Assumptions, Green Dragon Kung fu, and Removing Suffering

In reference to my last post, a friend of mine sent me this:

For example, here, to start off are, I suggest, two underpinning assumptions: (1) that a particular result can be properly attributed to a single cause (as opposed to a complexity of multiple causes and conditions); (2) that the cause is something that is able to be permanently prevented as opposed to being necessarily perpetual or otherwise some inescapable facet of our condition.

So these are good questions, I’ll start with the latter. But first, a quick work about assumptions… I discuss assumptions in my book; I often hear from people the opinion that we don’t need to worry about whether something is logical or not because all “logic” depends on assumptions. I disagree, for more please see Appendix F of my book.

But the gist of that chapter is that one of the purposes of logic (especially in its form as debate) is to undercover assumptions. So we often make assumptions, but eventually we should prove them all out. So let’s do some  here.

I want to take up the second question first, because that is where I was going next with our argument to prove that Buddhas exist. To prove that Buddhas exist (or any divine being), the first necessary step is to prove that it’s possible to become such a being. This involves proving that the cause for a Buddha (the collection of merit and wisdom) is possible. The collection of merit is a collection–a positive thing–the collection of all of the good deeds of a Buddha. The collection of wisdom, however, is actually the elimination of a thing: the obstacles to omniscience. This involves permanently removing all of your mental affliction obstacles. 

Is it possible to do such a thing? If you believe so, then why? If you do believe it’s possible, but can’t give me a reason, then I would argue that you’re in danger of practicing green dragon kung fu.

So let’s prove that you can.

Consider your mental afflictions,
You can eliminate them permanently,
Because you can eliminate their cause.

So then the question is, can you eliminate the cause of your mental afflictions? In traditional Tibetan Buddhism, the root cause of all mental afflictions is that we misunderstand where things come from. From the Yoga Sutra (1.2), yogash chitta virti nirodhah: Yoga is stopping the wrong turnings of the mind. We twist around where things come from; we misunderstand the real causes of our experience. If you accept that, then the question becomes, can we stop misunderstanding our world?

So, if my debate partner answers “reason not established” to the syllogism above, I follow it up with:

Consider your mental afflictions,
You can eliminate their cause,
Because there is an antidote.

And that antidote is right understanding. If you take the vaccine for chicken pox, you can’t get chicken pox. If you understand where things come from, you will eliminate the causes the suffering.

What do you think?


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