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Seeing that Frees Mark 8/17/15 3:00 AM
RE: Seeing that Frees Chris Marti 8/17/15 7:36 AM
RE: Seeing that Frees Mark 8/17/15 2:16 PM
RE: Seeing that Frees Chris Marti 8/18/15 8:01 AM
RE: Seeing that Frees Mark 8/18/15 8:44 AM
RE: Seeing that Frees Chris Marti 8/18/15 9:08 AM
RE: Seeing that Frees John M. 8/17/15 8:48 AM
RE: Seeing that Frees Mark 8/17/15 1:48 PM
RE: Seeing that Frees John M. 8/17/15 3:19 PM
RE: Seeing that Frees Mark 8/17/15 4:28 PM
RE: Seeing that Frees John M. 8/18/15 5:47 AM
RE: Seeing that Frees Mark 8/18/15 9:20 AM
RE: Seeing that Frees . Jake . 8/17/15 12:07 PM
RE: Seeing that Frees Mark 8/17/15 2:08 PM
RE: Seeing that Frees Psi 8/17/15 3:11 PM
RE: Seeing that Frees Mark 8/17/15 3:36 PM
RE: Seeing that Frees Psi 8/17/15 5:56 PM
RE: Seeing that Frees Richard Zen 8/17/15 7:38 PM
RE: Seeing that Frees Mark 8/18/15 2:09 AM
RE: Seeing that Frees Richard Zen 8/18/15 8:41 AM
RE: Seeing that Frees Mark 8/18/15 10:11 AM
RE: Seeing that Frees Richard Zen 8/18/15 1:08 PM
RE: Seeing that Frees Mark 8/18/15 2:21 PM
RE: Seeing that Frees Richard Zen 8/18/15 11:58 PM
RE: Seeing that Frees Mark 8/19/15 2:47 AM
RE: Seeing that Frees Chris Marti 8/19/15 7:40 AM
RE: Seeing that Frees Richard Zen 8/19/15 8:21 AM
RE: Seeing that Frees Mark 8/19/15 10:49 AM
RE: Seeing that Frees Richard Zen 8/19/15 1:08 PM
RE: Seeing that Frees Chris Marti 8/19/15 1:19 PM
RE: Seeing that Frees Mark 8/19/15 2:23 PM
RE: Seeing that Frees Chris Marti 8/19/15 3:13 PM
RE: Seeing that Frees Mark 8/19/15 3:27 PM
RE: Seeing that Frees Chris Marti 8/19/15 4:07 PM
RE: Seeing that Frees Mark 8/20/15 2:44 AM
RE: Seeing that Frees Chris Marti 8/20/15 7:36 AM
RE: Seeing that Frees Mark 8/20/15 7:41 AM
RE: Seeing that Frees Chris Marti 8/20/15 7:55 AM
RE: Seeing that Frees Chris Marti 8/20/15 8:08 AM
RE: Seeing that Frees Richard Zen 8/20/15 8:51 AM
RE: Seeing that Frees Chris Marti 8/20/15 9:26 AM
RE: Seeing that Frees Mark 8/20/15 9:26 AM
RE: Seeing that Frees Richard Zen 8/20/15 8:40 PM
RE: Seeing that Frees Richard Zen 8/20/15 11:29 PM
RE: Seeing that Frees Chris Marti 8/21/15 7:29 AM
RE: Seeing that Frees Richard Zen 8/21/15 8:37 AM
RE: Seeing that Frees Chris Marti 8/21/15 9:29 AM
RE: Seeing that Frees Mark 8/21/15 10:28 AM
RE: Seeing that Frees Richard Zen 8/21/15 1:22 PM
RE: Seeing that Frees Chris Marti 8/22/15 2:32 PM
RE: Seeing that Frees katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 8/24/15 4:42 AM
RE: Seeing that Frees Mark 8/25/15 3:30 AM
RE: Seeing that Frees Richard Zen 8/19/15 7:11 PM
Seeing that Frees
Answer
8/17/15 3:00 AM
I'm reading Seeing That Frees by Rob Burbea. I've read the first 2 sections which aims to provide context and concepts. The little bit that is realted to practise so far seems very good. The more philosophical points raise doubts. 

There are uses of metaphor which is understandable. Sometimes those metaphors are then used to derive conclusions, this is not good thinking. 

For example in the section "all phenomena are empty of inherent existence" there is an example of a chair. It is claimed that if we burn the chair it is the mind that will determine at which point it is no longer a chair. "The chair-ness is given by the mind, and it does not reside in it independently of the mind". This seems to imply that the chair is a chair because it has a name, which is partly true. The name does impact the experience of the chair. But the chair also has a function that is independent of the name and the mind. If I do not have the verbal concept of a chair this does not mean that I will not sit down. The chair-ness is largely defined by social convention and functionality. For example the chair burns and then the fire is put out. I may beleive it is no longer a chair, then someone comes long and sits on it, it does not break apart and now I will describe it as a chair again. My mind did not create the chair-ness, somebody sitting on it did. If it was only dependent on my mind then I would not change my mind after mistakenly thinking it could no longer be a chair.

This is just one example but I think it is important as it sets the tone for many other eamples. Basically it seems the book assumes that everything is phenomena when that seems obviously wrong. Our experience is through phenomena only but that does not mean that only phenomena exist. We can infer the existence of things without phenomena. I can't experience x-rays but they exist.

There seems to be a huge leap made from the emptiness of subjective experience to the emptiness of everything.

The emptiness of subjective experience is obvious at an intellectual level and can be explained very simply. The film The Matrix is a great popular culture demonstration. Neo is "awoken" from being connected into a simulation so he now experiences "reality" but he could also have awoken to another simulation. In fact he has, because all that has been changed is the connection of his brain from a computer generated input to an input from nerves in his body. The experience is simulated by the brain in both cases. There are also plenty of more scientific explanations for example TED videos on YouTube.

The emptiness of phenomena seems to get confused with materialist reductionism. So for example someone may argue the x-ray does not exist because it can be reduced to parts. This is a naive understanding as it ignores the emergent properties of x-rays. Of course X-rays are not independent entities that have no relationship to anything else. But that does not make them empty because they do have emergent properties.

The analogy might be more obvious in the case of the physical world but it is worth exploring what this means for phenomena. So while phenomena are empty that does not mean that what they point to are empty. So for example the phenomena of fear is empty but the emergent property of racism is not empty. In this regard racism is like the X-ray.

There are other issues I see in the reasoning presented in the book. But I'll stop here to keep this thread manageable. I'd like someone to show me the errors of my way, thanks.
 



 

RE: Seeing that Frees
Answer
8/17/15 7:36 AM as a reply to Mark.
Mark, I have to agree with what you posted - Burbea has written a practice oriented book for a certain audience. I wish he'd address the point you make but it's not done. The idea that action, not information, is required of knowledge ("chairness") is fascinating. It's probably beyond a practice primer, though. I'm not excusing the issue, however, and I know it is commonly made in western buddhism. I also think it is commonly made not due to intention but due to several other causes - avoiding a philosophical discussion in favor of commonly used terminology, or ignorance, or.... ?

RE: Seeing that Frees
Answer
8/17/15 8:48 AM as a reply to Mark.
I might be dense, but your argument is difficult to follow -- how are you defining emptiness? It almost sounds as though you're equating it with non-existence or non-being.

RE: Seeing that Frees
Answer
8/17/15 12:07 PM as a reply to Mark.
Yes, I think approaching the book as a practice manual with many practical exercises that when applied lead to interesting phenomenologucal insights is better than approaching it as a teaching on 'the truth'. As a practice manual it's a goldmine in my opinion and experience. As a philosophy work, it's no good.

RE: Seeing that Frees
Answer
8/17/15 1:48 PM as a reply to John M..
John M.:
I might be dense, but your argument is difficult to follow -- how are you defining emptiness? It almost sounds as though you're equating it with non-existence or non-being.

Hi John,

Could you be more specific about what was difficult to follow. I would define emptiness in relation to phenomena i.e. subjective experience. Phenomena is empty means that there is not absolute only relative, phenomena are not grounded in anything, all phenomena are dependent on certain conditions to arise, are fabricated, are impermanent. That is what comes to mind.

I'm not sure what you mean by non-existence. Phenomena certainly exist - they are my experience. Perhaps you mean exist in some sort of physical sense ?

I'm not sure what you mean by non-being. Could you clarify that ? 

Have you read the book and did the description of emptiness make sense to you ?

RE: Seeing that Frees
Answer
8/17/15 2:08 PM as a reply to . Jake ..
. Jake .:
Yes, I think approaching the book as a practice manual with many practical exercises that when applied lead to interesting phenomenologucal insights is better than approaching it as a teaching on 'the truth'. As a practice manual it's a goldmine in my opinion and experience. As a philosophy work, it's no good.
Hi Jake,

I am planning to read the book but I tend to follow Shinzen Young's practise style at the moment so I'm not sure if I'll make big changes. I found the section regarding balancing samadhi insightful.

It seems strange that someone who is claiming the most profound insights possible is unable to communicate some of the early insights clearly. It feels a bit like a house of cards. I'm not expecting a philosophical text but I am expecting a coherent presentation.

What worries me is that Burbea must have pushed these practises very far and perhaps he is demonstrating that the insights we get are very dependent on what we are looking for. It is as if he wants things to be a certain way so his practise confirms it. This is a pretty concerning situation because he is implying "just follow the practises and it will all become clear". Does it mean that if I follow the practises and achieve mastery like he has then I will no longer be able to see the contradictions in his book ?

I've heard a lot of compliments for the pactise sections (I've not read them yet). So it leaves a real mystery.

RE: Seeing that Frees
Answer
8/17/15 2:16 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
Mark, I have to agree with what you posted - Burbea has written a practice oriented book for a certain audience. I wish he'd address the point you make but it's not done. The idea that action, not information, is required of knowledge ("chairness") is fascinating. It's probably beyond a practice primer, though. I'm not excusing the issue, however, and I know it is commonly made in western buddhism. I also think it is commonly made not due to intention but due to several other causes - avoiding a philosophical discussion in favor of commonly used terminology, or ignorance, or.... ?
Hi Chris,

This seems to be a pretty big hole in an understanding of dependent origination. Considering our earlier thread on Tom Pepper's article, it seems Tom is pointing at a pretty radical insight if Burbea missed it ?

Perhaps the assumption Burbea makes is confusing existence with phenomena. So if it is not phenomena then it does not get investigated, so  his insights just don't go in that direction ? 

RE: Seeing that Frees
Answer
8/17/15 3:11 PM as a reply to Mark.
Mark:


For example in the section "all phenomena are empty of inherent existence" there is an example of a chair. It is claimed that if we burn the chair it is the mind that will determine at which point it is no longer a chair. "The chair-ness is given by the mind, and it does not reside in it independently of the mind". This seems to imply that the chair is a chair because it has a name, which is partly true. The name does impact the experience of the chair. But the chair also has a function that is independent of the name and the mind. If I do not have the verbal concept of a chair this does not mean that I will not sit down. The chair-ness is largely defined by social convention and functionality. For example the chair burns and then the fire is put out. I may beleive it is no longer a chair, then someone comes long and sits on it, it does not break apart and now I will describe it as a chair again. My mind did not create the chair-ness, somebody sitting on it did. If it was only dependent on my mind then I would not change my mind after mistakenly thinking it could no longer be a chair.

So, using Buddhadasa Bhikku's explanation of Sunnata, i.e. Emptiness, and then using the chair burning as a thought experiemnt, then when doe the chair become empty in the mind?  And, the chair does not have to be burned either, that is a push for the mind to better see.  I will have to check Rob's description of Emptiness, I have the book around here , somewhere, but it is probably the same stuff form a different description. I boldfaced the section that seemed relavant to the discussion on your OP.  This is not to say there is not more wisdom to be gleaned from the rest of the article.
VOIDNESS
The second topic is the understanding or paññä regarding sunnata (voidness). When we see the three characteristics of anicca, dukkha, and anatta, when we realize that all things are not-self, then we understand that everything is not-self, is void of anything that has the meaning of the word "self," and is free of anything that ought to be called "self." This is the meaning of sunnata. This single characteristic of voidness gathers together and caps the previous three characteristics.The meaning of "suññata" is better, broader, easier, and more useful than any other word to take as a principle of practice and life, but only if we understand it on the Dhamma level, in the language of sati-pañña (mindfulness and wisdom). It should not be misunderstood through materialistic interpretations, such as "nothing exists" or that "all is a vacuum." The Buddha pointed out that such nihilist views are one extreme of wrong understanding. Sunnata isn't nihilism or a nothingness. Everything exists, but is void and free of anything that could be called a "self." Thus, we say that everything is void, which is the meaning of "voidness" in the language of Dhamma. If we see voidness, it includes seeing anicca, dukkha, and anatta also. We don't need too many things, the three can be untidy. Just one -- voidness -- is enough to prevent against the mental defilements.4When we see voidness in the things that we love, we don't love. When we see voidness in the things we hate, we don't hate. Then there's no love and no hate, no liking and no disliking, no happiness (sukha) and no dukkha. There is just centeredness, living quietly and freely in the middle. Such is the fruit of truly seeing the voidness of things. If we don't see the voidness of all things, we will love some things and hate others. While love and hatred remain, the mind is enslaved by attachment to the things loved and hated. With full penetration of sunnata, the mind is free and no longer a slave to those things. True freedom is voidness.Sunnata is a synonym of nibbana. Nibbana is voidness. When the mind realizes voidness, there are no defilements. When there are no defilements, there is no heat. When there is no heat, there is nibbana, which means "coolness." Thus, when there is sunnata, there is coolness, nibbana. The Lord Buddha said, "You should always view the world as something void of atta (self) and attaniya (belonging to self)." This is the second aspect of paññä.5

http://www.dhammatalks.net/Books/Bhikkhu_Buddhadasa_Natural_Cure_for_Spiritual_Disease2.htm


Psi

RE: Seeing that Frees
Answer
8/17/15 3:19 PM as a reply to Mark.
Hey Mark,

I've read what was made available of the book online, but it's more your own observations thare are drawing me to this conversation -- apologies if that sets us back a few paces.

