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Does spiritual path reject humanity

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Does spiritual path reject humanity
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7/30/18 7:02 PM
I have been meditating for three years and for the last 6 months doing TMI. I mostly practice in stage 4 but I have read most of the book and MTCB as well as some other dharma books. I think I struggle with spiritual bypassing but I feel like alot of the spiritual material out there encourages this. However it seems like alot of these spiritual traditions do not deal with what it is to be human. I say this because for the most part from what I have seen it seems like most people who make serious progress along the path end up leaving lay life and to me this just seems like a form of escapism.  I also feel like I am just looking at this problem wrong and looking for some help to see a different perspective on the issue. I appreciate anyone's response.  

RE: Does spiritual path reject humanity
Answer
7/30/18 7:18 PM as a reply to Ryan Munger.
However it seems like alot of these spiritual traditions do not deal with what it is to be human. I say this because for the most part from what I have seen it seems like most people who make serious progress along the path end up leaving lay life and to me this just seems like a form of escapism.  I also feel like I am just looking at this problem wrong and looking for some help to see a different perspective on the issue. I appreciate anyone's response.  

FWIW, the real path leads to being far more connected to your humanity. I have a family and a serious career. After many years of practice, I feel more connected and capable of being with and relating to other human beings than I ever did before my practice took off. Practice and awakening are about being truly human, knowing what that means in all its glory and its shame. There's both, of course, but that's what we are.

RE: Does spiritual path reject humanity
Answer
7/30/18 7:43 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris- Thank you for the reply. I think what I am struggling with is how to reconcile being human with also noticing that every senstaion is impersonal.  Does that make sense at all?

RE: Does spiritual path reject humanity
Answer
7/30/18 8:12 PM as a reply to Ryan Munger.
Maybe it would help to think of it this way - we have perceptions that mislead us because we think they are us. This personalization of perceptions, seeing them as I/me/mine or as things that are seen by "me" is illusory and leads to dissatisfaction. So to turn things on their head, maybe the opposite of what you said is the reality of being a human being and having human senses and a mind.

If that's the reality, is it that bad that things are impersonal? It's uncomfortable to see at first, of course, but it's part of the way things are. What do you think?

RE: Does spiritual path reject humanity
Answer
7/30/18 8:20 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
I think the thing I struggle with is how do I make any choices in life if they are all impersonal.  I don't see how it is possible to accept everything the way it is in the present moment and also still have motivation to change anything in my environment.  That is where I am struggling with connecting the spiritual path to being human.

RE: Does spiritual path reject humanity
Answer
7/30/18 8:29 PM as a reply to Ryan Munger.
This is a common experience but it won't last. I say this from personal experience.

Your life is still your life and your choices and decisions are as they have always been and aren't dependent on whether there is impermanence or not-self (which I think is what you are calling "impersonal.") Seeing things that way may be unsettling for a while but in my experience the common sense world doesn't just disappear. You live in it and you always will until, well, until you no longer live.

RE: Does spiritual path reject humanity
Answer
7/30/18 8:54 PM as a reply to Ryan Munger.
I like the way Chris describe spiritual.

Why is it impossible to accept everything the way it is? This is the whole key point of being spiritual from the beginning, to see how your formations built up inside that makes you unable to accept things. To live in the world without resistance is spiritual.

For example : when you see cockroaches is disgusting, you look up at yourself why you identify with disgust from the beginning and then you accept them and might even catch them with hand.
Instead, a spiritual person in humanity is best, the result always bringing happiness to your surroundings. Whats you want is not so important anymore, but what your surroundings want more important, ability to see beginning and ending of every problems.

As the stage 4 A&P goes on, it is common to experience there’s like a spiritual call to give up and run away from life, so dont make any big life decision yet, keep your spiritual conversations only to spiritual people too, make your best efforts to see whether your decision brings unhappiness to surroundings and stop it, see how slow and good conversations day by day can change people thoughts(maybe years) than to debate endlessly, and wait till the stage pass.

RE: Does spiritual path reject humanity
Answer
7/30/18 8:57 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
I guess I currently see all of my motivations in life being based around being a self and I feeling like seeing things as they really are will lead me to have no motivation to do anything in life. I know this may not be the truth but that is currently the way I view it.  

RE: Does spiritual path reject humanity
Answer
7/31/18 1:58 AM as a reply to Ryan Munger.
Yes, its ok. All things leads you to do nothing and meditate, thats for stage 4. Its not really seeing things as they are yet, it is more to adjustment to new reality. Later in stage 11 would be seeing things as they really are. After the self has less and less ‘needs’ , you’ll see how you can nurture your surroundings, the motivation from yourself is zero but the motivation to help others without expecting anything in return will slowly build up.

Just like the safety regulation from aircraft, you must help yourself first before you help others.

RE: Does spiritual path reject humanity
Answer
7/31/18 5:04 AM as a reply to Ryan Munger.
Ryan Munger:
However it seems like alot of these spiritual traditions do not deal with what it is to be human. I say this because for the most part from what I have seen it seems like most people who make serious progress along the path end up leaving lay life and to me this just seems like a form of escapism.  I also feel like I am just looking at this problem wrong and looking for some help to see a different perspective on the issue. I appreciate anyone's response.  


