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multiple ultimates


Jay McDaniel
Posts: 6
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(@jay-mcdaniel)
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are there?

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Doug Holmes
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Can an "ultimate" even be discussed with language?  Are humans qualified for this forum topic?  It seems to me this is going to have to be a fairly humble conversation unless we are only talking about "ultimate" forms of human experience.  Even then, we may need more Saints and Arahants on our member list before we'll have a quorum.

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Jay McDaniel
(@jay-mcdaniel)
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@dholmes I really don't like the word "ultimate," but I think we are stuck with it.  Or at least I am, because all my theological and philosophical friends use it.  But I really don't think the idea behind it is all that difficult to understand or put into words.  For example, as a Buddhist, you think "karma" is ultimate in the sense that it's always at work.  It then becomes something you want to keep in mind as you travel through life.  I myself think that something like 'creativity in the moment' is ultimate, as something that goes with most understandings of karma, insofar as the latter leave space for freedom to respond to karmic influences and thus create new (sometimes positive) karma.  On these matters, words can help.  Other kinds of ultimates - e.g. the inter-becoming of all things, or the great Compassion, or the uniquenes of each sentient being as an expression of the Buddha-nature - can likewise be indicated by language, even as the reality at hand is always more than the words.  The problem is that the very word "ultimate" can become an object of fixation, along with the need to "find" it (or them).  I wish we didn't have it.  On this, I've learned a lot from our friend, and fellow member of this network, who once proposed to me that the word "ultimate" is not that helpful in understanding healthy religion or, for that matter, even God.  It makes everything a 'thing,' even if an ineffable thing.  So, on some mornings at least, I try to be ultimate-free.  On other mornings, I like to think there are as many ultimates as there are sentient beings, that all are momentary (dharma like) and that many are very, very precious, regardless of their finitude.  In an essay in Open Horizons I speak of the present moment as one kind of ultimate - and there are really so many of them, and counting.

 

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Doug Holmes
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@jay-mcdaniel So maybe one way you're talking about ultimates is like this: Physics has 4 fundamental forces, so how many "fundamental spiritual forces" are there?  What are they?

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Doug Holmes
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Joined: 3 months ago

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@jay-mcdaniel The Great Compassion.  That sounds like it could have some "ultimatiness" (think "truthiness" 🙂).  To me it sounds like it relates to the Bodhisattva vow, which I have become a big fan of -- not good for my Theravadin credentials.  If you were to characterize the Great Compassion as an ultimate, what kind of words would you use?

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