Is it your feeling that emptiness is applicable only to subjective experience? That's been my take-away so far. I wonder if you could walk me through that a bit if so, or correct my thinking if not. I'm also curious how an emergent property could establish a thing's inherent existence, as the X-ray example seems to suggest.

RE: Seeing that Frees
Answer
8/17/15 3:36 PM as a reply to Psi.
Your quote states "everything is empty of self" whereas the book is more along the lines of "everything is empty". The book does not make the mistake of saying nothing exists or all is a vacuum - he is pretty explicit about that.

After self is seen as empty phenomena it should make a huge difference whether someone considers things only to exist if/when they cause phenomena. So for example someone like that could easily act in a racist way believing they are not racist because they have no access to phenomena of racism. They would also probably have little interest in pstudying sychology which could explain inate racism to them. I keep using racism but that is just an example - seems to be a hot topic at the moment in the US.

RE: Seeing that Frees
Answer
8/17/15 4:28 PM as a reply to John M..
John M.:
Hey Mark,

I've read what was made available of the book online, but it's more your own observations thare are drawing me to this conversation -- apologies if that sets us back a few paces.

Is it your feeling that emptiness is applicable only to subjective experience? That's been my take-away so far. I wonder if you could walk me through that a bit if so, or correct my thinking if not. I'm also curious how an emergent property could establish a thing's inherent existence, as the X-ray example seems to suggest.
Hi John,

We are no doubt going to run into my limited understanding, so as long as you take what I say with a grain of salt I'm happy to share my ignorance.

As to whether emptiness is applicable to things outside of subjective experience I think the Buddha was pretty clear - no answer. I think there is a lot of wisdom there, if for example someone wants to argue that x-rays do not exist, then they should start by defining what "exist" means. If they can't define exist or they define exist as being something that can't occur then we should rephrase their position to "x-rays are not something that can't occur" and we can agree and move on. That is a bit complicated sorry.

I did not write that an emergent property establishes a thing as inherently existing, but you may have read that. It would establish the thing as having emergent properties and emergent properties would establish the thing as something that can't be reduced solely to it's parts. 

The phrase "inherently exists" qualifies exists to mean that nothing can exist without anything else. This seems obvious as pretty much everything is composed of other things (and emergent properties in many cases). The phrase "inherently exists" also tacity implies that things can "exist" just not "inherently". I would certainly buy that, so x-rays exist.

There are some pretty good explanations based on science as to why trying to debate emptiness in regards to things outside of subjective experience is probably not wise. Currently science does not have a coherent definition of matter at the lowest level, there are a bunch of competing hypothesis. Science is unable to provide a coherent explanation of gravity (reconciling the theory of relatiivity and quantum theory). For the last 400 years or so scientists have accepted "spooky action at a distance" i.e. gravity. The reason this is particularly interesting is that it shows that causality may have limited explanative power (it certainly does at this time) - it hasn't explained gravity yet. This also points to issues with reductionism and is one reason I like the idea of emergence.

So while the idea of karma i.e. causality, seems like a great way to introduce emptiness into everything it runs into some serious issues. For example it seems the universe is not governed by causality at the quantum level. So as the Buddha seems to suggest "don't know" is an appropriate response. Authors which propose definitive answers to this question are going to struggle to be taken seriously. 

I think that for practical purposes we can consider things to exist and limit emptiness to subjective experience. So for example the self exists as phenomena that are empty i.e. the self is empty. This also should set of alarm bells when you hear anybody using terms like "ultimate reality", "absolute", "true reality" etc. because they don't seem to have understood emptiness of experience.

Where someone might have an angle of debate here is to claim that under what I've described the self is an emergent property. An emergent property is dependent on the constituant parts so even in that case physical death is certain to cause the self to no longer exist. It also seems quite possible that people can practise to no longer experience the self but I doubt peoole around them think they have no personality.

We tend to get very hung up on the self on DhO. Another useful exploration could be the phenomena of attachment, if those can be seen as empty then the experience of self would probably be quite pleasant. I remember some guy made a list of 4 things centered around attachment.....

RE: Seeing that Frees
Answer
8/17/15 5:56 PM as a reply to Mark.
Mark:
Your quote states "everything is empty of self" whereas the book is more along the lines of "everything is empty". The book does not make the mistake of saying nothing exists or all is a vacuum - he is pretty explicit about that.

After self is seen as empty phenomena it should make a huge difference whether someone considers things only to exist if/when they cause phenomena. So for example someone like that could easily act in a racist way believing they are not racist because they have no access to phenomena of racism. They would also probably have little interest in pstudying sychology which could explain inate racism to them. I keep using racism but that is just an example - seems to be a hot topic at the moment in the US.
Interesting, thanks for replying.  Yeah, that is why I posted the quote, to kind of bring in another angle.  And, I apologize for not having Rob's book in front of me, or having read it yet.

But, I agree, to just move to "everything is empty", is a big jump.  The mind thinks, empty of what? Empty of everything?  Then there is nothing?
But, it seems Rob says, no not that, not vacuum.

 And says, no not that nothing exisits, which leaves ....  Empty.


From a Rob transcript, trying to get a flavor for the Rob pointing of empty, I bolded the empty

Then, I think I will have to let this sink in and see what thoughts arise.

It seems I get it, the chair, is a concept/thought, it arises because of seeing it, or touching it, back to DO again.  But that is all the chair is, and ever could be, a thought/concept based upon the sense contact, and the sense contact, being empty (of self), then the chair ( a thought) therefore is also empty.  This is  a really fine point, there is a point in the mind process (DO) which occurs before the Chair Thought arises, but then the mind has to be basically empty first, and kind of suspended there, then the Chair Thought will not arise, even though the Chair is seen.
Just the seen in the seen. That is about as good as I can put that into words, again, I need to let this sink in and see if any, or what,  thoughts may arise.
If I followed the not-self practice, or a number of other practices too, it’s not just that at all. If I follow that, I see that the known or otherwise the perceptions or objects are empty, because they don’t kind of exist by themselves. They depend on the identifying and clinging. And I don’t know how they really are, how much clinging reveals the real object. Then in a way the knowing, we could say, is leaning – it needs a known and it’s leaning on something that’s empty, it’s leaning on a vacuum. Do you see this? Knowing needs a known, the known needs knowing. If the known is empty, it’s leaning on nothing. It’s leaning on something that’s empty. We say that it’s groundless or unsupported. Awareness is unsupported, it’s groundless.
So tracing stages, we want to deliberately consolidate the insights, so – objects depend on the mind, so they’re empty, and the mind or consciousness or awareness depends on object so that is empty too, because it’s depending on something that’s empty. Anytime two things are mutually dependent, they have to both be empty. We can go into that but we don’t have time. This groundlessness, this emptiness, this lack of independent existence of Awareness, rather than being a kind of conundrum or a complication, is actually the insight that brings the deepest level of freedom. It’s not anywhere, and it’s not supported by anything, and it’s not anything that supports anything. Empty.
Most people are gonna need to develop that practice in, take this word very lightly, stages. In the sense of gaining conviction first that the object is empty. We’re learning actually how to disidentify and seeing that because of that, things are dependent on that, which means they’re empty. Gaining conviction in that, and moving on, resting on a kind of secure footing in practice. With that, the conviction comes and eventually the conviction that Awareness is empty too comes. And with that, the deepest will (?).
http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2009/07/realizing-nature-of-mind.html

Thank you,

Psi

RE: Seeing that Frees
Answer
8/17/15 7:38 PM as a reply to Mark.
Just keep reading the book. At some point you'll get to the middle path explanation and it should make sense. Chairness is just a perception label by the brain. It's useful but I think a better way to get what emptiness means for a person is how understanding emptiness relieves stress. Perception is not neutral on liking or disliking things. Chairs are pretty neutral to us but people and objects that we like or dislike a lot mean everything to us. A lot of stress is already happening in your intention to pay attention. It's bouncing between objects looking for "things" to like or dislike all the time and this amygdala likes to overrate "things" by liking them or disliking them beyond what the actual data shows. A lot of data is ignored in order to like or dislike something. 

http://www.dharmaseed.org/teacher/360/talk/18696/

Atammayata is being with the experience before the perception starts pushing the brain to ruminate about controlling those "things" to give permanent satisfaction. The fight or flight response is all about controlling the environment, and when over-vigilant it can lead to depression when your attempts at control fail over and over again.

Whether someone uses a sky-gazing practice by letting go of attention to reactive objects or Atammayata or letting go of preferences or welcoming unpleasant perceptions, it's all about targeting perception. Perception also includes day-dreaming about past and future scenarios which can often be incredibly wrong and outlandish. Perception labels are fabricating over-top actual experience so it's hard to have an actual experience without some feeling tone. Since Nirvana is letting go of likes and dislikes to the point of going unconscious, then that means being conscious will still require some stress just to be alive. Albeit the stress is much lower than for a normal neurotic person, it cannot be eliminated completely until Pari-Nirvana (death).

If you are interested in other good Mahayana Emptiness explanations I would recommend this website:

http://emptinessteachings.com/

Susan Kahn has a gift in explaining Nagarjuna.

Another more simple (not really) way of relieving stress with emptiness is just looking at basic cause and effect when something you don't like happens. The brain acts as if events have their "own being" or "inherent existence". "That shouldn't be there! That mustn't happen." Yet it did. If you act like an investigator you can find evidence of cause and effect that is endlessly supported by causes and conditions. This goes back to the big bang but people still have choice (though limited by certain circumstances). It's cause and effect including an array of choices that are available to cognizant human beings. This way you can use a sense of self or agent while knowing that it's empty of causelessness. Emptiness won't negate basic choices, just choices that cause and effect won't allow emoticon

Have fun! But make sure you are using these understandings in your meditation or else it's too much analysis that might just cause a whole bunch of stress, or even worse create reasons to enjoy dukkha because "it's all empty anyways!" The danger of nihilism is having too much equanimity so that habits don't change but you feel just fine regardless of the consequences.

Richard

RE: Seeing that Frees
Answer
8/18/15 2:09 AM as a reply to Richard Zen.
Hi Richard,

I have read the middle path explanation. I think the rest of the book (section 3 on) is much more practise focused and I will read it. I don't think the book is arguing for nihilism and that is not what I am suggesting either. Middle way can be a problematic phrase, it sounds wise but it also sets up a framework. So materialism and nihilism are excluded but at the same time all of existence has been reduced to a single dimension and the answer is at some point in the middle. That is a bit of an exaggeration but I hope you see that is closes doors to other ways of seeing that are not on that single dimension.

The phrase "Chairness is just a perception lavel by the brain" points at the problem I see. If we instead say "Racism is just a perception label" that hopefully evokes a different reaction in you. There is a risk it does not if you're convinced "everything is just a perception".

I agree it is important to relieve stress, that needs to be balanced with many other things or there is an obvious dramatic conclusion. Seeing everything is empty might be a strategy that works and it will have certain side effects. Seeing only the self as empty might be another stratgey that works, again with it's side effects. Seeing attachment as empty might be another strategy etc.

Your explanation is clear but it also strikes me how it is focused on the individual. To be blunt it is all about the amygdala. I see some truth in that but I also think emptiness is pointing to something much more complicated regarding inter-subjective experience.

I would say it is not a problem to have feeling tone. Preference is not the problem as I see it, attachment is the problem. If you cut at the feeling tone then it may stop attachment but it will also have other side effects. 

Burbea does not make any reference to Mahayana (none that struck me while reading it). Clearly his ideas are very strongly influenced by Mahayana. I want to be clear that I am not trying to critic Mahayana, I'm considering what was written in the book. But depenent origination has me fascinated at the moment so I appreciate the link, thanks.

The Stoics have practises which are very similar regarding the destiny of causality while also leaving space for personal choice, it is a tough pitch. But it seems taking that view can be very effective. Without going so far as to buy into the metaphysics, focusing on what is within our control and being rational about what is within our control seems very sensible.

Your mention of choices go me thinking more about this. If I look at what is going on when "choosing" it is clear that it is conditioned but it is conditioned by my inner world. I can't find the "perception" of choice. I can find peceptions of stress etc. I suspect that what we experience as "free will" is these perceptions of stress, worry etc that arise from a self attached to results, combined with a narrative that claims agency over the choice that was made. 

I don't feel a danger of nihilism because I don't believe there is an absolute. That means on one end it is not meaningless and on the other that it is not meaningful. It is all relative and so relatively important, the infamous middle way...

Thanks for your concern.