I struggle with these questions all the time too. If there is a pattern I've seen in myself, its usually that some aspect of what I consider "human" or "spiritual" is limited. These definitions keep getting updated for me all the time. But its funny because Buddhism in my mind is known for explicitly being all about "dealing precisely with what it means to be human" - which right now I think means something like dealing with the mind, with our emotions, our predicament in life, with suffering, with how we impact and are impacted by others, etc. This present moment contains everything there is about being human, and the Dharma is all about relating to the present moment.
What are some examples of humanity that Buddhism doesn't deal with?

As for the escapism of monastic life: I think its worth looking at how in a monastic life, you aren't really escaping from life at all. Everything about human life is still there. Many aspects are amplified and heightened.
I guess its analogous to migrating to a different country with better economic and social conditions (in this case, for example, moving from a rich western country to a poor asian monastery could be considered improving your economic condition because you now live in a situation where all your living needs are provided for and you don't have to work for your survival in this new alternative monastic economy - you have swapped economic labour for dharma "labour" - almost like being in a futuristic post-economy society). Monastics live in a different economy (that doesn't involve trade etc) with a different social structure (eg not a tribe, nor a communist state, nor nuclear families, etc) but one still has the full range of human issues to confront: the mind, thoughts, emotions, relationships with others, internal social politics, food, bodily health/sickness, death, responsibilities, ethical conduct, decisions, etc.

RE: Does spiritual path reject humanity
Answer
7/31/18 5:58 AM as a reply to Ryan Munger.
I guess I currently see all of my motivations in life being based around being a self and I feeling like seeing things as they really are will lead me to have no motivation to do anything in life. I know this may not be the truth but that is currently the way I view it.  


Ryan, does this cause you to want to stop your practice?

RE: Does spiritual path reject humanity
Answer
7/31/18 5:32 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
It does not cause me to want to stop practicing currently. It seems like following this path is the only way to get through this stuff as far as I have found.  I think alot of this stuff that is arising for me is doubt and I just need a perspective shift so I appreciate this forum for helping.  

RE: Does spiritual path reject humanity
Answer
7/31/18 7:57 PM as a reply to Ryan Munger.
Ryan Munger:
I guess I currently see all of my motivations in life being based around being a self and I feeling like seeing things as they really are will lead me to have no motivation to do anything in life. I know this may not be the truth but that is currently the way I view it.  
At my current stage of practice, it is interesting to see my approach to life change in a similar direction as the practice shifts.  I've approached practice with curiosity and have also begun to approach life in the same way.  After a brief glimpse of getting to watch things happen without the sense of an "I" doing them, I'm now less motivated to do things in hopes of a specific outcome.  I am more often curious to see what happens when I do "x."  Ofcourse, it's not always this way.  I still go to work motivated by the hopes a paycheck, as I much prefer being fed to being hungry and having shelter as opposed to being homeless.  And I suppose curiosity is a form of motivation.  It seems to be a different form, though.  One that is less attached to the outcome of my actions than at previous times in my life.  

As Sam Harris says, don't confuse determinism with fatalism.  After all, determinism is what the practice is showing us.  We get a clear look at causes and conditions and how we and our actions are all interconnected.  "Everything is determined by forces over which we have no control.  It is determined for the insect as well as the star.  Human beings, vegetables or cosmic dust, -we all dance to a mystery tune, intoned in the distance by an invisible piper."  Albert Einstein  

If you think you won't want to do anything after you see how things really are, don't wait!  Go try it for awhile, right now.  It won't be long until you are suddenly "motivated" to go do something again! ;-)

RE: Does spiritual path reject humanity
Answer
8/1/18 12:43 PM as a reply to Ryan Munger.
Ryan Munger:
I have been meditating for three years and for the last 6 months doing TMI. I mostly practice in stage 4 but I have read most of the book and MTCB as well as some other dharma books. I think I struggle with spiritual bypassing but I feel like alot of the spiritual material out there encourages this. However it seems like alot of these spiritual traditions do not deal with what it is to be human. I say this because for the most part from what I have seen it seems like most people who make serious progress along the path end up leaving lay life and to me this just seems like a form of escapism.  I also feel like I am just looking at this problem wrong and looking for some help to see a different perspective on the issue. I appreciate anyone's response.  

I'm not sure if my answer will be helpful since I don't recognize the terms you use,  TMI, spiritual bypassing, and I'm not sure which traditions you mean by spiritual traditions ...

... But in case it is of help to you ... spirituality (according to my definition) is central to my meditation practice. I meditate in a way that is similar to the meditation taught by Leigh Brassington. It produces very positive emotions, for me it is like the brahmaviharas. When everything makes you happy, you naturally love everything. It is hugely spiritual.

