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Morality and Daily Life

Can you serve two masters? Nirvana & samsara

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Hi all,

Traditional mystics emphasize leaving behind worldly ambitions. They say we must stop chasing status, success and possessions, because they disturb the mind in a way that is totally incompatible with enlightenment.

There is a milder view, that we can chase worldly outcomes, but not be too attached to them.

Thirdly, there's the kaos-magickal view that worldly outcomes are the proving ground that mental practices are really working and are not just self-delusion.

Just wondering what everyone's take on this is. I imagine this community would favor the second school of thought.

RE: Can you serve two masters? Nirvana & samsara
Answer
4/13/14 10:24 PM as a reply to Conor O'Higgins.
I incline to the third school.

RE: Can you serve two masters? Nirvana & samsara
Answer
4/13/14 10:52 PM as a reply to Conor O'Higgins.
In my view, in order to get enlightened, you need to focus first and foremost on enlightenment. Thus (1) to some extent you do need to give up worldly ambitions. Second (2), given that full on retreat from the world is not really a realistic possibility, obviously to some extent we need to chase materialistic outcomes to survive.

And for the last option (3), just to play devil's advocate here, how exactly would this work? Is the goal we are seeking in meditation really so inline with materialistic outcomes that success in meditation will equate to worldly success? I would argue that worldly success has many contributing factors, some of which may be somewhat unrelated or in antithesis with the insight one gains through mediation. Given meditation is ultimately aimed at creating dispassion in general, in regards to worldly matters the notion of success as good and failure as bad seems somewhat dualistic. Neither success or failure is particularly better or worse, but simply need to be considered as meaningful occurrences in regards to a greater context.

Becoming free of mental afflictions and confusion definitely helps one function more effectively in the world. At the same time it reorients your perspective so that the conceptual benchmarks of success and failure have less of a stranglehold on your life.

RE: Can you serve two masters? Nirvana & samsara
Answer
4/13/14 11:12 PM as a reply to Conor O'Higgins.
To be honest, I have never found any conflict between worldly ambitions and Awakening. Nor have I ever found any conflict between immorality and Awakening.

Awakening to me is deep existential satisfaction, where the heart is sated. As such it has nothing to do with morality, immorality, worldly success or worldly unsuccess. It has to do with the heart.

I always assumed that there would be a moment, where my desire for getting laid would drop away. It never happened, I still want to get laid, just as I am deeply existentially satisfied. I never thought there would be a moment where I would touch the deathless with my body, but I did.

So my view is, chase worldly success, chase it, with your heart, deeply. And be deeply fulfilled when you achieve it. But don't neglect this, this is far more important for anyone who has knowledge of this problem (insight disease).

After awakening, am I happier? Yes. Will I be reborn? Nope.

It's over.

Don't neglect! Neglect is pain.

RE: Can you serve two masters? Nirvana & samsara
Answer
4/14/14 3:40 AM as a reply to T DC.
T DC:
Becoming free of mental afflictions and confusion definitely helps one function more effectively in the world. At the same time it reorients your perspective so that the conceptual benchmarks of success and failure have less of a stranglehold on your life.
Well, just to play god's advocate here, what if both of those factors contribute to worldly success? Being a chilled-out mofo helps worldly success in an obvious way. What if being unattached to worldly success helps us get it, rather than hindering it? This is fairly obvious in sports, where if you are too attached to the outcome, you strain and try really hard and make a mess of it, but if you just enjoy yourself, you perform better. Same in interpersonal games.

What prompted this question was a challenge I have in my own practice. The third school appeals to me philosophically, but I've found it can add an 'agenda' to my practice; my intention is no longer entirely on grasping the truth of the situation, and that adds a disruptive element to the mind

RE: Can you serve two masters? Nirvana & samsara
Answer
4/14/14 5:57 AM as a reply to T DC.
All sensations of all types exhibit the Three Characteristics, as they are universal marks.

All sensations of all types, properly investigated and comprehended, can lead to wisdom.

RE: Can you serve two masters? Nirvana & samsara
Answer
4/14/14 9:47 PM as a reply to Conor O'Higgins.
Hi all,

Traditional mystics emphasize leaving behind worldly ambitions. They say we must stop chasing status, success and possessions, because they disturb the mind in a way that is totally incompatible with enlightenment.

There is a milder view, that we can chase worldly outcomes, but not be too attached to them.

Thirdly, there's the kaos-magickal view that worldly outcomes are the proving ground that mental practices are really working and are not just self-delusion.

Just wondering what everyone's take on this is. I imagine this community would favor the second school of thought.


You just live your life. You do what you want to do, you try to be as moral as possible, you have a daily practice, and every so often you sit a retreat. If you want to go harder core that is fine, then be stricter, go sit some longer courses ect.

