THE NATURE OF BEING

Please refer to THE NATURE OF EXISTENCE

Each human being seems to have some idea of who he or she is; this we refer to as ego or “self.” At the core of this “self” we imagine something permanent and everlasting, which we refer to as “soul.”

But is there a soul that is permanent and everlasting? We are aware of this soul whenever we are aware. But, when we are not aware, we are simply not aware, and we do not know whether soul is there or not.  Thus, we cannot say with certainty if there is a permanent and everlasting soul underlying self.

BEGINNING talks about a cycle that begins, continues, and ends. Our awareness does follow this cycle because it begins, continues, and ends. And so, the soul may at least be seen as something that begins, continues, and ends. Whether the soul exists beyond this cycle is unknowable.

Beingness (soul) and awareness seem to occur together. They are the essence of existence. There is no existence when there is neither beingness nor awareness. What, then, is the nature of being (self)?

A subject, such as, Physics, simply refers to a bundle of observations, ideas, conjectures, theories, principles, etc, which are related in some way. To understand physics we must understand that whole bundle. Similarly, we may regard a “being” as simply a reference to a bundle of related desires, intentions, thoughts, emotions, efforts, viewpoints, etc. To understand a being, we must understand that whole bundle.

This bundle of related desires, intentions, thoughts, emotions, efforts, viewpoints, etc., known as a being, seems to be in a flux, changing from moment to moment. What may seem to provide continuity are impressions that are changing more slowly.

The relative continuity of these impressions may seem to appear as the consciousness. This consciousness is likely to form the basis of the consideration that there is a permanent and everlasting soul. However, that would merely be a consideration.

This consciousness seems to be longer lasting, though it still changes over time. Buddha regarded the consciousness that existed at the moment of death to form the basis of consciousness in another birth. But, according to Buddha, this consciousness could be extinguished within a lifetime eliminating the necessity of another birth.

There can be many bodies, and different consciousness attached to different bodies. Thus, there are individuals with different individualities. The individuality is expressed as “I.”

To summarize,

(1) A being is a bundle of related desires, intentions, thoughts, emotions, efforts, viewpoints, etc., which is manifested through a body.

(2) The core of a being is a consciousness, which is made up of longer lasting impressions.

(3) The consciousness existing at the moment of death may pass into a new birth.

(4) It is possible to extinguish this consciousness. Then no more rebirths occur.

The last is known as the state of Nirvana in Buddhism. Actually, the idea of “self,” or “being,” is quite limiting as it seems to denote a finite viewpoint.

From Karen Armstrong’s book, BUDDHA: “As long as we persist in closing our minds and hearts to the universal pain, which surrounds us on all sides, we remain locked in an undeveloped version of ourselves, incapable of growth and spiritual insight.”

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Comments

  • Wendy Smith  On March 29, 2011 at 1:45 AM

    I so enjoyed reading this essay on the nature of existence. My modern world is so devoid of the spiritual aspect that it was like breathing a breath of fresh air. Thank you.

  • vinaire  On March 29, 2011 at 8:44 PM

    You are welcome, Wendy.

    .

  • Chris Thompson  On April 2, 2011 at 2:59 PM

    Hi Vin,

    You are writing on different threads from differing points of view and your language is changing in a way that I am having a hard time keeping up with.
    1. For instance, here you write on existence without spending a moment on non-existence or as you write elsewhere – unknowable.
    2. For instance, here you write on the “core” of a being and mention “impressions” without mentioning what is impressing. This makes me think you are dancing all over the thought of “creator” but will not say it.
    3. For instance, here you write “…is quite limiting as it seems to denote a finite viewpoint.” But elsewhere you totally define a viewpoint as knowable and hence finite.
    4. Whether the “consciousness can be extinguished” is unknowable.
    5. Whether “The consciousness existing at the moment of death may pass into a new birth” is unproved.

    You have a lot of courage to blog your intimate thoughts in this way and I apologize in advance for the “critical” commentary. However, I do not think this bothers you at all and it helps me to just blurt out my thoughts so that I can change my mind when found to be in the wrong.

    • vinaire  On April 2, 2011 at 5:39 PM

      1. Actually, in this essay I am writing on the nature of being (self), which, probably is a special case of existence. The theme here is that the whole existence is in a flux with no permanent basis to it. This theme applies to being (self) also. We can discuss non-existence under the thread “The Nature of Existence.”

      2. One can only look and describe what is there to the best of one’s ability. I see manifestations there, but I don’t know how could they appear, except through visualization (please see the essay on The Nature of Thought). One may consider a creator, but that would be a consideration, isn’t it! Please see the essay on The Nature of Consideration.

      3. To me a being (self) is a manifestation, and any manifestation is finite because it is defined. Therefore, a being is finite. On the other hand, a viewpoint denotes a specific condition of view, and, therefore, a viewpoint is also finite. Here I decided to equate a being with a viewpoint. It is not that the being assumes a viewpoint. To me a being itself seems to be a certain viewpoint.

      4. “Consciousness can be extinguished” is a datum from Buddhism. Buddha experienced it and called it Nirvana. I believe that after Nirvana is attained there is no lingering consciousness (impressions). Any consciousness is totally present time consciousness. Per my understanding, Buddha lived that way after attaining Nirvana.

      5. Again the datum, “The consciousness existing at the moment of death may pass into a new birth” is from Buddha’s observation and from many other observations in Vedas and Hinduism. One can look at it only for oneself and not for another person. This goes for any other datum, such as, “1 + 1 = 2.” The idea of proof comes from building on one agreement to another agreement. Proof has nothing to do with direct looking. You shouldn’t accept any datum unless you have looked at it thoroughly and found it to be true for yourself regardless of any proof that is offered. And you shouldn’t reject any datum without looking at it thoroughly either.

      The thought “The consciousness existing at the moment of death may pass into a new birth” is just as intimate to me as the thought “1 + 1 = 2.” It depends on the other person how he treats it. Is he really looking, or is he just accepting or rejecting after tackling the matter superficially?

      My essays are fair game for criticism. I invite criticism. It helps me look more critically. Why should it bother “me”? After all, it is the theme of this essay that there is no permanent “me”. LOL. Isn’t there freedom when one is not tied down to a permanent “me”!

      .

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