How could we possibly have an infinity of past lives?

There i posted a perfectly reasonable answer which was deleted because allegedly 'not Buddhist enough'. That answer is on point tho, logically flawless and can be substantiated by the Pali Sutta. I can literally substantiate every paragraph there and show that it is in line with the texts known to be true and what is known as truth in the world.

Surely it is due to lack of competence that this Andrei Volkov is deleting answers like these. His incompetence is also evident from his own entirely opinion based answer to that question which is at odds with the interpretation commonly accepted among theravadins i can also easily falsify it using the Sutta. This is not an ad-hominen but an allegation i am willing to back up.

How about i do both the substantiation of my answer and falsification of your theories so that you can stop moderating Andrei? Even tho you could not and would not do do the same thing as in falsifying my answer and substantiating yours, I wouldn't mind doing it because clearly here you are completely unqualified and lest you cease & desist i won't bother posting here anyway because such moderation is hopeless.

If Andrei wants to on a whim censor answers he doesn't like or agrees with and furthermore to use this service to spread his own otherwise sectarian views, that is fine but you should make it more clear as to avoid giving the impression that this is a platform where pali canon is authoritative.

2 Answers 2


There i posted a perfectly reasonable answer etc.

If you want my opinion (you might not) I thought the answer didn't start well ...

First of all a beginning point would run contrary to what can be known of conservation laws.

... I guessed that was referencing "laws" of Physics -- "conservation of energy" etc.

The second paragraph is about "philosophically unacceptable".

The third is a little unintelligible -- with its "begetting". And I don't know about "phenomena are gaining a footing" -- what scripture is that a reference to, and what does it have to do with answering the question?

The fourth, "bigger infinities" sounds to me like Maths again. Then the next two one-sentence paragraphs paint a thought experiment of one or two people telling infinitely many stories, but I don't know why. The third-last is comparing the sizes of infinity again. And it's not typical Maths thinking ...? Yes, I think I see now -- but only now that I reread it and puzzled over it 4 or 5 times -- i.e. that you're trying to explain your understanding of how something (i.e. the OP's "reaching wisdom and buddahood") may or may not have happened yet within two infinite story-lines.

The second last is an interesting theory but possibly speculation. The last sounds like philosophy again ("epistemologically falsified").

I guess there are (in your mind) parallels with the doctrine. And perhaps what you wrote doesn't contradict doctrine.

The references (to doctrine) weren't really clear though.

I didn't delete your answer myself -- but Andrei chose to and it's not entirely a wrong decision. If you'd like to edit the answer to make it more obvious that it's at least in part based on doctrine then perhaps that edit would make it "surely" on-topic.

Also it's possible that Andrei and I disagree -- he wanted this policy,

All or major (or 'important') parts of the answer

But instead I thought we had to be content with a policy that said an answer would be on topic (and not deleted even if it's wrong) if any of it were clearly based on or attempting to relate to Buddhist doctrine:

  • because being stricter than that would be difficult to moderate seemingly-impartially i.e. in a way that everyone (including e.g. you here) agrees with as fair
  • and partly because if that were the policy then some people might complain that Andrei's own answers too were "non-Buddhist", because they are unreferenced.

Surely it is due to lack of competence ...

Let's not go there.

his own entirely opinion based answer to that question

His answer might be wrong (I don't believe it is wrong) and not well-referenced (which is permissible even if we'd prefer a reference).

The way it starts ...

As I understand, the Buddha meant that

... implies that the answer is obviously meant to be based. You might wonder whether it's true or not -- you might think it's a wrong or mistaken answer -- but anyway I'm pretty sure it's evidently an answer related to Buddhism and not e.g. based on semi-modern theories about Physics etc.

i can also easily falsify it using the Sutta

If you think the answer contradicts the doctrine then a polite and specific comment to say so or to ask about that, might be the right response ("isn't your saying X in this answer contradicted by sutta Y?"").

A moderator is meant to delete an answer not for being wrong but for being off-topic i.e. an answer that's not obviously based on Buddhism.

This is not an ad-hominen but an allegation i am willing to back up

I see it as two slightly different topics, i.e.

  • whether your answer is "explicitly Buddhist enough"
  • whether Andrei's answer is whatever you want it to be

How about i do both

Or let's keep it simple, one thing at a time.

  • I posted as a separate answer
    – user8527
    Commented Jan 26, 2020 at 1:54

I can surely amend my answer with references. In brief; Phenomena gaining a footing is reference based on mn49 & an10.58.

'Fuel for a future' example is clearly an explaination of iti.2.17;38 in regard to OP's question.

The conservation laws relation to the Dhamma and sutta referenced in OP, is basic logic and this obvious relation can be inferred from what is quite well explained by Bhikkhu Samahita here https://youtu.be/1M2tj4S4j4I If not sufficient i can explain it in more detail complete with more sutta references.

As for infinity explainations i gave examples based on a thought experiment not related to mathematics but first example involving a case of parinibbana (ref above) and another based on simple simple reasoning with numbers which a child could understand. This is so that people capable of reasoning may be able to see the flawed understanding of infinity which prompted OPs question. As you yourself were able to see i was as a matter of fact showing proof that infinity doesn't imply that all must have happened.

As for the argument against a beginning, that was purely philosophical reasoning which shows that there can be no beginning point, this constitutes a reasonable support for the Sutta referenced in OP.

In conclusion i was on point the entire time and in many ways showed to the OP why Buddha's statement referenced was true and how he can think about it so that it might become agreeable.

