that researchers can test again and again.  Science cannot measure or test any transcendental or metaphysical theories. There are only scientific facts, not truths. As the Buddha said in Kalama Sutta, truth is based on each namarupa’s perception.  Because scientific facts can keep on changing (anicca) every moment, no two tests can yield the identical results. The ceteris paribus ploy vitiates science because nothing can remain constant.

Wallerstein criticizes the classical Newtonian-Cartesian paradigm, reified by both natural and social scientists, for researching parts and inferring the results to the whole thereby ignoring the fact that the whole is more than the sum of its parts; for incorrectly presuming the existence of independent variables without proving the First Cause; and for adopting linear statistics to explain what is essentially a non-linear world.    

As we can now see, science alone cannot explain everything in our universe. To do so, we need epistemology (science), ontocosmology (metaphysics), and axiology (moral and ethical conduct)””‚the three broad components of Western philosophy. Science separated from philosophy less than four centuries ago when the term “natural science“ replaced “natural philosophy.”

In contrast, Eastern philosophy does not make an artificial distinction between science and philosophy. Buddhism, for example, emphasizes systems thinking by recognizing the interconnection, interdependence, and interaction of everything in the universe. It penetrates the universe through the extraordinary vision of a Buddha who attained Enlightenment through the power of his mind (concentration of mental energy or meditation). Science cannot measure the degree of mental energy all of us have accumulated over time. 

The advent of quantum physics in the early 20th century helped to rejuvenate Eastern philosophy””‚the yin-yang duality of Daoism, the mutual co-arising (paticca-samuppada) concept of Buddhism, etc.””‚denigrated as metaphysics by Western pundits like philosopher G.W.F. Hegel and sociologist Max Weber.

BS and his ilk are most likely suffering from avijja (ignorance) tanha (greed), and upadana (attachment) in the sense used in paticca samuppada deluging themselves to be Buddhists because in the Kalama Sutta Buddha permitted independent thinking.     

 The English rendition of paticca samuppada is “dependent origination,” which Buddha explained in the following four lines:

            This being, that becomes;

            From the arising of this, that arises;

            This not being, that becomes not;

            From the ceasing of this, that ceases.

In these four lines, “this” and “that” stand for each of the 12 (reduced to 11) nidanas (causal links).   These are natural laws that no scientist can disprove. Buddha Dhamma is neither a philosophy nor a science; it contains elements of both, and also includes axiology. It shows the path to cease mental defilements engendered by elements in the panca skandha (“five aggregates”) constituting a “person,” who in reality is bereft of a soul or self because of the ever-changing (anicca) nature of everything.

B S complains that I had left the domain of religion/philosophy and intruded into the domain of biosciences and genetics in which I am not qualified. As I have already shown, Eastern philosophy rejects the compartmentalization of knowledge into specializations.  Moreover, I am not the brain behind the metatheory of dependent co-origination. I did not invent the nidanas or speculate on how their interactions produced the karmic energy to repeat the cycle of jati (birth), jaramarana (decay and death), and punarbhava (re-becoming). As a mere journalist, I summarized the crux of Buddha Dhamma culled from the Sutta Pitaka as presented by L. Jayasooriya.

 Paticca samuppada illustrates the advanced systems thinking of an enlightened human being to prove the thesis that cyclic existence (samsara) is a struggle to overcome inevitable dukkha engendered by the five aggregates constituting a namarupa (a human being).  The Four Noble Truths summarize the entire philosophy of Buddha Dhamma:

  1. Cyclic existence (samsara) is dukkha
  2. Dukkha arises (samudaya) because of the volitional actions of certain nidanas in an organism’s bhavacakra.
  3. The cessation (nirodha) of dukkha is possible by removing the nidanas.
  4. The Noble Eightfold Path is the way (magga) to remove dukkha and its nidanas.

BS in his parting shot says, “I am not clever enough to understand your jargon.”

My response: I used Pali terms for the sake of accuracy, not for confusing you.

33 Responses to “GUNARATNE RESPONDS TO HIS CRITICS”

  1. Nanda Says:

    Sir,
    You are too kind answering BS from a monster who is fighting against Buddha.

  2. NeelaMahaYoda Says:

    Ben Silva and to a lesser extend Jayasooriya are still living in the 50 year old Newtonian scientific era. Now with wide acceptance of quantum theories in modern theoretical physics, the physical observation has become part of the nature and reproducing the predictions in science is limited to only one section of the science called Newtonian classical theories. It may be little harder for Ben or Jayasooriya to understand the most intuitive description given by Richard Feynman as a system has not just one history, but every possible history. Until the advent of modern physics it was generally thought that all knowledge of the world could be obtained through direct observation perceived through our senses. Unfortunately this is not true anymore. The so called reality what we see is not compatible with modern physics. In order to see this contrast, modern scientist recommend you to adopt an approach which is called model-dependent realism. Accidently It is based on the idea explained in the Buddhist Abidhamm that our mind interpret the input from our sensory organs by making a model of the world ( refer to thought process Citta vethi). It is like the old parable where a group of blind men touch an elephant to learn what it is like. Each one feels a different part, but only one part, such as the side or the tusk. They then compare notes and learn that they are in complete disagreement. But in reality they all are all correct. The model-dependent realism is further explained in Professor Stephen Hawking’s latest book “The Grand Design”.
    Prof Hawking says : “A few years ago the city council of Monza, Italy, barred pet owners from keeping goldfish in curved bowls. The measure’s sponsor explained the measure in part by saying that it is cruel to keep a fish in a bowl with curved sides because, gazing out, the fish would have a distorted view of reality. But how do we know we have the true, undistorted picture of reality?

