Message Boards Message Boards

Morality and Daily Life

A Question On Sila

Toggle
A Question On Sila
Answer
11/1/16 11:46 PM
I think Sila is about getting used to healthy habits and getting un-used to unhealthy habits.  I frequently hear things like precepts discussed as forms of discipline, or ways of denying oneself certain creature comforts.  What works better is to not try to give something up until you have replaced it with something better.  For instance, using joy to drop addictive habits, or using disgust to develop tranquility and then drop craving for an object.  The same strategy could be applied to becoming more generous or compassionate.

Also, I think the idea of precepts might have been an ancient proxy for what the Buddha was really talking about, which was probably more like: figure out what works, situationally/contextually, to relieve yourself and others of all types of stress.  Of course this requires a lot more investigation and discrimination on the part of the individual, but many Pali Canon passages stress these types of judgement.  Than Geoff talks about individualizing how one adapts to the precepts as well, which is a sort of version of this.

What do you guys and gals think?  Is morality about forcing yourself into more disciplined ways, or is it about internally adapting to external circumstances so that you actually want to improve the quality of your life?

RE: A Question On Sila
Answer
11/2/16 12:02 AM as a reply to Noah D.
To be clear, I'm not just talking about traditionalist approaches to precepts, but also modern "consensus" buddhism's emphasis on being caring and "open hearted."  To me this idea only holds water if the person using it actually wants to be this way more than they want to be selfish.  And that requires massive psycho-emotional reprogramming first.

I rarely hear this reprogramming process talked about.

RE: A Question On Sila
Answer
11/2/16 8:06 AM as a reply to Noah D.
Noah D:
To be clear, I'm not just talking about traditionalist approaches to precepts, but also modern "consensus" buddhism's emphasis on being caring and "open hearted."  To me this idea only holds water if the person using it actually wants to be this way more than they want to be selfish.  And that requires massive psycho-emotional reprogramming first.

I rarely hear this reprogramming process talked about.
You want to reprogram something so you can want to be a certain way. Or we could say you want to be a certain way so you want to reprogram something. 

Maybe you can clarify what you mean by "want". I don't think people often consciously want to be selfish so perhaps you mean an unconscious selfish desire ? I guess that if someone is aware of being selfish then their conscience is kicking in which shows some resistance to the selfish behavior. Typically when someone is aware of being selfish they also have some justification for their behavior which reduces, in their mind, how selfish it is.

I think every desire you have emerges from your unconscious. If you are mindful you can see the desire emerging and also see that you don't have any conscious choice. For example you can mindfully see an emotion of anger arise, then mindfully see a thought arise then maybe notice that you did not verbalize the thought. Still the decision to not verbalize the thought was not conscious, we are conscious of the decision after it has been made. The phenomenon that confirm my decision (e.g. an internal dialog or physical sensation) come after the decision.

The emphasis of western Buddhism on caring is typically tapping into selfish desires. Typically people are doing these things to reduce stress. For example I give a begger some money and I can then feel less guilt about the situation or maybe I can avoid thinking more about the situation. Another person might not look at the begger to feel less guilt about the situation. Or I focus on the positive feeling when giving. Potentially all selfish behaviors. There is nothing inherently wrong with selfish behavior.


Is morality about forcing yourself into more disciplined ways, or is it about internally adapting to external circumstances so that you actually want to improve the quality of your life?

Maybe clarify what "forcing" means, do you mean making an effort ? It is possible to desire something that requires a lot of effort. It is possible to desire something that requires little effort. It seems you want to know how to reduce the effort required for some desires ?

You seem to assume that morality is about being disciplined but I think that is a misunderstanding. Different people have different desires. Someone who is not a thief is not continually disciplining themselves to not steal. We could imainge it would take a lot of effort/discipline for that person to steal something.

Also "quality of life" needs some definition. Do you mean a life without stress ? Or maybe you mean an optimal life in relation to some other criteria like the desires that you currently have ?

If you want life without stress then you'd be better to reduce your desires rather than trying to satisfy them. 

My guess is that you want to find an easier way to be a more virtuous person. 


What works better is to not try to give something up until you have replaced it with something better. 

That might be how some changes happen. It might also be a reason some changes don't happen. If someone quits smoking by going cold turkey or using nicotine patches does it matter ? It might be the difficulty of quitting that makes them want to do it only once.

I think a discussion like this can be useful if it gives you more options e.g. if someone tries to quit smoking going cold turkey but fails then they can't try the nicotine patch unless someone told them about that technique.

There is something puzzling to me about your situation. You've made claims to great insight through practise but you speak about people "wanting to be selfish" which points to a naive understanding of the nature of self and dependent origination. You seem to be identifying with things like technical paths and I've heard you use terms like "my higher self" which sounds like the ego playing games.

Some changes are much easier to make if the experience of self is less ego-centric. The concept of anatman is a key to that.

Another angle would be to consider what "programs" your unconscious behavior. The people you surround yourself with is probably a major influence. If you spend all your time around people who have a higher morality than you do then you'll become more moral with little effort. How many people in your daily life offline are role models for you.

For example where did you get this idea about the "dating game" ? If someone is turned off by someone who is "good" at the "dating game" does that mean they would not be a good partner ? Is the idea that you can get so good at the dating game that you can fool someone into wanting to screw you when they would not want to do that after getting to know you. Or maybe the person you are dating is too stupid to understand how awesome you are, so you've got to trick them into seeing the truth. Or you can't accept someone as bad at the dating game as you are, so you want to "level up". There are probably some morality questions buried in that subject.

