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Enlightenment and Consumerism
Answer
8/17/15 8:04 PM
The more I meditate in daily life, and perhaps this is a temporary state of mind that will change, the more I am convinced enlightenment and consumerism are mostly at odds, not entirely, but enough that its big topic. This is a boring statement to make, since most people in this subculture already think this to some extent. I already have a lot of shit, do I need more of it? And when I say consumerism, I also mean more sophisticated forms of consumerism, such as 'meaningful experience' consumerism of self-help culture.

So, my question for the fine folks of the Dharma Overground, as you have practiced meditation what outer circumstances have fallen away for you? If you are vastly more at ease on average and have access to say, the Jhanas, has this tipped the happiness sources for you enough that exernal drives to find fulfillment, satisfaction, pleasure elsewhere have diminished? Or is it the same? Or is it even more? How did this unfold for you?

RE: Enlightenment and Consumerism
Answer
8/17/15 8:19 PM as a reply to The Poster Formerly Known As RyanJ.
For the most part it was about the same where equanimity allows you to stay the same without the stress. This was confirmed to me when seeing Kenneth's article that it was 50/50 on whether people's habits would improve or not or whether people would be more productive or not. A lot of the things I normally liked for entertainment did drop in intensity and neediness, but it wasn't enough.

I still think that replacing bad desires with better ones is a faster route to improve oneself. Meditation makes it easier to do this, but just exhausting your desire seems like a waste of desire. Learning to enjoy your job more by getting into flow states and developing goal setting utilizes the desire to go in different directions but the equanimity is still with you so if there's frustration of goals you're more prepared for it.

Keeping busy is still something I recommend because there's little time to be idle, you get more done, and you are pursuing your deeper desires instead of the short-term ones that simply fill a hole. It's also a good test to see how much aversion is still there when you have to take on a task you don't normally like.

RE: Enlightenment and Consumerism
Answer
8/18/15 6:02 AM as a reply to The Poster Formerly Known As RyanJ.
The Poster Formerly Known As RyanJ:
... what outer circumstances have fallen away for you? If you are vastly more at ease on average and have access to say, the Jhanas, has this tipped the happiness sources for you enough that exernal drives to find fulfillment, satisfaction, pleasure elsewhere have diminished? Or is it the same? Or is it even more? How did this unfold for you?
(Here substituting something along the lines of "gradually increasing tranquility and insight" for" enlightenment"…)

Perhaps a root experience of observing more closely how consumerism presents – in the media and in how people's behavior is (or isn't in some cases) shaped. It's not like something is falling away as much as there's forming a firmer operational perspective for evaluating: what is being presented (offered, pressured,…) measured against what is needed, what pragmatic utility. And noting something of what the motivation is on the other end (the seller). A major factor coming into focus recently is how one is inevitably implicated in situational relationships. Short of going total recluse, one (that is, I) must interact, respond to others' expectations and/or needs, and one's own behavior creates similar ripples affecting others. It's like improvising music or dance to keep this dymanic interplay on tract and beneficial on all sides.

A model I find useful is the "second knowledge" of the Buddha's proverbial awakening algorithm (borrowed, paraphrased form Than-Geof). The "first knowledge" was investigating "past lives", which I understand as ferreting out how every aspect of one's own experience (internally) has precedents, is conditioned by the momentum of one's own past (understood individually, or also as repetition of patterns that have been experience ump-tine times across human history) and by the incidence of external factors. The "second knowledge" then being observing how the same dynamic plays out (externally) in the behavior of other people (or animals, even plants) one encounters. Then (as per Than-Geof), the "third knowledge" as deciphering principles governing the experience (directly) observed in oneself and (indirectly) in others to formulate the "12 links of dependent co-arising", which gives one a good prediction model, as well as hints as to possible therapeutic interventions.

Anyway, a good measure is sensitizing to how one reacts to stimuli and gets into aiming towards and acquiring stuff (or events). Is there that tintillating impulsion – Oh, I want that; how exciting it is (tension) figuring out how to get it. Or, better, that is / is not a clear need, or a justifiable enhancement. If there's pragmatic utility (gotta eat, gotta keep things like dwelling and tools, e.g. cars, functional), then the task of working out the best timing (budgeting in multiple dimensions), how to get it (drive around or internet/UPS etc.), and especially at reasonable (or, better, cut-rate) cost.

"Insighting", or maybe "mindfulness" always makes it an interesting adventure –keeping tabs on what is being done and why. Intensive vipassana – acute attention to "bare" sensations impinging or reaction thereto – this means segregated cushion or retreat sessions (apart from active "life" out there), but shows up in improved efficiency out there.