    The goldfish view is not the same as our own, but goldfish could still formulate scientific laws governing the motion of the objects they observe outside their bowl. For example, due to the distortion, a freely moving object would be observed by the goldfish to move along a curved path. Nevertheless, the goldfish could formulate laws from their distorted frame of reference that would always hold true. Their laws would be more complicated than the laws in our frame, but simplicity is a matter of taste.
    Finally I strongly recommend Ben Silva and Jayasooriya to start with Professor Stephen Hawking’s“The Grand Design”. When you could visualise the 11 dimensional universe, then I would recommend to read following books in Sequence;
    1.The Science of the mind and the myth of the self – The Ego Tunnel byThomas Metzinger Former President of the German Cognitive Science Society and the president of the Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness.
    2. Consciousness beyond life by World renowned Cardiologist Pim van Lommel MD
    3.The Biology of Belief- Bruce H Lipton A former Medical School Professor

  3. Nanda Says:

    Good professor need not respond to this fool. Why must start explaing this fool from begining.
    Has he frogotton everything he was taught by various commentators of lanka Web in the past.
    He is ignoring all these and re-starting his WAR AGAINST BUDDHISM.
    Just tell this FOOL to GET LOST !

  4. hela patriot Says:

    Personal attacks not establishing a dialog of intellect epitomises most of the comments on this site. It is more so when a sinhala buddhists writes the article. The purpose in most instances is to highjack the jest of the argument so that one nullifies the essence of the article. It is time the editors monitor these comments so that an intellectual discussion can be established . The censorship should be apolitical.

  5. mjaya Says:

    Its pretty obvious that Ben Silva is on someone’s payroll.

    Why all of a sudden do we see character’s like him popping up?

    Its simply to counter the rise of Sinhalese-Buddhists who are rallying behind the Bodu Bala Sena and Sinhala Ravaya against Jihadis. We need not worry, characters like him are hardly taken seriously by the general public, thanks to the experience of 30 years of pro LTTE anti Sinhala propaganda (which was an utter waste!). Our soldiers (a majority of whom were from the “passive”, “uncompetitive” Buddhist community who “seek extinction”) won the un-winnable war!

  6. sena Says:

    The author is alleging that certain people are materialists. At least in developed countries materialists while they are accumulating wealth do so ethically and productively meaning to the most part benefiting others also. That is why those countries are developed. I have never seen a bunch of materialists as they happened in Sri Lanka who restore to all kind of law breaking and thuggery in accumulating their wealth. Of course they are the main dayakaya’s of the pansala and Hamuduruwo’s mouth goes to the ears when he see them. This is the main reason countries like Sri Lanka remained in a ever lasting “developing” state and honest materialists who are trying to enrich themselves while benefiting the country fail and even harassed.

  7. Ratanapala Says:

    Ben Silva should be left alone to attend Carlo Fonseka school of Buddhism and wander in a land of subjective reality still governed by Aristotle,Newtonian and Cartesian logic. His mind has reached its limit. Perhaps in another birth, he will see the light by developing his mind. He is so engrossed in western science – which in reality is a compendium of observable subjective cause and effect phenomena.

    “Sachitta pariyodapanam, Etam Buddhanusasanam”

    It is fairly obvious that he is paid his dole intermittently for he seems to pop up when money is in the kitty!

  8. Sunil Vijayapala Says:

    well said shelton – wise will not attempt to redefine patichher sammupaadaayer. if this great thesis is incorrect and needs modification then we need to conclude buddhism is wrong and what thathagata’s word is untrue.
    let me add a bit to this dialogue. in fact Thathagata explained PS in different ways with additions and omissions to suit the audience. it really begins with aasaaver, which conditions ignorance and there is a spin there – in turn ignorance conditions aasaaver. there is another spin at the point of consciousness which conditions naamer ruuper which in turn conditions consciousness. this is easily understood, one at birth and the other in day to day living.

  9. Amarasiri Says:

    “As we can now see, science alone cannot explain everything in our universe. To do so, we need epistemology (science), ontocosmology (metaphysics), and axiology (moral and ethical conduct)—the three broad components of Western philosophy. Science separated from philosophy less than four centuries ago when the term “natural science” replaced “natural philosophy.”