Richard Zen:
Just keep reading the book. At some point you'll get to the middle path explanation and it should make sense.
Chairness is just a perception label by the brain. It's useful but I think a better way to get what emptiness means for a person is how understanding emptiness relieves stress. Perception is not neutral on liking or disliking things. Chairs are pretty neutral to us but people and objects that we like or dislike a lot mean everything to us. A lot of stress is already happening in your intention to pay attention. It's bouncing between objects looking for "things" to like or dislike all the time and this amygdala likes to overrate "things" by liking them or disliking them beyond what the actual data shows. A lot of data is ignored in order to like or dislike something. 

http://www.dharmaseed.org/teacher/360/talk/18696/

Atammayata is being with the experience before the perception starts pushing the brain to ruminate about controlling those "things" to give permanent satisfaction. The fight or flight response is all about controlling the environment, and when over-vigilant it can lead to depression when your attempts at control fail over and over again.

Whether someone uses a sky-gazing practice by letting go of attention to reactive objects or Atammayata or letting go of preferences or welcoming unpleasant perceptions, it's all about targeting perception. Perception also includes day-dreaming about past and future scenarios which can often be incredibly wrong and outlandish. Perception labels are fabricating over-top actual experience so it's hard to have an actual experience without some feeling tone. Since Nirvana is letting go of likes and dislikes to the point of going unconscious, then that means being conscious will still require some stress just to be alive. Albeit the stress is much lower than for a normal neurotic person, it cannot be eliminated completely until Pari-Nirvana (death).

If you are interested in other good Mahayana Emptiness explanations I would recommend this website:

http://emptinessteachings.com/

Susan Kahn has a gift in explaining Nagarjuna.

Another more simple (not really) way of relieving stress with emptiness is just looking at basic cause and effect when something you don't like happens. The brain acts as if events have their "own being" or "inherent existence". "That shouldn't be there! That mustn't happen." Yet it did. If you act like an investigator you can find evidence of cause and effect that is endlessly supported by causes and conditions. This goes back to the big bang but people still have choice (though limited by certain circumstances). It's cause and effect including an array of choices that are available to cognizant human beings. This way you can use a sense of self or agent while knowing that it's empty of causelessness. Emptiness won't negate basic choices, just choices that cause and effect won't allow emoticon

Have fun! But make sure you are using these understandings in your meditation or else it's too much analysis that might just cause a whole bunch of stress, or even worse create reasons to enjoy dukkha because "it's all empty anyways!" The danger of nihilism is having too much equanimity so that habits don't change but you feel just fine regardless of the consequences.

Richard

RE: Seeing that Frees
Answer
8/18/15 5:47 AM as a reply to Mark.
Awesome, thanks for that. Much clearer -- or at least as clear as this stuff can get. I'd argue for the emptiness of other alongside the emptiness of self (emergent properties illustrate this wonderfully, it seems) but I do have to own up to the stubborn unknowability of the endeavour at large.

So, when I read things like Daniel's summary of the ultimate aspects of reality, I'm left to wonder: is this strictly within the realm of experience, or is it literally what it says on the tin?

RE: Seeing that Frees
Answer
8/18/15 8:01 AM as a reply to Mark.
Mark --

This seems to be a pretty big hole in an understanding of dependent origination. Considering our earlier thread on Tom Pepper's article, it seems Tom is pointing at a pretty radical insight if Burbea missed it ?

Perhaps the assumption Burbea makes is confusing existence with phenomena. So if it is not phenomena then it does not get investigated, so  his insights just don't go in that direction ? 

Mark, I take Burbea's book to be a practice manual. I think Burbea's book is very, very useflul for someone who wants to investigate DO experientially in their practice, and that investigation carried to the extent Burbea suggestes, can potentially reveal agreement or disagreement with Burbea, assuming the practitioner thinks things through. This is not easy stuff, and practice experience should be accompanied by intellectual investigation.

Tom Pepper, as far as I can tell, is proposing a different interpretation of DO, and epistemology, that is not commonly used (think Burbea), which is what Tom says at the beginning of much of what he writes. I see Tom as expressing the view that DO is a natural process and that Buddhists have to be more careful and exact when "using" DO because natural phenomena (quarks, rabbits), while subject to DO, are unlike social phenomena (churches, chairs). Social phenomena are dependently arisen via human action, whereas natural phenomena are not.. Tom seems to be saying that DO, when properly defined, leaves room for changing the nature of the society we human beings construct around ourselves and that our salvation from suffering requires this as opposed to the more popular atomic view of DO that allows the individual, and society, to hide behind what is otherwise seen as inevitable and thus easier to ignore, or worse, be used to justify things as they are.

RE: Seeing that Frees
Answer
8/18/15 8:41 AM as a reply to Mark.
Mark:
Hi Richard,

I have read the middle path explanation. I think the rest of the book (section 3 on) is much more practise focused and I will read it. I don't think the book is arguing for nihilism and that is not what I am suggesting either. Middle way can be a problematic phrase, it sounds wise but it also sets up a framework. So materialism and nihilism are excluded but at the same time all of existence has been reduced to a single dimension and the answer is at some point in the middle. That is a bit of an exaggeration but I hope you see that is closes doors to other ways of seeing that are not on that single dimension.

The middle way can only be seen by practice. Nihilism is a part of the path and so is Reification. People bounce between one and another until they use useful perceptions and relax reactivity that is unnecessary. That's why I pointed out Atammayata. The brain files memories of perception labels and then has trouble getting new experiences because it labels very quickly ignoring a whole bunch of data.

The phrase "Chairness is just a perception lavel by the brain" points at the problem I see. If we instead say "Racism is just a perception label" that hopefully evokes a different reaction in you. There is a risk it does not if you're convinced "everything is just a perception".

Actually this is a good example right here where you can see my context. A racist is labelling people without challenging the perception. "Different people are dangerous." Well if that is challenged it's possible to find new friends, but without challenging it one will never know.

I agree it is important to relieve stress, that needs to be balanced with many other things or there is an obvious dramatic conclusion. Seeing everything is empty might be a strategy that works and it will have certain side effects. Seeing only the self as empty might be another stratgey that works, again with it's side effects. Seeing attachment as empty might be another strategy etc.

The problem with emptiness is falling into nihilism. Seeing things as empty should only be used to renounce what is unskillful, otherwise emptiness could be a sophisticated argument to be a nihilist. "Do what I want because it's all empty anyways." Everything is empty of permanence, not empty of value.

Your explanation is clear but it also strikes me how it is focused on the individual. To be blunt it is all about the amygdala. I see some truth in that but I also think emptiness is pointing to something much more complicated regarding inter-subjective experience.

It is about interdependence (one cannot be conscious without something to be conscious of) but one still has a single mindstream that must make decisions. 

I would say it is not a problem to have feeling tone. Preference is not the problem as I see it, attachment is the problem. If you cut at the feeling tone then it may stop attachment but it will also have other side effects. 

This is where I found Burbea to be very helpful. Your perception is not neutral and is already creating feeling tones. Unless you are unconscious there will be a subtle stress when the attention span moves from object to object in an automatic habitual way. Why is it moving? Because it's already using preferences. Sure preferences aren't useless but one has to see that the fight or flight response is operating constantly. What is the fight or flight for? Control over your experience, yet trying to control what you cannot control IS unnecessary stress. We need to see this to smooth out experience more by reducing unnecessary stress. This can be done with a sky-gazing practice, Atammayata, noting, etc. You are letting go of attention to pointless object/fight or flight reactions.

Burbea does not make any reference to Mahayana (none that struck me while reading it). Clearly his ideas are very strongly influenced by Mahayana. I want to be clear that I am not trying to critic Mahayana, I'm considering what was written in the book. But depenent origination has me fascinated at the moment so I appreciate the link, thanks.

The Stoics have practises which are very similar regarding the destiny of causality while also leaving space for personal choice, it is a tough pitch. But it seems taking that view can be very effective. Without going so far as to buy into the metaphysics, focusing on what is within our control and being rational about what is within our control seems very sensible.

Absolutely!

Your mention of choices go me thinking more about this. If I look at what is going on when "choosing" it is clear that it is conditioned but it is conditioned by my inner world. I can't find the "perception" of choice. I can find peceptions of stress etc. I suspect that what we experience as "free will" is these perceptions of stress, worry etc that arise from a self attached to results, combined with a narrative that claims agency over the choice that was made. 

It's conditioned by the inner and outer world. Choices are a pro and con analysis because the Amygdala has reasons for choosing what is most pleasurable and what is most painful. Make no doubt about it. The brain wants more pleasure and less pain. There are reasons and voices in our heads making choices and it's all about that. This means it's cause and effect in the sense of reacting to what we like or dislike but as we gain knowledge from our memories (and mindfulness memories) we can learn to find a better pleasure which is mental peace from constant fight or flight to control experiences or to numb stress with short-term addictions.

I don't feel a danger of nihilism because I don't believe there is an absolute. That means on one end it is not meaningless and on the other that it is not meaningful. It is all relative and so relatively important, the infamous middle way...

As long as emptiness is not used to entertain hedonism I don't think you'll be pulled by nihilism.

Thanks for your concern.

Richard Zen:
Just keep reading the book. At some point you'll get to the middle path explanation and it should make sense.
Chairness is just a perception label by the brain. It's useful but I think a better way to get what emptiness means for a person is how understanding emptiness relieves stress. Perception is not neutral on liking or disliking things. Chairs are pretty neutral to us but people and objects that we like or dislike a lot mean everything to us. A lot of stress is already happening in your intention to pay attention. It's bouncing between objects looking for "things" to like or dislike all the time and this amygdala likes to overrate "things" by liking them or disliking them beyond what the actual data shows. A lot of data is ignored in order to like or dislike something. 

http://www.dharmaseed.org/teacher/360/talk/18696/

Atammayata is being with the experience before the perception starts pushing the brain to ruminate about controlling those "things" to give permanent satisfaction. The fight or flight response is all about controlling the environment, and when over-vigilant it can lead to depression when your attempts at control fail over and over again.

Whether someone uses a sky-gazing practice by letting go of attention to reactive objects or Atammayata or letting go of preferences or welcoming unpleasant perceptions, it's all about targeting perception. Perception also includes day-dreaming about past and future scenarios which can often be incredibly wrong and outlandish. Perception labels are fabricating over-top actual experience so it's hard to have an actual experience without some feeling tone. Since Nirvana is letting go of likes and dislikes to the point of going unconscious, then that means being conscious will still require some stress just to be alive. Albeit the stress is much lower than for a normal neurotic person, it cannot be eliminated completely until Pari-Nirvana (death).

If you are interested in other good Mahayana Emptiness explanations I would recommend this website:

http://emptinessteachings.com/

Susan Kahn has a gift in explaining Nagarjuna.

Another more simple (not really) way of relieving stress with emptiness is just looking at basic cause and effect when something you don't like happens. The brain acts as if events have their "own being" or "inherent existence". "That shouldn't be there! That mustn't happen." Yet it did. If you act like an investigator you can find evidence of cause and effect that is endlessly supported by causes and conditions. This goes back to the big bang but people still have choice (though limited by certain circumstances). It's cause and effect including an array of choices that are available to cognizant human beings. This way you can use a sense of self or agent while knowing that it's empty of causelessness. Emptiness won't negate basic choices, just choices that cause and effect won't allow emoticon

Have fun! But make sure you are using these understandings in your meditation or else it's too much analysis that might just cause a whole bunch of stress, or even worse create reasons to enjoy dukkha because "it's all empty anyways!" The danger of nihilism is having too much equanimity so that habits don't change but you feel just fine regardless of the consequences.

Richard

Hopefully that makes more sense.

RE: Seeing that Frees
Answer
8/18/15 8:44 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
Mark --

This seems to be a pretty big hole in an understanding of dependent origination. Considering our earlier thread on Tom Pepper's article, it seems Tom is pointing at a pretty radical insight if Burbea missed it ?

Perhaps the assumption Burbea makes is confusing existence with phenomena. So if it is not phenomena then it does not get investigated, so  his insights just don't go in that direction ? 

Mark, I take Burbea's book to be a practice manual. I think Burbea's book is very, very useflul for someone who wants to investigate DO experientially in their practice, and that investigation carried to the extent Burbea suggestes, can potentially reveal agreement or disagreement with Burbea, assuming the practitioner thinks things through. This is not easy stuff, and practice experience should be accompanied by intellectual investigation.

Tom Pepper, as far as I can tell, is proposing a different interpretation of DO, and epistemology, that is not commonly used (think Burbea), which is what Tom says at the beginning of much of what he writes. I see Tom as expressing the view that DO is a natural process and that Buddhists have to be more careful and exact when "using" DO because natural phenomena (quarks, rabbits), while subject to DO, are unlike social phenomena (churches, chairs). Social phenomena are dependently arisen via human action, whereas natural phenomena are not.. Tom seems to be saying that DO, when properly defined, leaves room for changing the nature of the society we human beings construct around ourselves and that our salvation from suffering requires this as opposed to the more popular atomic view of DO that allows the individual, and society, to hide behind what is otherwise seen as inevitable and thus easier to ignore, or worse, be used to justify things as they are.

Hi Chris, you did recommend it as a reference for explaining DO ;) But I agree the general concensus is that it is a very good practise manual.

In case others read this I think it is worth mentioning that Tom Pepper goes much further e.g. challenging the typical Buddhist conception of mind. It is quite a shift in thinking for most I guess.

For me the big take away so far is what you get is probably greatly influenced by what you are expecting. Otherwise I just don't see how people like Burbea seem to have no awareness of what Pepper refers to.