I happen to have a reliable jhana practice also, which is a sure-fire way to regain perspective (afterwards), especially stark clarity when lax mindfulness has let pressure / tension sneak into daily activities. Also, the experiential (mental) satisfaction of absorption, of course temporary as it is, really does provide an effective benchmark – a cheaper and less entangling gratification, in comparison with which, a lot of the common baubles of grasped-at stuff and experiences become progressively less appealing. "Trading candy for gold" – that metaphor (again, from Than-Geof) I find becoming ever more vivid.

One pothole on this path is that seeing more how things "really" work – call it consumerism, call it politics, call it social involvement,… – can easily fall into aversion fantasies (a personal tendency). Clicking-in an aperspective (sort of like "impersonal") overview of whatever the situation usually defuses that – call it switching into brahma-vihara mode: may that driver cutting in-and-out get there on time happily; may the one honking and cursing be released from that; congratulations to the one who just made it through the orange-red light, while I got caught by it; and, all said-and-done, we all get to where we're going (including death) in good time.

P.S. Re-reading Richard Zen's post – he covered many of the same points (as I interpret him), more succinctly.

RE: Enlightenment and Consumerism
Answer
8/18/15 10:55 PM as a reply to Richard Zen.
What would you say classifies something as a deeper desire versus superficial desire? (I pose this very loosely speaking, not strict definitions.)

This question also gets at what I mentioned in my post about sophisticated consumerism. For example, say someone says they loves to travel, but really its mostly an ego trip of, "I am a worldly person. I have seen the world, I have an education, I am better than others who are simply uneducated dolts who have never left their country farm who think the world is 8,000 years old and any country outside of America is a 4th world shithole." That if this ego-trip was seen through, so would the travel-ego drive go, and 70-90% of the urge to travel would fall away as a sort of sophisticated narcissism. I'm trying to tease out at what point something, and I mean roughly, qualifies as a deeper desire?

Also, here is a good real world example of things falling away that puts people at odds with 'standard' reality with respect to relationships. It's from an old thread on relationships and meditation, in my mind, points to how revolutionary insight is not simply on an internal level but an external level, and that it feels like the cultural scripts with respect to daily life are 250 years behind in accomodating the potential ramifications of insight:

"This was a big question for 'me' and caused significant hesitation throughout the entire process. I am currently living with the same ("normal") companion (she practices AF methods quite casually) as when I was both normal and enlightened (she is, evidently, very flexible as well in her own way). This gives me an interesting opportunity to compare how functional the three ways of being are in this context. I can say, without any hesitation, that our time together is generally far more enjoyable now than at any other time (as in: watching tv, taking a walk), functional (as in: no fighting, flexibility with each others preferences), and more zesty (as in: the sex is far better). I attribute this largely to the condition I find myself in now, especially my ability to understand and be patient, open and straight forward, uninhibited and reliable, caring and considerate, and so on. You see, not only am I happy and harmless and free, but by being so, it allows the persons in my company to be equally happy, harmless and free to the degree that they are able.

To answer specifics in your question: intimacy is far greater than love ever offered, and it is not a choice; I'm this way with everything and every one. Romance is void completely, and this has caused a lot of upheaval in my companion (only recently she admitted to being quite resentful of me because I refuse to surprise her with flowers). And finally, there is no relationship here, as I do not exist in relation to others, but as a factual actuality regardless of the existence of another human. As such, I have no relationship with my companion, nor an emotional rapport. This isn't as dysfunctional as it may sound, though it can be at times. The reason is that the foundation for what lead to the emotional resonance in the first place is still largely in tact-- because there are things I have in common with her for example-- such as tastes and preferences regarding what we do with our free time."

http://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/3431604

Pedantially, for practitioners YMMV so it may not be the case for all, but to my mind the italiziced part hints at something that's a gargantuan ramification of practice between inner and outer aspects of living.

RE: Enlightenment and Consumerism
Answer
8/18/15 11:24 PM as a reply to The Poster Formerly Known As RyanJ.
The Poster Formerly Known As RyanJ:
What would you say classifies something as a deeper desire versus superficial desire? (I pose this very loosely speaking, not strict definitions.)


I would say loosely that addictions are superficial. There are many ways of looking for depth in life. A "greater good" philosophy is one way. Another way is Deci and Ryan's Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic motivations. A simple way would be to see actions according to how much regret is created by following through on them. This is very personal and I'm sure many people would have different conclusions on the meaning of life:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meaning_of_life#Popular_views
To realize one's potential and ideals

  • To chase dreams.[145]
  • To live one's dreams.[146]
  • To spend it for something that will outlast it.[147]
  • To matter: to count, to stand for something, to have made some difference that you lived at all.[147]
  • To expand one's potential in life.[146]
  • To become the person you've always wanted to be.[148]
  • To become the best version of yourself.[149]
  • To seek happiness[150][151] and flourish.[3]
  • To be a true authentic human being.[152]
  • To be able to put the whole of oneself into one's feelings, one's work, one's beliefs.[147]
  • To follow or submit to our destiny.[153][154][155]
  • To achieve eudaimonia,[156] a flourishing of human spirit.
To achieve biological perfectionTo seek wisdom and knowledge