    In contrast, Eastern philosophy does not make an artificial distinction between science and philosophy. Buddhism, for example, emphasizes systems thinking by recognizing the interconnection, interdependence, and interaction of everything in the universe. It penetrates the universe through the extraordinary vision of a Buddha who attained Enlightenment through the power of his mind (concentration of mental energy or meditation). Science cannot measure the degree of mental energy all of us have accumulated over time. ”

    **************************
    Q1. What is Buddhism? Read!

    http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/5minbud.htm

    Is Buddhism a Religion?

    To many, Buddhism goes beyond religion and is more of a philosophy or ‘way of life’. It is a philosophy because philosophy ‘means love of wisdom’ and the Buddhist path can be summed up as:

    (1) to lead a moral life,
    (2) to be mindful and aware of thoughts and actions, and
    (3) to develop wisdom and understanding.

    Q2. Is Buddhism Scientific?

    Science is knowledge which can be made into a system, which depends upon seeing and testing facts and stating general natural laws. The core of Buddhism fit into this definition, because the Four Noble truths (see below) can be tested and proven by anyone in fact the Buddha himself asked his followers to test the teaching rather than accept his word as true. Buddhism depends more on understanding than faith.

    Now lets look at how other Non-

    Islam and science describes the relationship between Muslim communities and science in general. From an Islamic standpoint, science, the study of nature, is considered to be linked to the concept of Tawhid (the Oneness of God), as are all other branches of knowledge.[1] In Islam, nature is not seen as a separate entity, but rather as an integral part of Islam’s holistic outlook on God, humanity, and the world. This link implies a sacred aspect to the pursuit of scientific knowledge by Muslims, as nature itself is viewed in the Qur’an as a compilation of signs pointing to the Divine.[2] It was with this understanding that the pursuit of science was tolerated in Islamic civilizations, specifically during the eighth to sixteenth centuries, prior to the colonization of the Muslim world.[3]

    This “Problem of Philosophy” have been debated since the Greek times. The Islamic Philosophers and Scientists thrashed it out after translating all the Greek Works and other works to Arabic, including Indian Works. However, there the debate was between Reason and Revelation. The philosophers said that reason is above revelation, and the Religious Scholars said that Revelation is above Reason. Like Galileo and the Church.

    Read Islamic Science.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Science_in_the_medieval_Islamic_world

    Science in the medieval Islamic world, also known as Islamic science or Arabic science, is the science developed and practised in the Islamic world during the Islamic Golden Age (c.750 CE – c.1258 CE). During this time, Indian, Asyriac, Iranian and especially Greek knowledge was translated into Arabic. These translations became a wellspring for scientific advances, by scientists from the Islamic civilization, during the Middle Ages.[1]
    Scientists within the Islamic civilization were of diverse ethnicities. Most were Persians,[2][3][4][5] Arabs,[4] Moors, Assyrians, and Egyptians. They were also from diverse religious backgrounds. Most were Muslims,[6][7][8] but there were also some Christians,[9] Jews[9][10] and irreligious.[11][12]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islam_and_science

    Islam and science describes the relationship between Muslim communities and science in general. From an Islamic standpoint, science, the study of nature, is considered to be linked to the concept of Tawhid (the Oneness of God), as are all other branches of knowledge.[1] In Islam, nature is not seen as a separate entity, but rather as an integral part of Islam’s holistic outlook on God, humanity, and the world. This link implies a sacred aspect to the pursuit of scientific knowledge by Muslims, as nature itself is viewed in the Qur’an as a compilation of signs pointing to the Divine.[2] It was with this understanding that the pursuit of science was tolerated in Islamic civilizations, specifically during the eighth to sixteenth centuries, prior to the colonization of the Muslim world.[3]

  10. Ben Silva Says:

    Buddhism as a philosophy is excellent and I have no problems with Buddhist precepts. Buddhism should be able to be recognised as a valuable religion on its precepts alone, without being attached to unproven Indian myths such as rebirth and Nirvana.
    i AGREE WITH nEELAMAHAYODAYA that quantummechanics open possibilities. Even then any claims need to be supported by evidence and theory and quantum mechanics should not be used to support myths.
    Scientific method is a body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. The investigation must be based on empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning. The evidence need to be based on measurable units, with terms used having specific definitions. The investigation should be verifiable by any one. Scientists seek to let reality speak for itself, supporting a theory when a theory’s predictions are confirmed and challenging a theory when its predictions prove false. Another basic expectation is to document, archive and share all data and methodology so they are available for careful scrutiny by other scientists, giving them the opportunity to verify results by attempting to reproduce them. This practice, called full disclosure, also allows statistical measures of the reliability of these data to be established (when data is sampled or compared to chance).
    The development of a person can be explained in terms of genes from parents, epi genomes and the environment. There is no evidence that some thing is coming from outside. If rebith exists, what is themechanics behind it ? How is the information from the dying person transmitted to the new birth. How is the information coded ? What means are used ? For example isit electromagnetic ? If so what is the transmission and receiving system. What is the speed of transmission ? What distances are involved ? What system is used to code and store the information ?
    Shelton has used a few Pali terms and said one produce the other . It is just use of words and no theorewtical basis. It is very similar to saying Allah said so or God said so.
    If he provides verifiable evidence then rebirth can be accepted. Many scientists are working on molecular biology. If there was even a slight chance of rebirth, scientists would have researched on it. Arthur C. Clarke investigated rebirth, found that there was no scientific evidence and rejected it. In fact no evidence of Nirvana, sansare or rebirth.
    Shelton G is simply a person seriously affected by the religion mind virus. I do not want to waste my time on people blinded by religion. The danger with Buddhism as we believe it. is that it will lead us to Nalanda type debacle. Buddhism lacks self defence and does not deal with competition. It is not surprising that Indians dumped Buddhism. The danger with our type of Buddhism is that it leads to a passive lethargic mindset and our competitors such as Tamils and Muslims easily beat us as we are told to dumb down or give up desires. As a result Buddhists end up being the poorest of the poor and even lose the living space as happening now. I will not be making further comments on this topic as I found it impossible to influence people who believe in blind faith.
    Any religion is simply a dangerous mind virus and in comparison Muslim mind virus is stronger and Muslims will dominate.