Another idea is to introduce change gradually. Look for the benefits and create a positive spiral. Increase meditation sittings over a long period of time until you feel motivated to try a weekend retreat, then a 7 day retreat...

Another one is to learn to like the difficulty. Rather than trying to make it easier. 

If you believe that more difficult changes are going to give you more benefit over the long term that might help. But it is selfish ;)

The list is very long I guess.

RE: A Question On Sila
Answer
11/2/16 3:11 PM as a reply to Mark.
Hi Mark,

Thanks for the great response!  Lots of good stuff in there.  Also some stuff which seems to be verging more (not fully) on an attack of my character, but that is okay too.  Also, you are really honing in on word choice here.  Our communication may be stunted because your level of rigor and detail with word choice may far surpass mine.  
Maybe you can clarify what you mean by "want". I don't think people often consciously want to be selfish so perhaps you mean an unconscious selfish desire ? I guess that if someone is aware of being selfish then their conscience is kicking in which shows some resistance to the selfish behavior. Typically when someone is aware of being selfish they also have some justification for their behavior which reduces, in their mind, how selfish it is.

It might help to clarify that I purposely take an anti-intellectual approach to all of this (which I know is a major criticism Glen Wallis has of Buddhism.  Whether it is "want" or "need" or "conscious" or "subconscious," what I care about, and am writing about, is how does someone actually change their behavior?  Furthermore, why do some people change their behavior faster than others?  Since you are knee deep in the sociological perspective, you will emphasize outside and subliminal influences on this.  Since I am knee deep in the individualist-willpower perspective, I will emphasize (and write about) internal causality.
For example I give a begger some money and I can then feel less guilt about the situation or maybe I can avoid thinking more about the situation. Another person might not look at the begger to feel less guilt about the situation. Or I focus on the positive feeling when giving. Potentially all selfish behaviors. There is nothing inherently wrong with selfish behavior.

So what I would say here is: STOP FUCKING ANALYZING AND JUST GIVE.  Lol, I'm being humorously dramatic, but my point is that an action orientation would be better than thinking about how one should feel at a given time in the giving process or how one should philosophize about the giving process.  To quote Kai Green - "who cares? Just get started."
My guess is that you want to find an easier way to be a more virtuous person. 

Thank you for this wording.  It describes the goal that I have succeeded at perfectly.
That might be how some changes happen. It might also be a reason some changes don't happen. If someone quits smoking by going cold turkey or using nicotine patches does it matter ? It might be the difficulty of quitting that makes them want to do it only once.

I think a discussion like this can be useful if it gives you more options e.g. if someone tries to quit smoking going cold turkey but fails then they can't try the nicotine patch unless someone told them about that technique.

Great point!  Yes, a discussion like this can be useful if it gives you more options.  Just do whatever works!  Thats the point.
There is something puzzling to me about your situation. You've made claims to great insight through practise but you speak about people "wanting to be selfish" which points to a naive understanding of the nature of self and dependent origination. You seem to be identifying with things like technical paths and I've heard you use terms like "my higher self" which sounds like the ego playing games.

A couple points here.  What do we mean by insight?  What I am talking about is having completed a "specific process of physio-energetic development" (to quote Kenneth Folk).  Also, with regards to technical paths.  I never assumed I had achieved something like this, the teacher I was working with at the time told me I had.  Furthermore, in terms of phrases and word choice ("wanting to be selfish", "my higher self", etc.), I don't have much to say, except that you put a lot more stock in this than I do.  I use whatever words inspire me at a given time, because I take a purely pragmatic view towards communication.  How can I learn and be inspired TO ACT?  I do not care about getting objective, scholarly, rigorous desciptions of things.  I care about benefiting my subjective process.  If I used the term "higher self," it was probably, specifically in relation to the imaginative/intentional/devotional component I have in my practice.
For example where did you get this idea about the "dating game" ? If someone is turned off by someone who is "good" at the "dating game" does that mean they would not be a good partner ? Is the idea that you can get so good at the dating game that you can fool someone into wanting to screw you when they would not want to do that after getting to know you.

Once again, who cares about word choice, dude?  So I used the term "dating game."  Its about being happy with your life.  Relationships are a big part of that.  Relationships include acquaintances, coworkers, friends, family, and romantic connections, amongst others.  Communicating well is a big part of relationships.  We can talk for days about what constitutes effective communication, but I'm going to defer to Supreme Court Justice Stewart and say: "I know it when I see it."
Another idea is to introduce change gradually. Look for the benefits and create a positive spiral. Increase meditation sittings over a long period of time until you feel motivated to try a weekend retreat, then a 7 day retreat...

Another one is to learn to like the difficulty. Rather than trying to make it easier. 

If you believe that more difficult changes are going to give you more benefit over the long term that might help. But it is selfish ;)

I think all 3 of these points are great, and can happily say that I already practice all of them.

RE: A Question On Sila
Answer
11/2/16 3:18 PM as a reply to Noah D.
P.s. - Mark, I would like to video chat with you, and sent you a PM.  Let me know if you respond, because my account isn't linked to an active email.

RE: A Question On Sila
Answer
11/2/16 11:08 PM as a reply to Noah D.
Noah D:
I think Sila is about getting used to healthy habits and getting un-used to unhealthy habits.  I frequently hear things like precepts discussed as forms of discipline, or ways of denying oneself certain creature comforts.  What works better is to not try to give something up until you have replaced it with something better.  For instance, using joy to drop addictive habits, or using disgust to develop tranquility and then drop craving for an object.  The same strategy could be applied to becoming more generous or compassionate.

