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On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt

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On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt Andromeda 6/18/18 4:08 AM
RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt seth tapper 6/18/18 10:34 AM
RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt Andromeda 6/18/18 10:58 AM
RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt seth tapper 6/18/18 11:45 AM
RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt Andromeda 6/18/18 12:03 PM
RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt seth tapper 6/18/18 12:17 PM
RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt Andromeda 6/18/18 12:21 PM
RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt seth tapper 6/18/18 12:35 PM
RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt Andromeda 6/18/18 12:42 PM
RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt seth tapper 6/18/18 12:58 PM
RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt Andromeda 6/18/18 1:02 PM
RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt seth tapper 6/18/18 1:11 PM
RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt Andromeda 6/18/18 1:27 PM
RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt seth tapper 6/18/18 2:42 PM
RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt Chris Marti 6/18/18 3:32 PM
RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt seth tapper 6/18/18 3:56 PM
RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt Chris Marti 6/18/18 4:38 PM
RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt seth tapper 6/18/18 5:13 PM
RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt Andromeda 6/18/18 6:12 PM
RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt seth tapper 6/18/18 6:30 PM
RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt Andromeda 6/18/18 6:51 PM
RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt seth tapper 6/19/18 12:37 AM
RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt Lars 6/19/18 1:55 AM
RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt seth tapper 6/19/18 7:06 AM
RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt Andromeda 6/19/18 8:17 AM
RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt Andromeda 6/19/18 4:43 AM
RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt seth tapper 6/19/18 7:08 AM
RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt seth tapper 6/19/18 7:58 AM
RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt Andromeda 6/19/18 8:15 AM
RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt seth tapper 6/19/18 8:52 AM
RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt Chris Marti 6/19/18 10:58 AM
RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt seth tapper 6/19/18 11:42 AM
RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt Chris Marti 6/19/18 12:41 PM
RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt Andromeda 6/19/18 12:30 PM
RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt terry 7/5/18 8:23 AM
RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt Chris Marti 6/19/18 5:10 PM
RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt Andromeda 6/19/18 8:16 AM
RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt Lars 6/20/18 3:37 AM
RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt Andromeda 6/20/18 7:18 AM
RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt Lars 6/19/18 2:02 AM
RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt Andromeda 6/19/18 4:52 AM
RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt Lars 6/19/18 3:45 PM
RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt Nicolas G. 6/18/18 5:08 PM
RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt terry 7/5/18 6:47 AM
RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt S. 6/18/18 5:39 PM
RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt Chris Marti 6/18/18 3:42 PM
RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt Andromeda 6/18/18 5:20 PM
RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt curious 6/18/18 6:07 PM
RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt Andromeda 6/18/18 6:41 PM
RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt Andromeda 6/18/18 5:07 PM
RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt S. 6/18/18 2:51 PM
RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt Daniel M. Ingram 6/19/18 12:54 PM
RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt malcolm 6/20/18 11:28 AM
RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt Daniel M. Ingram 6/20/18 12:15 PM
RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt Daniel M. Ingram 6/20/18 9:00 PM
RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt Chris Marti 6/22/18 7:00 AM
RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt Chris Marti 6/22/18 7:09 AM
RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt shargrol 6/22/18 9:18 AM
RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt Chris Marti 6/22/18 10:24 AM
RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt shargrol 6/22/18 3:53 PM
RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt Chris Marti 6/22/18 4:05 PM
RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt shargrol 6/22/18 6:15 PM
RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt shargrol 6/23/18 7:11 AM
RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt Chris Marti 6/23/18 10:02 AM
RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt dave m 6/23/18 3:38 AM
This is an excellent essay by a historian named Wilfred M. McClay who does a wonderful job of explaining our current state of affairs in developed Western countries. With a growing awareness and understanding of interdependence comes the painful and inescapable knowledge of suffering even for those not on a path of meditation and this is a powerful force in modern culture.

He comes to an interesting conclusion that I would love to hear others' thoughts on, should anyone be interested in reading a long-ish and somewhat dark essay from an academic journal.


"In a world in which the web of relationships between causes and effects yields increasingly to human understanding and manipulation, and in which human agency therefore becomes ever more powerful and effective, the range of our potential moral responsibility, and therefore of our potential guilt, also steadily expands. We like to speak, romantically, of the interconnectedness of all things, failing to recognize that this same principle means that there is almost nothing for which we cannot be, in some way, held responsible. This is one inevitable side effect of the growing movement to change the name of our geological epoch from the Holocene to the Anthropocene—the first era in the life of the planet to be defined by the effects of the human presence and human power: effects such as nuclear fallout, plastic pollution, domesticated animals, and anthropogenic climate change. Power entails responsibility, and responsibility leads to guilt."

RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt
Answer
6/18/18 11:45 AM as a reply to Andromeda.
Andromeda:
Eh, in my view we are all Golden Retreivers and not outside of the "relationships between causes and effects".   I do not blame dogs for the abuse that makes them mean and I do not hold them morally responsible for their behavior.  I do not blame myself or others for the conditions that made us all who we seem to be and I do not hold myself or anyone else morally responsible for their behavior.  Just stating that is pretty transgressive and triggers a lot of people to reject the idea, starting off with a socratic question about dogs was my way of opening the conversation.  I realize it probably wont seem like a very convincing position to most people. 

RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt
Answer
6/18/18 12:03 PM as a reply to seth tapper.
seth tapper:
Andromeda:
Eh, in my view we are all Golden Retreivers and not outside of the "relationships between causes and effects".   I do not blame dogs for the abuse that makes them mean and I do not hold them morally responsible for their behavior.  I do not blame myself or others for the conditions that made us all who we seem to be and I do not hold myself or anyone else morally responsible for their behavior.  Just stating that is pretty transgressive and triggers a lot of people to reject the idea, starting off with a socratic question about dogs was my way of opening the conversation.  I realize it probably wont seem like a very convincing position to most people. 
Just curious: did you read the essay or not?

BTW aggression in dogs is typically a result of poor socialization and lack of training as puppies, not abuse. And the law and most people would consider the fault of the dog bite to be the dog owner's in most cases, assuming the bite was not provoked, as it is the dog owner's responsibility to make sure their dog behaves. So there are problems even with your first premise. If the golden retriever bit you, who would you blame?

As for your second statement, just to clarify, are you basically saying that you don't see the value in sila, the third training, because no one is responsible for their behavior anyway?

RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt
Answer
6/18/18 12:17 PM as a reply to Andromeda.
I dont think we are likely to come to any kind of common ground here.  Sorry for butting in.  As far as i can tell, every one is always just doing the best they can, but sometimes bad socialization, abuse, and various other negative experiences makes them bite. 

RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt
Answer
6/18/18 12:21 PM as a reply to seth tapper.
No apologies necessary. The point of discussion isn't necessarily to come to a common ground, but to better understand each other's perspectives. I do agree that everyone is just doing the best they can.

And I would love to hear your perspective on the value of training in morality.

RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt
Answer
6/18/18 12:35 PM as a reply to Andromeda.
I look at the Dharma and the Buddha's teachings as practice guides to realizing what is really going on - or better said - isnt.  Through that lenz, there are a lot of ways that being loving, kind and without prejudice can make the mind more relaxed, less caught up in delusions like guilt, nationalism, greed, ect.  Letting go of the idea that you are a seperate being with agency is really really hard for a human mind to do. The less wrapped up in stories and missions and regrets a mind is, the easier letting go will be.  

There is also an element of faking it til you make it.  As the mind drops delusions, being loving, kind and without prejudice comes naturally because we are all golden retrievers.  This isnt even an in my opinion thing - thats the truth. 

RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt
Answer
6/18/18 12:42 PM as a reply to seth tapper.
seth tapper:
I look at the Dharma and the Buddha's teachings as practice guides to realizing what is really going on - or better said - isnt.  Through that lenz, there are a lot of ways that being loving, kind and without prejudice can make the mind more relaxed, less caught up in delusions like guilt, nationalism, greed, ect.  Letting go of the idea that you are a seperate being with agency is really really hard for a human mind to do. The less wrapped up in stories and missions and regrets a mind is, the easier letting go will be.  

There is also an element of faking it til you make it.  As the mind drops delusions, being loving, kind and without prejudice comes naturally because we are all golden retrievers.  This isnt even an in my opinion thing - thats the truth. 

That doesn't answer my question about the value of training specifically in morality. Also, we're not golden retrievers. At least I'm not =D

RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt
Answer
6/18/18 12:58 PM as a reply to Andromeda.
If you give yourself permission to love, you, like all mammals, will love.  Watch some Reddit AWW and then give it a try!  Anyway, I know the Buddha was not a big fan of guilt, so maybe that is a place we can agree? 

RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt
Answer
6/18/18 1:02 PM as a reply to seth tapper.
seth tapper:
If you give yourself permission to love, you, like all mammals, will love.  Watch some Reddit AWW and then give it a try!  Anyway, I know the Buddha was not a big fan of guilt, so maybe that is a place we can agree? 
You still didn't answer my question, Seth. That's disappointing. 

But you might enjoy today's Existential Comics, Philosophy Roundtable: On Human Nature, which explores the difference between animals and humans.

RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt
Answer
6/18/18 1:11 PM as a reply to Andromeda.
In my view, training in morality is the same as being loving, kind and without prejudice.  Since you didnt seem to agree, I figured it wasnt a discussion that was likely to bear fruit for either of us. I seem to be pretty attached to my perspective at this point and you seem pretty attached to yours.  

RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt
Answer
6/18/18 1:27 PM as a reply to seth tapper.
seth tapper:
In my view, training in morality is the same as being loving, kind and without prejudice.  Since you didnt seem to agree, I figured it wasnt a discussion that was likely to bear fruit for either of us. I seem to be pretty attached to my perspective at this point and you seem pretty attached to yours.  
Actually, you haven't even asked me anything about my perspective. I've just been asking questions. 

Being loving, kind, and without prejudice is definitely desirable, but your view of training in morality as presented here seems incomplete and lacking in nuance. How about the virtues? 8-fold path? The precepts? 

But at this point I'm happy to end this discussion, as you've repeatedly attempted to exit it. As you say, you are attached to your perspective.

RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt
Answer
6/18/18 5:39 PM as a reply to Andromeda.
It's an interesting essay.

The therapeutic view of guilt seems to offer the guilt-ridden an avenue of escape from its power, by redefining guilt as the result of psychic forces that do not relate to anything morally consequential. But that has not turned out to be an entirely workable solution, since it is not so easy to banish guilt merely by denying its reality. There is another powerful factor at work too, one that might be called the infinite extensibility of guilt. This proceeds from a very different set of assumptions, and is a surprising byproduct of modernity’s proudest achievement: its ceaselessly expanding capacity to comprehend and control the physical world.

I suppose my thoughts about this flow a few directions.

It is definitely interesting to consider humanity as potentially having additional moral culpability that we may or may not have had before due to increasing presence and power of humans on the planet.

The nutshell point could just be global warming. I won't call it "climate change" because the phrase "climate change" was just invented by the conservative spin doctor Frank Luntz (see his wiki) and has also just happened to infiltrate the scientific lexicon because it sounds more objective. Luntz is/was A/B testing language to re-shape public opinion and political results. He also coined "death tax" for "estate tax" and "partial birth abortions," along with the "government takeover of healthcare" language. He just does polls/a tiny bit of science to manipulate voters(/reality). He has a doctorate from Oxford and taught at Harvard. Estimating and experiencing the damage from anthropogenic global warming is going to be very interesting. How culpable are any of the actors at Exxon Mobile who suppressed information and misled the public for decades despite their own internal conclusions about the warming being human-caused through funding private research since the 1970s

Staying away from this though I observed two pieces of data that together look a little bit odd not very long ago. 

According to the Zoological Society of London, half of the world's vertebrate wildlife population has died between 1970-2010 (The Guardian, Slate, The Telegraph, MotherboardWaPo). It's important to know this isn't just one of those biological diversity indices but actual absolute numbers. 

The steep decline of animal, fish and bird numbers was calculated by analysing 10,000 different populations, covering 3,000 species in total. This data was then, for the first time, used to create a representative “Living Planet Index” (LPI), reflecting the state of all 45,000 known vertebrates.

Apparently it's predicted to fall another 33% down from the new levels with what we know already in the interval 2010-2020. That would be a roughly 66% loss in the wild animal population on Earth in 50 years. If this is true it's remarkable and almost reality re-defining. Like as big a step towards a kind of crazily different science fiction world as the invention of the internet. People can try to just say that this is a mass existinction event coincidentally happening at the exact same short time period as a human waste, technological, and population explosion but that's obviously nonsense.

What I find curious though is that the halving of the number of animals in the world tracks the doubling of the human population.

From wiki page source on World Population:

1970 - 3.6 billion
2010 - 6.9 billion

So those estimates give a 92% increase in the human population size in the same period. I mean come on. Going by absolute numbers (and focusing on the vertebrates as these tend to): the reptiles, birds, fish, and even mammals, etc I think are dying in vastly larger absolute magnitudes than humans are increasing (billions vs much larger numbers). So even better than nebulous carbon footprint the per capita damage per human around now beyond animals consumed in their lifetime for food, clothes, or other products is on the scale of thousands, millions, or possibly billions per human alive today. Counting the number of animals in the world is interesting but tricky, but even the minimums would be astonishing. The vertebrate footprint.

Obviously there are plenty of ways that direct-cost connection, statement, or claim is nonsense, but it's an interesting viewpoint to consider. There is a scale, recency, clarity to that way of putting it. It is different then the Belgians cutting off the hands of and/or murdering 1-10 million people in the Congo Free State between 1885-1908 or so many other things because it shows how the scale is super-human and worldly and not just internal to human affairs, and it also still involves death.

So that's something we could feel "guilty" about. 

Back to the essay:
Where then does this analysis of our broken moral economy leave us? The progress of our scientific and technological knowledge in the West, and of the culture of mastery that has come along with it, has worked to displace the cultural centrality of Christianity and Judaism, the great historical religions of the West. But it has not been able to replace them. For all its achievements, modern science has left us with at least two overwhelmingly important, and seemingly insoluble, problems for the conduct of human life. First, modern science cannot instruct us in how to live, since it cannot provide us with the ordering ends according to which our human strivings should be oriented. In a word, it cannot tell us what we should live for, let alone what we should be willing to sacrifice for, or die for.

And second, science cannot do anything to relieve the guilt weighing down our souls, a weight to which it has added appreciably, precisely by rendering us able to be in control of, and therefore accountable for, more and more elements in our lives—responsibility being the fertile seedbed of guilt. That growing weight seeks opportunities for release, seeks transactional outlets, but finds no obvious or straightforward ones in the secular dispensation. Instead, more often than not we are left to flail about, seeking some semblance of absolution in an incoherent post-Christian moral economy that has not entirely abandoned the concept of sin but lacks the transactional power of absolution or expiation without which no moral system can be bearable.

What is to be done? One conclusion seems unavoidable. Those who have viewed the obliteration of religion, and particularly of Judeo-Christian metaphysics, as the modern age’s signal act of human liberation need to reconsider their dogmatic assurance on that point. Indeed, the persistent problem of guilt may open up an entirely different basis for reconsidering the enduring claims of religion. Perhaps human progress cannot be sustained without religion, or something like it, and specifically without something very like the moral economy of sin and absolution that has hitherto been secured by the religious traditions of the West.