  11. Nanda Says:

    Ben is affected by “science” mind virus which cuts down lateral thinking.

    “If he provides verifiable evidence then rebirth can be accepted. Many scientists are working on molecular biology. If there was even a slight chance of rebirth, scientists would have researched on it.”

    Who are the scientists ? People in UK, USA, Australia, Europe and Canada only ? There are scientists in Sri Lanka too. I am a scientist in Thailand and I am researching everyday on it. Do you accept my research as research because I am a Sinhala Buddhist ?

    What part of the Philosophy is excellent ?
    I challenge you to answer this question NOW. Your little brain will be then exposed !

  12. Wickrama Says:

    Shelton, on your 25 Feb article, I posed this question.
    ————————
    Wickrama Says:
    February 26th, 2013 at 8:08 am

    ” [Avijja is not the first nidana (causal link); it stands for the unwholesome karmic energy left over at death in the previous existence ”
    The question is, then, WHAT IS THE FIRST “NIDANA” OF THE VERY FIRST EXISTENCE ??

    IN OTHER WORDS, HOW DID “KARMIC ENERGY” BECAME TO EXIST ?
    —————————-

    Could you or (anybody) answer/explain, please??

  13. Ben Silva Says:

    It appears that some people who are not capable of rational thinking are only capable of hurling abuse and name calling. That shows their intellect. All I have done is ask for evidence rather than believe in blind faith.
    We live in a very dangerous, very competitive world and only the fittest will survive. Buddhist precepts deal with morality and I fully agree with it. Even at the time of Buddha, concepts of rebirth, Nirvana, sansare and Karma were around. These are nothing but unproven myths, only believed by people with blind faith, as there is not a single shred of evidence. My concern is certain beliefs of Buddhism blunt the competitive spirit we need to survive in a highly dangerous, highly competitive world. If we do not compete, then we provide an easy pathway for Tamils and Muslims to dominate in the fields of economics and finance and perhaps eventual take over of Lanka, displacing the Sinhalese.
    To answer Wickrama, It appears that we evolved from fish in the ocean. Could it be some time in the past as a fish or could Karmic energy an ancient myth ?

  14. Arcadius Says:

    Please refer to the book titled “What the Buddhists Believe” written by the late K. Sri Dhammananda Maha Thera. You can access it free on the WWW.
    Your question is similar to seeking the answer for the First Cause. When asked this question, the Buddha remained silent because he presumably thought it was pointless to dwell on an issue that the ordinary people would not comprehend.
    In Buddhism, the process of birth and death is called the bhavacakra (the wheel of becoming). A wheel has no beginning or end.

  15. Amarasiri Says:

    Ben Silva Says and Asks: ( One needs to Understand Philosophy and Science, Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Other field to understand the issues, mere journalism degrees will not cut it), and my comments below.

    1. Buddhism should be able to be recognized as a valuable religion on its precepts alone, without being attached to unproven Indian myths such as rebirth and Nirvana.

    1 COMMENT: Yes, excellent Philosophy and noble paths, as a way of life and peace of mind. But myths are not needed.
    Indian Myths: No Proof for Nirvana, a Hindu Myth. There is an Indian myth that says the Earth is resting on four elephants and the the four elephants and standing on a GIANT Turtle. Is it true? Any data? Not yet. So, using the scientific method, discard the myths, not supported.

    2. To answer Wickrama, It appears that we evolved from fish in the ocean. Could it be some time in the past as a fish or could Karmic energy an ancient myth ?

    2 COMMENT: It is not difficult to prove that, it is even before the fish evolved, they evolved from other beings. If one analyzers the DNA of all these beings, fish, humans and even trees, one can find the bases. A, T, G, and C in various configurations to form genes. The homo sapiens that diverged from Chimpanzees and Gorillas about 3.5 million years ago in Mother Africa, have about 98.4% of genes that are common to humans. Given this data, one wonders if the Indian myths of Nirvana picked up by Buddhism can be proven? In the absence of proof, the faithful needs to keep believing in Nirvana and Rebirth for ever, as no proof can be given one way or another.