Also, I think the idea of precepts might have been an ancient proxy for what the Buddha was really talking about, which was probably more like: figure out what works, situationally/contextually, to relieve yourself and others of all types of stress.  Of course this requires a lot more investigation and discrimination on the part of the individual, but many Pali Canon passages stress these types of judgement.  Than Geoff talks about individualizing how one adapts to the precepts as well, which is a sort of version of this.

What do you guys and gals think?  Is morality about forcing yourself into more disciplined ways, or is it about internally adapting to external circumstances so that you actually want to improve the quality of your life?
So do you mean doing things 'because Buddha said so' so to speak versus dropping habits via personal initiaitive?  I think you are right that an overly dogmatic approach is not much fun, and maybe not very useful.  What seems to work best is if we have a clear idea of why we are doing what we are doing, and how it fits into our overall practice framework.

That said, I think the basic five precepts are straighforeward enough to be helpful general rules.  Avoiding killing, lying/slandering, stealing, and sexual misconduct are good basic rules to live by, as is avoiding intocicants if one is a dedicated practitioner, but as you said we have to figure out individually how to put these into practice in our own lives. 

Ultimately we are seeking freedom, and this includes freedom from convention and dogma.  As they say, the Buddhas teachings are like a raft we use to cross a river; when we get to the other side we leave the raft behind, we don't pick it up and hump it along.  That is to say that Buddhist teachings are here to help guide us to the 'other shore', and in this they serve a purpose by helping us get somewhere; to follow them is not an end in and of itself, but a means to an end.

How the precepts help us get somewhere is I suppose the meat of this discussion.  In my view they help to focus, or channel our energy into deeper practice; this certainly seems to be the case for the basic five.  More advanced systems of 'rules', like the Lojong compassion slogans aren't restricting us to certain channels but really serve instead to force us out of comfortable, self-centered mind states.  In doing so, these slogans assist us in overcoming certain self-oriented mental patterns, which helps us to open outwards.  On the relative level this means developing more compassion for others, but on an ultimate, attainment focused level, Lojogn helps us to open outwards into greater attainment (to go deeper into emptiness).

RE: A Question On Sila
Answer
11/3/16 12:01 AM as a reply to T DC.
TDC:
How the precepts help us get somewhere is I suppose the meat of this discussion.  In my view they help to focus, or channel our energy into deeper practice; this certainly seems to be the case for the basic five. 

Interesting, thanks.  I like thinking about how morality --> wisdom.  But also how wisdom ---> morality ---> more wisdom.  And how morality <----> wisdom.  In other words, I'm curious about how these things synergize and integrate.  Does someone with better morality get to 1st path more easily?  Probably so.  Also, what types of behavioral or attitudinal changes might help someone with 2nd path get to 3rd path more quickly?  Furthermore, in taking two different cases of 4th path, one with shitty morality and the other with good morality, who gets the most "bang for their buck" out of the perceptual attainment?  In my opinion, the only way the 10 Fetter model could be real would be if it was understood as an interface between morality and wisdom attainments.  
That said, I think the basic five precepts are straighforeward enough to be helpful general rules

Agreed.  I think part of my point with OP was to emphasize how to internally engineer the process so it doesn't feel painful.  As Mark said: "making it easier to become a virtuous person."

RE: A Question On Sila
Answer
11/3/16 4:59 AM as a reply to Noah D.
Noah D:

Also some stuff which seems to be verging more (not fully) on an attack of my character, but that is okay too.  


Many other people might have taken it that way but I guessed you would not. I was definitely critical of some things I've read. To me the discussion of morality needs to be personal and neither I nor you are perfect.


Also, you are really honing in on word choice here.  Our communication may be stunted because your level of rigor and detail with word choice may far surpass mine.  


Hopefully that does not need to be an issue.There is plenty of confusion in what I write, some of that is poor language use and some of it is just pure confusion. We each bring our own assumptions so clarifying meaning can be important. If I don't ask questions then we can assume that I'll misunderstand you because we probably don't have an identical set of assumptions.

I'm not calling you out on your use of the language. I focused on a few phrases because I think we need to have a common understanding of those terms to have a rational conversation. At one extreme we get de-railed by focusing on definitions, at the other extreme we can't communicate due to lack of common understanding.


It might help to clarify that I purposely take an anti-intellectual approach to all of this (which I know is a major criticism Glen Wallis has of Buddhism.  


By anti-intellectual I assume you mean not using your critical thinking ability. I think you have different ways of using your mind e.g.

* focus on subjective experience
* ruminating
* critical thinking
* the list goes on...

Different approaches are better at different times. By ignoring critical thinking you would be ignoring a huge amount of potential insight. The Buddha seems to have encouraged critical thinking not discouraged it.

To me it seems that you do use critical thinking - your OP is a critical analysis. But you might not want to make more effort to be more rational i.e. using better critical thinking. Certainly there is a trade-off. You don't want to become an academic studying morality. But if you undervalue critical thinking you will make poorer decision in your life.



Whether it is "want" or "need" or "conscious" or "subconscious," what I care about, and am writing about, is how does someone actually change their behaviour?


I agree discussion about morality should lead to action otherwise it is an "intellectual exercise" which I'm not interested in. But we should probably leverage 3rd party knowledge about this topic. I don't want to reinvent the wheel based purely on my subjective experience (I would be incapable of doing that anyway).