Furthermore one can't dismiss philosophical reasoning because that is basically a dismissal of logic.

This is a grave mistake on Andrei's part and also evidence of incompetence, i can as i said make full analysis of my answer and explain in detail what was referenced in this post in brief and to furthermore falsify his answer. As i see it it's not even up for debate at this point, he is clueless.

  • Anyway im not going to bother answering more questions here. This incompetence is a complete nuisance and i don't need this shit.
    – user8527
    Commented Jan 26, 2020 at 2:22
  • The point of the exercise would be to improve the answer (i.e. incorporate these references into the answer), not to post them on Meta. That (editing my answer) is what I did when users asked me to do that (discussed here). Also "logic" is something but not enough, not the point of the site -- e.g. if someone asks "does God exist?" (or any other question) then on this site an answer based on Buddhist doctrine would be on-topic and an answer based on logic isn't ... logic isn't enough.
    – ChrisW Mod
    Commented Jan 26, 2020 at 2:41
  • That's not unlike other SE sites -- e.g. on Skeptics.SE an answer based on logic is off-topic and deleted, instead an answer on that site must be based on peer-reviewed references (published evidence).
    – ChrisW Mod
    Commented Jan 26, 2020 at 2:43
  • simple simple reasoning with numbers which a child could understand Children don't understand "infinity". Various silly paradoxes can be derived from naively comparing infinities, so I am trained (I don't know whether Andrei is too) to mistrust that kind of reasoning. On this site I'd like an explanation of Buddhist doctrine, not of infinities. I also tend to delete answers talking about other non-Buddhist religions too -- because that's off-topic and not what the users of this site are supposed to be expert about.
    – ChrisW Mod
    Commented Jan 26, 2020 at 2:50
  • it's not even up for debate at this point Well I'll stop posting/replying on this subject in that case.
    – ChrisW Mod
    Commented Jan 26, 2020 at 2:51
  • This is getting stupid. If you want to take logic out of Buddhism, disconnecting it from experimental physics and mathematics then you will have a fictional religion akin to scientology that does noyhing to explain how that which can be thought about works. I shouldn't have to do any exercises to not have my answers censored because some self proclaimed fully enlightened being doesn't understand them. I do not post for imbeciles, i post for smart people and if other people don't understand it well that's too bad for them. Im not going to simplify until Andrei gets it, i simply have no time.
    – user8527
    Commented Jan 26, 2020 at 2:52
  • I will make a last comment; children can be Arahants so they would obviously understand the implications of infinity therein. Therefore children can understand infinity according to the Dhamma
    – user8527
    Commented Jan 26, 2020 at 2:53
  • FYI I usually include a sutta reference when I answer. I figure that if someone doesn't understand an answer I write, at least the referenced sutta might be helpful reading.
    – ChrisW Mod
    Commented Jan 26, 2020 at 2:55
  • I abide by terms of service, you can do as you see fit.
    – user8527
    Commented Jan 26, 2020 at 2:57
  • On the subject of infinity, by the way, Maths not Buddhism -- your comment that "the 'number of numbers greater than 1' is bigger than the 'number of numbers greater than 2'" doesn't match my understanding -- my understanding i.e. as I was taught it is more like, "Take two rulers both infinitely long and place them side-by side. Move one slightly so its 0 is next to the other's 1. Counter-intuitively one is not now longer than the other i.e. they're both still equally and infinitely long in both directions."
    – ChrisW Mod
    Commented Jan 26, 2020 at 3:20
  • They are not equal to one another, there is no one-to-one correspondence between the two sets, there is no match for every number in both sets is what is meant. The first set matches every number of the second set but not the other way around, they are therefore not equal in that.
    – user8527
    Commented Jan 26, 2020 at 5:52
  • I don't believe that's true: because "for every number N in the first set there's a corresponding N-1 in the second -- and for every N in the second there's a corresponding N+1 in the first". Also I was taught that one can prove, in the same way, that the number of even integers (i.e. evenly divisible by 2) is equal to the number of integers! Because for every N there's a corresponding N×2 ... there is no N which doesn't have a corresponding N×2, and therefore the number of integers doesn't exceed the number of even numbers because one can define a one-to-one mapping between them.
    – ChrisW Mod
    Commented Jan 26, 2020 at 10:50
  • Similarly the number of "rational" numbers (e.g. "two thirds", "two fifths", "three sevenths", etc.) can be mapped to the natural numbers therefore they -- the rational numbers and the natural numbers -- are the same kind of infinity, though that's surprising (because there are infinitely many rational numbers between each pair of natural umbers e.g. between 1 and 2. But there are more irrational numbers than there are rational numbers for some reason (there's a proof for that which I don't immediately remember). So "infinities" in number theory can be taught to a child but are off-topic IMHO.
    – ChrisW Mod
    Commented Jan 26, 2020 at 10:58
  • Yes my expression was wrong but my point is true. Even tho the cardinality is the same which is the amount of elements in the sets, the intervals are different. So you are correct in saying that the amount of elements in the intervals is equal but i am correct because i am talking about determining the size of the set rather than counting elements therein and one interval will be greater than another.
    – user8527
    Commented Jan 26, 2020 at 15:39
  • 1
    It does talk about it both as cardinality ie 'monks, which is greater the amount of tears you shed wandering on or the water in the ocean?'. In terms of measure there is the measure of 'one incalculable aeon', 'two..', 'three ...' Not to mention the implications of parinibbana as exhausting fuel for a future which defines the set for beings who attain it.
    – user8527
    Commented Jan 26, 2020 at 15:58

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