RE: Seeing that Frees
Answer
8/18/15 9:08 AM as a reply to Mark.
Hi Chris, you did recommend it as a reference for explaining DO ;) But I agree the general concensus is that it is a very good practise manual.


And I would do so again, Mark. It's still a worthwhile read. It delves into the topic more deeply than most practice manuals that tend to really gloss over it. And thanks for keeping me honest. I shoud have recommended Nagarjuna.  emoticon

In case others read this I think it is worth mentioning that Tom Pepper goes much further e.g. challenging the typical Buddhist conception of mind. It is quite a shift in thinking for most I guess.

That's definitely the case. I would say that people should read Tom Pepper's essays because of that. 

RE: Seeing that Frees
Answer
8/18/15 9:20 AM as a reply to John M..
John M.:
Awesome, thanks for that. Much clearer -- or at least as clear as this stuff can get. I'd argue for the emptiness of other alongside the emptiness of self (emergent properties illustrate this wonderfully, it seems) but I do have to own up to the stubborn unknowability of the endeavour at large.

So, when I read things like Daniel's summary of the ultimate aspects of reality, I'm left to wonder: is this strictly within the realm of experience, or is it literally what it says on the tin?

Hi John,

I think getting comfortable with "don't know" is liberating. Some early Buddhist stories stand out for showing an ability not to answer some questions. There seems to be a risk that later philosophers did not like that (maybe job security...) and tried to put a lot of "answers" back into Buddhism.

Maybe contribute to the MTCB2 thread with your question. I guess it should be clear after reading his book but like you I'm not sure.

RE: Seeing that Frees
Answer
8/18/15 10:11 AM as a reply to Richard Zen.
Richard Zen:
Mark:
Hi Richard,

The phrase "Chairness is just a perception lavel by the brain" points at the problem I see. If we instead say "Racism is just a perception label" that hopefully evokes a different reaction in you. There is a risk it does not if you're convinced "everything is just a perception".

Actually this is a good example right here where you can see my context. A racist is labelling people without challenging the perception. "Different people are dangerous." Well if that is challenged it's possible to find new friends, but without challenging it one will never know.



The problem that I'm pointing to is that by focusing on the perception you don't see the institutionalisation of racism. Under your conception we need to wait patiently for everyone to awaken to deal with racism. It gets back to that over-emphasis (my opinion) on the individual.



I agree it is important to relieve stress, that needs to be balanced with many other things or there is an obvious dramatic conclusion. Seeing everything is empty might be a strategy that works and it will have certain side effects. Seeing only the self as empty might be another stratgey that works, again with it's side effects. Seeing attachment as empty might be another strategy etc.

The problem with emptiness is falling into nihilism. Seeing things as empty should only be used to renounce what is unskillful, otherwise emptiness could be a sophisticated argument to be a nihilist. "Do what I want because it's all empty anyways." Everything is empty of permanence, not empty of value.



I don't have a good answer to this. But my feeling is that emptiness should lead to skillful behaviour. My intuition is that by having a more complete understanding of mind as a social construct then reason may lead to skillful action. The way skillful/wholesome behaviour is "pulled out of the hat" in the book was another problem I had with it.




Your explanation is clear but it also strikes me how it is focused on the individual. To be blunt it is all about the amygdala. I see some truth in that but I also think emptiness is pointing to something much more complicated regarding inter-subjective experience.

It is about interdependence (one cannot be conscious without something to be conscious of) but one still has a single mindstream that must make decisions. 




Interdependence tends to conjure up ideas of cause and effect. I think inter-subjectivity is pointing to something more. Information is not necessarily passed as perceptions, the mind is able to associate and infer (unconsciously most of the time). I guess meditators do not see this because it is not part of the subjective experience. It leads to an overly simplistic model of what is going on.


Your mention of choices go me thinking more about this. If I look at what is going on when "choosing" it is clear that it is conditioned but it is conditioned by my inner world. I can't find the "perception" of choice. I can find peceptions of stress etc. I suspect that what we experience as "free will" is these perceptions of stress, worry etc that arise from a self attached to results, combined with a narrative that claims agency over the choice that was made. 

It's conditioned by the inner and outer world. Choices are a pro and con analysis because the Amygdala has reasons for choosing what is most pleasurable and what is most painful. Make no doubt about it. The brain wants more pleasure and less pain. There are reasons and voices in our heads making choices and it's all about that.


In many cases you are right but I think your infatuation with the amygdala emoticon is not seeing that people can often choose to forgo pleasure or even take on pain for reasons that are beyond there individual benefit. Again by pulling it all back to perceptions it seems to create overly individualistic models.

Hopefully that makes more sense.

Yes I think I see your view more clearly and I'm not sure if I am doing as good a job of sharing a different view, sorry.

RE: Seeing that Frees
Answer
8/18/15 1:08 PM as a reply to Mark.
Mark:
Richard Zen:
Mark:
Hi Richard,

The phrase "Chairness is just a perception lavel by the brain" points at the problem I see. If we instead say "Racism is just a perception label" that hopefully evokes a different reaction in you. There is a risk it does not if you're convinced "everything is just a perception".

Actually this is a good example right here where you can see my context. A racist is labelling people without challenging the perception. "Different people are dangerous." Well if that is challenged it's possible to find new friends, but without challenging it one will never know.



The problem that I'm pointing to is that by focusing on the perception you don't see the institutionalisation of racism. Under your conception we need to wait patiently for everyone to awaken to deal with racism. It gets back to that over-emphasis (my opinion) on the individual.

I definitely don't think focusing on perception means we need to be a pacifist. It means to me that perceptions have to be challenged. Injustice has to be fought, though it gets dicey when violence and how far one should go.



I agree it is important to relieve stress, that needs to be balanced with many other things or there is an obvious dramatic conclusion. Seeing everything is empty might be a strategy that works and it will have certain side effects. Seeing only the self as empty might be another stratgey that works, again with it's side effects. Seeing attachment as empty might be another strategy etc.

The problem with emptiness is falling into nihilism. Seeing things as empty should only be used to renounce what is unskillful, otherwise emptiness could be a sophisticated argument to be a nihilist. "Do what I want because it's all empty anyways." Everything is empty of permanence, not empty of value.



I don't have a good answer to this. But my feeling is that emptiness should lead to skillful behaviour. My intuition is that by having a more complete understanding of mind as a social construct then reason may lead to skillful action. The way skillful/wholesome behaviour is "pulled out of the hat" in the book was another problem I had with it.

It's a problem with Mahayana and Nagarjuna arguments in general.




Your explanation is clear but it also strikes me how it is focused on the individual. To be blunt it is all about the amygdala. I see some truth in that but I also think emptiness is pointing to something much more complicated regarding inter-subjective experience.

It is about interdependence (one cannot be conscious without something to be conscious of) but one still has a single mindstream that must make decisions. 




Interdependence tends to conjure up ideas of cause and effect. I think inter-subjectivity is pointing to something more. Information is not necessarily passed as perceptions, the mind is able to associate and infer (unconsciously most of the time). I guess meditators do not see this because it is not part of the subjective experience. It leads to an overly simplistic model of what is going on.

It may look simplistic the way I explain it but perception is in our memories and where we get complex is not noticing how old perceptions are colouring new experiences and judging too quickly. We also can fabricate future scenarios based on our old perceptions. Eg. Being new on a job and having co-workers project attitudes on you that were originally projections on the older employee that used to be in your position. To me I want to focus more on, "is this perception true? Can I test it? Is it causing harm to myself and others?"


Your mention of choices go me thinking more about this. If I look at what is going on when "choosing" it is clear that it is conditioned but it is conditioned by my inner world. I can't find the "perception" of choice. I can find peceptions of stress etc. I suspect that what we experience as "free will" is these perceptions of stress, worry etc that arise from a self attached to results, combined with a narrative that claims agency over the choice that was made. 

It's conditioned by the inner and outer world. Choices are a pro and con analysis because the Amygdala has reasons for choosing what is most pleasurable and what is most painful. Make no doubt about it. The brain wants more pleasure and less pain. There are reasons and voices in our heads making choices and it's all about that.


In many cases you are right but I think your infatuation with the amygdala emoticon is not seeing that people can often choose to forgo pleasure or even take on pain for reasons that are beyond there individual benefit. Again by pulling it all back to perceptions it seems to create overly individualistic models.

There usually is a benefit. Even altruism can connect to oxytocin which is a survival attitude related to group survival. This is why when people volunteer they can often feel good even if they are not being paid for their work.
Hopefully that makes more sense.

Yes I think I see your view more clearly and I'm not sure if I am doing as good a job of sharing a different view, sorry.
Just focus on what you can get out of Rob's book for practice purposes and mix it with what you like in other areas. That's what I do. I'll take ideas from anywhere as long as I like it. Buddhism won't have answers for everything and I especially feel they are weak on how to deal with narcissist bullies who require much more forceful confrontation than many Buddhist monks are willing to bother with. Coercion often needs coercion in response, not emptiness arguments.

Where I agree with you the most is that there's no absolute like a concrete absolute, and also that knowing what we can control vs. not control is paramount.

RE: Seeing that Frees
Answer
8/18/15 2:21 PM as a reply to Richard Zen.
Richard Zen:
Mark:
Richard Zen:

I definitely don't think focusing on perception means we need to be a pacifist. It means to me that perceptions have to be challenged. Injustice has to be fought, though it gets dicey when violence and how far one should go.

It is group dynamics that are more important than the perceptions of any one member. The perceptions of the individual will also be changed by that dynamic. That dynamic is not something that can be perceived although an understanding of the dynamic might be inferred.


Interdependence tends to conjure up ideas of cause and effect. I think inter-subjectivity is pointing to something more. Information is not necessarily passed as perceptions, the mind is able to associate and infer (unconsciously most of the time). I guess meditators do not see this because it is not part of the subjective experience. It leads to an overly simplistic model of what is going on.

It may look simplistic the way I explain it but perception is in our memories and where we get complex is not noticing how old perceptions are colouring new experiences and judging too quickly. We also can fabricate future scenarios based on our old perceptions. Eg. Being new on a job and having co-workers project attitudes on you that were originally projections on the older employee that used to be in your position. To me I want to focus more on, "is this perception true? Can I test it? Is it causing harm to myself and others?"

I agree that old experiences shape new experiences but I'm pointing to something more going on. Consider a view of the brain as a prediction machine, it will predict things that it has never experienced before. Those predictions are not accessible memories - they don't exist until they are made. But society has evolved with humans to make use of this capacity. The prediction machine may be "trained" with perceptions that do not even have a direct relationship with the predictions that will be made. Society has perhpas gotten very good at this, we are all contributing to something that does not have reducing human suffering as a priority. 

There usually is a benefit. Even altruism can connect to oxytocin which is a survival attitude related to group survival. This is why when people volunteer they can often feel good even if they are not being paid for their work.
That does not really hold up, people don't get those benefits until after having volunteered and done the work. The reason for volunteering may be nothing to do with that. If you try to organize something with volunteers you will not see a rush of people lining up for their oxytocin kick. Reducing things to chemicals is just way too reductive, there are around 100 billion neutrons that are also doing something. Because science basically doesn't know how those neurons function together you will not find popular science books on the topic. And then there is perhaps a much more important concept of the socially constructed mind that goes beyond the dependency on a physical brain to a dependency on society.


Buddhism won't have answers for everything and I especially feel they are weak on how to deal with narcissist bullies who require much more forceful confrontation than many Buddhist monks are willing to bother with. Coercion often needs coercion in response, not emptiness arguments.

I guess you have specific situations in mind. Narcissists are a real tough nut, I think there is a world of pain being repressed by the narcissist, to the point where opening that door is perceived as something like death. From what I've read most psychotherapists do not offer much hope and results are very poor, self help is usually a non starter. Even a narcissist looking for help is often only going to be given coping strategies. As I understand it typically the narcissist suffered trauma at a young age (say less than 10 years old) that basically cut off access to empathy. Highly likely there is a narcissistic parent involved.

I wonder whether a major mushroom trip would open that door. Waking up at 38 to find the emotional intelligence of an 8 year old has got to hurt. Might be a very bad trip.

I wonder what would happen if the narcissist was regularly in contact with someone with massive empathy. Would they open up to that person at some point. I just can't muster the empathy for that experiment emoticon 

Narcissits are very good at conforming to social patterns, this is how they can gain influence as they can't rely on actually being like for the "personality" they have. So perhaps the best thing is to be in an environment where the patterns are not supportive of bullying etc. Of course a lot of people are happy be in a poor environment in exchange for money.


RE: Seeing that Frees
Answer
8/18/15 11:58 PM as a reply to Mark.
Mark:
Richard Zen:
Mark:
Richard Zen:

I definitely don't think focusing on perception means we need to be a pacifist. It means to me that perceptions have to be challenged. Injustice has to be fought, though it gets dicey when violence and how far one should go.

It is group dynamics that are more important than the perceptions of any one member. The perceptions of the individual will also be changed by that dynamic. That dynamic is not something that can be perceived although an understanding of the dynamic might be inferred.

