Saturday, July 11, 2015

Going Audible

I've gotten back into giving daily dhamma teachings at http://meditation.sirimangalo.org/ - past talks are archived at http://meditation.sirimangalo.org/live and you can listen live via our Android App or at http://meditation.sirimangalo.org/

I'm thinking this might become a sort of Audio Log or ALog in the future, in which case this ordinary blog might stay neglected. On the other hand, once I'm back in school, I might be posting lots of scholarly stuff here. Who can say?

Just FYI. All is well here.

Be well.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Gambling With Pascal

I don't often answer questions via email from people I don't know, because I just end up repeating myself ad infinitum. Someone just asked me about Pascal's wager, though, which is interesting generally, so here's my answer:

(Pascal's wager says that we are better off believing in the claims of Christianity, because there is danger in not believing them if they turn out to be true, whereas there is no danger in believing them if they turn out to be false.)

If we agree with that argument (called Pascal's Wager), we have a real problem. We must then believe each and every one of the religious claims made by each and every one of the competing religious systems in the world, for fear that each and every one of them might be right.

What this shows is that the argument fails to take into account the fact that when deciding to take any claim seriously, we generally require compelling support for the claim. We don't generally accept any claims in our life just because of the stated consequences of not accepting them. Take for example the following to cases:

1. A bully holds his fist up to your face and says "give me your lunch money or I'll beat you up!"

2. A missionary his bible up to your face and says "believe in the fact that someone who, according to this book, lived 2000 years ago, performed all sorts of physics-defying miracles, brought the dead back to life, brought himself back to life, and promised his disciples that he could move mountains for them if their faith was strong enough, was the son of God, or else you will spend an eternity in a fiery hell, because my book considers that a proper punishment for simply failing to believe this claim!"

It should be clear that the first claim has some evidence backing it up (i.e. the fist). There is no even mildly compelling reason to believe the second claim. If we believe it just because it threatens our future, we should believe all such claims about the nature of redemption, including those of Scientology, Mormonism, etc.

Moreover, it is not true that these claims will not harm us if they turn out not to be true, since they will inform our world view and the way we live our lives. We cannot simply live our lives as we normally would once we accept that God is our saviour; I, for example, would stop paying any attention to Buddhism or meditation, since there would no longer be any need for it, and would instead spend my life praising a God who, if the claims of these many religious groups then turned out to be false, didn't even exist. Besides leading to a terrible rebirth, the dissonance between my belief and reality would certainly cause harm to both my psyche and my relationship with the world around me.

Hope this helps.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Maybe

May has been eventful; a birthday (3rd 12-year cycle), visits with both parents and both step-parents, two Visakha celebrations down and two more this weekend.

Flying back to Canada tonight. Tomorrow, Saturday, is the Visakha Puja celebration at our monastery in Stoney Creek, then Sunday is the big Toronto celebration in Mississauga's Celebration Square. I'm involved with the Buddhism 101 booth again, so please stop by our booth if you attend. Website for that celebration is here:

http://www.vesakcelebration.com/

Summer looks to be quiet, some meditators maybe coming, preparations for the Fall school semester, oh, and a trip to Vancouver, Seattle, Oregon, and maybe even LA? in late June. Hoping to get up to Manitoulin Island sometime before the rains retreat, maybe July.

Pali and Visuddhimagga study are delayed until next weekend, hopefully we can get back to our regular schedule then.

Be well!

Saturday, May 09, 2015

six by six

Spent the past few days with my father. Back in Stoney Creek for the night, tomorrow teaching in Mississauga to children, then flying to Florida. Teaching at the Florida Buddhist Vihara on Sunday the 17th, and Tuesday and Saturday at a local Dharma group.

Back in Ontario on May 23rd for our Visakha celebration in Stoney Creek, then the big one on Sunday in Mississauga.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Godlessness

I'm not certain that there is no God out there somewhere. It's not the sort of thing you can be certain about; no matter what my understanding of the universe might be, one could always just claim that there is a God outside of that understanding that created it all.

I don't think there is a God, or that the idea of God should hold any importance in ones life, even if such a being did exist.

What I do know for certain is that if such a being did exist, they wouldn't care one iota which religion or religious figure a person followed; it is not possible for a whole to be partial.

I'm almost tempted to suggest that they might care whether one was a good person or not, but any image that comes to mind of the nature of God seems so utterly indistinguishable from nonexistence that even this idea seems absurd. I rather prefer to be a good person for my own sake, and for the sake of those I may help.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

In Philly

So, i got coralled into coming to Philidelphia, and New York City, I guess, as a driving companion to our head monk. Something with the UN on indigenous issues, which is great and I'm happy to help. Anyway, I'm here... Probably just hang out at the monastery and head back on Friday, In case there's  anyone in the area who'd like to visit. Staying at 5415 Rising Sun Ave, Philidelphia, Pennsylvania.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Going Local

So, not been very Internetly active lately. As mentioned, there is some plan to work for a more local presence, but that's not the whole of it. There will certainly be more Internetting in the future, but it seems time for some changes.

For example, the idea arose to just invite Internetters to call on Google Hangouts, any time of day or night, with meditation questions. Solves a lot of problems... poses a few new ones (when to sleep, e.g.). Worth a try, no?

Locally, visited McMaster last week - met a few nice people, got a surprisingly encouraging response to inquiries. Seems there is an application for a Buddhist society at McMaster for next year, there's already an open mindfulness circle, and meetings are being set up to discuss both, so... encouraging.

The other side is a quieting. Less unprompted teaching. Inclination towards "if you want teachings, come and learn". More local meditators would be great, but no pressure to recruit. We are holding free ongoing meditation courses as usual; room and board provided. Come one, come all.

And this Sunday we'll start with Pali alongside the Visuddhimagga. 1PM to 2PM Visuddhimagga study, 2PM - 3PM Pali study.

Be well.