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How does one avoid hedonism?

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How does one avoid hedonism?
Answer
9/1/10 2:31 PM
I apologize if this has been addressed previously, but I’ve been lurking for some time now and had not seen this issue discussed. I am curious as to how one trying to practice methods of Actualism avoids attachment to certain types of sensuality. I keep hearing folks claim to have lost/minimized sexual desire, need for sleep and even less need to eat (Steph K having even claimed to be released from many of her food issues, which holds great interest for me) yet when I try to ask HAIETMOBA, I find myself enjoying the various sense experiences that are happening right now, but with a drawing toward certain ones that the body/nerves would deem “pleasurable” I find myself touching textures, noticing smells, taking particular notice of tastes, which leads me to wonder how one would keep from being drawn into certain sensual experiences to a level of obsession from this line of inquiry, like sexual release or eating sweets.

How do AF practitioners indulge in sensate experience but somehow release judgment on the kind of experience to the point where they enjoy everything equally? As someone who has not had a PCE (that I’m aware of anyway) and has only been meditating regularly for a short while, I am not sure how to keep from having the body (and yes, the mind) drawn to certain experiences over others. I’d rather smell flowers than garbage, and even if “I” were in abeyance, I would think the body would instinctually turn from the smell of rotting meat and towards the smell of clean water, for example. It’s programmed in isn’t it?

And on the other side of pleasure, a question about pain; not the perceived suffering kind but the broken limb, stomach flu, migraine, real signals being sent by real nerves kind. How does someone in a PCE or an AF person experience real pain? Does it not knock one out of a PCE? I can imagine it being less intense if you are not attaching a bunch of thoughts to it; I’ve seen that happen in my own meditation practice. But what if you are fully immersed in this flesh and blood body and it is HURTING? Just curious as to how felicity and AF reacts at times like this.

Thanks you so much for all of the great info, from Daniel’s Book to this whole site to learning more about Actualism. It’s all interesting and helping my practice and daily life.
Kerstin

RE: How does one avoid hedonism?
Answer
9/1/10 5:12 PM as a reply to Kerstin Upmeyer.
Hello,

Kerstin Upmeyer:
I apologize if this has been addressed previously, but I’ve been lurking for some time now and had not seen this issue discussed. I am curious as to how one trying to practice methods of Actualism avoids attachment to certain types of sensuality. I keep hearing folks claim to have lost/minimized sexual desire, need for sleep and even less need to eat (Steph K having even claimed to be released from many of her food issues, which holds great interest for me) yet when I try to ask HAIETMOBA, I find myself enjoying the various sense experiences that are happening right now, but with a drawing toward certain ones that the body/nerves would deem “pleasurable” I find myself touching textures, noticing smells, taking particular notice of tastes, which leads me to wonder how one would keep from being drawn into certain sensual experiences to a level of obsession from this line of inquiry, like sexual release or eating sweets.


If these hints do not help, I encourage you to reply saying so...

Do you see how the attachment to a certain type of sense experience is redundant, in that the basic sensual aspect of one's experience doesn't fundamentally change regardless of whether one craves it or not? Further, do you see how all experience is fundamentally this same way (since all that is purely sensual is a direct visage of the actual)? There is seeing, there is hearing, there is touching, there is tasting, there is feeling...

If one is impelled toward one sensation over another, one must ask again, HAIETMOBA (and what is implied in this context: why am I spending my only moment of being alive wishing I was experiencing something else)? Eventually-- perhaps gradually, or perhaps quickly-- one will find one is no longer impelled to do one thing or another, although one may still choose to do those activities if one wishes.

Kerstin Upmeyer:
How do AF practitioners indulge in sensate experience but somehow release judgment on the kind of experience to the point where they enjoy everything equally?


Practice makes perfect ;).

Kerstin Upmeyer:
As someone who has not had a PCE (that I’m aware of anyway) and has only been meditating regularly for a short while, I am not sure how to keep from having the body (and yes, the mind) drawn to certain experiences over others.


As long as you stick with it diligently and sincerely, things will likely make sense eventually. It may help to recognize that there is only actually the body, and that the 'mind' you reference is likely the very thing which will be heading merrily toward oblivion ('I' am 'my' feelings and 'my' feelings are 'me' may be a helpful statement to think about when considering this paragraph). I cannot say that for sure, though, I may be reading too much into what you wrote.

Kerstin Upmeyer:
I’d rather smell flowers than garbage, and even if “I” were in abeyance, I would think the body would instinctually turn from the smell of rotting meat and towards the smell of clean water, for example. It’s programmed in isn’t it?


Hey, me too! (I just recently began growing flowers and herbs and I'm having a lot of fun learning about all that the horticultural craft entails.) But I'm none too certain it's instinctual, and even if it is...so what? Not all instincts are necessarily eliminated; it is the instinctual passions and the instinctual identity which gets the boot.

