Epistemology

That very well may be, but then if God has no freedom to will, then not even He is to blame for anything. He just does what he necessarily must do. I have my own thoughts on this and I’ve brainstormed a few scenarios in which I attempt to reconcile free will with determinism. In the end, I think I’m confortable saying that the universe (which I equate with God) is free and we, as members of the universe, partake in this freedom, but because this partaking implies that we share the same will as the universe, our intentions, objectives, and generally anything we set out to do must always be inline with the universe’s intentions, objectives, and what it sets out to do. This synchrony ends up seeming like we’re forced to comply with the rules of the universe (i.e. the laws of nature), but this is an illusion brought on by our lack of appreciation for our one-ness with it.

Well, I think you’re more right than you might realize. I don’t know how familiar you are with neurosciences, but they tell us that when an object is placed before us to see, our brains build that object up piece by piece, from the very beginning, from scratch. The first thing we perceive are spots or points (like pixels), and then those spots/points detected to be in a line are then perceived to be lines… then there’s curves and angles… then there’s motion (there are cases of people who suffer motion-blindness - the don’t see things move - and it’s usually because of damage to the “motion neurons” in their brain)… then the brain adds colors, then depth perception, then it takes all those lines and corners and curves and puts them together to form whole objects, then it figures out what the object is (a shoe, a book, a cooking pot, etc.), then it figures out if that object is familiar or new (my shoes, Tracy’s book, a new cooling pot I’ve never seen). If the object so happens to be a human face, it will process it further, figuring out who it is and whether you have a relation to him/her. Sexual attraction might be a further development after facial recognition, or perhaps fear, or anger (depending on what your experiences with that person are).

All told, our brains/minds do indeed build the objects and the world around us. One thing I always like to keep in mind is that there’s a difference between saying that we build the objects and world around us and that we can choose what to make them (I don’t think the latter is always possible even if the former is).

Very well said, Gib. Very well said.

When one truly begins to believe that all his actions are the cause of a certain large force, that force being God, he realizes that he need not stress about others opinions or events that occur moment to moment. In this way he becomes enlightened. He becomes unattached to the material existence around him and considers all perfect As It Is.
And so crime by him is not only impossible, but in his whole belief, not at all his doing.
One who believes in this cannot be an ordinary man. For ordinary men would constantly question the truth to this idea.

I agree that the latter is not ALWAYS possible although it Can be.
You understand the world in the way in which you were built to perceive it. At least for the most part, I think.

Yup, pretty much. I think we see eye to eye.

I like the idea that we are not responsible for what happens in the universe, but I wonder how strongly this holds when we remember that it’s not so much that God has control over us but that we share in the same control. So, yes, God does control everything we do… but so do we. Are we therefore responsible for our actions?

Yes, its cause and effect as noted above, the criteria is set by “god” we choose to align ourselves with that which is already there, or soon to be there.

In my opinion this is how i define karma, Every moments you have a choice to make, will your action better the next moment, or possibly make it rougher. As you make good choices in situations, i.e. staying cool and centered realizing that all things are equal to you without you even having to think,or just by being present without adding to the situation, this in my opinion is a great truth. And that makes the next moment easier to stay centered and detached. Its when we attach ourselves to things in this world to we loose sight of our “true nature” and fall into emotions and thought patterns to justify this “self” that is suffering. just by doing a few good deeds doesnt improve your karma, rather you cultivate it through life, and possibly life’s. Which would explain why some people are so able by nature to stay unaffected by much rougher situations, and some with easier suffer, its what we cultivate. We can at any moment change our path or karma with an idea that strikes the individual observer at some deep level of there existence stirring the truth in them, And with proper focus and persistence and patience the river will lead you to the ocean.

Referring to Sri Krishna’s telling Arjuna: “Deluded by Maya you refuse to fight, but your own nature will force you to fight;” a devotee asked Bhagavan whether we have no free will at all. Bhagavan replied: “You always have freedom not to identify yourself with the body and the pleasures and pains that come to it as its prarabdha.”

