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Mechanistic relationship between morality and insight practice

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What is the mechanistic relationship between morality and insight practice? In other words, why is morality part of the practice? What does it do, why does it help? Is it simply a tool to feel good?

I've seen here (experienced) people say that it makes you feel in a certain way. I do know it makes you feel good. But if feelings are impersonal phenomena to be observed, not identified with, it sounds like that shouldn't be the reason.

RE: Mechanistic relationship between morality and insight practice
Answer
4/2/14 2:28 AM as a reply to FM Cetin.
I often wonder about this myself.

I have two explanations and I'm not sure which is correct.

1). When in the egoic state, you believe God (Truth, Freedom) is separate. No matter what you say, deep down you believe God is a separate thing that must be achieved. How does an ego achieve anything? By being good and doing what we think will earn it brownie points. All religions have their own moral standards. It's possible we feel good because we believe that we have just climbed up a few rungs on the ladder towards God. Maybe if we are good enough,God will take us in. If this is the underlying mechanism, then moral behaviour is a total waste of time.

2. Behaviour can be used to alter mind states such as selfishness. By behaving in ways which would be considered for the greater good, selfish tendencies are automatically lessened. If this is the underlying mechanism, then moral behaviour is a powerful and important technique/.

Which one? I alternate between the two. But it's very true that moral behaviour does iimprove concentration and mood. That in itself might be reason enough.

RE: Mechanistic relationship between morality and insight practice
Answer
4/2/14 2:55 AM as a reply to FM Cetin.
Trial And Error:
What is the mechanistic relationship between morality and insight practice? In other words, why is morality part of the practice? What does it do, why does it help? Is it simply a tool to feel good?


Yes. "Simply", though? Does it have to be complicated to merit the (considerable) effort it takes?

Also, it doesn't just make you feel good, it spreads the good around. Specifically, the good of feeling unthreatened, safe.

I've seen here (experienced) people say that it makes you feel in a certain way. I do know it makes you feel good. But if feelings are impersonal phenomena to be observed, not identified with, it sounds like that shouldn't be the reason.


Why not? In a certain way of seeing things, you are one of the many beings who all equally benefit from / deserve feeling good (unthreatened, safe).

You don't have to own a person for them to feel good about being safe.

You don't have to own your self for yourself to feel good about being safe.

You don't deserve less than anyone else, nor more, in this way of seeing things.

Cheers,
Florian

RE: Mechanistic relationship between morality and insight practice
Answer
4/2/14 4:03 AM as a reply to Florian.
Yes. "Simply", though? Does it have to be complicated to merit the (considerable) effort it takes?

That's fair. There wasn't a lot of negative connotation to my use of "simply". I wanted to emphasize the simplicity of the situation if that were the case.

Why not? In a certain way of seeing things, you are one of the many beings who all equally benefit from / deserve feeling good (unthreatened, safe).

You don't have to own a person for them to feel good about being safe.

You don't have to own your self for yourself to feel good about being safe.

You don't deserve less than anyone else, nor more, in this way of seeing things.


Interesting points. But, from a perspective of perfect equanimity and non-judgement, aren't all feelings equal? Aren't you putting your judgement on the feeling when you say it is good for a being to feel in a certain way and not good to feel another way, whether you identify with it or not?

RE: Mechanistic relationship between morality and insight practice
Answer
4/2/14 4:12 AM as a reply to FM Cetin.
What do you think about politeness Trial? Not something you bother with?

RE: Mechanistic relationship between morality and insight practice
Answer
4/2/14 4:20 AM as a reply to This Good Self.
C C C:
I often wonder about this myself.

I have two explanations and I'm not sure which is correct.

1). When in the egoic state, you believe God (Truth, Freedom) is separate. No matter what you say, deep down you believe God is a separate thing that must be achieved. How does an ego achieve anything? By being good and doing what we think will earn it brownie points. All religions have their own moral standards. It's possible we feel good because we believe that we have just climbed up a few rungs on the ladder towards God. Maybe if we are good enough,God will take us in. If this is the underlying mechanism, then moral behaviour is a total waste of time.

2. Behaviour can be used to alter mind states such as selfishness. By behaving in ways which would be considered for the greater good, selfish tendencies are automatically lessened. If this is the underlying mechanism, then moral behaviour is a powerful and important technique/.
.


I like the second one, it seems like a much better attitude.


What do you think about politeness Trial? Not something you bother with?


Why am I sensing aggression? Did I say something that is impolite?

I'm not trying to argue against morality. I'm trying to understand it.

RE: Mechanistic relationship between morality and insight practice
Answer
4/2/14 4:29 AM as a reply to FM Cetin.
Trial And Error:


I'm not trying to argue against morality. I'm trying to understand it.


How about this:

A Short History of Ethics: A History of Moral Philosophy from the Homeric Age to the 20th Century

or

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethics

RE: Mechanistic relationship between morality and insight practice
Answer
4/2/14 6:04 AM as a reply to FM Cetin.
Trial And Error:
Interesting points. But, from a perspective of perfect equanimity and non-judgement, aren't all feelings equal? Aren't you putting your judgement on the feeling when you say it is good for a being to feel in a certain way and not good to feel another way, whether you identify with it or not?