This is interesting! It raises a few more questions for me.

To what extant do Westerners and white people feel guilty, or do people globally feel guilty? It's a statement (I believe true) in a lot of Dharma books including MCTB that Westerners are particularly hard on themselves with guilt it seems. Is this possibly to some (and what degree) Christian/ingrained guilt? Work ethic? Catholic guilt? For some people is it Jewish guilt? Puritanical guilt?

Is it parenting? Is it our historical relationship to breaking from but also still suffering from so many cultural taboos through dozens of romantic movements the past couple centuries? The isolation and disconnected mindsets produced by modern (and then) postmodern landscapes and circumstances? Is it really cultural guilt over colonialism and slavery and so many atrocities (there are so many Western people who seem so violently fragile when confronted with things that are just straightforward social and historical realities for other people that they would prefer to be blind to or have trouble acknowledging)?

The mixed impacts of globalization and harms of neo-liberalism on the world and human imagination?

I wouldn't know where to begin without a much longer conversation.

But I tend to agree more and more that the extent to which there are "solves" to grasping this Kali Yuga (or more correctly just a better understanding of the universe and the karma happening in many different worlds) are for me fairly radically religious/spiritual.

The materialist mindset (which is also weaker, exotic, untenable, less-pervasive, less-believed in than many sheltered Westerners in small circles might think, and not growing but fading in many ways as we shift out of two centuries of earth-heavy Zodiacal activity towards airy-activity) is ingrained with imperialistic patterns of racism, destruction, and vast amounts of alienation, imbalance, etc (these things are not merely co-morbid). One favorite tiny example is Ayn Rand violating her own principles of non-violence by justifying the genocide of Native Americans because they were never truly 'rational.' 

It can be a good exercise to absolve yourself completely as an agency-less cog in the machines of endless suffering. It can also be a good exercise to assume you are completely responsible for everything (or at least more) and to open yourself up truly to engagement, the weight of things, skin in the game. Inner = outer vs = nothing. 

I guess you could assume that if you are a very powerful, impactful, or costly person in the world (endless animals, and structural violence - even Hobbesians will admit that, they just think it's necessary) that you should exhibit tremendous gratitude for the great sacrifices that produced you and have kept you around. Or you could adopt an extreme confidence - look at all the trouble the universe went to put us here. Wrathful compassion and/or extreme ascetic rejection of the befouled/befouling world. Etc.

Hmm. Food for thought. What is your biggest takeaway?

RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt
Answer
6/18/18 2:42 PM as a reply to Andromeda.
I just didnt want to get in a fight.  Usually, conversations in which I argue against morality and the like do not end well. 

I think that all trainings in morality are intended to develop a loving, kind mind beyond prejudice.   I am not an expert on Sila as taught tactically in one sutra or another.  I am an expert on my own mind.  All I can really comment on is what I have seen there.  In my mind, morality occurs because I care about hurting others.  I care because I love them.   My mind will love anything that it lets its self love.  If I have not made up a story about something that makes it less lovable than I am, then I love it without exception.  It is mechanical.  Reddit Aww!  Rationally, I ought to love everything with all of my heart and all of my mind.  If I could stop making up stories about stuff, I would. 

You can develop a loving, kind mind beyond prejudice in a lot of ways, because that is what all of our minds are like when we are not deluded about what is going on.  Any practice that lessens delusions will lead to a more loving, kind mind that is beyond prejudice.  

Sit and accept that your a meatball, and love is manifest, if meaningless. 

RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt
Answer
6/18/18 2:51 PM as a reply to Andromeda.
Such an argument would have little to do with conventional theological apologetics. Instead, it would draw from empirical realities regarding the social and psychological makeup of advanced Western societies. And it would fully face the fact that, without the support of religious beliefs and institutions, one may have no choice but to accept the dismal prospect envisioned by Freud, in which the advance of human civilization brings not happiness but a mounting tide of unassuaged guilt, ever in search of novel and ineffective, and ultimately bizarre, ways to discharge itself.

RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt
Answer
6/18/18 3:42 PM as a reply to S..
It can be a good exercise to absolve yourself completely as an agency-less cog in the machines of endless suffering. It can also be a good exercise to assume you are completely responsible for everything (or at least more) and to open yourself up truly to engagement, the weight of things, skin in the game. Inner = outer vs = nothing. 

Buddhism asks us to fix ourselves before we attempt to fix others. The laws of cause and effect operate in a one by one, being by being manner. If we were all to go about the process of fixing ourselves by understanding ourselves well enough to turn back around and help others with their own fix, could the cumulative effect change the global dynamic? I kinda sorta think that's why the historical Buddha decided to teach his unique way of gaining wisdom after he awakened. Thus the four noble truths and the teachings.

The difference now, as the article states, is scale - modern humans have a vastly more powerful effect on the planet, and it's possible that a one by one approach to a fix won't save us all in time.

I need to think more about this...

RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt
Answer
6/18/18 3:32 PM as a reply to seth tapper.
I think that all trainings in morality are intended to develop a loving, kind mind beyond prejudice.

I don't think this is quite right. I think some trainings in morality are based on punishment. Generally, "Don't do these things or you will go to hell." And some trainings in morality are based on redemption. Generally, "Do these things like treating others in a certain way and you will be saved." Other trainings in morality start with one of the previous methods and go further by asking us to examine the very nature of who we are and to then use that information to generate wisdom and compassion.

I'll take door # 3.

RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt
Answer
6/18/18 3:56 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
I meant the Buddhist trainings in morality, but I am really making an assumption as I have never studied them in any kind of detail. 

There should be some kind of distinction made between loving kindness based morality and rule based morality - a la wear a burka or do not look the King in the face kind of stuff.  How do you know your morality is the right one? That kind of thing. 

RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt
Answer
6/18/18 4:38 PM as a reply to seth tapper.
Seth, did you read the article?

RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt
Answer
6/18/18 5:07 PM as a reply to S..
Yeah I agree, global warming, weapons of mass destruction, the threat of nuclear annihilation--very interesting to consider that we have more and not less moral culpability in this modern secular age, in the West anyway. "With great power comes great responsibility," said Uncle Ben to Spiderman. ;)

You raise a lot of good questions about the origins of guilt that the article doesn't address. Obviously, this is a complex and multifactorial problem. I have more questions than answers as well.

I think my big takeaway is the conclusion that we need religion. My teenage self would have disagreed vehemently, even while getting into meditation and occult practices funny enough. But as it turns out, I am one of those people that needs religion and not just the meditation technology. Despite once scoffing at the very idea of sin, now I feel it acutely and spirituality gives me a way to focus my efforts at redemption. And I'm grateful for this. "The world is richer for having a devil in it, so long as we keep a foot upon his neck," as William James put it.

So at this point in my life it seems totally plausible that mankind needs religion or something like it if we are to survive.

RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt
Answer
6/18/18 5:08 PM as a reply to seth tapper.
In Theravada-Buddhism morality (śīla) is understood to be a stable foundation upon which to attain samatha. According to the Theravada tradition, samatha and vipassanā form an integral part of the Noble Eightfold Path as described by the Buddha in his core teaching, the Four Noble Truths.

source:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samatha

RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt
Answer
6/18/18 5:13 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
nope.  I was just musing on morality and guilt generally.   I thought that was kind of obvious, if maybe obnoxious.  

RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt
Answer
6/18/18 5:20 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:

The difference now, as the article states, is scale - modern humans have a vastly more powerful effect on the planet, and it's possible that a one by one approach to a fix won't save us all in time.