    3. Scientific Method. Another basic expectation is to document, archive and share all data and methodology so they are available for careful scrutiny by other scientists, giving them the opportunity to verify results by attempting to reproduce them. This practice, called full disclosure, also allows statistical measures of the reliability of these data to be established (when data is sampled or compared to chance).

    3 COMMENT: Even if presented with the data, the faithful will NOT discard their beliefs and myths. True for Christians, Buddhists, Muslims and other faithful, because they believe their faith requires it, whether true or not. Galileo, the theory of evolution and natural selection fall into this category. Apostates will be punished, killed, burned, decapitated or stoned to death. However, they NEVER provide the independent proof, only scriptures written eons ago.

    4. The development of a person can be explained in terms of genes from parents, epi genomes and the environment. There is no evidence that some thing is coming from outside. If rebith exists, what is the mechanics behind it ? How is the information from the dying person transmitted to the new birth. How is the information coded ? What means are used ? For example isit electromagnetic ? If so what is the transmission and receiving system. What is the speed of transmission ? What distances are involved ? What system is used to code and store the information ?
    Shelton has used a few Pali terms and said one produce the other . It is just use of words and no theorewtical basis. It is very similar to saying Allah said so or God said so.

    4 COMMENT: It is not difficult to prove that, it is even before the fish evolved, they evolved from other beings. If one analyzers the DNA of all these beings, fish, humans and even trees, one can find the bases. A, T, G, and C in various configurations to form genes. The homo sapiens that diverged from Chimpanzees and Gorillas about 3.5 million years ago in Mother Africa, have about 98.4% of genes that are common to humans. Given this data, one wonders if the Indian myths of Nirvana picked up by Buddhism can be proven? In the absence of proof, the faithful needs to keep believing in Nirvana and Rebirth for ever, as no proof can be given one way or another.

    The interesting question to ask is at what stage of evolution did the soul creep into the DNA structure? Was it when the 23 chromosomes of each parent combined? When Nirvana is attained, are the chromosomes arranged in a particular way to form the Nirvana being? If so can you rearrange the chromosomes of the chimpanzees and gorilla as well, with 98.4% common genes, to attain Nirvana?

    One can believe on this or one can wait for the data. Many still waiting for the data. In the meantime, the Earth goes around the Sun, and rotates on its own axis, as Copernicus postulated in 1543 and conformed by Galileo.

    Not much different for Christians, Muslims and Jews. Adam and Eve, Original Sin, Joshua stopping the Sins movement for a day, etc. etc.

  16. Amarasiri Says:

    Arcadius Says:
    March 3rd, 2013 at 6:01 am

    “In Buddhism, the process of birth and death is called the bhavacakra (the wheel of becoming). A wheel has no beginning or end.”

    ******

    Very good question, but I will give my opinion.

    Q1. What is birth?

    It is the original combination of the 23 chromosomes each from the parents. If cloned, all the chromosomes comes from the same person or being. The combination is nurtured in the womb and born with proteins and bones wrapped around and is born capable of being independent.. The program for the life was started at the moment of conception, i.e. combination of the chromosomes. It is a biological process. No souls, no Nirvana. Nutrients are taken from the surroundings.

    Q2. What is death. It is the reverse of the process. The being stops living or biologically continuing, an begins the decay. If and when the soul or Nirvanna leaves is based on faith. So far no data has been given. If the body is burned, gets converted to oxides of Carbon, Hydrogen and Nitrogen and minerals as ashes. The water evaporates.

    If buried, decomposes biologically, and goes back to the molecules and elements in a slow process.

    Where is Nirvanna? Where is the Soul?

    If you believe based on your faith. If you believe in Nirvana, then it is your faith.
    If you believe in the soul, then it is your faith.

    Since there is no independent data, you can believe in what you want and choose whatever faith you want, until convincing data comes along. Do not force it on others.

    There should be no compulsion in Religion.

    This brings it to the next step. There should be separation of church or temple or mosque and state.

    Only those religions who are afraid of their shortcomings try to force it on others.

  17. Wickrama Says:

    Arcadius Says:
    March 3rd, 2013 at 6:01 am

    Looks like you are answering the question posed to Shelton.

    If Buddha remained silent when posed the question of “First cause” because “..he presumably thought it was pointless to dwell on an issue that the ordinary people would not comprehend.” he could have explained it to some other intelligent person at that time ! If there were no such person to be found, that means he came to this world at a wrong time !(There is a story that he jumped the queue ahead of Maithree Buddha !) On the other hand he could have at least answered whatever way so that at least an intelligent person in the future (Einstein? Shelton?) would have been able to understand.

    A physical wheel ALWAYS have a beginning and an end. The conceptual wheel “bhavacakra” definitely has an end (Nirvana). Logic says that there should be a beginning. Just because you are unable to explain it you cannot assume there is no beginning. If there was no beginning, Lord Buddha would have simply said so !