Of course group dynamics are important when it comes to changing perceptions of a person but I don't see how exercising my challenges to my habitual perceptions will conflict with what you are talking about. People will still have their perceptions/arguments/points of view that are unique and in some cases transcend the group dynamic push beyond group think. Some group influences are more like brainwashing which can include racism as well. I don't know if this is off topic but understanding perceptions and how stress is already starting to ramp up is helpful because one can make more choices regarding whether that perception should be built on it (vigorously fighting injustice) or relaxing a pointless anxiety that may in fact cause a whole list of other problems related to stress in general. Eg. (lashing out at people/misery loves company, phobias, depression, etc)

Interdependence tends to conjure up ideas of cause and effect. I think inter-subjectivity is pointing to something more. Information is not necessarily passed as perceptions, the mind is able to associate and infer (unconsciously most of the time). I guess meditators do not see this because it is not part of the subjective experience. It leads to an overly simplistic model of what is going on.

It may look simplistic the way I explain it but perception is in our memories and where we get complex is not noticing how old perceptions are colouring new experiences and judging too quickly. We also can fabricate future scenarios based on our old perceptions. Eg. Being new on a job and having co-workers project attitudes on you that were originally projections on the older employee that used to be in your position. To me I want to focus more on, "is this perception true? Can I test it? Is it causing harm to myself and others?"

I agree that old experiences shape new experiences but I'm pointing to something more going on. Consider a view of the brain as a prediction machine, it will predict things that it has never experienced before. Those predictions are not accessible memories - they don't exist until they are made. But society has evolved with humans to make use of this capacity. The prediction machine may be "trained" with perceptions that do not even have a direct relationship with the predictions that will be made. Society has perhpas gotten very good at this, we are all contributing to something that does not have reducing human suffering as a priority. 

It's true that reducing human suffering as a priority can be reductive. Some times you have to go to war to reduce suffering in the long-run (Eg. Fight Hitler) But in general people who feel more peaceful feelings, equanimity, and acceptance are less likely to follow a Hitler or become one. Buddhism to me is not the be all and end all and does not have all the answers to human problems.

There usually is a benefit. Even altruism can connect to oxytocin which is a survival attitude related to group survival. This is why when people volunteer they can often feel good even if they are not being paid for their work.
That does not really hold up, people don't get those benefits until after having volunteered and done the work. The reason for volunteering may be nothing to do with that. If you try to organize something with volunteers you will not see a rush of people lining up for their oxytocin kick. Reducing things to chemicals is just way too reductive, there are around 100 billion neutrons that are also doing something. Because science basically doesn't know how those neurons function together you will not find popular science books on the topic. And then there is perhaps a much more important concept of the socially constructed mind that goes beyond the dependency on a physical brain to a dependency on society.

All those dependencies on society you are talking about are needs and what are society needs? They involve neurotransmitters. I don't think it's too reductive because human behaviour does involve rewards but also you have to look at your argument that those rewards have to come after doing the volunteer work in the above example. People are motivated to do things because of the reward and they are anticipating it

If you want to understand why some people are half-hearted or not on volunteering or other activities then I would direct you to Intrinsic and Extrinsic rewards. Some people are very motivated because they enjoy the process and anticipate a good result from the activity. Others are only there for the external reward. (Eg. Better resume, "I will be more likable", "It's what one should do.") You may think the amygdala is a fetish for me, but it isn't. I find there's a shitload of hypocrisy that people will run into if they don't respect the amygdala. Unless people can think they can act without motivation. There's always a motivation! People are either lying or don't have enough insight.



Buddhism won't have answers for everything and I especially feel they are weak on how to deal with narcissist bullies who require much more forceful confrontation than many Buddhist monks are willing to bother with. Coercion often needs coercion in response, not emptiness arguments.

I guess you have specific situations in mind. Narcissists are a real tough nut, I think there is a world of pain being repressed by the narcissist, to the point where opening that door is perceived as something like death. From what I've read most psychotherapists do not offer much hope and results are very poor, self help is usually a non starter. Even a narcissist looking for help is often only going to be given coping strategies. As I understand it typically the narcissist suffered trauma at a young age (say less than 10 years old) that basically cut off access to empathy. Highly likely there is a narcissistic parent involved.

I wonder whether a major mushroom trip would open that door. Waking up at 38 to find the emotional intelligence of an 8 year old has got to hurt. Might be a very bad trip.

I wonder what would happen if the narcissist was regularly in contact with someone with massive empathy. Would they open up to that person at some point. I just can't muster the empathy for that experiment emoticon 

Narcissits are very good at conforming to social patterns, this is how they can gain influence as they can't rely on actually being like for the "personality" they have. So perhaps the best thing is to be in an environment where the patterns are not supportive of bullying etc. Of course a lot of people are happy be in a poor environment in exchange for money.

I did a speech on Narcissism based on Sam Vaknin's writings and videos. I could detect some bullshit from the audience as some pretended to not know any narcissists and yet I could detect envy in many of those same people. The envious (no matter how obvious) will deny. "Who me? No I'm not and I don't know anyone who is." I think with some people it sunk in really well. The problem is talking about narcissism to narcissists (everyone has a little bit of serotonin obsession with power and status) makes them double-down on it.  That's their weakness, their predictability.

I particularly liked The Wolf of Wall Street in how Scorsese tried to accuse the audience of wishing to be the guy and many people I talked to who saw the movie liked the bastard and only felt his mistake was getting caught. They played into Scorsese's insult like morons. Anything for serotonin/pride/power etc.

The only solution that I've seen with narcissists is a fight or flight response. Flight being the most useful one. As you point out, the narcissist has allies (co-dependents) and fighting with them when they have the power is next to useless. This is especially true when you see how scapegoating works (Rene Girard).

There are times when Narcissists are punished but that's usually when they chase off an excellent employee their boss wanted to keep. Though Narcissists are good at taking credit for another's work or using hyper-criticism and Gaslighting to make the skillful person appear incompetent in front of others. If you make a mistake they will keep the spotlight on you to prevent their errors from coming to light, and to catastrophize what you did.


Anyways I can talk about personality disorders all day, but as long as people feel a lack of many of those transmitters and a neediness that lingers they will find alternative sources in unskillful ways.

RE: Seeing that Frees
Answer
8/19/15 2:47 AM as a reply to Richard Zen.

Of course group dynamics are important when it comes to changing perceptions of a person but I don't see how exercising my challenges to my habitual perceptions will conflict with what you are talking about.


In theory there is no conflict but in practise an over emphasis on one will limit understanding of the other. For example I think it leads to a misunderstanding of dependent origination. That then leads to a practise which causes further imbalance.

People will still have their perceptions/arguments/points of view that are unique and in some cases transcend the group dynamic push beyond group think.


It is really hard to "get" this but you need to see the social dimension. It is like group think but it is the container in which you think. You can't transcend the social container - but the social container is changing.

Buddhism to me is not the be all and end all and does not have all the answers to human problems.



Unfortunately a lot of practitioners do think practise is the answer to all human problems. If only everyone would be buddhist.... An interpretation of emptiness that confuses subjective-experience with everything encourages that behavior I think.


All those dependencies on society you are talking about are needs and what are society needs? They involve neurotransmitters. I don't think it's too reductive because human behaviour does involve rewards but also you have to look at your argument that those rewards have to come after doing the volunteer work in the above example. People are motivated to do things because of the reward and they are anticipating it


I did not say reward have to come afterwards, I said that it was incorrect that the chemical reward is the only motivator. Society does not have needs in the sense of neurotransmitters. Society is evolving but that does not make it a living entity. Perhaps I can twist your words to get my point across " they are anticipating" but chemicals do not anticipate, there is much more to the puzzle. It is also possible to anticipate things that are not related to the physical world - so no chemicals involved e.g. anticipating death and acting accordingly. Yes chemicals are important influences, as drug addictions clearly show, but chemicals are not a good way to understand human society and behavior.



If you want to understand why some people are half-hearted or not on volunteering or other activities then I would direct you to Intrinsic and Extrinsic rewards. Some people are very motivated because they enjoy the process and anticipate a good result from the activity. Others are only there for the external reward. (Eg. Better resume, "I will be more likable", "It's what one should do.")


Not sure at all, that is a nice way of seeing the world but people are often extremely motivated by extrinsic reward. You are pointing to the complexity that your model of chemicals and an amygdala does not explain.


You may think the amygdala is a fetish for me, but it isn't. I find there's a shitload of hypocrisy that people will run into if they don't respect the amygdala. Unless people can think they can act without motivation. There's always a motivation! People are either lying or don't have enough insight.


The problem I see is reducing the brain to such simplistic terms. But I think I'm starting to understand your motivations for this. From what I understand you give public talks and are using this "science" to support your arguments. I put quotes around science because there is not a professional scientist who would support your arguments - they are just way to simplistic and making massive assumptions about things we know that we don't know.


I did a speech on Narcissism based on Sam Vaknin's writings and videos. I could detect some bullshit from the audience as some pretended to not know any narcissists and yet I could detect envy in many of those same people. The envious (no matter how obvious) will deny. "Who me? No I'm not and I don't know anyone who is." I think with some people it sunk in really well. The problem is talking about narcissism to narcissists (everyone has a little bit of serotonin obsession with power and status) makes them double-down on it.  That's their weakness, their predictability.



I keep harping on ;) But reducing narcissism to serotonin is really not understanding narcissism. It is quite possible to be narcissistic without having power and status. Not being able to empathise is a fundamental issue as I see it. Chemicals do not empathise.


The only solution that I've seen with narcissists is a fight or flight response.



When you only have a hammer everything looks like a nail.

RE: Seeing that Frees
Answer
8/19/15 7:40 AM as a reply to Mark.
Is consciousness and human behavior reducable to the chemical reactions, electrical signals and the anatomy in "the brain"? Is consciousness even reducable to the individual? I dunno, folks. I'm not suggesting a duality but I don't think we know.

RE: Seeing that Frees
Answer
8/19/15 8:21 AM as a reply to Mark.
Mark:

Of course group dynamics are important when it comes to changing perceptions of a person but I don't see how exercising my challenges to my habitual perceptions will conflict with what you are talking about.


In theory there is no conflict but in practise an over emphasis on one will limit understanding of the other. For example I think it leads to a misunderstanding of dependent origination. That then leads to a practise which causes further imbalance.

It would be interesting to see your explanation on dependent origination because there are different interpretations from different schools of Buddhism.

People will still have their perceptions/arguments/points of view that are unique and in some cases transcend the group dynamic push beyond group think.


It is really hard to "get" this but you need to see the social dimension. It is like group think but it is the container in which you think. You can't transcend the social container - but the social container is changing.

You'll have to be less abstract here and go into more detail. From what I'm reading it sounds to me like cultural conditioning. Any conditioning involves the limbic system.

Buddhism to me is not the be all and end all and does not have all the answers to human problems.



Unfortunately a lot of practitioners do think practise is the answer to all human problems. If only everyone would be buddhist.... An interpretation of emptiness that confuses subjective-experience with everything encourages that behavior I think.


All those dependencies on society you are talking about are needs and what are society needs? They involve neurotransmitters. I don't think it's too reductive because human behaviour does involve rewards but also you have to look at your argument that those rewards have to come after doing the volunteer work in the above example. People are motivated to do things because of the reward and they are anticipating it


I did not say reward have to come afterwards, I said that it was incorrect that the chemical reward is the only motivator. Society does not have needs in the sense of neurotransmitters. Society is evolving but that does not make it a living entity. Perhaps I can twist your words to get my point across " they are anticipating" but chemicals do not anticipate, there is much more to the puzzle. It is also possible to anticipate things that are not related to the physical world - so no chemicals involved e.g. anticipating death and acting accordingly. Yes chemicals are important influences, as drug addictions clearly show, but chemicals are not a good way to understand human society and behavior.

Sure neurotransmitters aren't the only thing in the human brain but any anticipating is because the brain wants to feel good, and to feel less bad. Most future thinking (regardless of whether there's some original perceptions in them) are thinking about possibilities that can be "good or bad for me". Anticipating death could make some feel good because they accept their lot, or feel bad because they resist the inevitable. Resisting the inevitable is what most psychologists or even Buddhists are trying to convince people to stop doing.


If you want to understand why some people are half-hearted or not on volunteering or other activities then I would direct you to Intrinsic and Extrinsic rewards. Some people are very motivated because they enjoy the process and anticipate a good result from the activity. Others are only there for the external reward. (Eg. Better resume, "I will be more likable", "It's what one should do.")


Not sure at all, that is a nice way of seeing the world but people are often extremely motivated by extrinsic reward. You are pointing to the complexity that your model of chemicals and an amygdala does not explain.

Oh I know that people can be motivated by extrinsic reward for survival purposes of trying to gain more and more success which can easily be explained by how status and domination feel in the brain and how it helps in finding mates, having children and passing DNA along. Serotonin feels good for a reason. If people are less ignorant and look at activities are that fun in of themselves they can see that doing jobs that they like for enough money can create more happiness than chasing money, fame and status which most cannot get and the economy has trouble providing. If it did then it would lose it's lustre of exclusivity that extrinsic people are seeking. They look at status as a zero sum game and a hierarchy where they wan to perch.

Then when people start doing jobs they like then the passion will attract probably more money and confidence. A more advanced way of dealing with this is trying to develop Flow by adjusting the skill level and challenges so those chemicals flow more freely and anxiety and boredom are acted upon instead of being stuck in it. This would match Cal Newport's idea of creating passion in your job, instead of following it elsewhere.



You may think the amygdala is a fetish for me, but it isn't. I find there's a shitload of hypocrisy that people will run into if they don't respect the amygdala. Unless people can think they can act without motivation. There's always a motivation! People are either lying or don't have enough insight.


