[Buddha-l] Being unable to imagine dying [confused]

Dan Lusthaus vasubandhu at earthlink.net
Wed Jun 9 16:10:26 MDT 2010


Try using multiple carriage returns <enter> instead of just adding >>> to 
your responses.

>>>>It's not obvious to me that you are right,

Obviously, or I wouldn't have had to say it.

>just like Joanna and others in saying that I don't understand what I read.

That's not what I was arguing. Let me put it another way. In one of the 
Mahayana sutras (I think it's the Avatamsaka), a contrast is drawn between a 
dog and a lion. Throw a rock at a dog, the sutra says, and the dog chases 
the rock. Throw a rock at a lion and the lion chases you.

Staring the compulsion in the face, instead of letting it ghost write 
through you, is the Buddhist recommendation.

>>I have in deed considered whether this alleged inconceivability of death 
>>guarantees continuance but that's not my concern now because I can accept 
>>that it is un-Buddhist to have views on a person continuing or not.

The reason to face this is not based on whether it is or isn't "Buddhist". 
Rather, it's a question of being a dog or a lion.

>>What I am trying to ask is whether the belief that annihilation is 
>>inconceivable is not Buddhist<<.

If it were inconceivable, it couldn't be a view that would have to be 
explicitly rejected. One can imagine the world existing without one, before 
one was here or after one is gone -- unless one is an incurable narcissist. 
Can you imagine the highway being in progress before you approached the 
entering ramp? Is it ongoing now, even though you are not on it? Are you the 
last one to leave a party, thinking it ceases to exist once you've left, and 
you don't want to miss a second?

The idea that one cannot imagine oneself in the ground thinking to oneself 
"I don't exist" is simply a silly and meaningless exercise.

>Do you mean that trying to reconcile inconceivability with Buddhist 
>doctrine is necessarily atma-drsti or if the idea of inconceivability 
>itself is atma-drsti?

Neither. The "inconceivability" that you are pursuing is simply a substitute 
term for "ineffability" (only the mind is unable to speak, instead of just 
the mouth). Annihilation is conceivable, can be thought about, but is 
incoherent and contrary to both evidence and logic. Hence not a viable 
option for clear-thinking Buddhists or non-Buddhists. Atma-drsti is not the 
question itself, but rather the impulse to find a continuity narrative, no 
matter how tenuous, that can be weaved out of any thing, any format or 
question. Today weave it from "inconceivability," tomorrow from 
"conceivability," next week from the astrologer's handbook, then tea leaves, 
then a Lutheran hymnal, then...

>Or is that question itself atma-drsti?

Closer. Not the question per se, but the motivation to ask the question with 
the intent you are asking it. The impulse, compulsion, intent -- give it 
whatever name you wish -- that is atma-drsti making itself known in concrete 
form, while distracting you into looking elsewhere. That's what it does. 
That's why Mara is called the trickster, deceiver. You are playing a con 
game with yourself. The con is in front of your nose, but you're chasing 


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