  18. Wickrama Says:

    Sunil,
    There is a reply to your response;
    ——————
    Sunil Vijayapala Says:
    March 2nd, 2013 at 2:20 pm
    ————————
    on the original post by Shenali on March 1st, 2013.
    Have a look at it.

  19. Arcadius Says:

    For Wickrema’s question, Wikipedia gives the following answer:

    “The principle of pratītyasamutpāda is the basis for the Buddhist view that it is not possible to identify a beginning or origin of the world or universe. According to the Buddhist view, since all phenomena are dependent upon multiple causes and conditions, it can not be said that there was a first cause or event that sparked the creation of the universe. Thus Buddhist philosophy refutes the concepts of either a creator god or an initial event as posited in the “big bang theory”. Dhammananda Maha Thera explains:[30]

    Modern science says that some millions of years ago, the newly cooled earth was lifeless and that life originated in the ocean. Buddhism never claimed that the world, sun, moon, stars, wind, water, days and nights were created by a powerful god or by a Buddha. Buddhists believe that the world was not created once upon a time, but that the world has been created millions of times every second and will continue to do so by itself and will break away by itself. According to Buddhism, world systems always appear and disappear in the universe.”

  20. hela patriot Says:

    Arcadius,
    buddhism in a nutshell is essentially the perception of the moment . It is not important who created what.

  21. Wickrama Says:

    Arcadius,
    Well that is one interpretation. I am not sure whether Buddhism says there are MULTIPLE causes for EACH phenomena. If there was no FIRST cause that prompted the beginning of the universe, then there must have been MULTIPLE CAUSES (at the same moment !) So what are they?

    According to Buddhism, KARMA is accumulated by living beings (other than plant life) and not by non-living objects. It is a scientific fact (not disputed by Buddhism I think) that life on Earth/Universe appeared millions or billions of years after they were formed. So how did Karma-accumulating life originate? Who or what is responsible for that INITIAL karma?

  22. Sunil Vijayapala Says:

    wickrama – if buddha was today to answer your question ‘So how did Karma-accumulating life originate? Who or what is responsible for that INITIAL karma?’
    he will be silent – so it’s better to be silent on issues incomprehensible to putthajana mind and which you have no answers – it’s like attempting define nibbana to you or anybody, who has not being there – so just ignore these eel riggling questions and just understand PS and do your meditation and attempt to enter the stream. i hope you have no traits of anglo saxon ungulates to be arrogant and go on and on.

  23. Arcadius Says:

    As the initial essay that kicked off this debate asserted, Buddha Dhamma is neither a science nor a philosophy. If you are looking for scientific precision on how the universe came into being, please don’t waste time seeking the answer in Buddhism.
    If you are blaming the Buddha for not scientifically explaining the origin of the universe, you are barking up the wrong tree. Buddha’s aim was to examine the multiple causes for ceaseless dukkha in the world, and to suggest a prescription for its cure. Buddha would have advised you to join an Abrahamic religion or Hinduism if you thought that the universe was the creation of God. Then, you would be able to elevate creation as a scientific fact and think of yourself as bearing a permanent self until the day of judgment.
    Buddha also did not explain Nirvana adequately well. BTW, Nirvana is not the end of the universe. It is the end of the bhavacakra for a single living being. Nirvana is nothingness because it marks the end of existence for anyone who has reached the level of an arhant.
    Amarasiri also seems to expect scientific precision in Buddhism. Buddha used his extrasensory perception to understand how the five aggregates worked together to generate consciousness, which did not necessarily end at the death of the physical body (rupa). The nama components continued to carry over consciousness to the next birth depending on the remaning karmic balance. (May I ask you to read Joanna Macy’s “Mutual Causality …” to get a clear idea of this process)

  24. Ben Silva Says:

    To answer Wickrama, Karma would have originated millions of years ago, when one fish ate another fish. Buddha was correct to recommend extinction, as the real world is too dangerous, with living species fighting for resources.
    On a separate note, thank you Amarasiri to put views similar to mine but explained better. Amarasiri says Nirvana and soul are simply (blind) faith. I would add, so is ALLAH and God. Amarasiri has explained birth clearly. No external information coming to the birth from a dying person. If information did come from a dying person, with Karmic energy attached, the whole process, will still have to follow known laws of nature, and the mechanics would be complicated. This is why people like A.C Clarke rejected rebirth. I am glad at least a few people are able to challenge these ancient Indian myth believers.

  25. Wickrama Says:

    Sunil, now come on, don’t be personal. I don’t have any “traits of anglo saxon ungulates to be arrogant and go on and on.”
    I am just presenting my viewpoint, and elaborating them further.

    How could you be sure that Buddha will be silent? He may at least say “Wickrama, your brain is not developed enough to understand!” to which I may plead “Can you please try?”

    The ultimate aim of Buddhism IS to attain Nibbana. So what Nibbana is, HAVE to be explained. Otherwise how could people be motivated? On the other hand, there is no use to explain what Nibbana is to people who HAVE attained Nibbana !!