The problem I see is reducing the brain to such simplistic terms. But I think I'm starting to understand your motivations for this. From what I understand you give public talks and are using this "science" to support your arguments. I put quotes around science because there is not a professional scientist who would support your arguments - they are just way to simplistic and making massive assumptions about things we know that we don't know.

I'm doing speeches out of inspiration and it involves quoting plenty of science. You think scientists don't study the limbic system? There's even studies that show that altruism feels good. I don't think extra complexity will change how motivations are seen in people to a great extent. The limbic system as shown in Buddhism has to be operating just for people to be conscious. Relaxing the push and pull of likes and dislike until you go into Nirvana is not permanent until you die (assuming nothing happens afterwards).

I did a speech on Narcissism based on Sam Vaknin's writings and videos. I could detect some bullshit from the audience as some pretended to not know any narcissists and yet I could detect envy in many of those same people. The envious (no matter how obvious) will deny. "Who me? No I'm not and I don't know anyone who is." I think with some people it sunk in really well. The problem is talking about narcissism to narcissists (everyone has a little bit of serotonin obsession with power and status) makes them double-down on it.  That's their weakness, their predictability.



I keep harping on ;) But reducing narcissism to serotonin is really not understanding narcissism. It is quite possible to be narcissistic without having power and status. Not being able to empathise is a fundamental issue as I see it. Chemicals do not empathise.

Well if people in Weimar Germany feel a lack of pride due to the depression and respond with ultra-neediness towards pride I think it does explain enough. Empathy feels good and that's why people can do it. The only problem is that there can be a conflict between pride and empathy depending on how people view their status in life. Some use empathy more and some use it less depending on their thinking habits and beliefs on what's important, but unless there's brain damage people want to feel better and avoid feeling worse.

The only solution that I've seen with narcissists is a fight or flight response.



When you only have a hammer everything looks like a nail.
Well you said it yourself. Narcissists are a tough nut to crack and you wouldn't want to test out empathy with them. It's been shown they only like pride and empathy disgusts them because they would have to let go some of their pride in order accept the empathy and to return it. I've actually been in that situation and they just try to walk all over you. They look at empathy as weak because it doesn't give them narcissist supply. Supply of what? Serotonin. They want to feel puffed up and dominate. That's an actual feeling. When people start learning about narcissism they often move into contempt because of how predictable narcissists are.

Adding more complexity to what we know is just fine and dandy but I wonder if we replace biology and chemistry with physics if we will get any further in understanding human motivation. If the particles behind the need for neurotransmitters are explained in more detail it will still involve survival goals and reproduction goals etc. At times you remind me of Brian Cox:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aJK7_yXGjcc

RE: Seeing that Frees
Answer
8/19/15 10:49 AM as a reply to Richard Zen.
Richard Zen:

It would be interesting to see your explanation on dependent origination because there are different interpretations from different schools of Buddhism.

An article that influenced my thinking about this a lot is https://faithfulbuddhist.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/taking-anatman-full-strength.pdf


You'll have to be less abstract here and go into more detail. From what I'm reading it sounds to me like cultural conditioning.

That article can help. A key is not to try and cast the concepts into your current view. If you can put that aside for a bit and take on a different view it will be very useful.

Then when people start doing jobs they like then the passion will attract probably more money and confidence.

That sounds like a line from Tony Robbins emoticon  

I'm doing speeches out of inspiration and it involves quoting plenty of science. You think scientists don't study the limbic system?

That is a real stretch of what I wrote. I said you are making massive assumptions that science does not. Scientists would not be able to publish a scientific paper with the conclusions you draw. It is just not as simple or well understood as you would like it to be.



Adding more complexity to what we know is just fine and dandy but I wonder if we replace biology and chemistry with physics if we will get any further in understanding human motivation.


Your interpretation is understandable but it is also quite amazing how you could read nearly the opposite of what I'm implying. You seem to have a materialistic filter on everything you are reading - it is all chemicals and if I suggest it is more complex then I must be talking about physics. I don't think I've even implied this in what I wrote.


If the particles behind the need for neurotransmitters are explained in more detail it will still involve survival goals and reproduction goals etc.

You really are convinced it is just the chemicals.

At the level of the physical brain there is clearly a lot of processing going on that is sub-conscious and involves electrical signals between neurons. It is not all about neurotransmitters and I am not implying that understanding the physics of neurotransmitters would be particularly helpful in regards to our topic. Understanding the information processing going on with the electrical interaction between neurons would be hugely helpful, we are just a very long way form having that understanding.

On one hand I am explaining to you that your model is too simple because it ignores the primary energy consumption happening in the brain i.e. electrical signalling.

On the other hand I am telling you your model is too simple because it is not taking into account aspects that are not physical at all. Like the socially constructed mind and the information processing e.g. prediction, inference, association.


RE: Seeing that Frees
Answer
8/19/15 1:08 PM as a reply to Mark.
Mark:
Richard Zen:

It would be interesting to see your explanation on dependent origination because there are different interpretations from different schools of Buddhism.

An article that influenced my thinking about this a lot is https://faithfulbuddhist.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/taking-anatman-full-strength.pdf


You'll have to be less abstract here and go into more detail. From what I'm reading it sounds to me like cultural conditioning.

That article can help. A key is not to try and cast the concepts into your current view. If you can put that aside for a bit and take on a different view it will be very useful.

Thanks! I'll take a look at that.

Then when people start doing jobs they like then the passion will attract probably more money and confidence.

That sounds like a line from Tony Robbins emoticon  

Tony Robbins is an NLP guy. I'm more quoting from Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, and Self-Efficacy and Self-regultion theories.

I'm doing speeches out of inspiration and it involves quoting plenty of science. You think scientists don't study the limbic system?

That is a real stretch of what I wrote. I said you are making massive assumptions that science does not. Scientists would not be able to publish a scientific paper with the conclusions you draw. It is just not as simple or well understood as you would like it to be.

I think we are talking cross purposes. I'm not saying everything is neurotransmitters and I think you know that. Neurotransmitters are helpful to understand Flow and how boredom occurs. They also help people predict behaviour well enough for practical purposes. I could probably use more reductive reasonings like the Hindrances or the 7 deadly sins. I'm all for more complexity if it can help our practical knowledge or to help us make better choices and decisions. Whatever stage of scientific development will always be more reductive compared to what is discovered in the future. That's why I like pragmatic dharma because I'm not stuck in dogma.



Adding more complexity to what we know is just fine and dandy but I wonder if we replace biology and chemistry with physics if we will get any further in understanding human motivation.


Your interpretation is understandable but it is also quite amazing how you could read nearly the opposite of what I'm implying. You seem to have a materialistic filter on everything you are reading - it is all chemicals and if I suggest it is more complex then I must be talking about physics. I don't think I've even implied this in what I wrote.

What I was meaning was the "your beliefs are too reductionist" argument you are using. It was only an example. Cox looks at biology and chemistry as meta-sciences because they are built on the underlying physics. My understanding of neurotransmitters is based on a more complex underlying science but is still a good predictor of human behaviour. Dependent Origination can go even more reductive and simply say "Pleasant, neutral, unplesant" and be quite useful when meditating.


If the particles behind the need for neurotransmitters are explained in more detail it will still involve survival goals and reproduction goals etc.

You really are convinced it is just the chemicals.

No. I just find it useful. And it is. So are some of the studies on Envy I've looked at and how connected savouring is with envy.

At the level of the physical brain there is clearly a lot of processing going on that is sub-conscious and involves electrical signals between neurons. It is not all about neurotransmitters and I am not implying that understanding the physics of neurotransmitters would be particularly helpful in regards to our topic. Understanding the information processing going on with the electrical interaction between neurons would be hugely helpful, we are just a very long way form having that understanding.

On one hand I am explaining to you that your model is too simple because it ignores the primary energy consumption happening in the brain i.e. electrical signalling.

On the other hand I am telling you your model is too simple because it is not taking into account aspects that are not physical at all. Like the socially constructed mind and the information processing e.g. prediction, inference, association.

You'll have to link to some sources on this socially constructed mind so I can understand it better. The way I look at it is that oxytocin feels good and people like empathy and connection with groups/regions/nationalisms for survival purposes (whether people stay at the "feels good" level of analysis or not), and things like ostracism provide major psychological damage and tests on primates and being raised without a mother show underpinnings of personality disorder we see in humans who often search for replacements in adulthood for what was missing in childhood. I'm assuming this social constructed mind is much more complex? emoticon

RE: Seeing that Frees
Answer
8/19/15 1:19 PM as a reply to Richard Zen.
 The way I look at it is that oxytocin feels good and people like empathy and connection with groups/regions/nationalisms for survival purposes (whether people stay at the "feels good" level of analysis or not), and things like ostracism provide major psychological damage and tests on primates and being raised without a mother show underpinnings of personality disorder we see in humans who often search for replacements in adulthood for what was missing in childhood. I'm assuming this social constructed mind is much more complex? emoticon

Hey Richard, this was new to me until recently, too. I suggest a thorough read of the article Mark suggested to you, but please do so carefully. The essence of it, trying to be succinct, is that much of our experience is constructed by agreement and convention. A single mind, isolated from society and any interaction thereby, would develop missing some very critical parts of our collective experience. For example, government, organized religion, symphonies, and so on. These are socially dependently arising.


RE: Seeing that Frees
Answer
8/19/15 2:23 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
 The way I look at it is that oxytocin feels good and people like empathy and connection with groups/regions/nationalisms for survival purposes (whether people stay at the "feels good" level of analysis or not), and things like ostracism provide major psychological damage and tests on primates and being raised without a mother show underpinnings of personality disorder we see in humans who often search for replacements in adulthood for what was missing in childhood. I'm assuming this social constructed mind is much more complex? emoticon

Hey Richard, this was new to me until recently, too. I suggest a thorough read of the article Mark suggested to you, but please do so carefully. The essence of it, trying to be succinct, is that much of our experience is constructed by agreement and convention. A single mind, isolated from society and any interaction thereby, would develop missing some very critical parts of our collective experience. For example, government, organized religion, symphonies, and so on. These are socially dependently arising.

Hi Chris, it is a challenge to capture the ideas succintly, an interesting exercise. What I read in the paper felt more radical. You make a reference to "a single mind" as in "an individual mind" as if that could develop isolated from society etc. I felt one of the points is that what would develop outside of any social environment would literally not be a mind as we understand it. For example no ego, no self, certainly no language and lacking a large array of thinking patterns and abilities. I think Pepper is pointing toward the mind not being an individual experience, what we do might be described as "tuning in" to the collective mind. It points to a much large amount of our experience being inter-subjective when we assumed it was subjective, this goes all the way to the very perceptions e.g. we literally see things in a way that is socially conditioned. Well I'll try to be succinct and stop hereemoticon

RE: Seeing that Frees
Answer
8/19/15 3:13 PM as a reply to Mark.
I think Pepper is pointing toward the mind not being an individual experience, what we do might be described as "tuning in" to the collective mind. It points to a much large amount of our experience being inter-subjective when we assumed it was subjective, this goes all the way to the very perceptions e.g. we literally see things in a way that is socially conditioned.

I didn't get quite that radical an impression of what Pepper was saying. Mark. You might be right but, again, it would be nice if Pepper would expound on his thoughts in more detail, leaving lees to interpretation. It seems I could read Pepper's essays many times and each time come away with a slightly different view. His writing is verbose in a way that makes it a bit of a struggle to read unless one is very focused and concentrated.

Anyway, I was hoping to get Richard to read the essay because it's worthwhile to get Pepper's POV. Good to challenge ourselves and the common wisdom that we hear all the time, and that sometimes isn't thoroughly offered or really well understood. Who better than the most serious, vocal critics like Tom Pepper?


RE: Seeing that Frees
Answer
8/19/15 3:27 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
I think Pepper is pointing toward the mind not being an individual experience, what we do might be described as "tuning in" to the collective mind. It points to a much large amount of our experience being inter-subjective when we assumed it was subjective, this goes all the way to the very perceptions e.g. we literally see things in a way that is socially conditioned.

I didn't get quite that radical an impression of what Pepper was saying. Mark. You might be right but, again, it would be nice if Pepper would expound on his thoughts in more detail, leaving lees to interpretation. It seems I could read Pepper's essays many times and each time come away with a slightly different view. His writing is verbose in a way that makes it a bit of a struggle to read unless one is very focused and concentrated.

Anyway, I was hoping to get Richard to read the essay because it's worthwhile to get Pepper's POV. Good to challenge ourselves and the common wisdom that we hear all the time, and that sometimes isn't thoroughly offered or really well understood. Who better than the most serious, vocal critics like Tom Pepper?

Hi Chris,

I did see your comment as having that intention. It is really hard not to frame the concepts within an existing view. I think I had some advantage because I came across that paper when learning more about non-buddhism. Pepper was quite active in that community and I think Pepper is strongly influenced by non-buddhism. Non-buddhism is about as radical as it is possible to get in regards to buddhism!

I'll quote a phrase from the paper: "Our brain must, in a sense, 'tune in' to the mind that already exists in order to become part of human consciousness." I think what I wrote is a fairly accurate reflection of that section of the paper.