 
Furthermore, why do some people change their behavior faster than others?  Since you are knee deep in the sociological perspective, you will emphasize outside and subliminal influences on this.  Since I am knee deep in the individualist-willpower perspective, I will emphasize (and write about) internal causality.


I'm trying to cultivate a more realistic understanding of "self". For me this means expanding the boundary of self to include processes that I don't experience directly. Some of those processes are studied by sociology so I've become interested in that. But this is not about ignoring the importance of subjective experience.

The concept of "internal causality" is a useful concept but we just need to be careful about understanding it as a concept. There is no independent cause of anything. The concept of holons is a useful one, so we have systems that are embedded in systems. There are processes that make those systems interdependent. So for example how you think about morality is influenced by judea-christian concepts because you grew up in a society with those influences. If you are aware of those influences you become less of a subject of them and can have more creative thoughts about morality.

Perhaps an important point is - do you make conscious decisions or do you become conscious of decisions ? This can change how you think about influencing those decisions.


For example I give a begger some money and I can then feel less guilt about the situation or maybe I can avoid thinking more about the situation. Another person might not look at the begger to feel less guilt about the situation. Or I focus on the positive feeling when giving. Potentially all selfish behaviors. There is nothing inherently wrong with selfish behavior.

So what I would say here is: STOP FUCKING ANALYZING AND JUST GIVE.  Lol, I'm being humorously dramatic, but my point is that an action orientation would be better than thinking about how one should feel at a given time in the giving process or how one should philosophize about the giving process.  To quote Kai Green - "who cares? Just get started."


I think you missed the point here. It is not about generosity but "There is nothing inherently wrong with selfish behaviour." sometimes you focus on undermining an example, that is fine if you use it to undermine the conclusion. If your comments led me to think that there IS something inherently wrong with selfish behaviour but you did not make the connection.

I'm not implying that you, me or others actually consciously have these thoughts prior to giving. There is identification going on with actions and desires that inspire those actions even when you "Just get started". Partly the point of "There is nothing inherently wrong with selfish behaviour" is that it encourages to "Just get started"



My guess is that you want to find an easier way to be a more virtuous person. 

Thank you for this wording.  It describes the goal that I have succeeded at perfectly.

Great we are getting onto the same page ;)

Great point!  Yes, a discussion like this can be useful if it gives you more options.  Just do whatever works!  Thats the point.


So the goal is to find new options or change behaviour to use options that are discounted.


A couple points here.  What do we mean by insight?


My understanding is that there should be increasing subjective knowledge into, for example, the nature of self and dependent origination as practise deepens. If that is not happening then I'd call into question the insight practise.


I don't have much to say, except that you put a lot more stock in this than I do.  I use whatever words inspire me at a given time, because I take a purely pragmatic view towards communication.  How can I learn and be inspired TO ACT?  I do not care about getting objective, scholarly, rigorous desciptions of things.  


I don't use (and couldn't) scholarly arguments. A pragmatic view of communication implies being effective i.e. the choice of words need to align with the objective. If you make assumptions that the other person doesn't have and don't clarify this, it is not pragmatic, it is poor communication.

If communication is only about you saying something that you understand then that is not pragmatic. You need to say something that impacts another person in an intended way to be communicating pragmatically. It is not about getting the wording 100% correct, I'm being pedantic but you are asking about a topic that is very easily confused through assumptions. It would be nice to just write what I think and have you understand it but I know that is not possible.


I care about benefiting my subjective process.  


This is a subset of options but I'm fine to limit the disciussion to that. I think the concept of Virtue Ethics will be useful. I was interested in Stoicism which has some practical exercises that are complimenatry to Buddhist practise - there seems to even be some overlap. I did not get deeply into Stoicism. You are familiar with Stoicism ?

Are you aware of methods for measuring your subjective appreciation of your virtues ? e.g. https://www.viacharacter.org

To be clear, the goal is not to change your subjective process but to benefit it as you currently experience it, right ? 

When you are not acting in a virtous way do you think this is a conscious decision on your part ? I'll assume not. In this case we should be looking for ways of influencing an unconscious decision making process. 

If the subjective processs is not being changed then we can only change the environment. So what in the environment influences unconscious decision making ? Who you surround yourself with is probably the biggest factor. The next biggest actor is probably the media that you consume. If you have a television at home I'd get rid of it. I'd also stop following the daily news. This is different than not being informed. The most important issues of our time do not change on a daily basis, find sources that cover big issues over time. Find brilliant people applying critical analysis e.g. Noam Chomsky. For example if you want to be more virtuous in a particular way, find the person that most represents that value for you and read their biography or auto-biography. Social media is a big one, it seems to me this is often reinforcing ego-centric behavior.

Personally I think you'd make more progress by changing the subjective process. But let's not go there if that is not useful now.

For me it seems that acting in a less ego-centric way makes for big improvements. It leaves room for selfish behavior but in a more reasoned way e.g. I'll not give away everything but I'll try to reduce my attachment to things.


Once again, who cares about word choice, dude?


We both do or you would not be bringing it up. The words we choose reflect something. That is not to say a word captures who you are. But it is not to say that word choice says nothing about who you are. There is no "big deal" about using the term "dating game". For me the big deal would be ignoring what that word choice means by pretending words don't matter (when it is convenient for you).



 We can talk for days about what constitutes effective communication, but I'm going to defer to Supreme Court Justice Stewart and say: "I know it when I see it."