I need to think more about this...

And it's not just that a one-by-one approach won't work--it's that there might not be a solution at all.

I have come to think of our planet as being in hospice, at least so far as human habitability is concerned. Maybe we'll get it together and Earth will rally--I do hope this will be the case!--but maybe not. We can't see the future but we do know that all is impermanent. Which is horrifying and terrifying and perhaps pessimistic, but it also puts things in perspective. What really matters? Working out my own salvation, helping others do the same, being a good neighbor, taking care of my friends and family and communities. Loving others and myself to the best of my ability.

What's interesting is that actually those are the same things that really matter even if the world isn't ending.

RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt
Answer
6/18/18 6:07 PM as a reply to Andromeda.
Really thought provoking article.  One quick reaction is to wonder, if do we need something like religion, what are the institutions that can support it?  To make a sweeping statement ... religion failed in the west because its institutions became corrupted, so that problem needs to be solved as well.

And Andromeda, seeing as we are on DhO - here is a link to the Pabbatopama sutta.  You probably know it already, but I think adds to your last point nicely.

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn03/sn03.025.than.html

Malcolm

RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt
Answer
6/18/18 6:12 PM as a reply to seth tapper.
seth tapper:
nope.  I was just musing on morality and guilt generally.   I thought that was kind of obvious, if maybe obnoxious.  

It was both obvious and obnoxious, but I've been guilty of hijacking links and being obnoxious myself and so I let it go.

My question for you becomes: why did you act in a way that even you recognize is obnoxious? 

RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt
Answer
6/18/18 6:30 PM as a reply to Andromeda.
I thought I could be helpful.  When I saw that was not the case, I tried to bail. 

RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt
Answer
6/18/18 6:41 PM as a reply to curious.
curious:
Really thought provoking article.  One quick reaction is to wonder, if do we need something like religion, what are the institutions that can support it?  To make a sweeping statement ... religion failed in the west because its institutions became corrupted, so that problem needs to be solved as well.

And Andromeda, seeing as we are on DhO - here is a link to the Pabbatopama sutta.  You probably know it already, but I think adds to your last point nicely.

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn03/sn03.025.than.html

Malcolm
Thanks for the link, Malcolm! That's new to me but you are correct that it's right on point, and better said than mine.

And has religion has totally failed in the West? According to a Pew Research article, of the 245 million adults in the US with 173 million Christians and 57 million unaffiliated. That's obviously much fewer than previous eras, but institutions are still out there. 

RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt
Answer
6/18/18 6:51 PM as a reply to seth tapper.
seth tapper:
I thought I could be helpful.  When I saw that was not the case, I tried to bail. 
Well, just for future reference, it's usually not helpful to comment on a tiny part of an essay that you haven't read because whatever you say will be poorly informed at best, total bullshit at worst. 

Why not just read the article and say something intelligent about it? It's not too late.

RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt
Answer
6/19/18 12:37 AM as a reply to Andromeda.
I gave it a shot, but I found little in it of interest.  He kept asserting that humans feel more guilty now than they ever have before, but I am not sure that is true.   Are you? 

The whole essay to me came from a point of view that assumes guilt is an affliction that is both neccessary and unavoidable except through the forgiveness of god or some other mechanism.  As I wrote before, any rational person can see that feeling guilty is stupid.  No one has any control over their actions.  Free will is a complete lie. 

Even if you disagree with me - here is a simple meditation that will eliminate guilt from your mind. 


1.  Form a model of the metaphysical universe in which you live.  Are we seperate beings with souls that are evil or good ? Are we meat machines with nothing inside us that is special? Are we just a manifestation of God and this is God's dream?  - it really doesnt matter what you choose, but choose one.   If you do not want to feel guilty, choose one that doesnt have room for guilt in it - maybe the one I proposed before -  we are all Golden Retrievers at heart. 

2.  Sit and let feelings of guilt arise.  Start by thinking of something you are only a little guilty about.  You know - in your fixed metaphysical context - that these feelings of guilt are useless and delusional.  In this fixed metaphysical context - you are not really at fault for anything.  So let this false feeling of guilt arise in the mind and then study it. Pick it apart.  You can map it to the body , if you want, or see it as vibrations.  Eventually the mind will stop associating that feeling with guilt and it will just feel like sensations.  The conversion of the feeling from guilt to sensation will show the mind that guilt is just a useless mental construct and show the mind how it is constructed.  

Repeat 1 and 2 over and over until no guilt arises.  

RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt
Answer
6/19/18 1:55 AM as a reply to seth tapper.
seth tapper:
Free will is a complete lie.

Since your post in the other thread, something along the lines of "what you said is close to what I see, without the freedom", I was wondering what you meant. I had a suspicion it was due to agencylessness, this seems to support that.

I can't speak for anyone else, and I could be completely deluded, but here's my take on free will. First I saw agencylessness so clearly I couldn't deny it anymore. For a while it felt like life had no meaning and there was no free will and it was all pointless, yet oddly beautiful and vivid despite being empty. Then over time I realized that just because the "I" is empty, that doesn't negate it, or mean that it should be dropped or wiped out. It continues to function largely as before, the only difference is there is now awareness that it's empty. In other words, free will and intention aren't negated by emptiness, they're just realized to be empty like everything else. There is absolute freedom, but no one owns it. There is choice, but no one chooses.

Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.
*this is not a claim of any particular stage, attainment, or path, no refunds, not valid in some states, void where prohibited


If i'm wrong, please poke some holes in my view. emoticon

Sorry, don't mean to threadjack.

RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt
Answer
6/19/18 2:02 AM as a reply to Andromeda.
To actually reply regarding the original topic...   emoticon

In my experience guilt has to be forgiven before you can make any real progress on the path. I used to be consumed with self loathing and guilt for the things "I allowed to happen to me" as a kid (various forms of abuse), which also manifested as constant rumination when trying to sleep or relax etc. Eventually I began metta practise, and grudgingly included my self in that forgiveness and love and compassion etc. I didn't think I deserved it, all the usual self destructive drama queen stuff. Eventually it began to help, and I noticed that more the more I was able to forgive myself, the more I was able to forgive and show compassion to others (including those who had abused me). When that became clear it made it easier to forgive myself (since it didn't feel as selfish anymore) and it became a positive reinforcement loop instead of a negative one.

It's interesting that the author mention mentions a feeling of indebtedness, if anything I feel gratefulness, not a debt. That may be due to the author seeming to come from more of a christian perspective, in which there's a permanent soul that accumulates a debt from sin and is paid back through penance. In a paradoxical way I do intent to "pay it forward", but not out of guilt.

I've been posting more than usual lately, if i'm becoming "that guy", feel free to tell me to go sit some more lol.

RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt
Answer
6/19/18 4:43 AM as a reply to seth tapper.
seth tapper:
I gave it a shot, but I found little in it of interest.  He kept asserting that humans feel more guilty now than they ever have before, but I am not sure that is true.   Are you? 

The whole essay to me came from a point of view that assumes guilt is an affliction that is both neccessary and unavoidable except through the forgiveness of god or some other mechanism.  As I wrote before, any rational person can see that feeling guilty is stupid.  No one has any control over their actions.  Free will is a complete lie. 

Even if you disagree with me - here is a simple meditation that will eliminate guilt from your mind. 


1.  Form a model of the metaphysical universe in which you live.  Are we seperate beings with souls that are evil or good ? Are we meat machines with nothing inside us that is special? Are we just a manifestation of God and this is God's dream?  - it really doesnt matter what you choose, but choose one.   If you do not want to feel guilty, choose one that doesnt have room for guilt in it - maybe the one I proposed before -  we are all Golden Retrievers at heart. 