  • To expand one's perception of the world.[146]
  • To follow the clues and walk out the exit.[166]
  • To learn as many things as possible in life.[167]
    To know as much as possible about as many things as possible.[168]
  • To seek wisdom and knowledge and to tame the mind, as to avoid suffering caused by ignorance and find happiness.[169]
  • To face our fears and accept the lessons life offers us.[153]
  • To find the meaning or purpose of life.[170][171]
  • To find a reason to live.[172]
  • To resolve the imbalance of the mind by understanding the nature of reality.[173]
To do good, to do the right thing

  • To leave the world as a better place than you found it.[145]
    To do your best to leave every situation better than you found it.[145]
  • To benefit others.[6]
  • To give more than you take.[145]
  • To end suffering.[174][175][176]
  • To create equality.[177][178][179]
  • To challenge oppression.[180]
  • To distribute wealth.[181][182]
  • To be generous.[183][184]
  • To contribute to the well-being and spirit of others.[185]
  • To help others,[3][184] to help one another.[186]
    To take every chance to help another while on your journey here.[145]
  • To be creative and innovative.[185]
  • To forgive.[145]
    To accept and forgive human flaws.[187][188]
  • To be emotionally sincere.[147]
  • To be responsible.[147]
  • To be honorable.[147]
  • To seek peace.[147]
  • To do and be good
Meanings relating to religion
  • To worship God and enter heaven in afterlife.[189]
  • To reach the highest heaven and be at the heart of the Divine.[190]
  • To have a pure soul and experience God.[147]
  • To understand the mystery of God.[153]
  • To know or attain union with God.[191][192]
  • To know oneself, know others, and know the will of heaven.[193]
  • To love something bigger, greater, and beyond ourselves, something we did not create or have the power to create, something intangible and made holy by our very belief in it.[145]
  • To love God[191] and all of his creations.[194]
  • To glorify God by enjoying him forever.[98][195]
  • To go and make new disciples of Jesus Christ.[196]
  • To act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.[197]
  • To be fruitful and multiply.[198] (Genesis 1:28)
  • To obtain freedom. (Romans 8:20-21)
  • To fill the Earth and subdue it.[198] (Genesis 1:28)
  • To serve mankind,[199] to prepare to meet [200] and become more like God,[201][202][203][204] to choose good over evil,[205] and have joy.[206][207]
To love, to feel, to enjoy the act of living

  • To love more.[145]
  • To love those who mean the most. Every life you touch will touch you back.[145]
  • To treasure every enjoyable sensation one has.[145]
  • To seek beauty in all its forms.[145]
  • To have fun or enjoy life.[153][185]
  • To seek pleasure[147] and avoid pain.[208]
  • To be compassionate.[147]
  • To be moved by the tears and pain of others, and try to help them out of love and compassion.[145]
  • To love others as best we possibly can.[145]
  • To eat, drink, and be merry.[209]
To have power, to be betterLife has no meaning

  • Life or human existence has no real meaning or purpose because human existence occurred out of a random chance in nature, and anything that exists by chance has no intended purpose.[173]
  • Life has no meaning, but as humans we try to associate a meaning or purpose so we can justify our existence.[145]
  • There is no point in life, and that is exactly what makes it so special.[145]
One should not seek to know and understand the meaning of life

  • The answer to the meaning of life is too profound to be known and understood.[173]
  • You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.[145]
  • The meaning of life is to forget about the search for the meaning of life.[145]
  • Ultimately, man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather must recognize that it is he who is asked. In a word, each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life; to life he can only respond by being responsible.[212]
Life is bad

  • Better never to have been.[213]

RE: Enlightenment and Consumerism
Answer
8/19/15 12:19 PM as a reply to The Poster Formerly Known As RyanJ.
Gah, I wish we'd steer clear of such words as "enlightened".. it's such a ruckuss in English, such an acquistional word in Western culture, the super-skills of the enlightened.

And I cannot speak from any enlightened perspective.

But from a practice point of view I think the Buddhist science of mind causes one to think of cause-and-effect. I am no miracle on that either, but to think about own thoughts and own actions eventually draws towards...

"If everyone did this, this much, what happens?"

So moderation and compassion with understanding do develop and I think moderations of consumption develops or some thoughtful/considered consumption can develop.

Not perfect, but a practice.


edit x3 (trimmed back)

RE: Enlightenment and Consumerism
Answer
8/19/15 7:22 PM as a reply to The Poster Formerly Known As RyanJ.
The Poster Formerly Known As RyanJ:
 I already have a lot of shit, do I need more of it? And when I say consumerism, I also mean more sophisticated forms of consumerism, such as 'meaningful experience' consumerism of self-help culture.