I agree it would be a distraction. Communication works when it works for both parties. If we want to become more virtuous this requires changing behaviour that is not virtuous. That requires being self critical so for example if I use racist language and then you call me out on it I can easily claim that it was just a poor choice of words, I don't really mean what those words mean, I've got white friends to prove it etc.

My point is not about the words "dating game". I think you chose the words well. You have a notion of "skill" at dating. You have a notion of improving your ability to score. The words seem fine. I'm not judging you, it does not make you a good or bad person in my eyes whether you play a dating game or not. If you are interesting in acting then you need to find a domain in which to act, maybe it is not dating.

I can only guess if there is truth to this idea that you see dating as a game. I can also only guess as to whether you see the dating game in a virtuous way or not. If you say to me "yeah I used those words but I have no morality issues with my relationship with women" then the conversation can stop there or you can help me with my issues.

As someone familiar with spiritual practices you should be well aware of the importance of words. For example meta meditation does not randomly choose the terminology. Concepts get reinforced by how we speak and act - speaking is a form of action.

RE: A Question On Sila
Answer
11/3/16 5:17 AM as a reply to Noah D.
Noah D:
P.s. - Mark, I would like to video chat with you, and sent you a PM.  Let me know if you respond, because my account isn't linked to an active email.

I did not see your PM so I've sent you a PM. Either you used the wrong handle for me or the messaging is not working. Let me know.

RE: A Question On Sila
Answer
11/3/16 5:58 AM as a reply to Mark.
Got it!  Replied to your pm.

RE: A Question On Sila
Answer
11/4/16 6:43 AM as a reply to Noah D.
Noah D:
I think Sila is about getting used to healthy habits and getting un-used to unhealthy habits.  I frequently hear things like precepts discussed as forms of discipline...
On the one hand, sila is fundamentally about "restraint". Than-Geoff started-off one of his recorded dhamma-talks saying, paraphasing, that the whole of the practice can be seen as a matter of restraint – restraining what comes in and restraining what goes out. And Mahasi Sayadaw spends the whole first chapter – Purification of Virtue -- (pp.23-102) of his monumental "Treatise on Vipassana" (aka Manual of Insight) explaining the 4 kinds of sila in terms of restraint (saṃvara), and in exhausting detail.

On the other hand, … see below…
Noah D:
What works better is to not try to give something up until you have
replaced it with something better.

Similarly to using development of the pleasant abidings of jhana ("fine-material", rupa,or "non-material" pleasure, arupa) to abandon the quest for satisfaction in (gross material) sensual pleasures .
Noah D:
…what the Buddha was really talking about…
On the other hand, I just happened to listen to a youtube dhamma-talk by Ven. Sujato (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DQYbwp4V3Js), in which he mentions that the Buddha, when he taught about the precepts, usually mentioned balancing the negative (restraint) with the positive (development, e.g. of the Brahmaviharas) – c.f. starting at about 19 minutes into the talk on the precepts, and the Buddha's way of teaching them at about 29 minutes. (It's a great talk to listen too entirely, too.)
Noah D:
… I rarely hear this reprogramming process talked about….(from the next post)
Don't need "modern 'consensus' buddhism", or psychologized buddhist romanticism, just the sutta-s.
Noah D:
...What do you guys and gals think?  Is morality about forcing yourself into more disciplined ways, or is it about internally adapting to external circumstances so that you actually want to improve the quality of your life?

My thought? from the above, rather a skillful combination of both – the "or" you use being interpreted as "inclusive" rather than "exclusive".

RE: A Question On Sila
Answer
11/4/16 1:37 PM as a reply to Mark.
Thanks for the thoughtful response, Mark.  You've won me over lol.  

On the topic of word choice, and communication, I do agree with your points.  There has to be some moderation or balance between sloppiness and academic-level rigor.  Enough clarity to achieve common vocabulary and use words in ways that align with the understanding those words are attempting to express.  I will try to keep this in mind.  Certainly, communicating on meditation forums over a few years has taught me that this is a complex but rewarding topic to delve into.  I think of Vince Horn's notion of using the Buddhist Geeks podcast as a dhamma practice of conversation.  
My understanding is that there should be increasing subjective knowledge into, for example, the nature of self and dependent origination as practise deepens. If that is not happening then I'd call into question the insight practise. 

I have experienced this topic on multiple levels, which is why I have trouble condensing discussion of 'Wisdom' into single sentences.  I had a set of experiences which have obviously altered my waking reality on the level of immediate sensation.  These experiences have obviously built on one another into what is discussed as "nondual perception."  This change to my sensory field did not noticably change the content of my mental talk.  However, I have worked hard at consciously integrating ideas of not-self and dependent origination into my internal narratives.  But I have had to do it purposely.  I do not think achieving a state of nonduality automatically influences one's word choice about experience.  That integration has to be cultivated.

I suppose precision is required when we converse about "subjective knowledge."  Knowledge of what type, or on what level?  Emotional/instinctive feeling?  Physio-energetic/sensorial perceiving?  Conceptual/internal-narrative shifts?  Behavior/external conduct changes?  Etc.
 You need to say something that impacts another person in an intended way to be communicating pragmatically.

Agreed.  This is something I'm working on.  One method is to attempt to represent your understanding accurately, which is our primary topic here.  But I also find it interesting to simply be cheerful, optimistic, and compliment others.  This frequently has a more pragmatically positive influence on them then trying to accurately describe something.  (this wouldn't apply to our conversation)
This is a subset of options but I'm fine to limit the disciussion to that.