…“Whatever this body is to do and whatever experiences it is to pass through was already decided when it came into existence.”

…“The only freedom one has is to strive for and acquire the Jnana which will enable him not to identify himself with the body. The body will go through the actions rendered inevitable by prarabdha (destiny) based on the balance sheet of past lives, and a man is free either to identify himself with the body and be attached to the fruits of its actions or to be detached from it and be a mere witness of its activities.”

…‘There is a power which moves you and me and all others. Lay your ego at the feet of that Mother.’ "

We, as God’s creation and Choices and as you have put well - WILL - do what He has put out for us to do.
He as arranged the world in a way in which we work with the universe in an organized manner which we cannot ever understand.
This is karma.

We are what we believe. For we become what we see in ourselves.
If we choose to believe that we have no control, then karma does not exist and neither do our actions or thoughts we partake in within this universe. Nothing is our doing. It is simply done through us.
Isn’t this a test of sorts? Are we not the dice on God’s game board? He is in charge of the dice. He has only to choose Where we fall.
We have only to Accept How we fall. In the end, the dice always get the players somewhere. I think the point in the end is to get where you need to without blaming the dice.

I have also become familiar with the Bhagavad Gita after studying it.

Yet Arjuna’s inability to fight in the war is a simple however extraordinary example of what each and every human struggles with in this Age and Time.
It is a a blessing to have knowledge of these weaknesses and overcome them - or they shall surely make us fall.
Gems and Coins do not travel with us at the time of death. Nor do our loved ones.
What we must realize is that we are destined to be alone and the more attached we become now, the more unable we will become in sacrificing it all when it comes to the true REALITY. This is simply a Game…

Each man, at the appropriate time of his death, is given the chance to rise to Heaven. But it is this Maya that makes him so Weak and is the very cause of his downfall.

I wouldnt say it is being alone, I would say that at that point your are with divine love, the highest of all things, and why would you ever want to leave that?
Reaching “Heaven” is only done by cultivation of sincere love for everything, cause everything is interconnected. Even the thought " Well this person is very mean so i will not love this one, he is not deserving of my love" this thought is resistance, and only one that has no resistance left is as you said ready to leave this place. There must be no resistance to life’s flow at all, something i still only have intellectualized, i still have resistance in many deep crevices in my existence. I try to shine a light on these so that i am able to subject it to why it has arisen, i then usually see that all things are a an illusion created by myself at some point in time, perhaps even a former life.

Namaste.

“Nirvana is not the blowing out of the candle. It is the extinguishing of the flame because day is come.” -Rabindranath Tagore

We are in the darkness of maya, with our individual flames giving light to this place, our flames grow until they match that of the highest love, at which point we become one with that which is.

I see - tell me something: are you a pantheist when it comes to God, or are you more of a theological dualist, taking God and his Creation as separate? I’m just curious about what angle you’re looking at this from.

Again, I see. So then the question I’m left asking is: are we in control or not? Or is this the wrong question to ask? Is it really a matter of what we believe? So if I believe I’m in control but my buddy Lowell doesn’t, then I really am in control and my buddy really isn’t in control. This isn’t contradictory in any way, so I can appreciate it. Karma, then, is simply what you get when you believe you are in control - is this right? I’m also left asking what this says about universal beliefs, like whether there is a God or not. Do we each live in our own seperate universes? That’s the only way I can see that working out.

Hhm - :-k

This sounds like the “theological dualism” I was asking about above. God, in this case, is something separate from the dice, which is us. I my view, I wouldn’t call the dice thrower “God”, I would call the whole system - that is, the dice-and-God organism - “God”. The dice must be a part of God for me.

That’s a good way of putting it. I usually say that our individuality ceases after we die but there is a continuation of experience nonetheless. This continued experience is God’s and its continuity with human experiences ensures that we will go through a smooth (or maybe rough?) merging into the very spirit of God after we die. The problem I have with this is that I can’t be certain that it won’t be rough - I don’t even have a garauntee that to be one with God is a pleasant experience (although I don’t see any reason to doubt it would be pleasurable either - it’s just that I can’t prove it to myself). So you really believe this state of one-ness with God or Nirvana or whatever you want to call it is a state of love?