I suspect you are framing Pepper's writing within an existing view. That is pretty hard not to do. I think you'd be up for reading about non-buddhism - it is unfortunately heavy going to begin with but is an excellent exercise is having one's view turned upside down and inside out emoticon

RE: Seeing that Frees
Answer
8/19/15 4:07 PM as a reply to Mark.
I'm up for any reading suggestions you can pass along, Mark. What's intriguing is to see buddhism from another angle altogether, to hear what the critics are saying and to get a more comprehensive look at what my own predisposition is after these many years of reading and practicing within the western buddhism paradigm. As I said in the other topic, I know I'm perceiving Pepper's essay's from an already existing POV. That's a handicap to grokking a new POV and it may require a direct frontal assault. Non-buddhism might just be the ticket.

RE: Seeing that Frees
Answer
8/19/15 7:11 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
Anyway, I was hoping to get Richard to read the essay because it's worthwhile to get Pepper's POV. Good to challenge ourselves and the common wisdom that we hear all the time, and that sometimes isn't thoroughly offered or really well understood. Who better than the most serious, vocal critics like Tom Pepper?

I did read it and it's very abstract so I'll have to mull it over the weekend because it's easy to go off on a tangent with our favorite subjects and talk past each other.

RE: Seeing that Frees
Answer
8/20/15 2:44 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
I'm up for any reading suggestions you can pass along, Mark. What's intriguing is to see buddhism from another angle altogether, to hear what the critics are saying and to get a more comprehensive look at what my own predisposition is after these many years of reading and practicing within the western buddhism paradigm. As I said in the other topic, I know I'm perceiving Pepper's essay's from an already existing POV. That's a handicap to grokking a new POV and it may require a direct frontal assault. Non-buddhism might just be the ticket.


Hi Chris, I think there are a number of barriers for someone exposed to Buddhism NB in understanding Non-Buddhism B. I'll list a few:

* NB were not interested in making it easy for B to understand NB
* NB are not particularly interested in dialog with B 
* NB is not targeting B as an audience
* NB went through a phase of trying to "destroy" B for themselves i.e. being able to "get out" of their view from within B
* The critique and style is very aggressive toward B - I see that as part of their process not a rigid position
* NB have pretty much moved on from that process and are in a more creative rather than destructuve phase now
* There were strong personalities involved, there was poor communication skills, there was a lot of insulting, ranting etc in comments. This just needs to be looked past, getting sucked into that just reproduces it.

To provide some context before diving into the detaisl I would read a little about Glenn Wallis. I think he is someone to be taken seriously. NB can seem like intellectual masturbation. But the Glenn has a profound experience in B, a Ph.D. in Buddhist studies from Harvard University's Department of Sanskrit and Indian Studies, he has a very deep knowledge of the early Buddhism scripture, I would guess he has a knowledge as deep or deeper than anyone I've seen posting on DhO. He also has a deep meditation experience currently being associate professor and chair of the Applied Meditation Studies program at the Won Institute of Graduate Studies. So this guy can wear multiple hats - he has a solid academic background and rare intellectual ability, he is pragmatic stance toward meditation and awakaning as a practise and walks the talk, he is also a member of a long standing punk rock band... http://glennwallis.com/who-i-am/

NB community is like any group of people, you can find good behaviour and bad behaviour etc. Glenn does not claim to be perfect, does not claim to have all the answers. He wanted to put B through a solid rational critique using some recent developments in western philosophy (Laruelle's Non-Philosophy) to inspire that. It is a radical endeavour and when you are messing with explosives accidents happen and things get messy.

RE: Seeing that Frees
Answer
8/20/15 7:36 AM as a reply to Mark.
Thanks, Mark. I'll dive in and start reading.

Edit: Okay, so, after visiting Wallis's site and reading about Wallis (interesting guy, seems serious) I'm going to start with this article:

Nascent Speculative Non-Buddhism

RE: Seeing that Frees
Answer
8/20/15 7:41 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
Thanks, Mark. I'll dive in and start reading.

Edit: Okay, so, after visiting Wallis's site and reading about Wallis (interesting guy, seems serious) I'm going to start with this article:

Nascent Speculative Non-Buddhism
Yeah that is certainly a good place to start but it is not an easy read. Another blog that I've found to be very good is http://thenonbuddhist.com maintained by two of the early figures in NB. You might like to read the post:

http://thenonbuddhist.com/2015/08/03/buddhismnon-buddhismnon-philosophy/

I think it helps put the concepts in place for mere mortals - Wallis throws around philosophical concepts that make it hard going. At the same time I appreciate the rigor in the paper from Wallis - it is only writing in that style that he would be taken seriously by academics.

RE: Seeing that Frees
Answer
8/20/15 7:55 AM as a reply to Mark.
Thanks again.

RE: Seeing that Frees
Answer
8/20/15 8:08 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
... to operate as a check on the on the tendency of all contemporary formulations of buddhism - whether the traditional, religious, progressive or secular variety - toward ideological excess.

You go!

RE: Seeing that Frees
Answer
8/20/15 8:51 AM as a reply to Mark.
Mark:
Chris Marti:
Thanks, Mark. I'll dive in and start reading.

Edit: Okay, so, after visiting Wallis's site and reading about Wallis (interesting guy, seems serious) I'm going to start with this article:

Nascent Speculative Non-Buddhism

I think it helps put the concepts in place for mere mortals - Wallis throws around philosophical concepts that make it hard going. At the same time I appreciate the rigor in the paper from Wallis - it is only writing in that style that he would be taken seriously by academics.

I think there are a number of barriers for someone exposed to Buddhism NB in understanding Non-Buddhism B. I'll list a few:

* NB were not interested in making it easy for B to understand NB
* NB are not particularly interested in dialog with B 
* NB is not targeting B as an audience
* NB went through a phase of trying to "destroy" B for themselves i.e. being able to "get out" of their view from within B
* The critique and style is very aggressive toward B - I see that as part of their process not a rigid position
* NB have pretty much moved on from that process and are in a more creative rather than destructuve phase now
* There were strong personalities involved, there was poor communication skills, there was a lot of insulting, ranting etc in comments. This just needs to be looked past, getting sucked into that just reproduces it.

To provide some context before diving into the detaisl I would read a little about Glenn Wallis. I think he is someone to be taken seriously.NB can seem like intellectual masturbation. But the Glenn has a profound experience in B, a Ph.D. in Buddhist studies from Harvard University's Department of Sanskrit and Indian Studies, he has a very deep knowledge of the early Buddhism scripture, I would guess he has a knowledge as deep or deeper than anyone I've seen posting on DhO. He also has a deep meditation experience currently being associate professor and chair of the Applied Meditation Studies program at the Won Institute of Graduate Studies. So this guy can wear multiple hats - he has a solid academic background and rare intellectual ability, he is pragmatic stance toward meditation and awakaning as a practise and walks the talk, he is also a member of a long standing punk rock band... http://glennwallis.com/who-i-am/

NB community is like any group of people, you can find good behaviour and bad behaviour etc. Glenn does not claim to be perfect, does not claim to have all the answers. He wanted to put B through a solid rational critique using some recent developments in western philosophy (Laruelle's Non-Philosophy) to inspire that. It is a radical [I hate when people use this term because it often isn't really radical in behaviour change, or it just looks hypocritical] endeavour and when you are messing with explosives accidents happen and things get messy.
Scary! I already went down the neologism dead end of Heidegger and I'm not going to do that again. Especially when people couch their critiques as "only a critique" and that's all they have. "He walks the talk" but there's "bad behaviour" LOL! Your comments on academic rigor also smack of Narcissism that many of these University Professors have. Intellectual Masturbation is exactly what Neologisms try to hide and the damage these types of philosophies make is the time they waste that you can't get back. That's good practice time lost!

I've come to the conclusion that I'm mainly an anti-intellectual. There are intellectuals that make good contributions but in areas like philosophy they over-complicate things and Non-Philosophy is just another one. It's like experts on air-pollution waxing philosophically with devastating riguor while smoking a cigarette.

Even the 8 fold path and modern psychology which I like can go in this direction but deep down there's a problem with recidivism and people are not changing their habits. Why people like Christine Padesky are actually trying to make CBT more simple is because many patients don't improve because they find their cures so complex they don't even bother with the work. She also points out areas where passion is strong and healthy and little problems there are in those areas of life. The creativity is to move passion into the difficult areas of life.

The stuff that actually worked for me is trying to find new passions that are healthier to replace old ones and simplified meditation that is just trying to become more and more sensitive to habits to try move intentions into more and more skillful ways (like Right Effort). There's enough practices here already that work but without conscientiousness it's just chaotic brainstorming where projects start and never get finished.

The main success for me is seeing behaviour improve in reality. That's my path and guide.

RE: Seeing that Frees
Answer
8/20/15 9:26 AM as a reply to Richard Zen.
Richard, I'm planning to read the essays, blogs and articles without pre-judging  emoticon

RE: Seeing that Frees
Answer
8/20/15 9:26 AM as a reply to Richard Zen.
Richard Zen:

Scary! I already went down the neologism dead end of Heidegger and I'm not going to do that again. Especially when people couch their critiques as "only a critique" and that's all they have. "He walks the talk" but there's "bad behaviour" LOL! Your comments on academic rigor also smack of Narcissism that many of these University Professors have. Intellectual Masturbation is exactly what Neologisms try to hide and the damage these types of philosophies make is the time they waste that you can't get back. That's good practice time lost!

I've come to the conclusion that I'm mainly an anti-intellectual. There are intellectuals that make good contributions but in areas like philosophy they over-complicate things and Non-Philosophy is just another one. It's like experts on air-pollution waxing philosophically with devastating riguor while smoking a cigarette.

Even the 8 fold path and modern psychology which I like can go in this direction but deep down there's a problem with recidivism and people are not changing their habits. Why people like Christine Padesky are actually trying to make CBT more simple is because many patients don't improve because they find their cures so complex they don't even bother with the work. She also points out areas where passion is strong and healthy and little problems there are in those areas of life. The creativity is to move passion into the difficult areas of life.

The stuff that actually worked for me is trying to find new passions that are healthier to replace old ones and simplified meditation that is just trying to become more and more sensitive to habits to try move intentions into more and more skillful ways (like Right Effort). There's enough practices here already that work but without conscientiousness it's just chaotic brainstorming where projects start and never get finished.

The main success for me is seeing behaviour improve in reality. That's my path and guide.
Hi Richard,

Your answer is understandable. I would not suggest that you read about Non-Buddhism. I did not recommend that to you, it was a reply to Chris.

"He walks the talk" but there's "bad behaviour" LOL! I was not particularly referring to Wallis, he seems amazingly calm in front of the storm he created. It is more in the "community", there was a fair amount of insulting etc in blog comments. To be fair a lot of that did not even involve the core contributors to NB. Any community will tend to have bad behavior, the problem is that people tend to use that as some sort of criticism (in fact it is what you have done) by "cherry picking" and ignoring problems in their own backyard. It is an easy way to ignore other points of view.

For the record it is not a continuity of Heidegger. It is not "only a critique" because there is a larger project but the goal is not to propose another Buddhist model or reform existing models. It has helped inspire excellent articles like the one from Pepper that I did recommend to you (and still do).

Non-philosophy is not philosophy in the sense you are familiar with. Being anti-intellectual I would not recommend wasting your time.

Let's try to keep this thread on Dependent Origination and let us know what you think of Pepper's article!

RE: Seeing that Frees
Answer
8/20/15 8:40 PM as a reply to Mark.
Mark:
Let's try to keep this thread on Dependent Origination and let us know what you think of Pepper's article!


From what I read I'm seeing modern Marxism appropriating Buddhism more than a conversation of Dependent Origination. The vague call to action, and the promise of collective joy is so familiar it's nauseating, like The Borg telling us "resistance is futile." Marxists will appropriate anything and meld the distinctiveness with the collective. The call to social action can be good in some ways but can easily go wrong because coercion is hard to control, and nobody agrees how this Bodhisattva path will work.

What if you show people how to meditate to learn to control their reactivity, and then they decide autonomously to say NO! then what are we supposed to do? Force them? We are at the mercy of our ability to explain practices to people, and we won't always be convincing. In fact most of the time we won't be convincing. At best we can keep the teachings, advertise a little bit, but people have to on their own find their way.

Coercion to me is only good in stopping another's coercion. I tend more towards autonomy and intrinsic motivation of Deci and Ryan. Marxism was supposed to do away with alienation but the coerciveness was so alienating that it was worse than what replaced it. Pursuing intrinsic motivation has helped me at work, given me more energy, and made me feel happy that I'm not in an autocratic situation. Autocratic situations make workers fall into learned helplessness, and then they can't think for themselves.

I prefer a more individual emancipation, because we have to be responsible for ourselves. We as individuals are at ground zero of our lives. The reason communism and collective societies don't work is because the amygdala is exploitative by nature and that's the reason why I don't believe in any collective system. Any coercion involves hierarchies and hierarchies will involve serotonin bullshit and domineering.

The weakness of hierarchies (a necessary evil) is that the people running the show are disconnected from the people they are running. So if a local problem occurs, they are so detached from the situation that coercion ends up being the natural tool and then you have hell on earth. Coercion is unpleasant and unless people get to decide how they want to live their lives they are going to feel alienated even more so under these systems. People at ground zero of a problem need enough automony to act on their expert knowledge. Central control of any hierarchy at best can employ those in the know but will balk at sharing power because of power's addictive nature.

There will always be some hierarchies and coercion in human life, so the benchmark for improving society will have to include autonomy and responsibility. Where responsibility fails leaders will come in and some coercion will happen and life goes on. When people want to do something they are engaged. When people are forced to do something it's half-hearted.