Not to be overly traditionalist, but I think this is the only subset of options that Uncle Sid was interested in.  Lots of possible Sutta references for this, including the handful of leaves, the arrow on the battlefield metaphor, the imponderables, etc.  He really drilled in the idea that works is what matters, not what is objectively true.  Of course, these two things frequently intersect, which is where the notion of investigation comes in, but the emphasis is always on utlitity.  And I do appreciate that you agree with as well, as indicated in your comments.
Are you aware of methods for measuring your subjective appreciation of your virtues ? e.g. https://www.viacharacter.org

I didn't take the Via Character Strengths survey but the website looks good.  I like the idea of it.  
If the subjective processs is not being changed then we can only change the environment. So what in the environment influences unconscious decision making ?

Good point.  I operate on certain assumptions and storylines.  I've been able to make a lot of positive change in my life through relying on those storylines as a form of emotional fuel.  The way I talk about these practices is definitely a reflection of those storylines, which are at least partially out of my view.  More broadly, there are certainly influences such as being American, Western, living in modernity, my family and friends growing up, etc.  Each of these carries with them a set of values, which have been translated into a partial force shaping my motivations.  Makes sense.

The specific examples you gave about seclusion from news or unskillful people makes me laugh, because it sounds like something my teacher, Dhammarato, would say, yet I would have initially considered you guys in different "camps."  But I guess not; its really all about clear and joyful seeing of things. 
I'm not judging you, it does not make you a good or bad person in my eyes whether you play a dating game or not. If you are interesting in acting then you need to find a domain in which to act, maybe it is not dating.

This is good.  I like the idea of not consciously assuming a moral stance.  Just examine what is (to the degree that is possible).  I would not deny that I am playing a dating game.  I am increasingly finding it to be more dishonest and harmful to try not to.  I do believe that societal values brainwash people into monogamy, even when they are not ready for relationships, or they would rather be pursuing "casual hook-ups."  At the same time, I don't see formulations such as "Polyamory" as viable solutions since the participants always seem so freakin' eccentric.  The other option is to be socially normal, and simply effective at communication, with other high-functioning, conventional people in settings such as bars, meet-ups, parties, etc.  This is what I mean by "the dating game."  A bit of a digression there, since the meta-topic was communication, not dating.

And yes, I realize that my responses contain numerous assumptions within.  Turtles all the way down (or maybe not).

RE: A Question On Sila
Answer
11/4/16 3:14 PM as a reply to Noah D.
Noah D:
My understanding is that there should be increasing subjective knowledge into, for example, the nature of self and dependent origination as practise deepens. If that is not happening then I'd call into question the insight practise. 
I have experienced this topic on multiple levels, which is why I have trouble condensing discussion of 'Wisdom' into single sentences.  I had a set of experiences which have obviously altered my waking reality on the level of immediate sensation.  These experiences have obviously built on one another into what is discussed as "nondual perception."  This change to my sensory field did not noticably change the content of my mental talk.  However, I have worked hard at consciously integrating ideas of not-self and dependent origination into my internal narratives.  But I have had to do it purposely.  I do not think achieving a state of nonduality automatically influences one's word choice about experience.  That integration has to be cultivated.



I find this quite fascinating. The idea that perceptual changes may not align with insights is an interesting idea. Makes me think of the eightfold path which seems to seek a balance on various different "lines" of development. I'm also wonder if the severity of dark night experiences can be related to how out of sync those various lines of development are. Anyway that is another topic.

A key point for me was realising that meditation does not have to be only about focusing on phenomena. For example actually observing dependent origination or intentionally looking for it, can be a meditation. Another approach is exploring self/identity by catching as much of the identification going on as possible e.g. note something then investigate who just noted that, then investigate who investigated the noter, who investigated the investigator of the noter etc.

Another important point seems to be meditating on the suttas or concepts like this. So when something is not making sense intellectually meditation/contemplation can be a way to explore this. For example just let a question sit and watch various answers/distraction etc come up. Sometimes an insight jumps out, sometimes well after the session ends.

I don't speak about myself in daily life using different terms but I do feel my way of "being" has changed. But I don't have different perceptions off the cushion. I can experience the non-dual on the cushion.



I suppose precision is required when we converse about "subjective knowledge."  Knowledge of what type, or on what level?  Emotional/instinctive feeling?  Physio-energetic/sensorial perceiving?  Conceptual/internal-narrative shifts?  Behavior/external conduct changes?  Etc.


I like this concept:

Human's are inherently limited e.g. biologically, so humans are incapable of comprehending many things.
Language can only capture a subset of what humans experience e.g. we can't share many things with language
Rational communication is a subset of what can be expressed in language
Science is a subset of what can be rationally communicated
Mathematics captures a subset of scientific knowledge
Logic is a subset of mathematical knowledge

There may be something similar for subjective knowledge.

My experience e.g. phenomenon
The process of how my experience unfolds e.g. dependent origination.
How I identify with experience e.g. the process of self
My identity e.g. impermanent, changing and relative
My existence as a dependent arising e.g. anatman

I'm not at all sure the above makes sense, it is the first time those thoughts come up.

It might be worth mentioning that I subjective knowledge is always accessible through experience. But we have a great deal of unconscious knowledge that we do not experience.


But I also find it interesting to simply be cheerful, optimistic, and compliment others.  This frequently has a more pragmatically positive influence on them then trying to accurately describe something.  