2.  Sit and let feelings of guilt arise.  Start by thinking of something you are only a little guilty about.  You know - in your fixed metaphysical context - that these feelings of guilt are useless and delusional.  In this fixed metaphysical context - you are not really at fault for anything.  So let this false feeling of guilt arise in the mind and then study it. Pick it apart.  You can map it to the body , if you want, or see it as vibrations.  Eventually the mind will stop associating that feeling with guilt and it will just feel like sensations.  The conversion of the feeling from guilt to sensation will show the mind that guilt is just a useless mental construct and show the mind how it is constructed.  

Repeat 1 and 2 over and over until no guilt arises.  

Seth, I just asked you to stop commenting from a place of ignorance and you did it again. Now it goes beyond "obnoxious" to just plain rude and self-absorbed, which is the opposite of the love and kindness you proclaim. You have offered unsolicited meditation advice that is not only unhelpful, but because you obviously do not have a good grasp on morality it could be actively harmful for anyone who mistakenly thinks you know what you're talking about and takes up the practice.

Because you have contributed nothing valuable to this thread and are detracting from what is otherwise an intelligent and sophisticated discussion, I am asking you not to comment further here.

RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt
Answer
6/19/18 4:52 AM as a reply to Lars.
Lars:
To actually reply regarding the original topic...   emoticon

In my experience guilt has to be forgiven before you can make any real progress on the path. I used to be consumed with self loathing and guilt for the things "I allowed to happen to me" as a kid (various forms of abuse), which also manifested as constant rumination when trying to sleep or relax etc. Eventually I began metta practise, and grudgingly included my self in that forgiveness and love and compassion etc. I didn't think I deserved it, all the usual self destructive drama queen stuff. Eventually it began to help, and I noticed that more the more I was able to forgive myself, the more I was able to forgive and show compassion to others (including those who had abused me). When that became clear it made it easier to forgive myself (since it didn't feel as selfish anymore) and it became a positive reinforcement loop instead of a negative one.

It's interesting that the author mention mentions a feeling of indebtedness, if anything I feel gratefulness, not a debt. That may be due to the author seeming to come from more of a christian perspective, in which there's a permanent soul that accumulates a debt from sin and is paid back through penance. In a paradoxical way I do intent to "pay it forward", but not out of guilt.

I've been posting more than usual lately, if i'm becoming "that guy", feel free to tell me to go sit some more lol.
We should all go sit some more, as there is always more to learn and growth never stops. That said, no worries emoticon

I think what you are saying is totally in line with the author of the article. He takes the Judao-Christian perspective, but any sincere religious approach would likely work as you have found and the difference is primarily just linguistic. There are many ways to say the same thing. Are you familiar with the Buddhadasa Bhikku's sermon No Religion? At their core, all religions are basically saying that we should love each other and not be selfish. At the most advanced level of practice, there really isn't any such thing as religion at all.

I have also found the brahma viharas to be the best way of "paying things forward" and feel gratitude for the guilt that has fueled this practice. From the guilt springs love, and so it is not something to simply be meditated away. There is a transformation that has to happen.

RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt
Answer
6/19/18 7:06 AM as a reply to Lars.
There is absolute freedom, but no one owns it. There is choice, but no one chooses.:

Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.
*this is not a claim of any particular stage, attainment, or path, no refunds, not valid in some states, void where prohibited


If i'm wrong, please poke some holes in my view. emoticon

Sorry, don't mean to threadjack.

I seem to have pissed off Adromeda enough that i doubt thread jacking will trigger any worse of a response.   In my own mind, things just arise and pass away.  No one has any control over what comes and goes.  The feeling of agency is a feeling and it is fabricated by the brain the same way other feelings are.  In detail, the feeling of agency is actually just  a form of anxiety.  The brain has a system for self evaluation and optimization and it tenses certain muscles as a signal for how well it feels it is doing in a particular situation and reads that as anxiety.  Having anxiety about an action, in turn, the brain assumes it must be responsible for it.  We have all had experiences where we were lost in the moment and stuff just seemed to happen or come out of us - the zone.  The same stuff is happening, but for whatever reason, the evaluation system is switched off and we feel no agency or anxiety.   You do not miss it. 

RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt
Answer
6/19/18 7:08 AM as a reply to Andromeda.
I read the essay.  Did you try the meditation?  Are you scared to? 

RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt
Answer
6/19/18 7:58 AM as a reply to seth tapper.
It is interesting - to thread jack again - that as my mind becomes more unified the yogi personality is merging into my ordinary life personality and instead of acting more whoo whoo and airy and sweet I am just the same old arrogant dick I have always been.  The content is accurate, but the style is probably not too skillful.   It feels like I am finally comfortable enough and have no doubt bubblling in the subconscious so I can just let my hair down.   

RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt
Answer
6/19/18 8:15 AM as a reply to seth tapper.
seth tapper:
It is interesting - to thread jack again - that as my mind becomes more unified the yogi personality is merging into my ordinary life personality and instead of acting more whoo whoo and airy and sweet I am just the same old arrogant dick I have always been.  The content is accurate, but the style is probably not too skillful.   It feels like I am finally comfortable enough and have no doubt bubblling in the subconscious so I can just let my hair down.   
"Arrogant dicks" aren't welcome here. 

This is your first official warning. If you continue in this fashion, you will be permanently banned from this forum. 

Kind regards, 

Andromeda (moderator)

RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt
Answer
6/19/18 8:16 AM as a reply to seth tapper.
seth tapper:
I read the essay.  Did you try the meditation?  Are you scared to? 

See my warning, please. 

RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt
Answer
6/19/18 8:17 AM as a reply to seth tapper.
seth tapper:
There is absolute freedom, but no one owns it. There is choice, but no one chooses.:

Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.
*this is not a claim of any particular stage, attainment, or path, no refunds, not valid in some states, void where prohibited


If i'm wrong, please poke some holes in my view. emoticon

Sorry, don't mean to threadjack.

I seem to have pissed off Adromeda enough that i doubt thread jacking will trigger any worse of a response.   In my own mind, things just arise and pass away.  No one has any control over what comes and goes.  The feeling of agency is a feeling and it is fabricated by the brain the same way other feelings are.  In detail, the feeling of agency is actually just  a form of anxiety.  The brain has a system for self evaluation and optimization and it tenses certain muscles as a signal for how well it feels it is doing in a particular situation and reads that as anxiety.  Having anxiety about an action, in turn, the brain assumes it must be responsible for it.  We have all had experiences where we were lost in the moment and stuff just seemed to happen or come out of us - the zone.  The same stuff is happening, but for whatever reason, the evaluation system is switched off and we feel no agency or anxiety.   You do not miss it. 

See my warning, please. 

RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt
Answer
6/19/18 8:52 AM as a reply to Andromeda.
  You want to silence me because you cant understand what i am saying?  I accuse you of being a little Trump.  Closed minded people wrapped up in their own delusional self importance has always been a trigger for me.  It is irrational, but I cant help myself anymore than a dog can help chasing a car.   If me pushing your buttons on the internet triggers such a strong reaction in your mind - you can always just ignore me - then I think  you should either let go some more and find happiness or live your ideals and ban me.  I dare ya. 

RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt
Answer
6/19/18 10:58 AM as a reply to seth tapper.
A brief thought on guilt: I think guilt is one of many capabilities human beings evolved that is survival positive in cooperative societies. When guilt is lost so is some of our ability to get along, even if just to have congenial conversations. Guilt isn't worthless, just like love, happiness and the general human capacity to feel aren't worthless. 

RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt
Answer
6/19/18 11:42 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
A brief thought on guilt: I think guilt is one of many capabilities human beings evolved that is survival positive in cooperative societies. When guilt is lost so is some of our ability to get along, even if just to have congenial conversations. Guilt isn't worthless, just like love, happiness and the general human capacity to feel aren't worthless. 


Chris, 

I was kind of hoping Adromeda would ban me.  Posting here is starting to feel like a crutch for me and I am pretty clearly not doing anyone else much good!  That said, once more into the breach.  

I agree in that I think that guilt evolved as a check on urges and is a key component of a cooperative society. No one likes a sociopath.  

The fact that it is evolutionary and useful for a functional cooperative society- or even family group - does not mean it isnt a fabrication of the brain.  It is a fabrication of the brain.  Like other fabrications we can use reason or insight to see through and let go of,  guilt can also be seen through and let go of.  The meditation I posted above works as do many others, I am sure.  

If you grant that with enough attention one can see through guilt as it arises, then the question becomes should you let of your guilt.  If I had free will, my choice would be yes.  I know, though, that that choice has been conditioned by my upbringing and context.  If I had been adopted at birth by devout believers in irredeemable sin, I would have a different view. 

RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt
Answer
6/19/18 12:30 PM as a reply to seth tapper.
seth tapper:
  You want to silence me because you cant understand what i am saying?  I accuse you of being a little Trump.  Closed minded people wrapped up in their own delusional self importance has always been a trigger for me.  It is irrational, but I cant help myself anymore than a dog can help chasing a car.   If me pushing your buttons on the internet triggers such a strong reaction in your mind - you can always just ignore me - then I think  you should either let go some more and find happiness or live your ideals and ban me.  I dare ya. 
Got just a minute because I'm at work and no lunch break for me today. More later. 

RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt
Answer
6/19/18 12:41 PM as a reply to seth tapper.
I'm certain that living according to our urges without guilt or other emotional guardrails as if we had no choice was what Thomas Hobbes was getting at when he said that human life in the state of nature is "nasty, brutish and short." 

RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt
Answer
6/19/18 12:54 PM as a reply to Andromeda.
It is clearly true that with globalization and increased technology that the destructive power of humans as well as the available information regarding the destruction we cause daily is also increasing to levels that haven’t existed before. This should give us all pause and hopefully help us modify the actions of us, the top predator on the planet. I myself struggle daily with the ramifications of even the simplest of my actions, from what I eat to how I get around, all of which is causing damage globally in many ways.

When training in Morality, presume free will, responsibility, causality, and feel wise remorse when we realize we have caused trouble and try to do better. That is the scope of the article and thus the appropriate framework.

When training in Insight, presume agencylessness, but this is difficult unless we are sufficiently established in practice. Mixing frameworks and coming up with less than helpful applications of them is common. When we do this, feel wise remorse that helps us do better.

RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt
Answer
6/19/18 3:45 PM as a reply to Andromeda.
Andromeda:
We should all go sit some more, as there is always more to learn and growth never stops. That said, no worries emoticon

Are you familiar with the Buddhadasa Bhikku's sermon No Religion? At their core, all religions are basically saying that we should love each other and not be selfish. At the most advanced level of practice, there really isn't any such thing as religion at all.

I have also found the brahma viharas to be the best way of "paying things forward" and feel gratitude for the guilt that has fueled this practice. From the guilt springs love, and so it is not something to simply be meditated away. There is a transformation that has to happen.


Agreed that growth never stops. There is nothing that needs doing, but that includes "not doing".

Thanks for the link (and the mention of the brahma viharas), something to read when I get home from work tonight. There is no benefit to carrying around the raft once you reach the other shore, i'm just making sure i'm not still out in the river first. Last time I tried that I drowned for a while. emoticon

Regarding love and compassion, it seems to be a natural consequence of practise, though metta etc does seem to jump start that process.

To Seth, I am not denying agencylessness. What i'm pointing out is that despite there being agencylessness, there is still choice and free will. If you attach yourself to agencylessness and are aversive to the function of intent/choice, have you really let go? An actor plays a role, despite not "actually being" the person he plays (or the one who wrote the script). In a similar way I can make choices and exercise "free will" despite understanding that ultimately I don't do any of it. Previously I was an actor who believed I was my character, now I joyfully choose to play that role despite knowing it's all bullshit.

RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt
Answer
6/19/18 5:10 PM as a reply to seth tapper.
It is interesting - to thread jack again - that as my mind becomes more unified the yogi perso hatnality is merging into my ordinary life personality and instead of acting more whoo whoo and airy and sweet I am just the same old arrogant dick I have always been.  The content is accurate, but the style is probably not too skillful.   It feels like I am finally comfortable enough and have no doubt bubblling in the subconscious so I can just let my hair down.  
 
This comment is the result of incorrectly believing that gaining insight is an excuse for not taking responsibility or being polite to others. This is not the goal of practice. It's the opposite. It's what we practice to avoid. Most children are good at not doing this.

RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt
Answer
6/20/18 3:37 AM as a reply to Andromeda.
Thanks again for the no religion link, it just confirms what i've been learning by speaking with a co-worker (and others previously) during breaks etc. She's a Christian and meditates in a manner similar to Saint John of the Cross. What we call nibbana she calls "the eternal". She describes nimitta, piti, non-dual perception etc, but uses Christian terms to do so. We smile and laugh as we both describe similar insights despite our so called different faiths. I gave her a copy of "When Things Fall Apart" by Pema Chödrön. She really liked it, and was amused that Pema is now living in Nova Scotia, where she's from.

The link also confirmed that there's still some "cooling down" to do.  emoticon

RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt
Answer
6/20/18 7:18 AM as a reply to Lars.
Lars:
Thanks again for the no religion link, it just confirms what i've been learning by speaking with a co-worker (and others previously) during breaks etc. She's a Christian and meditates in a manner similar to Saint John of the Cross. What we call nibbana she calls "the eternal". She describes nimitta, piti, non-dual perception etc, but uses Christian terms to do so. We smile and laugh as we both describe similar insights despite our so called different faiths. I gave her a copy of "When Things Fall Apart" by Pema Chödrön. She really liked it, and was amused that Pema is now living in Nova Scotia, where she's from.

The link also confirmed that there's still some "cooling down" to do.  emoticon
Glad that helped! Isn't it great connecting with others like that? There is a beautiful commonality beneath the superficial differences and we have so much to learn from others with a sincere practice, no matter what words are used to describe it. Good practice is just good parctice.

RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt
Answer
6/20/18 11:28 AM as a reply to Andromeda.
Andromeda:
...Wilfred M. McClay who does a wonderful job of explaining our current state of affairs in developed Western countries. With a growing awareness and understanding of interdependence comes the painful and inescapable knowledge of suffering...

.... a long-ish and somewhat dark essay from an academic journal.

....
"Power entails responsibility, and responsibility leads to guilt."


Apologies for butting in!

I'd like to take the blame on this. Being of a scurillous nature and having read a few of seth's posts I'd noticed that he generally touches on the following subjects:

1) Dogs.

2) Love.

3) Meat.

And having put the picture together i wondered if he was trying to tell us something.  So to investigate i constructed a Sigil based on the phrase, ... well you can guess maybe.  Thereafter attached it to the wall in a small room and let the magick work.


No great relevations occured other than the famous story of the meditation master who was asked by a novice 'what is the nature of the Buddha?' and after thinking to him/herself 'not again...' just replied 'the hedge at the bottom of the garden'. Whereby the novice asked 'and what does that make you?' resulting in the answer 'a golden haired  lion  retriever'.  Ha ha ha.