The biggest omission of the article is saying that a full dose of anatman is needed but the article has so little detail on what that is and I think that is precisely the point. It's easy to manipulate sheep by omitting important information but intelligent people will know that any collective prescription will have to iron-out dissenters and create a group-think where certain opinions in the hierarchy will matter more than others. I'm not falling for it.

RE: Seeing that Frees
Answer
8/20/15 11:29 PM as a reply to Richard Zen.
Darryl Bailey's interpretation of Dependent Origination is something I related to more:

Ignorance

of the flowing unformed nature of existence
creates a focus on

formations,

patterns in the flow, such as patterns of

consciousness

(seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, smelling, thinking),

forms and names

(physical and mental divisions),

the body,

patterns of

contact

with other forms and the outline of

feelings

associated with that contact.

Fixating on the above formations creates

craving

for pleasant feelings,

clinging

to particular habits and

being,

(a belief in ideas of self and world
plus the clinging activities based on that belief).
This is

birth.

It leads to

Ageing and death (change and loss),
Sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief and despair,
wanting/yearning,
frustration/anger,
anxiety/fear,
laziness/insensitivity, uncertainty/doubt.


RE: Seeing that Frees
Answer
8/21/15 7:29 AM as a reply to Richard Zen.
Richard --

From what I read I'm seeing modern Marxism appropriating Buddhism more than a conversation of Dependent Origination. The vague call to action, and the promise of collective joy is so familiar it's nauseating, like The Borg telling us "resistance is futile." Marxists will appropriate anything and meld the distinctiveness with the collective. The call to social action can be good in some ways but can easily go wrong because coercion is hard to control, and nobody agrees how this Bodhisattva path will work. 

Ideology seems to almost always trump objectivity. I think the truth lies somewhere in between the devil of buddhism as shill for captialism run amok and the devil of buddhism as shill for a borg-like collective. Better to see both, understand both, than to be unwittingly ignorant.

JMHO






RE: Seeing that Frees
Answer
8/21/15 8:37 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
Richard --

From what I read I'm seeing modern Marxism appropriating Buddhism more than a conversation of Dependent Origination. The vague call to action, and the promise of collective joy is so familiar it's nauseating, like The Borg telling us "resistance is futile." Marxists will appropriate anything and meld the distinctiveness with the collective. The call to social action can be good in some ways but can easily go wrong because coercion is hard to control, and nobody agrees how this Bodhisattva path will work. 

Ideology seems to almost always trump objectivity. I think the truth lies somewhere in between the devil of buddhism as shill for captialism run amok and the devil of buddhism as shill for a borg-like collective. Better to see both, understand both, than to be unwittingly ignorant.

JMHO


I thought it was easy to see. Alain Badiou? Vague utopia that's not well explained. A call to social action, especially talking about alleviating other people's stress (though vague enough that it looks more like left-wing politics rather than social action of teaching people meditation).

Just so you know. I've studied both economics from the left and the right before getting into spirituality so I'll see these biases quite easily. I've also studied plenty of existentialism and older philosophies so I'm anti-intellectual not because I don't like complexity, but because I found that most of the complexity was really just hiding simple motivations that could be explained more simply. The complexity was just snobbery and trying to hide alterior motives.

There was precious little dependent arising in the article. I think I saved you some homework. I tend towards the centre right in politics but I've seen the dangers of the right's thinking (Using the Bible as if it's reality. But more common an intense narcissistic status obssession). The left is about how the world will be better if certain political structures will be in place, but happiness is deferred until that happens. Of course it never happens because of human nature, so people keep waiting for a political messiah their entire lives. Then there are welfare states that help people who are poor but also can enable learned helplessness attitudes.

What spiritually did for me was to see the error of both sides in a different perspective. I had to look at what neediness and stress I was putting into the situation. It goes back to dependent origination as I just posted above. There is no one really in charge, and forms and shapes of the universe change fast enough that no political system or ideology will give lasting happiness. Those systems also change quite a lot.

I tend towards systems that allow autonomy and I like the fact that I can take responsibility for my happiness. If I can pick jobs where I can go into flow states and get paid for it then that's less coercive, and a form of happiness itself. If I can choose to live a lifestyle according to my means then happiness is how many flow states I can get into regardless of the means I have. Autonomy and self-efficacy is a huge part of happiness that is within your control in a freer society. Once I've used meditative technology to increase more and more happiness that is within my control, I can then handle the external forms of happiness with more equanimity.

These practices are dangerous to the right in that a person could live a happy life with less consumption (opting out of the rat race), and it's a danger to the left because a person could find happiness without wasting time aggrandizing useless leaders who have no intention of sharing power. Or expecting that "just this next social program needs to be in place and everything will be good." So back to my point before:
There will always be some hierarchies and coercion in human life, so the benchmark for improving society will have to include autonomy and responsibility.

I should add an emphasis on personal responsibility. If people want to help others then become a doctor or psychiatrist and try to allieviate biological suffering. On the mental side then try to allieviate suffering by teaching psychology so that people can help themselves. Beyond that I can see the error of excessive coercion.
...the most improper job of any man is bossing other men. Not one in a million is fit for it, and least of all those who seek the opportunity. ~ Tolkien


RE: Seeing that Frees
Answer
8/21/15 9:29 AM as a reply to Richard Zen.
Richard, to be honest and risk upsetting you, what I see you doing is selectively using buddhism, your own version of neuroscience and some ideological leanings and thinking you have the answers. I prefer to do the homework myself, thank you. I'm sure you remember that old buddhist "thing" about investigating and finding out for yourself.

RE: Seeing that Frees
Answer
8/21/15 10:28 AM as a reply to Richard Zen.
Richard Zen:
Mark:
Let's try to keep this thread on Dependent Origination and let us know what you think of Pepper's article!

From what I read I'm seeing modern Marxism appropriating Buddhism more than a conversation of Dependent Origination. The vague call to action, and the promise of collective joy is so familiar it's nauseating, like The Borg telling us "resistance is futile." Marxists will appropriate anything and meld the distinctiveness with the collective. The call to social action can be good in some ways but can easily go wrong because coercion is hard to control, and nobody agrees how this Bodhisattva path will work.

What if you show people how to meditate to learn to control their reactivity, and then they decide autonomously to say NO! then what are we supposed to do? Force them? We are at the mercy of our ability to explain practices to people, and we won't always be convincing. In fact most of the time we won't be convincing. At best we can keep the teachings, advertise a little bit, but people have to on their own find their way.

Coercion to me is only good in stopping another's coercion. I tend more towards autonomy and intrinsic motivation of Deci and Ryan. Marxism was supposed to do away with alienation but the coerciveness was so alienating that it was worse than what replaced it. Pursuing intrinsic motivation has helped me at work, given me more energy, and made me feel happy that I'm not in an autocratic situation. Autocratic situations make workers fall into learned helplessness, and then they can't think for themselves.

I prefer a more individual emancipation, because we have to be responsible for ourselves. We as individuals are at ground zero of our lives. The reason communism and collective societies don't work is because the amygdala is exploitative by nature and that's the reason why I don't believe in any collective system. Any coercion involves hierarchies and hierarchies will involve serotonin bullshit and domineering.

The weakness of hierarchies (a necessary evil) is that the people running the show are disconnected from the people they are running. So if a local problem occurs, they are so detached from the situation that coercion ends up being the natural tool and then you have hell on earth. Coercion is unpleasant and unless people get to decide how they want to live their lives they are going to feel alienated even more so under these systems. People at ground zero of a problem need enough automony to act on their expert knowledge. Central control of any hierarchy at best can employ those in the know but will balk at sharing power because of power's addictive nature.

There will always be some hierarchies and coercion in human life, so the benchmark for improving society will have to include autonomy and responsibility. Where responsibility fails leaders will come in and some coercion will happen and life goes on. When people want to do something they are engaged. When people are forced to do something it's half-hearted.

The biggest omission of the article is saying that a full dose of anatman is needed but the article has so little detail on what that is and I think that is precisely the point. It's easy to manipulate sheep by omitting important information but intelligent people will know that any collective prescription will have to iron-out dissenters and create a group-think where certain opinions in the hierarchy will matter more than others. I'm not falling for it.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on it. That article initially frustrated me too as it seemed to highlight problems without proposing necessarily better solutions. Your main criticism is that the article does not propose a solution but you also claim not to fall for the solution proposed by the article. Perhaps by assuming that the article is trying to propose a solution you are creating a sort of boolean situaton, either you are right or the article is right.

In general I agree with the KISS principle too. Reading you it seems you found the solution for yourself - not to imply it is perfect but it is pretty much sorted. I'm not sure whether you think your approach is applicable to everyone else. I suspect you think it is if the person has as much intelligence as you and the right attitude. Perhaps you see a different view as wrong because it is judged in regards to your own situation i.e. only your practise is right for you.

This is not specific to dependent origination but it has become strickingly clear to me while discussing this article with different people: there is a lot of posts expounding a truth. It is really hard to have constructive criticism. Discussing a view often results in a defensive reaction from those with a different view. It is clear to me I do this too. 

It seems the article has no value in your opinion. I don't have a problem with that and don't want to change your mind about it. You criticism of the article points out quite a few things that are problematic. I see value in a few points raised in that article as pointing to issues in common understandings of dependent origination like Darryl Bailey's. But I think one needs to be comfortable with "don't know" to be able to take on the views without a boolean logic of one being right and the other being wrong. You seem to be in a confident position of having the answers you need. I am trying to respect that without getting jealous emoticon 

Thanks for taking the time to get involved in a discussion.

RE: Seeing that Frees
Answer
8/21/15 1:22 PM as a reply to Mark.
I simply believe that Tom Pepper is trying to imply a post-post-decadent-European-Marxist-cum-Buddhism point of view but trying to keep his cards to himself to prevent people from figuring him out too soon. His main source being the red flag. Marxists usually imply their point of view but try to hide it or couch it in other points of view because as soon as Marxist or Socialist terms are used a lot of people lose interest right away. Telling people to become community organizers would be the red flag in his situation. Are Bodhisattvas community organizers now?

My point of view is getting better and I'm still improving it. It started with more right wing economics including the usual libertarian points of view but when I saw that the world didn't operate that way I had to go back to the individual and what the individual should be doing (finding work that is intrinsically motivating and then spending money according to what is in their budget) and then seeing where coercion in society interferes with a person's flow states (alienation) without going into Marxist solutions that actually increase alienation. A lot of our legal system already has answers for the obvious crimes. The rest is subtle bullying and coercion that people get away with. That's something we still have to deal with. Mostly people have to develop some toughness and coercive skills in response to coercion until rules and laws can be enforced.

Darryl Bailey's metaphor of a cloud that constantly changing and how as children we start developing neurosis and multiple senses of selves fighting with those changes matched well with psychology and their understanding of personality disorders. Many of those disorders start in childhood and adolescence.  Then when you add understandings of Flow and how boredom is an energetic mindstate where agitation happens due to no interesting engagements in the environment you get closer to the problem. Meditation solves boredom by relaxing the restlessness so that boredom evaporates. This is something that can alter the Flow diagram and allow people in boring jobs to learn to like them reducing their angst. Deci and Ryan's understanding of curiosity and interest as children tapped into other areas of passion that as adults we often lose with our negative thought habits. Intrinsic motivation is something people need to tap into and they have plenty of books on how this can be gained or lost. The example of feeding a seal fish was hilariously apt in pointing out the faults of extrinsic motivations.

Whether a person follows a well developed passion or creates passion by purposefully creating Flow states but being paid for those passions (I believe many people will have to develop the passions on purpose with concentration), allows for energetic feelings at the end of the work day instead of listless ennui or hyper-anxiety.

People in free socieities can choose to spend less and earn less (but with plenty of Flow states) and people can earn more and spend more if their skills allow it so that inequality can exist without constant envy or status obessions. As aristotle put it, the rich can be spoiled and the poor envious but the middle class is more balanced. We won't eliminate poverty, or inequality but there are avenues for people to find happiness if their skills are lower and less alienation and envy towards those who can succeed with higher intelligence and skills. The social safety net for me can only be paid for if most people don't need it for most of their lives and is reserved for catastrphies and medical situations. There is room for governments but it always has to be selective or else it devours an entire country's budget putting countries in danger of Greece type situations.

Richard

RE: Seeing that Frees
Answer
8/22/15 2:32 PM as a reply to Richard Zen.
I'm going to post once more here and then stop, but I do want to say that when everything is based on optimizing things (laws, economic returns, and so on) solely on an individual by individual basis we might miss the potential that concerted actions (governments, for example) can do that individuals just won't. The incentive structure has to go both ways, methinks. So to me that's why it's important to try not to spin spirituality in one ideological direction or another.

But that's just me.

Thanks, everyone, for the discussion.

RE: Seeing that Frees
Answer
8/24/15 4:42 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
I'm going to post once more here and then stop, but I do want to say that when everything is based on optimizing things (laws, economic returns, and so on) solely on an individual by individual basis we might miss the potential that concerted actions (governments, for example) can do that individuals just won't. The incentive structure has to go both ways, methinks. So to me that's why it's important to try not to spin spirituality in one ideological direction or another.


Wholly agree.

RE: Seeing that Frees
Answer
8/25/15 3:30 AM as a reply to Richard Zen.
Hi Richard,

This is a 2 minute video that captures part of my current view on Marxism, I think it may challenge some of your assumptions.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fFXNnA3KqzA

I do think Tom Pepper makes reference to Marx but he is not subscribing to Marxism.