Tuesday, 4 July 2017
Many Mansions II
Dante and CS Lewis wrote what they believed;
Anderson, James Blish and others accept Heaven and Hell as traditional settings;
Neil Gaiman and SM Stirling adopt a "many mansions" approach.
In Gaiman's The Sandman, everyone enters the hereafter that he has imagined. This is good fantasy but implausible philosophy. Does everyone who crosses the Atlantic reach the destination that he has imagined? In Stirling's Emberverse series, Father Ignatius visits a version of Heaven whereas Rudi Mackenzie meets the Triple Goddess. What would happen to Buddhists who believe in other realms but not in a permanent hereafter?
I am reading one account of Buddhism. It is not an account that I fully accept but is an accurate account of the teaching. Consider two men: John, who lived in the seventeenth century, and James, alive now. Each is a different organism and person, born because of biological processes that would continue to operate even if there were no "karma" involved. Karma is action and actions have consequences. The teaching is that some of the consequences of John's actions can become attached to James. Thus, James can effectively inherit not only John's unresolved "greed, hate and delusion" but also even some of John's memories, thus generating the illusion that James is John reincarnated or, in Buddhist terminology, "reborn." If James can resolve the inherited "greed, hate and delusion," then they will not be passed on to any later organism. End of story.