Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Many Mansions II

Poul Anderson's relevant work is Operation Chaos. Here we consider him as part of a literary tradition:

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.

9 comments:

  1. Kaor, Paul!

    I came across the mention of Dante in OPERATION CHAOS while I was looking for what Anderson had Steven Matuchek say about heaven. I am not sure if Anderson mentioned Dante in any others of his works.

    While I certainly agree actions have consequences and can AFFECT people, I don't believe a deceased person's memories can be inherited by a later person.

    Sean

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    1. Sean,
      I am sceptical of inherited memories but it is an empirical, scientific question. There are people who claim to have such memories. Can their claims be verified? I find enough of value in Buddhist teaching about karma and meditation. I need to resolve my greed, hate and delusion whether or not I inherited them from John in the seventeenth century.
      Paul.

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    2. Kaor, Paul!

      I too have heard of heard of persons who claim to have inherited memories. But I don't believe it (albeit Poul Anderson experimented with such ideas in "The Long Remembering"). And our faults are ours, not inherited from past ancestors.

      Sean

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    3. Sean,
      Except Original Sin?
      Paul.

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    4. Kaor, Paul!

      Original Sin refers to the weakness, or inclination, or proneness to doing evil we inherited because of Adam's sin. It does not mean we are born personally guilty of sin.

      Sean

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    5. Sean,
      I think the problem is that we have animal motivations and human mental abilities - addressed by Anderson in BRAIN WAVE.
      You don't believe in memories of previous lives but should we not consider any evidence for such memories?
      Paul.

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    6. One case was debunked. The alleged memories derived from a historical novel.

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    7. Kaor, Paul!

      I have no objection at all for investigating cases of persons allegedly inheriting memories from the past. I am simply skeptical such a thing is possible.

      Sean

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    8. Sean,
      As am I but investigation of any alleged phenomenon is paramount.
      Paul.

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