    If you say “so just ignore these eel riggling questions and just understand PS and do your meditation” that means you want me to just blindly do something !! That is not how Buddhism works. That is how the other religions work, praying to an imaginary Allah 5 times a day looking in the direction of Mecca, or loudly singing songs in a church etc, or according to your own words elsewhere “…samatha bhavana (i do this mechanically – no spiritual approach at all) ” !!!

  26. Wickrama Says:

    Arcadius,
    according to Buddhism it applies to the real, natural world. Karma is supposed to be a naturally occuring phenomena since it is NOT monitored or dispensed of by a god or any other super power, like gravity for example. So it should be able to be explained scientifically – MAY BE NOT YET ! However if you accept Karma is true, without actually understanding how it works, you are no different to a christian blindly believing that a god created the earth about 6, 7000 years ago and all other nonsense in the old, new or modern testaments (you find plenty of them in the internet trying to explain god, creation etc by hilariously “scientific” means !!), OR to a muslim who believs that everything happens according to a mythical allah’s wishes !

    You say that “Buddha also did not explain Nirvana adequately well”. Then you go on to say “BTW, Nirvana is not the end of the universe. It is the end of the bhavacakra for a single living being. Nirvana is nothingness because it marks the end of existence for anyone who has reached the level of an arhant.” Well you seems to explain it without any problem !!!
    That is the explanation of Nirvana all right. There is nothing much to understand there, since nothing is happening there! The problem is how to reach there !

    “The nama components continued to carry over consciousness to the next birth depending on the remaning karmic balance” Now here comes the question. Before going to the next birth, in order to have the present birth, there should have been a prebious birth. Now if you back step may be 1000, million or billion times it CANNOT go on ad- infinitum, because according to science there is a stage where there are no living beings in the world, and the grand total of “karmic balance” (whatever that is) is ZERO. So HOW does it start?? Why don’t we consider one “possible/probable” answer ?

  27. Wickrama Says:

    Ben,
    “To answer Wickrama, Karma would have originated millions of years ago, when one fish ate another fish.”
    Question is from where did those two fish come WITHOT ANY PREVIOUS KARMA ? LOL !
    You are back to square one !!

  28. Ben Silva Says:

    Wickrama, “when one fish ate another fish ” was just a joke, to expose Karma- please do not take it seriously. On the other hand different Buddhists have given different definitions for Nirvana. No one seems to know for certain. Some definitions are:
    1. State needed to achieve the cessation of birth/rebirth cycle
    2. Heavenly birth, apparently what most Sri lankan Buddhists believe
    3. Happy state of mind
    4. Heaven
    5. Joining God
    6. Becoming a Tao
    We still have very naive people who believe in BS.
    If at all, belief 2 is safe as it is not suicidal. Other beliefs are similar to Muslim, Christian and Hindu beliefs – just a different name.
    Let us hear what the Buddhists experts have to say.

  29. Ben Silva Says:

    Hi, those two fish may have been created by gods and godesses of birth and rebirth.
    Some info on Gods and Goddesses of Birth and Rebirth, obtained from the net are given below: It is as interesting as Sheltons description.
    We focus on gods of lust, birth, rebirth and resurrection during the spring of each year. The egg is the singular representation of the earth pregnant with new life and all that has died before returning to life again.
    Adonis (Greek) Phoenician/Syrian beautiful youth deity of rebirth and vegetation. His fertility cult belonged to women alone.Aphrodite, (Greek) Goddess of love and war.
    Attis (Phrygian) God adopted by the Greeks, tied to a fertility cult through the virgin birth of his mother.
    Bacchus (Roman) Rustic wine god of lust and fertility.Haumea (Hawaii) She was identified with her mother Papa.
    Horus (Egyptian) God of rebirth and resurrection.
    Jesus (Hebrew) God of rebirth and resurrection.
    Krishna (Hindu) God of rebirth and resurrection.
    Eros (Greek) God of lust and sex.
    Faunus (Roman) God of the wilds, mountain pastures and fertility, who was also seen as a protector of herdsmen and their herds.
    Kostroma (Russian) Fertility Goddess and personification of Spring. In Russian mythology she dies at the end of each Spring, only to arise once more at the end of the following Winter.
    Mithra/Mithras (Persia) God of birth, rebirth and resurrection.
    Mars (Roman) From the Etruscan agricultural god, Maris, he was originally a god of fertility and protector of cattle, fields and boundaries.
    Mylitta (Babylonian/Assyrian) Goddess of fertility and childbirth.
    Pan or Phaunos (Greek) God of nature, Pan is god of lust and male virility. God of shepherds and flocks.
    Venus (Roman) Goddess mostly equivalent to Aphrodite. Venus was the goddess of love, beauty, sexuality, and fertility (but in her earliest age, Venus was also a goddess of war whose attributes were later given to Mars).
    Dionysus (Greek) God of lust and fertility. His flower festival for opening the new wine called Anthesteria was held in February.
    Haumea (Hawaii) She was identified with her mother, Papa, and was said to be continually reborn.