Absolutely, the words we use are only a small fraction of what is communicated. The form can be more important than the content. It is so difficult to get right, I can't imagine being able to emoticon


This is a subset of options but I'm fine to limit the disciussion to that.

Not to be overly traditionalist, but I think this is the only subset of options that Uncle Sid was interested in.  Lots of possible Sutta references for this, including the handful of leaves, the arrow on the battlefield metaphor, the imponderables, etc.  He really drilled in the idea that works is what matters, not what is objectively true.  Of course, these two things frequently intersect, which is where the notion of investigation comes in, but the emphasis is always on utlitity.  And I do appreciate that you agree with as well, as indicated in your comments.


Maybe a misunderstanding. I see two levels: the content of subject experience and the way in which the process unfolds. So for example the same content experienced in mindful state or ruminating state is different. We can try to change the content e.g. let the thought go. For example experiencing something with an ego-centric identity may not be the same as experiencing the same content with an understanding of anatman. For me the core of Sid's insight is related to anatman, many of the imponderables don't come up if that is understood.

I think we all have ego-centric identification going on with some things, but many things don't need this identification.



I am increasingly finding it to be more dishonest and harmful to try not to.


You mean it is dishonest not to play the game ?



 I do believe that societal values brainwash people into monogamy, even when they are not ready for relationships, or they would rather be pursuing "casual hook-ups."  


Sexual drive is a major issue throughout life. I think most people have little idea how much this impacts behaviour. I would put sex up here with death in terms of creating suffering emoticon The number of times I've wished I could just switch the dam drive off!

On one hand most people get it more under control as they get older. On the other hand I think most people are surpressing it rather than dealing with it (a bit like death).

You are probably right that causal hook-ups is a natural desire/behavior. Similar to fear of death being natural.



At the same time, I don't see formulations such as "Polyamory" as viable solutions since the participants always seem so freakin' eccentric.
 The other option is to be socially normal, and simply effective at communication, with other high-functioning, conventional people in settings such as bars, meet-ups, parties, etc.  This is what I mean by "the dating game."  A bit of a digression there, since the meta-topic was communication, not dating.



One issue I see is having sexual drive in the driving seat. I doubt most woman understand just how messed up most men's minds are in this regard.

I think a relationship that allows me to share just how fucked up this is has been important. At the same time that communication helped me to see another side to the story. When I'm monogamous I am consciously deciding not to be a sexually driven animal. I do it for two reasons, firstly out of respect for my partner, secondly from a desire not to be controlled by my sexuality. It is an ongoing struggle and also a measure of whether my relationship is actually worth the effort. I suspect many people are in relationships where it is not worth the effort, in which case I'd suggest getting out of the relationship. Obviously this si just my take on things not at all "the answer".

On a practical level a good steady relationship is a lot easier way of blowing off sexual energy than the dating game. The dating game for me was more than sex - there is something very ego flattering about being desired and getting what one wants. Reinforcing those patterns was probably not a great thing for me!

RE: A Question On Sila
Answer
11/4/16 3:52 PM as a reply to Mark.
Mark:
I find this quite fascinating. The idea that perceptual changes may not align with insights is an interesting idea. Makes me think of the eightfold path which seems to seek a balance on various different "lines" of development. I'm also wonder if the severity of dark night experiences can be related to how out of sync those various lines of development are. Anyway that is another topic.

I have noticed that this is particularly true for me.  I may be an outlier.  I started out with an extremely high level of irritation towards all experience.  It was like the circuit breaker of Vedana inside of me was switched to "negative," where most people have "neutral" as a baseline.  Many pathologies developed out of this, and affected me on physical, mental, emotional and biochemical levels.

When I started to have success with Mahasi noting (the aforementioned perceptual shifts), it was more like a sliver of sunlight coming through the clouds, then a bright beam lighting up my world.  Most people who are diagnosed as having gone through similar events talk about it in a much more transformative way.  I suspect this is because of the reasons you wrote above: their lines of development were more initially in sync, whereas mine were far more out of sync.  Thus I have to do more work to purposely integrate everything.  The healthier one is to start, the more noticably purifying the nanas, and cessation, are.  In The Mind Illuminated, Culadasa talks about this by saying that the more subconscious 'sub-minds' recruited to a cessation event, the more transformative that event is.  Steve Armstrong (an IMS person & ex-Mahasi monk) has talked about how the insight knowledges are proportionately beneficial to the degree one has strengthened the Paramis in daily life [from a recent Dharma Seed talk posted to the DhO]. 

There may be something similar for subjective knowledge. 

My experience e.g. phenomenon
The process of how my experience unfolds e.g. dependent origination.
How I identify with experience e.g. the process of self
My identity e.g. impermanent, changing and relative
My existence as a dependent arising e.g. anatman

Yes, I think we could generally group "subjective knowledge" as something that occurs on multiple levels simultaneously (i.e. perceptual nonduality affects emotional wellbeing which affects inner narratives, etc.).  We can be precise in our imprecision. 
You mean it is dishonest not to play the game ?

Yes.  I have noticed that many people are resistent to the idea of purposely entraining certain behaviors in social situations (but are okay with reading books on business leadership or method acting).  People think it is tacky, unnatural, manipulative, or misogynistic.  At the same time, most men are not naturally confident or skilled when communicating with women they are attracted to.  They don't have the proper training, yet they aren't willing to do the work it takes to get these skills.  I was just trying to highlight this contradiction.
On a practical level a good steady relationship is a lot easier way of blowing off sexual energy than the dating game. The dating game for me was more than sex - there is something very ego flattering about being desired and getting what one wants. Reinforcing those patterns was probably not a great thing for me!