I'm not too sure on Seth's message yet, however, sorry for the karmic ripples ;-(
(I've been reading mctb2 BTW, good to see magick & the brahmaviras in print)


Relating to the thread itself:

1) I did look at the OP and didn't follow through to the article as the quote suggested (to me) that the author wanted to lay a guilt trip on people, I don't want to read it.  Now, i happen to believe that Guilt is unskillful behaviour (as in what's the benefit of using energy to feel bad about yourself, feel inadequate and/or unworthy feel the need for punishment or atonement, when instead you could simply notice maybe something could have been done better, focus on how that could be so and feel joyful for that opportunity to learn).

2) None of my business at all, but if Andromeda is offended or disturbed by Seth's posts, and s/he's a moderator, wouldn't it be more polite for him/her to ask another moderator to deal with the complaint, so as to ensure fair play?  Isn't there a power relationship involved in a personal dispute here?

Attachments:

Attachment


RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt
Answer
6/20/18 12:15 PM as a reply to malcolm.
It is important that I have my moderator’s backs so that they can feel free to moderate. I am not going to overthink this. If they feel moderation is in order, there will be moderation. Avoid egging them on and pissing them off: my best advice. Let’s try to keep discussions productive.

Thanks, Daniel
Owner of the Dharma Overground

RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt
Answer
6/20/18 9:00 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
BTW: recent banning was done by me, not any other moderator, just FYI.

Daniel

RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt
Answer
6/22/18 7:00 AM as a reply to malcolm.
I did look at the OP and didn't follow through to the article as the quote suggested (to me) that the author wanted to lay a guilt trip on people, I don't want to read it.  Now, i happen to believe that Guilt is unskillful behaviour (as in what's the benefit of using energy to feel bad about yourself, feel inadequate and/or unworthy feel the need for punishment or atonement, when instead you could simply notice maybe something could have been done better, focus on how that could be so and feel joyful for that opportunity to learn).


Didn't read the article? I can help! Here's a video of the author on the very same topic which you can watch and listen to:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4iaDuoT15T8





RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt
Answer
6/22/18 7:09 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
I just noticed a coincidence!  A person created an account here on June 20th, the day this topic implodes, and chooses this particular topic on which to make their very first post, which happens to be about the cause of the implosion.

Hmmm.....

emoticon

RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt
Answer
6/22/18 9:18 AM as a reply to Andromeda.
I finally read the article. Pretty deeply flawed.

Basically says we need a judeo-christian metaphysics in order to be responsible people, because a sense of guilt is needed to correct for sinful actions and guilt is only possible with the framework of god. But I think a number of frameworks can work, including the buddhist idea of seeing the inherent suffering of actions that are colored by greed, aversion, and indifference. There are many systems, including christian monasticism, which shows that by looking at your actual lived experience, you can refine your moral compass. It becomes clear that our lives are interdependent and that we cannot hurt others and remain unhurt. The metaphysics for this are many and varied, but almost unimportant. 

The author also makes the fatal flaw in not realizing that Freud's critque of civilization (that it requires the sublimation of passions into socially acceptable forms) is equally applicable to any authoritative structure including religions. Unless someone does their own introspection and investigation, all authority structures create a shadow side of repressed emotions/desires, victim identities, and possibilities for claiming excemption from responsibility. We've seen this time and time again in christianity and pretty much every other religion under the sun including buddhism. There is plenty of victim identity in christianity and buddism.

The author really mischaracterized Freud, Nietzsche, and athiest critiques of religious/cultural guilt -- perhaps we need enough emotional guilt to motivate responsible action, certainly in our developmental years, but an oppressive sense of guilt is not helpful and there are more adult ways to develop further responsibility than emotional guilt. Nietzsche was critiquing this oppressiveness, Freud was identifying this oppressiveness as a part of the self (Superego) but recognized that there was some validity in the Superego if it was moderated (Ego). 

Finally, he author wants the reader to really believe that our current world has more oppressive guilt, but I don't get that impression reading about recent history... seems like there was plenty of guilt in recent history as well as the distant path. I'm sure that a farmer spending a lifetime raising sentient animals for slaughter felt the guilt. I'm sure that a woman giving birth to many children only to see most of them suffering and dying before adulthood also felt the guilt. I really don't believe there is such thing as "more" emotion in a given timeperiod. The specifics change, the emotion is timeless.

So I conclude that the author is basically arguing that we need belief in a god for practical reasons, that's his purpose in writing an essay. I don't think he's successfully argued it.

RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt
Answer
6/22/18 10:24 AM as a reply to shargrol.
The way I interpreted the author wasn't that he was arguing specifically for a return to a belief in god but for a way for western societies deal with what he asserts we need - a way to deal with the social structures and transactions that religions of many types provide, but which modern societies have started to abandon.

BTW - I view what we all do here as one of those structures - a way to better understand ourselves and others.

Finally, he author wants the reader to really believe that our current world has more oppressive guilt, but I don't get that impression reading about recent history... seems like there was plenty of guilt in recent history as well as the distant path. I'm sure that a farmer spending a lifetime raising sentient animals for slaughter felt the guilt. I'm sure that a woman giving birth to many children only to see most of them suffering and dying before adulthood also felt the guilt. I really don't believe there is such thing as "more" emotion in a given timeperiod. The specifics change, the emotion is timeless.

The guilt of yesteryear, of agrarian societies, is local. The guilt of modern western societies is global. I think we need to give the author some credit for distinguishing between personal and societal guilt and between pre-industrial and "modern" guilt. It's not about the volume of our guilt, but the nature of our guilt. I'm pretty sure he's referring to "modern" as 20th and 21st-century when human technology gained global scope. Of course, I can't prove that. I'm not saying he's right, just saying we need to parse what he's saying closely.

FWIW


RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt
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6/22/18 3:53 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Hmm... okay, on closer looking, I agree that he wasn't explicitly arguing for return to a belief in god/sin... He's really saying, hey sin/god worked, what we have isn't god and it isn't working, and I don't know what else would work. So, I was inferring a position he didn't explicitly state, but I feel it is not unreasonible to say it is implied. 

So here's the odd thing... if he was simply talking about the global scope of the consequences of our actions and the need to be responsible at that scale, then that would be fairly straightforward article, right? But I feel this article is doing something else by creating straw man** arguements about psychology, atheism, etc. and using the language of guilt, sin etc. 

**an intentionally misrepresented proposition that is set up because it is easier to defeat than an opponent's real argument

RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt
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6/22/18 4:05 PM as a reply to shargrol.
He's a serious academic historian:  https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Wilfred_M._McClay 

I don't know enough to comment on the details of the social and psychological theories he expounds on in support of his thesis. I've read some of Freud and Nietzsche but I didn't catch any contradictions in the article. I do think that overall he's got a pretty solid position when it comes to the power of modern humans to cause global damage. We can, and we do. I guess what I care about could be stated as, "So given that fact, what shall we do about it?"

RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt
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6/22/18 6:15 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Sure, me too, I care. I'll leave it at that. 

RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt
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6/23/18 3:38 AM as a reply to shargrol.
The themes of this discussion bring to mind the series, "Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth," which recently found its way to Netflix.  It especially reminded me of the second episode, "The Message of the Myth," a transcript of which can be found here in case anyone's interested: https://billmoyers.com/content/ep-2-joseph-campbell-and-the-power-of-myth-the-message-of-the-myth/

Talking about the decay of civilizations whose myths are no longer relevant to their culture, Campbell says:

"All you have to do is read the newspaper. I mean, it’s a mess. But what the myth has to provide, I mean, just on this immediate level of life instruction, the pedagogical aspect of myth, it has to give life models. And the models have to be appropriate to the possibilities of the time in which you’re living. And our time has changed, and it’s changed and changed, and it continues to change so fast, that what was proper 50 years ago is not proper today. So the virtues of the past are the vices of today, and many of what were thought to be the vices of the past are the necessities of today. And the moral order has to catch up with the moral necessities of actual life in time, here and now, and that’s what it’s not doing, and that’s why it’s ridiculous to go back to the old-time religion."