The status-quo for the attained people around here is just that, they live their life, things are pretty normal

RE: Can you serve two masters? Nirvana & samsara
Answer
4/14/14 10:38 PM as a reply to Bailey ..
Ya indeed. Well put.

RE: Can you serve two masters? Nirvana & samsara
Answer
4/15/14 3:04 AM as a reply to Conor O'Higgins.
I tried living in a selfless way because I had read in a few well known books that it accelerates spiritual development. But it doesn't. It just causes depression.

The more money, power, status, admiration, sex and achievement you can get, the more happy you will be. This is why everyone in the world strives for MORE. I was a fucken idiot to try to live selflessly. The more selfish the better, with the proviso that morality is probably a good way to maintain reasonable balance. Life made all of us into selfish egotistic arseholes, so there must be some good reason for it. I'm sick of fighting my true nature.

From a position of comfort, maybe meditation will come more naturally. I have some experience to indicate that this is the case.

I like to remind myself that the young Prince Siddhartha was a rich arsehole whose comfort derived from the sweat and toil of the poor peasants who lived outside the walls of his exclusive compound. And then there's Mother Teresa who made her life absolute hell by serving others in the slums of India. Read her book - she was depressed as fuck.

RE: Can you serve two masters? Nirvana & samsara
Answer
5/12/14 2:48 PM as a reply to Conor O'Higgins.
Well I know it's just a figure speach but I dont think those things are your masters, they are tools and you want to be your own master of you.  I don't think there are absolutes, one way is not always the best way for everyone all the time, at least not for that kind of thing.  Plus if you are still eating food, wearing clothes, and having shelter, you are still looking for at least some material gain.  As for attainments as a mark of success in your path, I think they are not a perfect indicator at least in part because not all attainments are easily visible.  For one thing, what is it you are trying to attain?  I do think success at what you are trying for shows mastery of yourself at least in some ways.  What is around you is a direct reflection of what is in your head.  But what people are interested in varies by person, some my be more internally oriented and some may want to work with others more, some may feel the urge to be out on the web and money helps pay server fees, rent facilities, etc.  It's probably good there are many different types of success being made in many different types of areas.  I think each of the paths and types of recommendations were developed by those who saw certain mistakes being made often and tried to work out systems to avoid those traps.  They are methods to avoid pitfalls but it doesn't mean everyone falls into the same pits.  Over time, good ideas can often become rigid rules that no long have the flexibility they once had.  People tend to like simple answers and rules but life is not that simple. 

RE: Can you serve two masters? Nirvana & samsara
Answer
5/13/14 4:47 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
All sensations of all types exhibit the Three Characteristics, as they are universal marks.

All sensations of all types, properly investigated and comprehended, can lead to wisdom.


Hi Daniel,

Have you ever challenged this notion? From what I've seen, the three characteristics are not aspects of the world, but of our opinions and beliefs about the world. If you abandon those opinions and beliefs, there are no three characteristics, just the world as it is. Isn't this what the buddha is pointing to when he says to "purify the mind"?

RE: Can you serve two masters? Nirvana & samsara
Answer
5/13/14 10:58 AM as a reply to Not Tao.
Not Tao:
Daniel M. Ingram:
All sensations of all types exhibit the Three Characteristics, as they are universal marks.

All sensations of all types, properly investigated and comprehended, can lead to wisdom.


Hi Daniel,

Have you ever challenged this notion? From what I've seen, the three characteristics are not aspects of the world, but of our opinions and beliefs about the world. If you abandon those opinions and beliefs, there are no three characteristics, just the world as it is. Isn't this what the buddha is pointing to when he says to "purify the mind"?


If the world and your thoughts and opinions of the world were two completely separate things, then it seems to me that one couild be totally independent of the other and vice versa.   But is reality as we perceive it independent from our perceptions of it?  I'd argue they are intimately intertwined and that the play is a reflection of the players. 

RE: Can you serve two masters? Nirvana & samsara
Answer
2/26/15 4:44 AM as a reply to This Good Self.
C C C:
I tried living in a selfless way because I had read in a few well known books that it accelerates spiritual development. But it doesn't. It just causes depression.

The more money, power, status, admiration, sex and achievement you can get, the more happy you will be. This is why everyone in the world strives for MORE. I was a fucken idiot to try to live selflessly. The more selfish the better, with the proviso that morality is probably a good way to maintain reasonable balance. Life made all of us into selfish egotistic arseholes, so there must be some good reason for it. I'm sick of fighting my true nature.

From a position of comfort, maybe meditation will come more naturally. I have some experience to indicate that this is the case.
In my experience, clinging to wordly pleasures leads to depression more than living selflessly does, at least in the long term.  Living selflessly, if done properly (e.g. through cultivating the brahmaviharas), can reduce depression, as well as decrease remorse that can distract from meditiation.  A certain level of comfort is supportive for meditation, but unchecked hedonism is counterproductive IME.