Do you think a life practicing love for everything is achievable for us? I’ve always thought that these religious standards worked best as ideals, examples to follow, directions in which to aim, but not necessarily things we can attain - we can only come close. No one’s perfect, right?

I’ll also contend with you (with all due respect, of course) on reality being an “illusion”. I don’t see it that way. I see all our experiences as inherently real but without ceasing to be experiences - that is, mental things. I don’t recognize a seperation between the perceived and the perception. The realness we are exposed to when we look at things in the world is also realness in our perceptions of them.

Namaste :smiley:

I will work off of your second point, Gib.
I believe that the only perfection that can be achieved is by God alone. However when we follow his ways - LOVE - then we to become just as he is.
Perfection incarnate.
So my point of view becomes blurred along both pantheism and theological dualism, as I believe.

Well, in the most realistic terms I can put it in - we are each not at all in control. What is to be done is to be done.
I believe we can only help the situation a little more.
However, things will come to satisfy Us more quickly if we simply accept this. We are part and parcel of God. And so, we each contain personalities and powers of God Himself. Whatever we are made to do, we will fulfill. This is the ultimate truth. We are nothing other than what he wishes to be.
However, I think our thinking process may act somewhat differently. Perhaps somewhat more for Us than He.
What I believe is that he has given us the power to think on our own. In the end, all and everything is His desire alone. However, we are to do something on this Earth aren’t we?
I am no practiced saint or monk, but this is what I have gathered. As time goes, I believe I will learn and understand more.
As of yet, I will ask more intelligent people and let my mind flow.

I believe that God and I are One.
For He constantly lives in me just as I constantly live in Him.

Oh God. He makes everything somewhat too complicated… :wink:

Firstly thank you for your kindness, and this is what this place is for so we can share ideas and hopefully all learn. With that said, i do feel it is possible to be a life of love, jesus, buddha, etc… as for me right now im not perfect, not even close. I feel that our ego is the thing that causes us not to be able to spread love, all the time. But even trying to follow those ideas, is making a step to trying to perfect ourselves, and in obtaining self-realization, which is perfection of a human in my mind, To know without a hint of doubht that you exist and you feel your being as it is. To simply be, all the adding on top of that, just actually detracts in my mind from the whole, because at that point your are not experiencing the total existence and feeling the peace and bliss it brings, but rather you are associated with a false idea that arises from the ego and has no substance what so ever and thats a small feeling, of associating with an idea, when you can experience life and being wholly. Its like working a muscle, the more you flex your love, the stronger and easier it is to give, and also at the same time it weakens your ego, because to give love to all people all things, all situations, takes alot of concious effort of beating down the ego that will rise up and try to take control, or it will make a judgment about someone or something then leading you to an emotional response, if thought was angry you will be angry, but if one lets life flow through the body without any interference from the ego, you get positive responses in the body and will only experience positive emotions. To me life is about trying to break free from the cycle of suffering, and to help other by the act of putting your ego aside and letting life flow through you too all things.

As for the illusion, i guess im a non-dualist, i believe that it is an illusion in this sense, that its transitory, it will all change and be ever changing, to me “reality” never changes, so it is “real”. I imagine it as before i was born i was fine, thats the sense of peace that i imagine as real, and i do believe that this place and our human mind and body, is a tool for uncovering and actualizing this peace that exist and permeates everywhere, or manifesting this peace conciously, if we werent worried before we were born, why worry now? The sun is always shining right behind the clouds.

Hopefully this explains my position a little better, and i hope you have a good day.

Ahh. So I have arrived back once again. Except, this time, Enlightened. :astonished:
Just Kidding. But I think I’ve got something, Gib. :wink:

I’ve been thinking, and I have organized my thoughts out a bit more logically.