  30. Amarasiri Says:

    Ben Silva Says:
    March 4th, 2013 at 1:11 am

    To answer Wickrama, Karma would have originated millions of years ago, when one fish ate another fish. Buddha was correct to recommend extinction, as the real world is too dangerous, with living species fighting for resources.

    On a separate note, thank you Amarasiri to put views similar to mine but explained better. Amarasiri says Nirvana and soul are simply (blind) faith. I would add, so is ALLAH and God. Amarasiri has explained birth clearly. No external information coming to the birth from a dying person.

    If information did come from a dying person, with Karmic energy attached, the whole process, will still have to follow known laws of nature, and the mechanics would be complicated. This is why people like A.C Clarke rejected rebirth. I am glad at least a few people are able to challenge these ancient Indian myth believers.”

    COMMENT:

    Ben, Good to know there are people who can understand, like you, as most do not understand what is presented, as they do not have the knowledge of philosophy, science and religion, or do not want to hear it. This was as the problem faced by Kepler, Galileo, Kepler, Darwin and many others. Blind faith. In Sinhala it is called, ANDANU KARANAYA. Blind doing.

    Ben Adds, “I would add, so is ALLAH and God.”
    Ben, I do not think using the scientific method, one can make this statement from birth and death data. My comments were related to the birth and death phenomena.

    For your addition, it needs a different set of tests and observations, as Allah and God is related to the Universe as a Whole, and the Universe existed Before life on Earth, even before RNA and DNA were formed, before rebirth, before Nirvana, Hell or Heaven, and the beliefs in such.

  31. Ben Silva Says:

    Sorry, Amarasiri, I may have not communicated my thoughts on God and Allah properly. What I meant was that Allah and God are blind faith myths. Buddha was a brilliant thinker ahead of his time. As you said there are lots of useful things like peace of mind, meditation, precepts, good way to live, without having to believe in myths. I think his kalama sutra shows his thinking technique, which I THINK IS SIMILAR TO SCIENTIFIC THINKING. I just saw on a program called ‘code’ that even ancient Egyptians believed in birth and rebirth, but they thought Cyrus and various gods and goddesses controlled birth/rebirth.
    Also at times I make fun of myths.- do excuse me when I do that.
    I am also not racist and prefer to treat all the same way as I would like to be treated. However, we need to be able to deal with people with Prabakaran or Hitler type mentality.
    I believe you have gently tried to correct the myth believers, but it may be very difficult to change their mindset.

  32. Ben Silva Says:

    The idea of birth/rebirth is not only in Buddhism, but is common in many belief systems such as Jain, Hindu, Tao, Greek, Egyptian, Roman, Havai etc. Amarasiri showed clearly that no evidence of Karmic energy at conception,. I pointed out that there is no evidence of information transmitters or reception at birth and indicated the technical issues to be overcome. The balance of probability is that birth/rebirth is an ancient unproven Indian myth, just as Karma, sansare and Nirvana. In my view Shelton G is far more dangerous than LTTE, as he attempts to corrupt the Minds of Sinhalese and make them passive and noncompetitive. Whilst thanking him for giving this opportunity for exposing fallacies, hope he stops writing meaningless garbage.

  33. mjaya Says:

    ** Buddha was a brilliant thinker ahead of his time. As you said there are lots of useful things like peace of mind, meditation, precepts, good way to live, **

    OK Ben Silva, if this is your honest opinion, then I will take some things I said about you back.

    However I must reiterate a few things.
    1. Buddhists in Sri Lanka are not passive and uncompetitive. Had this been the case we would have been evicted from Sri Lanka long, long ago (by Ellalan himself). As I mentioned before, if you were to go to a typical rural temple in Sr Lanka and ask those observing sil if it was right or wrong to fight back, 99.9% (including the Buddhist monk) would say that we should fight back until the last drop of blood.

    2. The armed forces of Sri Lanka are almost entirely Sinhalese Buddhist (no disrespect to non-Buddhists at all, Maj. Mutalif, etc. etc.), they defeated the LTTE (labeled by the west as the most ruthless terrorist outfit) with the blessings of countless Buddhist monks.

    3. Buddhism did vanish from the Silk Route, India and the Maldives. So did Christianity from the Middle East due to the same reason (invasions). Had Western Europe discarded Christianity based upon its mythology or perceived passive nature there would have been no crusades and they all would have ended up Muslim!

    If your dying of thirst, the issue at hand is to find something to drink, not worry about heaven or hell.

    Ben Silva, this is what you should understand, if you are genuinely concerned about the Sinhalese people, you should be attacking the Jihadis, not people like SG. For day to day practical life non-violence is a good thing. If everyone ended up beating the person who accidentally stepped on your foot in the bus, there wouldn’t be anyone left to do anything. If this is what SG advocates, then it is a good thing.

    In a group there will always be differences of opinion and belief, what is needed is uniting them for a common cause. Anything against that is counter-productive. Had the US and UK tried to convince the Russians to drop communism during WW2, would Nazis have been defeated???

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