When you meditate on a pleasant feeling, it creates a feedback loop in the brain. Awareness of pleasure is pleasant, which increases the pleasure, and if you focus on the increased pleasure it just keeps increasing. Its like when you put a microphone near a speaker amplifying what the mic picks up, you get a loud screeching sound - feedback. With this meditation you get increased levels of serotonin, dopamine, endorphins and lower levels of cortisol (a stress hormone). When you are happy, you naturally have increased equinimity, and you don't want anything - attachments and aversions are weaker, you are less selfish - the ego is weaker.

I focus on the pleasant feeling of relaxation as I breathe in a relaxed way. It makes me want to smile which releases more pleasant feelings. Once you learn to meditate this way, you can do it with any other type of meditation you like. So if you are looking for enlightenment you can still do this type of meditation. By focusing on relaxation, this meditation also develops the parasympathetic nervous system which is the body's natural system for turning off stress. Over time if you meditate this way your ability to turn off stress improves. One translation of dukkha is "stress". Turning off stress is turning off dukkha. As you learn to maintain this state, you necessarily have to learn to let go of attachments and aversions. But it is easy because the pleasant feelings give you positive reinforcement.

Some people think it might be hard to learn to meditate this way but I disagree. The next time you are naturally happy, try meditating on the feeling of happiness (and the pleasant feelings released by smiling) for 20 or 30 minutes. That should be plenty of time to experience the feedback loop. After that you just need to learn to bootstrap it by meditating on the pleasant feeling of relaxation as you breathe in a relaxed way. It can help to breathe a little slower and deeper than normal and smile if you feel like it. The pleasant feelings might be very slight at first but just be aware of them, patiently giving them time to build.

One limitation is that your brain has to have the right nutrition / chemcials to produce neurotransmitters. So if you get inconsistent results that could be an explanation. In that case it might help to meditate after a meal. Another obstacle is that it can be hard to do if your mind is is very turbulent because you need to focus to keep the feedback loop going. If your mind is turbulent it can help to do some type of relaxation exercises (like yoga, or progressive muscular relaxation) before meditating.


Some links:

Producing feelings of bliss
https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/5823529

What it is like:
https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/8857737

My practice log
https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/8496517

RE: Does spiritual path reject humanity
Answer
8/1/18 12:15 PM as a reply to Jim Smith.
Not trying to hijack the thread, but thought this might be helpful.  FYI: Jim

TMI: The Mind Illuminated refers to a book by neuroscientist Dr. John Yates, better known as Culadasa.  The book divides meditation into 10 stages. He has a retreat center in southern Arizona where Daniel will be guest teaching in September 2018.  Dharmatreasure.org if you want to have a peek. 

Spiritual bypassing: I’ve never thought of a formal definition, so without looking something up let me give it a try.  If someone else feels compelled to correct me, by all means do so. I too am here to learn. 

Spiritual bypassing would be the using the terms and the views for ultimate reality in dealing with relative reality issues. i.e.  “It doesn’t matter that I hurt Jane’s feelings as none of this is real anyway.” 

The confusuon between ultimate and relative reality is just that- complete confusion.  I don’t think most spiritual traditions encourage it and if they seem to, I don’t think it’s intentional.  It's more the difficulty of espressing all this with our limited language.  Spiritual bypassing is using your practice in an inappropriate way to explain or absolve issues in relative reality.  I would add, it’s something I have been guilty of in the past, too. That’s why I feel like I can say it is utter confusion. 

Hope that helps! 

Edited for spelling, grammar and clarification.  Here's to Liferay 7 soon!  Hard to post from my phone!

RE: Does spiritual path reject humanity
Answer
8/1/18 12:07 PM as a reply to Alice S.
Alice S:
 

Spiritual bypassing would be the using the terms and the views for ultimate reality in dealing with relative reality. i.e.  “It doesn’t matter that I hurt Jane’s feelings as none of this is real anyway.” 


Religion is often criticized for this, but people will misuse whatever ideology is convenient to justify whatever they want to. It is not the spiritual traditions (or scientific materialism) that are at fault, it is human nature.

People don't use logic to form their beliefs, they use logic to justify their beliefs.

RE: Does spiritual path reject humanity
Answer
8/1/18 12:23 PM as a reply to Jim Smith.
Jim Smith:
Alice S:
 

Spiritual bypassing would be the using the terms and the views for ultimate reality in dealing with relative reality. i.e.  “It doesn’t matter that I hurt Jane’s feelings as none of this is real anyway.” 


Religion is often criticized for this, but people will misuse whatever ideology is convenient to justify whatever they want to. It is not the spiritual traditions (or scientific materialism) that are at fault, it is human nature.

People don't use logic to form their beliefs, they use logic to justify their beliefs.
Agreed but the "logic" they use to justify them is flawed.

Human nature that we want a quick, easy fix without doing the work to get it.  We (myself included) will often not even take the time to try to understand and ask questions to clarify so we can understand, let alone do the work. 

Seeing ultimate reality doesn't abslove you from responsibility in the relative world.  It's why I find a deterministic view so helpful on the 
practice journey.