There are two types of people - Religion wise, that is.
Those who are Impersonal and those that are Personal.

Those that are impersonal believe that they are one with God and will merge into Him.
Those that are personal believe in keeping their personal identities.

I believe in both. However, it depends upon the person what he or she DESIRES.
I would Desire to keep my own Personal Identity intact.

I believe that to reach an Ultimate State of Being, one must have Gyana. (This is in favor of you, Prime. :wink:)
Gyana is Knowledge.
I believe the Truest Knowledge to be finding Oneness in Everything.
When a man thinks, his mind is almost constantly in two separate places. While one may be speaking to him, he is thinking of something else. This is only a sample. It is easier to understand when one pays attention to himself.
Keeping ones mind from the constant Past and Future, and instead, in the NOW, is what gives him Knowledge of ONENESS in All.
This I believe to be Enlightenment. It also brings you in Oneness with God Himself.

Instead of what I mentioned earlier to be our thoughts that inflict upon our future most and which belong to us most - I have realized that it is not our thoughts, but rather our Desires. These Desires are which direct us upon a certain path. For desires are alike our Choices, my friend. Just as God’s.

That does make things blurred.

This reminds me of the mechanical clockwork universe that helped justify Newton’s physics. Newton wasn’t an atheist by any stretch of the imagination. He believed in God, believed He created the world, but thought that the world was like a mechanical clock and God was the clock maker. He creates the clock and gets it going, but once it’s got going, it can function on its own without the clock maker constantly maintaining it. Your comment of God giving us independence of thought reminded me of this.

So is there a link between the man who focuses on the NOW and the man who desires an impersonal life? Is that just what it is to be impersonal? To focus on the NOW? I can see that because in order to maintain a personal identity seperate from the rest of the universe - from God - one must focus on his/her past and future, for those are what define his/her character (at least, partially).

So “reality” is the constant that remains throughout all the flux - is that right? But would you say that the flux, insofar as it is going on, is real? Are the forms and manifestations that come and go in the flux real? At least, for however long they exist?

Sometimes I find it useful to make a distinction between “reality”, “real things”, and “realness” (as a sort of essence). Do you think this would help here?

I believe either way you can gain that state of being.
You simply must let go of what has happened or what is to happen.
There is no harm to think of the Past and Future here and there. That is why God has provided us with such a thought process. However, I believe that it should be limited to when it is necessary. It should not impact any stress nor happiness in you. One should be in a state of neutrality at all times. This brings true Happiness and Satisfaction to Oneself.

Thanks for answering my questions, dirt. Now I have one more (if you don’t mind):

Would you say your religion/spirituality fits into any of the known religions around the world, or is it all your own (and are you the only follower)?

I would say they are real, real to the senses, real to that who is perceiving it, and is a direct Correlation of what is ultimately “real”, but how “real” is a body that turns to dust and recycles, and the ego and what it creates will completely vanish once the vessel for the ego goes.

I think i get what your stating, not completely sure, but i think this does help explain, Reality is perceived, real things is what makes up this place (energy)=real, and realness is what is the constant behind reality and real things. Is this what you meant, or am i off?

Is there any particular reason that you decided to title this thread “Epistemology” rather than “Ontology” (which is what the thread is actually about)?

No, you’ve got it generally.

Reality is perceived, like you said, and in fact I believe that most animals don’t perceive reality. They only perceive collections of real things. It takes a leap of abstraction to come to the concept of “reality” and I think this leap is unique among humans (and perhaps a small handful of other sophisticated animals). The difference between a “collection of real things” and “reality” is that the latter necessarily denies the existence of any real thing outside itself.

I also believe real things are necessarily perceived (I’m with Berkeley on this one - esse est percipi) but not always by us.

I believe “realness” is the essential element in all perception that makes the perceived real - and one with the perception.

i also see it this way, infact i love how you put it takes a leap of abstraction to come to the concept of “reality”, well put, and i too believe humans are among a a few species that formulate a “reality”.

Enlightening indeed!