Thusness/PasserBy found some very good posts in another forum, by a forummer 'rizenfenix' and I am sharing it here.
An object is seen by a hundred different people like a hundred reflections in a hundred mirrors. But is it the same object? As a first approximation, it’s the same object, but one that can be perceived in completely different ways by different beings. Only one who has attained enlightenment recognizes the object’s ultimate nature – that it appears, but is devoid of any intrinsic existence – as the direct contemplation of absolute truth transcends any intellectual concept, any duality between subject and object.
Buddhism’s position is that of the ‘Middle Way: the world isn’t a projection of our minds, but it isn’t totally independent of our minds, either – because it makes no sense to speak of a particular, fixed reality independent of any concept, mental process, or observer. Rather there is interdependence. In this manner, Buddhism avoids falling into either nihilism or eternalism. Phenomena arise through a process of interdependent causes and conditions, but nothing exists in itself or by itself.
Colors, sounds, smells, flavors, and textures aren’t attributes that are inherent to the objective world, existing independently of our senses. The objects we perceive seem completely ‘external’ to us, but do they have intrinsic characteristics that define their true nature? What is the true nature of the world as it exists independently of ourselves? We have no way of knowing, because our only way of apprehending it is via our own mental process. So, according to Buddhism, a ‘world’ independent of any conceptual designation would make no sense to anyone. To take an example, what is a white object? Is it a wavelength, a ‘color temperature’, and or moving particles? Are those particles energy, mass, or what? None of those attributes are intrinsic to the object, they’re only the result of our particular ways of investigating it.
Buddhist scriptures tell the story of two blind men who wanted to have explained to them what colors were? One of them was told that white was the color of snow. He took a handful of snow and concluded that white was ‘cold’. The other blind man was told white was the color of swans. He heard a swan flying overhead, and concluded that white went ‘swish swish’... The complete and correct recollection of the story aside, the point being the world cannot be determined by itself. If it was, we’d all perceive it in the same way.
That’s not to deny reality as we observe it, nor to say that there’s no reality outside the mind, but simply that no ‘reality in itself’ exists. Phenomena only exist in dependence on other phenomena.
It makes little difference if there is a world out there, or if there is not a world out there, because we don't live in the world. We live almost exclusively in our minds, and what can be imagined. This is why our world is called an illusion.
We are constantly manufacturing what we think we know, out of mere fragments of sense data. We are dreaming. And just like our nightly dreams, these daily dreams are only temporary. Like clouds in the sky.
Get any 2 men in a room, ask them what they see and know, and you will always have 3 opinions.
; ^ )
Every thing we think that we know, about any thing in this world, must first pass through the filters of our mind (senses) and be translated into know-ability with little agreement and no final answers.
The Truth or Reality lies deeper than the surface movie that seems to be playing before our eyes.
For those of us living in that illusion, the world seems as real as it possibly could be. But just as ice is only solidified water, the solidity we ascribe to the world isn’t its ultimate reality. This illusionary nature of the world doesn’t stop the laws of cause and effect being inescapable. Physicists would say that electrons aren’t tiny cannonballs but concentrations of energy. Such a statement doesn’t even slightly lessen the need to develop medicine, to allay suffering and to solve all the problems of everyday life. Even if the self is only an imposture, and even if the external world isn’t made up of entities endowed with true existence, it’s perfectly legitimate to remedy suffering by all available means and to do whatever can be done to increase the well-being of all. In the same way, a scientist who understands that we’re only made of particles that can be reduced to just energy won’t thereby be rendered indifferent to happiness and suffering.
Buddhist practice involves three complementary aspects – view, meditation and action. The ‘view’ is what corresponds to the metaphysical perspective, investigation of the ultimate nature of things, of the phenomenal world and of the mind. Once this view has been established, ‘meditation’ consists of familiarizing oneself (distinctively) with that view and integrating it through spiritual practice into the stream of consciousness, in such a way that the view becomes second nature (post-meditation). ‘Action’ is the expression in the outer world of the inner knowledge acquired through ‘view’ and ‘meditation’. It is a matter of applying and maintaining that knowledge in all circumstances. This is the phase in which ethics, or morals, enters into things. Ethics doesn’t become invalid when you realize the illusionary nature of the world. Someone whose eyes of wisdom are open sees even more clearly and finely the mechanisms of cause and effect, and knows what should be undertaken and what should be avoided in order to continue making progress on the path and bringing happiness to others. Again, the ‘Middle Way’ isn’t exclusionary, but inclusionary.
The goal isn’t to deny that there’s any such thing as the phenomenal world as we perceive it – what Buddhism calls relative truth – but to show that the world isn’t as real as we think. In fact, coming into existence seems impossible, because, once again, being can’t arise from nothingness, and if it already exists it doesn’t need to arise. At the same time, it doesn’t ‘cease’, because it’s never come into existence. This is what leads Buddhism to say the world is like a dream or an illusion. It doesn’t say the world is a dream or an illusion, because that would be falling into nihilism. As such and according to this ‘Middle Way’, appearances are emptiness, and from emptiness arise appearances.
As an alternate view, certain Hindu philosophers opposed Buddhism with the premise that if everything’s like a dream, if your suffering is like a dream, what’s the use of trying to attain enlightenment? The reply is this. Since beings do undergo the experience of suffering, it’s right to dissipate it, even if it’s an illusory. If not (exponentially), then what’s the use of taking any action, as we’re just a bunch of cells directed by a bunch of neurons? What’s the use of taking any action, as we’re made up of atoms and particles that ‘are not things’ and which, in any case, are not ‘us’?
Why, because it is Bodhicaryavatara, the Middle Way, the right view leading to the right meditation leading to the right action.
Continuing consciousness after death is, in most religions, a matter of revealed truth. In Buddhism, the evidence comes from the contemplative experience of people who are certainly not ordinary but who are sufficiently numerous that what they say about it is worth taking seriously into account. Indeed, such testimonies begin with those of the Buddha himself.
Nevertheless, it’s important to understand that what’s called reincarnation in Buddhism has nothing to do with the transmigration of some ‘entity’ or other. It’s not a process of metempsychosis because there is no ‘soul’. As long as one thinks in terms of entities rather than function and continuity, it’s impossible to understand the Buddhist concept of rebirth. As it’s said, ‘There is no thread passing through the beads of the necklace of rebirths.’ Over successive rebirths, what is maintained is not the identity of a ‘person’, but the conditioning of a stream of consciousness.
Additionally, Buddhism speaks of successive states of existence; in other words, everything isn’t limited to just one lifetime. We’ve experienced other states of existence before our birth in this lifetime, and we’ll experience others after death. This, of course, leads to a fundamental question: is there a nonmaterial consciousness distinct from the body? It would be virtually impossible to talk about reincarnation without first examining the relationship between body and mind. Moreover, since Buddhism denies the existence of any self that could be seen as a separate entity capable of transmigrating from one existence to another by passing from one body to another, one might well wonder what it could be that links those successive states of existence together.
One could possibly understand it better by considering it as a continuum, a stream of consciousness that continues to flow without there being any fixed or autonomous entity running through it… Rather it could be likened to a river without a boat, or to a lamp flame that lights a second lamp, which in-turn lights a third lamp, and so on and so forth; the flame at the end of the process is neither the same flame as at the outset, nor a completely different one…