Kerstin Upmeyer:
And on the other side of pleasure, a question about pain; not the perceived suffering kind but the broken limb, stomach flu, migraine, real signals being sent by real nerves kind. How does someone in a PCE or an AF person experience real pain? Does it not knock one out of a PCE? I can imagine it being less intense if you are not attaching a bunch of thoughts to it; I’ve seen that happen in my own meditation practice. But what if you are fully immersed in this flesh and blood body and it is HURTING? Just curious as to how felicity and AF reacts at times like this.


I'm not so sure about all AF persons or those in PCE's, but I can tell you of my experience. As someone that experienced chronic back pain almost constantly for 4 years (including the entire duration of the process of enlightenment and of actual freedom), I've watched the changes closely. For starters, the pain this body experiences now can hardly be called pain compared to what it was for 'me.' When 'I' would enter into a PCE, there was much relief from the pain, and that general air of thankfulness and peace was far more prevalent than the discomfort; I do not recall a time when the PCE ended due to physical pain. Psychic pain ("suffering") of nearly any intensity is far more painful than physical pain ('I' also suffered from depression on and off for years). For 'me,' this made for an odd situation I was blind to: 'my' aversion to the back pain was more painful than the actual pain. These days, the pain is not very intense at all, partly due to treatment and a vigorous physical therapy routine, and partly because I no longer add massive heaps of suffering on top of the physical pain ('I' had accumulated a great deal of baggage regarding that pain). When one IS a flesh and blood body-- rather than being fully immersed in it-- one automatically accepts whatever pain one must; this perfect moment is not a bit tainted.

Best,
Trent

RE: How does one avoid hedonism?
Answer
9/1/10 8:00 PM as a reply to Trent ..
Trent H.:
Hello,

If these hints do not help, I encourage you to reply saying so...

Do you see how the attachment to a certain type of sense experience is redundant, in that the basic sensual aspect of one's experience doesn't fundamentally change regardless of whether one craves it or not? Further, do you see how all experience is fundamentally this same way (since all that is purely sensual is a direct visage of the actual)? There is seeing, there is hearing, there is touching, there is tasting, there is feeling...

If one is impelled toward one sensation over another, one must ask again, HAIETMOBA (and what is implied in this context: why am I spending my only moment of being alive wishing I was experiencing something else)? Eventually-- perhaps gradually, or perhaps quickly-- one will find one is no longer impelled to do one thing or another, although one may still choose to do those activities if one wishes.

Practice makes perfect ;).


Wonderful points and suggestions for self-inqury. I will try this, thank you! Also your points about sticking to it diligently and and sincerely too. I will try to just keep coming back to this when I find myself heading off toward something "I" perceive as "better" than whatever sensate experience I am feeling now. And honestly, when asking HAIETMOBA, I am surprised by how many sensations I would have considered neutral or annoying become pleasant in the light of just perceiving them in this moment, so I can see how diligent practice would increase that non-judging aspect of experiencing. You were not reading to much into what I wrote, that really answered my question.

Trent H.:
Hey, me too! (I just recently began growing flowers and herbs and I'm having a lot of fun learning about all that the horticultural craft entails.) But I'm none too certain it's instinctual, and even if it is...so what? Not all instincts are necessarily eliminated; it is the instinctual passions and the instinctual identity which gets the boot.


(I have Earth boxes full of herbs on my deck, they are wonderful for cooking and make the deck smell like a fresh market!) Ok, this makes sense. I think that was one of my problems I have often thought about with my dharma practice, was that it seemed like in some respects you would be forever be railing against those instinct based passions that arise over and over. Sounded nice to find they effect you less with meditation and mindfullness practice, but sounds better how in AF they do not arise at all.

Trent H.:
I'm not so sure about all AF persons or those in PCE's, but I can tell you of my experience. As someone that experienced chronic back pain almost constantly for 4 years (including the entire duration of the process of enlightenment and of actual freedom), I've watched the changes closely. For starters, the pain this body experiences now can hardly be called pain compared to what it was for 'me.' When 'I' would enter into a PCE, there was much relief from the pain, and that general air of thankfulness and peace was far more prevalent than the discomfort; I do not recall a time when the PCE ended due to physical pain. Psychic pain ("suffering") of nearly any intensity is far more painful than physical pain ('I' also suffered from depression on and off for years). For 'me,' this made for an odd situation I was blind to: 'my' aversion to the back pain was more painful than the actual pain. These days, the pain is not very intense at all, partly due to treatment and a vigorous physical therapy routine, and partly because I no longer add massive heaps of suffering on top of the physical pain ('I' had accumulated a great deal of baggage regarding that pain). When one IS a flesh and blood body-- rather than being fully immersed in it-- one automatically accepts whatever pain one must; this perfect moment is not a bit tainted.

