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

andy stroble at hawaii.edu
Thu Jun 3 02:34:43 MDT 2010

On Wednesday 02 June 2010 10:10:07 pm Dan Lusthaus wrote:
> Richard:
> >>> The presupposition is that there is a tathagata at all. Once that
> >>> presupposition is challenged,[...]
> >>> Richard Hayes
> Dan:
> >> That's an unhelpful dodge -- historically, doctrinally, and
> >> philosophically
> >> misleading.
> Richard:
> > It is not a dodge at all. It is one of the standard ways of interpreting
> > the avyākṛta (unanswered) questions.
> Really? Questioning whether there is such a thing as a Tathagata? Can you
> cite some "standard" sources for this?

I thought that was standard, from where ever the avyakrta occur. 
> I suggested bringing in non-Buddhist sources to explicate an answer to a
> question about what *Buddhism* says is not helpful because they confuse the
> matter; one might conflate a non-Buddhist position with a Buddhist
>  position. There may or may not be a single "Buddhist" position on the
>  question of final death -- but in the context of the avyakata questions
>  and the eternalism vs annihilationalism dichotomy, there is general
>  agreement between different Buddhist schools.

This is to misunderstand, so far as I understand them, the two positions.  
They are not about the existance of something in the afterlife, but the 
existence of anything at all.   Buddhism says that it is not the case that 
phenomenal reality is nothing. OK, that's good.  But it is also the  case that 
phenomenal reality is not anything. That is, it does not have a self-nature 
(sva-bhava? pardon my attempts at either sanscrit or pali), and so there is no 
residual trace after extinction (the wither the tathagata goes), except karma.   
So our original interlocutor's question is, I think, like the questioner of 
the avyakrta, not helpful.   So I will shut up. 
> I found it interesting that several of the folks responding to Luke's
> inquiry showed themselves to be uncomfortable with, or unaccepting of the
> actual "standard" Buddhist responses, feeling it necessary to bring in
> tirthika notions. That's not a criticism of those folks, but an observation
> that perhaps the Buddhist ideas on the subject are in need of some
> examination, since people today do not find them attractive or convincing.
> OR, people are so steeped in atma-drsti that when Buddhism challenges them
> on this at a personal rather than impersonal intellectual level, they run
> for edifying alternatives, as Buddhists in the past have done.
> Interesting.
> Dan
Since Dan has accused me of the reificatation of nirvana before (and yes, it 
hurt!) I want to assert the truth that there is no tathagata, and there is 
one, and both and neither and any other combination logicians can come up 
with.  But that is not the point, has never been the point, and if you think 
it is, you should find one of those mystical religions,  because Richard is 
right.  (And Dan, too) 
> _______________________________________________

James Andy Stroble, PhD
Lecturer in Philosophy
Department of Arts & Humanities
Leeward Community College
University of Hawaii

Adjunct Faculty 
Diplomatic and Military Studies
Hawaii Pacific University 


"The amount of violence at the disposal of any given country may soon not be a 
reliable indication of the country's strength or a reliable guarantee against 
destruction by a substantially smaller and weaker power."  --Hannah Arendt

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