Anyway, this series is a fascinating look at mythology.  It was my first introduction to the concept of non-duality and Buddhist/Hindu concepts.

RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt
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6/23/18 7:11 AM as a reply to shargrol.
Re: the "what do we do?" question.

Honestly, the basic answer is "be suspicious of things that are convienent", "recognize the mass effect of your actions", "understand the life span of materials", and "basic sanity/renunciation". 

This modern world gobbles up resources so easily because all the systems are in place to make it easy. Capitalism has been wonderful in making it easy to buy a 25 cent pencil that contains paint from oil from the middle east, rubber from africa, graphite from somewhere else, wood from somewhere else, all shipped to a manufacturing plant and then shipped and trucked to a store. Amazing. But then it's easy to treat a pencil like it is only worth 25c -- but really it is creating effects around the entire world. It's easy to always grab a plastic bag whenever you go to the grocery and buy vegetables. They're free. But they are not impact free. etc.

The next is to imagine that the world is full of 9 billion "you"s. So imagine everything you do done by 9 billion people. Imagine that if you re-used a plastic bag three times, then suddenly the world is using 1/3 less bags. If you have 10 kids, then the world is now 45 billion people (replacing two adults with 10 kids = 5x growth). If you have marble countertops an entire mountain of marble has to be levelled. Thinking of it that way helps us see the mass effect of our personal decisions.

The next is to understand the lifetime of materials. Anything made of wood needs to last longer than the tree that made it or it is unsustainable. Anything made of stone and metal will be sustainable if it last as long as it takes for the next mountain to grow. Anything made of geological oil is sustainable if it lasts until more organic material can be buried and crushed by the earth's weight. Plant oils and fibers have a quicker lifecycle. 

Renunciation really is a beautiful thing in the way I'm using it, basically the same thing as the Shaker's "simplicity". People really complicate their lives with material stuff. But the only way to really be secure getting out of the rat race is to deeply connect with the absence of greed, aversion, and delusion --- otherwise you'll always feel some kind of lack that you need to fill with stuff. It takes very little to maintain sane humans. You can't make other people sane, you are unavoidably responsible for working toward your own sanity.

And a big part of being sane is to recognize that what happens in this world is beyond your control and you are a mortal being, so make your limited time on this earth a good one and don't expect that your life can be without challenges. Search for ways to have good and better problems, not "no problems" because that is impossible. 

Anyway, something like that, it was off the top of my head.

I guess another way to say this is: become very intimate with interdependence.

RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt
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6/23/18 10:02 AM as a reply to shargrol.
I guess another way to say this is: become very intimate with interdependence.

That sounds right to me. Another reason that what we here do is an important part of global survival. We don't all have to be awakened but we all should be aware of the realities of interdependence.

RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt
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7/5/18 6:47 AM as a reply to seth tapper.
seth tapper:
Andromeda:
Eh, in my view we are all Golden Retreivers and not outside of the "relationships between causes and effects".   I do not blame dogs for the abuse that makes them mean and I do not hold them morally responsible for their behavior.  I do not blame myself or others for the conditions that made us all who we seem to be and I do not hold myself or anyone else morally responsible for their behavior.  Just stating that is pretty transgressive and triggers a lot of people to reject the idea, starting off with a socratic question about dogs was my way of opening the conversation.  I realize it probably wont seem like a very convincing position to most people. 


aloha seth,

   I think your point was about the emptiness of "moral responsibility" generally. What is "good" is what benefits "me" - as a rule. And if I do it, it is perfectly ok. Conventional morality is all about pointing fingers in order to achieve/maintain superiority, particularly in the battle of the sexes.

  As the joke goes: If a man were to do perform some act in a forest, and there were no woman around to observe him, would it still be wrong?

   Guilt is the currency of morality, self righteousness the payoff. Love supersedes, replaces and transcends morality, in the present.

terry


from the tao te ching, trans feng:

EIGHTEEN

When the great Tao is forgotten,
Kindness and morality arise.
When wisdom and intelligence are born, 
The great pretense begins.

When there is no peace within the family,
Filial piety and devotion arise.
When the country is confused and in chaos,
Loyal ministers appear.

NINETEEN

Give up sainthood, renounce wisdom,
And it will be a hundred times better for everyone.

Give up kindness, renounce morality,
And men will rediscover filial piety and love.

Give up ingenuity, renounce profit,
And bandits and thieves will disappear.

These three are outward forms alone; they are not sufficient in themselves.
It is more important
To see the simplicity,
To realize one's true nature,
To cast off selfishness
And temper desire.

RE: On morality: The Strange Persistence of Guilt
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7/5/18 8:23 AM as a reply to Andromeda.
Andromeda:
seth tapper:
It is interesting - to thread jack again - that as my mind becomes more unified the yogi personality is merging into my ordinary life personality and instead of acting more whoo whoo and airy and sweet I am just the same old arrogant dick I have always been.  The content is accurate, but the style is probably not too skillful.   It feels like I am finally comfortable enough and have no doubt bubblling in the subconscious so I can just let my hair down.   
"Arrogant dicks" aren't welcome here. 

This is your first official warning. If you continue in this fashion, you will be permanently banned from this forum. 

Kind regards, 

Andromeda (moderator)


aloha (aloha, aloha) andromeda (immoderator),

   Wow.

   You really don't get this guy. He exercises his freedom of speech with a certain fairly consistent vulgarity, a style obviously meant to take some of the veneration and assumed holiness (prissiness) away from the dhamma, in his noble compaign of dereifying and re-expressing the Way, making it lively, present and accessible by being more insightful and wiser than most while at the same time being a regular "arrogant dick." Vulgarity should not be confused with obscenity. Yes, the man in a style of self-deprecation called himself an "arrogant dick"; but through hundreds of posts he has abundantly proven that he is not an arrogant dick. He is in fact thoughtful, considerate, helpful and loving, giving generously of his time to all sorts here (even you). What this man does is art and for you to threaten to ostracize him if he doesn't alter a proven winning style - notably respectful of you throughout - is clearly an abuse of power. This forum would be significantly diminished by his muzzling or exile. I personally wouldn't ever post or visit here again. Seth is a breath of stinky air, in fine zen style. If you run him off he'll probably write a book in his inimitable vernacular, and then how would you feel?

   Shame on you. Have you no sense of humor? (wink)

   I didn't read the article either - slap my wrist? Try make me feel small/ guilty? (Et tu, chris?) I eventually did read seth's synopsis and that was more than enough for me.

   I'm no special you-scratch-my-back-I'll scratch-yours butt buddy of seth's but he's as enlightened as anyone around near as I can tell and twice as entertaining, with the added advantages of transparent sincerity, wit and brevity. 

   He is, in fact, many things that I am not. Yet he strikes a chord. You are more striking discord, eh? You are annoyed and you can shake your stick at people. 

   Wow.

terry (ich bin ein arrogant dick) (I hijack virtually every thread I post on - not proud of it, but there it is; I used to admire how people here cut each other a lot of slack, and thought that this forum was essentially self-policing and, indeed, not necessarily a "safe place" because free speech was respected even if occasionally vehement, vulgar or vicious... I am bewildered as to what moral "rule" seth violated in any of his posts, or how he might be expected to conform to whatever ruling is issued on the spot, in a fit of pique. Officially, no less.)


a story:  diogenes (of synope, "the cynic") famously masturbated in public, at least once... called upon to defend his act, he avowed that it was a shame one could not stroke one's belly and satisfy hunger...