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Religion Without God, Part 3 - Death and the Biggest Questions of All

by Candradasa

The third talk in 'Religion without God', a four-part series looking at how you can have a full spiritual life as a 21st Century person without recourse to blind faith or setting yourself against the rational world we find ourselves in. The Buddha faced some of the same dilemmas as us in India in 500 BCE, and we face some new challenges with 2500 years of culture and experience in between his time and our own.

When you don't believe in an afterlife, what vision can there be around death and dying? What did the Buddha mean when he taught about re-becoming and rebirth? Here Candradasa uses Buddhist scripture, vision literature, and poetry to tease out a sense of the Buddha's awesome vision of what life is, and how that might affect our ideas of what happens after death. Big ideas, big questions to sit with - all pointing to a practically beautiful experience of seeing things clearly in this life...

This talk is part of the series Religion Without God.

Tracks (click play to listen)

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1. Introduction - no certainty; recapping - contact, feeling, response, how we shape our world (3:51) 
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2. Reading - The Dhammapada (Buddharakkhita, Thanissaro, Sangharakshita); Reality as textural experience, ourselves as flow (3:38) 
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3. The big questions when you do not turn to God; what can be known, what can be observed, by whom, how; the Unanswerable (Unanswered) Questions; false assumptions (4:40) 
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4. Reading - The Bodhi Sutta; Pratitya Samutpada and the Twelve Nidanas; attainable by anyone; Buddhism is not the point (3:09) 
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5. Karma and the niyamas - what things are like; what do we give rise to (4:20) 
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6. A single niyama approach as a training principle; going to live inside a metaphor; the dangers; challenging ideas about life and death (3:33) 
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7. Vision - the Buddha's view of Pratitya Samutpada and karma through death; not being part of a credulous religion (3:50) 
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8. Investigating through considering visions - non-abstract, pointing to experience; Ted Hughes' letter on the nature of vision; Isjugarjuk the Shaman; similarities with the Buddha (3:55) 
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9. The Buddha recalls his previous lives; the vision of the lotuses; faith and experience (4:53) 
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10. Sam Harris' question; assumptions and views about the self in life and through death (4:40) 
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11. A visit to Sangharakshita to discuss rebirth; Nyanatiloka Mahathera and Jung; the Abhidharma meditators mapping human experience (6:02) 
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12. Reading - The Questions of King Milinda; the awesome nature of all things as part of a cosmic process (4:31) 
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13. Reading - The Visuddhimagga, no doer of the deeds; Shakespeare and Prospero in The Tempest; a practical training path to knowing; made up of the skandhas, hard to see; Viveka's evocation (6:14) 
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14. Reading - Ted Hughes' rendering of the Bardo Thodol (Tibetan Book of the Dead); life and death are calling (3:10) 


Total running time: 1:00:26

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