Best,
Trent


That really clarifies things for me Trent, thank you so much for your responses. I already see how pain is more tolerable when I am trying to be in the present moment with vipassana meditation, (or the more affective practice I have been trying lately) so pushing further into EE, PCE etc. letting go of the i that is immersed in the body and just being the body, would only make this more the case. I suppose again I try to draw parallels with animals, they do experience pain but it seems they do not suffer as much as we do, though I have seen animals suffer in extreme pain (or appear to) and I have always thought that there's a point where pain goes beyond even our "suffering" of it... where the physiological experience is SO intense that it cannot be borne, but I can only come at that from my state of "I" so I realize I cannot really know what an animal in great pain feels, nor what an AF person would. But I think your points really help me understand a lot of this. I really appreciate your help. Good luck with the herbs!
K

RE: How does one avoid hedonism?
Answer
9/2/10 12:20 AM as a reply to Kerstin Upmeyer.
"How does one avoid hedonism?"

The question itself is wrong, so getting the answer you need could be impossible.

Desire is not the problem, it's the path, the most direct path. Indulge every desire you have and see where it leads you. People bad-moth desire only when they are unsuccessful in meeting those desires. Haven't you noticed that the local meditation teacher always drives a shit car and has dysfunctional relationships (if any relationship at all?). It's like psychologists - they're all divorced penny pinchers!

If you could fulfill most of your basic desires for food, shelter, money, friendships, sex, leisure pursuits, interesting work, you wouldn't be worrying about "hedonism". You'd instead be saying, "right, what do I want?" then going and getting it. When and only when you get all of that, then you follow your next natural instinct, quieting the mind. You don't force yourself to sit in a monk's cave in the mountains for 10 days living on bread and water, you just think "wow, I'm enjoying just sitting here allowing my mind to settle....think I'll just continue and see where it leads me".

I wasn't going to post again here but this anti-pleasure movement is very destructive.

RE: How does one avoid hedonism?
Answer
9/2/10 11:57 AM as a reply to This Good Self.
Hi,

Kerstin: You're very welcome; I'm pleased to see the conclusions you've drawn. Thanks for the well-wishes.

C C C:
The question itself is wrong, so getting the answer you need could be impossible.

Desire is not the problem, it's the path, the most direct path. Indulge every desire you have and see where it leads you. People bad-moth desire only when they are unsuccessful in meeting those desires. Haven't you noticed that the local meditation teacher always drives a shit car and has dysfunctional relationships (if any relationship at all?). It's like psychologists - they're all divorced penny pinchers!


Desire is not a problem, eh? Do you not see it a problem that many of your fellow human beings are resenting their entire lives because they desire imaginary, idealized after-lives? Is it not a problem that corruption and it's support (insincerity for one) make it next to impossible to interact with, say, a business without being subtly ripped off in some way? Is it not a problem when a young woman is raped due to the desire of another? Is it not a problem that entire countries of people are being wiped out in wars due to their aggressors' desire for increased power or land rights or whatever? Is it not a problem that two "normal" humans cannot live in peace and harmony with each other due to (among other things) the desire they feel for their partner to fit their ideals ever-closer; thus resenting them when that proves impossible? I could go on like this for days...and so I'm inclined to ask: what exactly is the goal of this direct path you allude to?

I fail to see why you have spoken of your biases regarding material possessions nor why your ideals regarding relationships is relevant to the rest of your "desire is the path" theme-- could you elaborate?

C C C:
If you could fulfill most of your basic desires for food, shelter, money, friendships, sex, leisure pursuits, interesting work, you wouldn't be worrying about "hedonism". You'd instead be saying, "right, what do I want?" then going and getting it. When and only when you get all of that, then you follow your next natural instinct, quieting the mind. You don't force yourself to sit in a monk's cave in the mountains for 10 days living on bread and water, you just think "wow, I'm enjoying just sitting here allowing my mind to settle....think I'll just continue and see where it leads me".


Again I fail to see the point in your parading of what seems to be personal biases-- could you elaborate?

C C C:
I wasn't going to post again here but this anti-pleasure movement is very destructive.


The only "anti-pleasure movement" one will find-- upon close inspection-- is the personal stir of instinctual passions currently saturating every moment of life for some 7,000,000,000 otherwise-happy people on this paradise of a planet. The amount of enjoyment I get out of every waking moment of being alive makes even the most hedonistic of hedonists seem like a masochist by comparison (and this is often not far from the actual case for those type of peoples); sensual pleasure and affective pleasure are two very different things.

