Originally posted by JS357
What do you make of the criticism at:
Basically the criticism is threefold: her emphasis on no-self, the ethical implications of this, and the availability of better spiritual approaches. I find the alleged ethical implications to be the troubling criticism enience (i.e., references to we, other people, they, us, ourselves, and someone else's eyes).
Thanks for the pointer to a solid critique. I came across the quote and shared it without exploring the background of the writer.
I come out essentially on the side of the critique.
My understanding is more a metaphysical understanding that the concept of self of any 'entity' or thing is very fluid because of the interdependence. It is simply not accurate philosophically to say there is no self-experience at all, nor is it correct to me to say there is a totally independent self either.
I have got entangled with too definite a take on no-self in the past but it left me with questions that eventually I worked through to see that it is as unhelpful to be definite about no-self as it is to be definite about a self. It is called the Middle Path for a reason. There is a lot of doctrinal variation in Buddhist schools, it must be remembered.
This self-no self dichotomy is echoed in the state of sub atomic particles in the quantum realm and I like the analogy, and won't get into century long scientific debate about the final nature of quantum "existence/nature" of particle/waves. Whatever the outcome of that, it remains a fitting analogy at least for me, as does the analogy of holotropic phenomenon (cf Bohm).
As to the moral implications in the article I pull back from the ascetic and to me ungrounded approach suggested in those ancient stories, from a very different, isolated mountain monk-led community. I am essentially a situational ethicist and see much moral systems as an expression of the particular society/group in which the particular moral rules arise.
With sufficient conceptualising flights many acts of sheer stupidity and extreme cruelty and slaughter can be justified and one can point to the Aztecs with religious human sacrifice, or to the mad Pol Pot delusions and many others. We humans can get really carried away with ideas and charismatic leaders, which unfortunately are sometimes quite out of touch with grounded reality.
Ethics to me, is ultimately a decision made on rational grounds as best we can, as much as working out what is the best option on any problematic issue. Nevertheless, maintaining a lack of egoistic rigidity, and situational openness that follows from lighter hold on conceptualizing that I commented on elsewhere does appear to help make better decisions and ensuent effective actions.
The image of Boddhistavas/Buddhas enduring tortures/mutilation/giving up families without pain or out of self-giving love and compassion is like other religions iconic portrayal of saints as form of religious idealisation. Some of it even sounds a tad cultish.
Excessive no-self doctrines do indeed lead to moral conundrums when thought through, as the writer in the critique points out. One is - what does it matter what we do if we and others have no self and it's all illusion? The horror stories of life, holocausts and all that, not real, so don't get too het up. Nah! While the final nature of any 'now' or 'self' has furry edges, a slightly "furry" tiger will still rip you to pieces and it won't be nice! I really think I like Stoic and Taoist earthy grounding when it comes to these flights of religious ideation.