[Buddha-l] Not being able to imagine annihilation [confused]

Richard Hayes rhayes at unm.edu
Wed Jun 2 09:55:25 MDT 2010

On Jun 2, 2010, at 1:50 AM, Dan Lusthaus wrote:

>> The presupposition is that there is a tathagata at all. Once that 
>> presupposition is challenged, then all questions about whether he 
>> continues to exist or stops existing are unanswerable.
>> Richard Hayes
> That's an unhelpful dodge -- historically, doctrinally, and philosophically 
> misleading.

It is not a dodge at all. It is one of the standard ways of interpreting the avyākṛta (unanswered) questions. All that need be said is that the discussion of the tathāgata is a metonymy for all human beings who have attained nirvāṇa and therefore eliminated the root causes of further rebirth. I thought that was so obvious to the buddha-l readership that it went without saying, but it never hurts to make something explicit.

> Luke is trying to figure out whether Buddhism condones continuity of some 
> sort after death -- and if so, then whether the avyakata questions are a 
> plea for ineffability rather than rejection of annhilationalism simplicitur.

I think we all pretty much understood that, since that is what Luke said himself. But thank you for providing a summary of his questions.

> Citing William James, or quasi-Daoist mergings with the universe, etc., 
> don't help

Let's let Luke be the one to decide how helpful he has found the discussions that his questions have generated.


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