Its complicated. I do as much or more of personal devleopment type stuff (workout, productivity, etc) than before. I make more of an attempt to look my best than I did before (maybe becasue I didn't care much about looks at all before). I also want to make more money relative to the amount of time I spend working.

My motivation is different than it used to be when I would do this stuff earlier. I still like sense pleasures or social status or whatever. Just don't crave them badly or feel I am incomplete without them.

I would say I am less neurotic about needing success than before, and also tend to be more sucessful in my efforts than before.

But more and more I like to see how far I can push my limits, how quickly I can transform deeply held patterns etc. So in some sense life becomes a means for deepening the realization of emptiness.

One thing I like that when I am engaged in trying to become good at these activities I don't care about being 'enligtened'**. Sure having a mind that I have 'hacked' via meditation, gives me a slight edge, but there are loads of unenlightened people who are more successful than me at these activities.

--------------------------------

** Enlightenment had become for me some sort of ultimate consumer good, that once I got it I would have achieved the best available to humanity. After my initial enlightenment experiences, I would think about how amazing it was that I had less suffering than most billionaires, rock stars, etc.  This sort of thinking, even if true, is driven by a sort of grasping. If I had left it unexmined, and worse made an identity out of it, it would have prevented further growth and progress.

RE: Enlightenment and Consumerism
Answer
8/20/15 8:48 PM as a reply to (D Z) Dhru Val.
(D Z) Dhru Val:
The Poster Formerly Known As RyanJ:
 I already have a lot of shit, do I need more of it? And when I say consumerism, I also mean more sophisticated forms of consumerism, such as 'meaningful experience' consumerism of self-help culture.


Its complicated. I do as much or more of personal devleopment type stuff (workout, productivity, etc) than before. I make more of an attempt to look my best than I did before (maybe becasue I didn't care much about looks at all before). I also want to make more money relative to the amount of time I spend working.

My motivation is different than it used to be when I would do this stuff earlier. I still like sense pleasures or social status or whatever. Just don't crave them badly or feel I am incomplete without them.

I would say I am less neurotic about needing success than before, and also tend to be more sucessful in my efforts than before.

But more and more I like to see how far I can push my limits, how quickly I can transform deeply held patterns etc. So in some sense life becomes a means for deepening the realization of emptiness.

One thing I like that when I am engaged in trying to become good at these activities I don't care about being 'enligtened'**. Sure having a mind that I have 'hacked' via meditation, gives me a slight edge, but there are loads of unenlightened people who are more successful than me at these activities.

--------------------------------

** Enlightenment had become for me some sort of ultimate consumer good, that once I got it I would have achieved the best available to humanity. After my initial enlightenment experiences, I would think about how amazing it was that I had less suffering than most billionaires, rock stars, etc.  This sort of thinking, even if true, is driven by a sort of grasping. If I had left it unexmined, and worse made an identity out of it, it would have prevented further growth and progress.
I really relate to this post.emoticon

RE: Enlightenment and Consumerism
Answer
8/21/15 12:29 AM as a reply to (D Z) Dhru Val.
(D Z) Dhru Val:

Its complicated. I do as much or more of personal devleopment type stuff (workout, productivity, etc) than before. I make more of an attempt to look my best than I did before (maybe becasue I didn't care much about looks at all before). I also want to make more money relative to the amount of time I spend working.
I suspect it's like this, that I still have my preferences and desires, yes some have changed but others not so much.  But those things are no longer considered 'me' in my mind nor do I feel my happiness is contingent on them.  They do not feel like an integral part of me, if I don't get them, it's not a big deal, if they don't turn out as expected, it's not a big deal. I no longer feel the intense clinging.  Ironically, without all the expection, tension and fear, though, I am also apparently much better at getting those things with less work now.  

One thing I like that when I am engaged in trying to become good at these activities I don't care about being 'enligtened'**. Sure having a mind that I have 'hacked' via meditation, gives me a slight edge, but there are loads of unenlightened people who are more successful than me at these activities.
Well I suspect that dominant skills have a lot to do with it.  But I have also found that if I change my assumptions about what I am capable of, then what I am capable of also changes. 
--------------------------------

** Enlightenment had become for me some sort of ultimate consumer good, that once I got it I would have achieved the best available to humanity. After my initial enlightenment experiences, I would think about how amazing it was that I had less suffering than most billionaires, rock stars, etc.  This sort of thinking, even if true, is driven by a sort of grasping. If I had left it unexmined, and worse made an identity out of it, it would have prevented further growth and progress.
Well you have to wonder how long it takes.  If you are further down the road than others, it may be just because you started earlier than them, it may not actually mean you are faster.  In fact you could be quite slower.  If you think like that, it tends to deflate the ego a tad. 
-Eva