Yes, and admittedly, falling in love is one of the richest experiences available to a human being.  One thing my teacher talks about is how to simultaneously improve external skills, while deconstructing the internal structures that were previously providing the motivation for those behaviors.  This is one intersection of Morality and Wisdom training.  As such, my goal is to gradually deflate egoic storylines about being desired, whie increasing external behaviors which make me desired.

Edit: And yes, my goal is sex.  I don't believe it is possible to not want sex, but I do believe all the related psychodynamic knots can be untied and tossed overboard.  I don't see the desire for sex as a problem, nor the methods which actually work to achieve it, as one.

RE: A Question On Sila
Answer
11/5/16 4:09 AM as a reply to Noah D.
Noah D:

In The Mind Illuminated, Culadasa talks about this by saying that the more subconscious 'sub-minds' recruited to a cessation event, the more transformative that event is.  Steve Armstrong (an IMS person & ex-Mahasi monk) has talked about how the insight knowledges are proportionately beneficial to the degree one has strengthened the Paramis in daily life [from a recent Dharma Seed talk posted to the DhO]. 



Thanks for the references. Culadasa's book seems to be a must read.

You mean it is dishonest not to play the game ?

Yes.  I have noticed that many people are resistent to the idea of purposely entraining certain behaviors in social situations (but are okay with reading books on business leadership or method acting).  People think it is tacky, unnatural, manipulative, or misogynistic.  At the same time, most men are not naturally confident or skilled when communicating with women they are attracted to.  They don't have the proper training, yet they aren't willing to do the work it takes to get these skills.  I was just trying to highlight this contradiction.


That makes sense. I'll admit to not being very inspired by studying dating techniques. It reminds me of artists do not wanting to understand their creative process for risk of breaking it. For me authenticity was a priority but I would have benefited from some study (I was one of those people thinking it was unnatural). It makes a big difference if sexual drive is in the driving seat or not. Some of the most successful guys I saw at dating were also damaging themselves in the process, we become what we do.

One thing my teacher talks about is how to simultaneously improve external skills, while deconstructing the internal structures that were previously providing the motivation for those behaviors.  This is one intersection of Morality and Wisdom training.  As such, my goal is to gradually deflate egoic storylines about being desired, whie increasing external behaviors which make me desired.

This seems a good distinction. A challenge is to avoid the equivalent of "spiritual bypassing". There are conscious ego storylines and unconscious storylines. It seems to me the ego often goes into hiding rather than loosing control. I don't think Buddhist practises are particularly good at seeing this. There is often an assumption that we can become aware of everything going on or that certain experiences are far more transformative than that may in fact be.

This is where we hit up against the "current subjective process". Reframing that process opens up doors to other knowledges outside of Buddhism. In the same way that earlier reframing of the process has opened up doors to knowledge within Buddhism.


Edit: And yes, my goal is sex.  I don't believe it is possible to not want sex, but I do believe all the related psychodynamic knots can be untied and tossed overboard.  I don't see the desire for sex as a problem, nor the methods which actually work to achieve it, as one.

It is hard to know if we are on the same page regarding this. I can agree or disagree depending on how I assume your perspective to be.

If you look across the range of human potential there are certainly people without sex drive, there is even a word for that: asexuality. Given that some people get to that state without intention I suspect it is possible to get to that state through intention. But I don't see any need to do that, as you wrote, I don't see the desire for sex as a problem.

There is a problem (as I see it) when sex becomes an independent goal. Consider hunger, we have a natural drive for this too. If I make eating my goal then I'm really missing out on a lot. Firstly I risk to get addicted to eating once I figure out how to get easy access to food. But more importantly I'd be reinforcing a misunderstanding of what hunger is. Consider the four quadrant model of Integral Theory :

Individual objective hunger : my body needs food
Individual subjective hunger : my experience
Collective objective hunger : the social infrastructure related to food
Collective subjective hunger : the cultural and interpersonal aspects

When I eat I'm changing my physical body, reinforcing or changing the processes giving rise to my experience, supporting certain technologies/industries/economies, reinforcing or changing the social processes involving food. It is a lot more complicated than the goal of stuffing food in my mouth ;)

You are probably aware of this but a phrase like "my goal is sex" seems to be reinforcing the individual objective aspect. There are many people where that view is dominant, it is not in itself a problem. But it is a misinformed understanding of what is going on. The Integral Theory model is a better understanding but not a perfect one either.

You wrote about working on the egoistic storylines related to sex so I'd certainly add an appreciation of the individual subjective. I suspect the unconscious part of that puzzle may be neglected.

You wrote about using objective cultural artefacts like books, the social spaces like bars so there is an aspect of the collective objective there. There are more or less creative ways to use the collective objective resources. They give us potential but also limit potential, we waste time by not using the potential or trying to avoid the limitations.

You wrote about love which is obviously interpersonal. But I think the collective subjective is something that you are struggling with. There are social norms and there are individual desires and seeing this in a coherent way is not easy. If you imagine these as independent there is a misunderstanding.

How sexual drive maps onto all this and what that means for morality is an interesting question. I think there are moral issues in each "quadrant". With "sex as my goal" there is probably room for dubious moral choices in some of those quadrants.

The above is of course full of wild guesses on my part!