Heh. You seem to be doing just that with equanimity, i.e. saying it is preferable to other mind states. emoticon

Ok. More seriously:

Equanimity is not a nicer word for indifference. Indifference is more like a counterfeit equanimity, a "near enemy" as the Buddhist usage goes. Indifference is deadening, equanimity is open and engaging and welcoming. This is particularly clear with respect to feelings/emotions: trying to be un-feeling is not the same as being equanimous. Numbing one's heart takes a lot of effort and feels bad, flat, dead, out of touch; while equanimity doesn't take the effort of imprisoning one's heart. N.B. this does mean that pain is painful, joy is joyful, and feeling safe, and granting safety, feels good.

The word equanimity is used in many different contexts here on the DhO, covering a very wide field of distinct meanings. Examples: the ñana of equanimity (with "low" and "high" sub-nanas and so on) as opposed to the quality of mind one aims for in meditation wrt to phenomena.

I hope that wasn't too preachy, all of the above my own take on things, which I formed based on my own life and practice so far.

Cheers,
Florian

Edited to add: There's a great old thread about the difference, which can be found here: Equanimity or Indifference

And another good one (referenced in the first one, but not easily clickable): Acceptance Vs Learned helplessness

RE: Mechanistic relationship between morality and insight practice
Answer
4/3/14 12:52 AM as a reply to Florian.
No it wasn't too preachy. One reason I asked the question was because I felt I was missing something. It is true that I can get indifferent. I'll explore more on this and you have good pointers.

RE: Mechanistic relationship between morality and insight practice
Answer
4/3/14 4:16 AM as a reply to FM Cetin.
Trial And Error:


Why am I sensing aggression? Did I say something that is impolite?

.


I replied to your question and you didn't acknowledge it, that's all.

RE: Mechanistic relationship between morality and insight practice
Answer
4/3/14 4:34 AM as a reply to This Good Self.
Your input is appreciated. I just didn't respond immediately.

RE: Mechanistic relationship between morality and insight practice
Answer
4/3/14 5:58 AM as a reply to FM Cetin.
The Buddhist path is about ending suffering.

Immoral activity is that which increases suffering.

By acting on immoral impulses, such as the impulse to deceive, a person can cause suffering. They might feel guilty, they might be less trusted, people might lie to them in return.

Stealing, sexual misconduct, etc., can also have the similar effects.

By paying attention, like in insight practice, a person can see this in real time.

The more a person does these things, the more it becomes a habit (karma), and the more likely they are to do it in the future.

It is also the case that when a person does these things they generally have some misunderstanding of the nature of reality. When people do immoral things, they are generally trying to obtain or protect something of a mundane nature, whether it be money, sex, power, whatever. There is the implicit motivation to somehow be satisfied or get happiness from them. Since mundane things don't provide a lasting or deep sense of satisfaction, energy is expended in a pursuit that can't fulfill its own goals, or at least not in a way that is comparable to spiritual practice. You can also see this in realtime.

It's also the case that when a person acts out of greed, hatred, lust, etc., then that person tends to end up around people like him. People who steal end up around other criminals, whether through voluntary association or through imprisonment. People who lie and lust after power end up being around other politicians, etc. Who wants to be around criminals or politicians? Being around immoral people causes suffering, and acting in an immoral way tends to cause a person to be around people who act in similar ways, though it's not always as obvious as in the case of criminals.

RE: Mechanistic relationship between morality and insight practice
Answer
4/3/14 4:09 PM as a reply to FM Cetin.
Trial And Error:
What is the mechanistic relationship between morality and insight practice?


Its overall role in awakening - start to end - as found in the suttas may help answer your question.

Instead of thinking in terms of morality - think of how different types of behavior lead to different qualities of mind. Some activities lead to worry, regret, fear, etc. while others lead to a sense of security, calm, ease, etc. The latter qualities may be readily seen experientially as more open, relaxing, spacious while the former tend to be contractive, tight, closed in.

The following general pattern regarding sila (morality/virtue) and its role in awakening is repeated in many places in the suttas(read ‘>’ as ‘yields/develops/for the purpose of’):

skillful virtues>freedom from remorse >joy > rapture >serenity>pleasure>concentration>knowledge & vision of things as they actually are>disenchantment >dispassion >knowledge & vision of release (Arahat)

"In this way, Ananda, skillful virtues lead step-by-step to the consummation of arahantship."

source

And the following sutta (a companion to the other) clarifies how this process unfolds:

"For a person endowed with virtue, consummate in virtue, there is no need for an act of will, 'May freedom from remorse arise in me.' It is in the nature of things that freedom from remorse arises in a person endowed with virtue, consummate in virtue.

[same with all the other qualities - one naturally follows the other]

For a dispassionate person, there is no need for an act of will, 'May I realize the knowledge & vision of release.' It is in the nature of things that a dispassionate person realizes the knowledge & vision of release.”

source