Best,
Trent

RE: How does one avoid hedonism?
Answer
9/2/10 2:13 PM as a reply to Kerstin Upmeyer.
Kerstin Upmeyer:
I apologize if this has been addressed previously, but I’ve been lurking for some time now and had not seen this issue discussed. I am curious as to how one trying to practice methods of Actualism avoids attachment to certain types of sensuality. I keep hearing folks claim to have lost/minimized sexual desire, need for sleep and even less need to eat (Steph K having even claimed to be released from many of her food issues, which holds great interest for me) yet when I try to ask HAIETMOBA, I find myself enjoying the various sense experiences that are happening right now, but with a drawing toward certain ones that the body/nerves would deem “pleasurable” I find myself touching textures, noticing smells, taking particular notice of tastes, which leads me to wonder how one would keep from being drawn into certain sensual experiences to a level of obsession from this line of inquiry, like sexual release or eating sweets.

How do AF practitioners indulge in sensate experience but somehow release judgment on the kind of experience to the point where they enjoy everything equally? As someone who has not had a PCE (that I’m aware of anyway) and has only been meditating regularly for a short while, I am not sure how to keep from having the body (and yes, the mind) drawn to certain experiences over others. I’d rather smell flowers than garbage, and even if “I” were in abeyance, I would think the body would instinctually turn from the smell of rotting meat and towards the smell of clean water, for example. It’s programmed in isn’t it?

And on the other side of pleasure, a question about pain; not the perceived suffering kind but the broken limb, stomach flu, migraine, real signals being sent by real nerves kind. How does someone in a PCE or an AF person experience real pain? Does it not knock one out of a PCE? I can imagine it being less intense if you are not attaching a bunch of thoughts to it; I’ve seen that happen in my own meditation practice. But what if you are fully immersed in this flesh and blood body and it is HURTING? Just curious as to how felicity and AF reacts at times like this.

Thanks you so much for all of the great info, from Daniel’s Book to this whole site to learning more about Actualism. It’s all interesting and helping my practice and daily life.
Kerstin



Hi Kerstin,


I've thought a lot about your post and to be honest the question--"how does one avoid hedonism?"--seems somewhere beside the point from the perspective of a PCE. I must, of course, add the disclaimer that I am not actually free and only a very green actualist practitioner still working out many kinks--but I can tell you what I think about this question in regards to the PCE's I have experienced. I could be very wrong here and invite correction from Trent and Tarin if anything here is incorrect or misleading.

But for me, the PCE is completely outside of "pleasure" and it's opposite "displeasure," with "hedonism" in this case being aligned with pleasure and the opposite of hedonism being "asceticism." It is absolutely true that being in a PCE is a state of pure wonder, amazement, and is ambrosial (as it is often described by Richard and other actually free people) however it is not a state that adds to one's sense of craving, or at least not in my case. A PCE is a state of perfection which has no opposite, and craving automatically implies an opposition that is not there in a PCE...It is not like a "getting high" experience where you have lots of fun, or like, eating some truly divine chocolate cake, or like really good sex, or any of those kinds of experiences one can have--though of course one can definitely enjoy cake, sex, and have lots of fun while in the PCE, but the PCE is not akin to those things. With pleasurable experiences like the ones I listed above, there is a sense of beginning, middle, and end. You anticipate eating the cake, you generate excitement, you eat the cake, then, you finish eating the cake, and perhaps end up ruminating over what a great experience it was and then end up with craving. This is not like that...this is like entering an entirely different state where there is no beginning, middle, or end. There is a sense of unshakable continuity...I am not entirely sure if this is the right word, but a sense of permanence, because the actual world is always there even if we are unable to realize that we are experiencing it.

I go on about the cake at such length because you indicated you were interested in what I'd said about lack of craving for food. I am not sure, entirely, what to attribute that to (my meditative practices before I started practicing actualism or to actualism); but essentially, I don't experience hunger very often (maybe once per day) but I just eat when it is time to eat. This is really silly to say but it's pretty easy because things are set up in such a way that one doesn't have to figure it out...when I wake up the morning, I feed my daughter and myself, and then, at dinner, I feed my daughter and myself. Sometimes I eat lunch, sometimes I do not (sometimes, when I will not have my daughter for dinner, I eat lunch instead of dinner). But there really isn't any need to snack or to eat large portions as there isn't anything to satisfy. Does that make sense?

I can say more about this if need be.

As for the pain issue...I haven't had any real physical pain to contend with, but I had wondered what would happen if some really stressful event popped up--what would being in a PCE be like, could I maintain it, etc., and a few days ago I had a chance to experience this...my ex-husband was out of town for a conference and my daughter became quite ill (with a temperature of 102) at about 11pm one night. I didn't have any fever reducer at home, so I had to bundle her up (and the dog) and go the pharmacy...so, I did. And I got the fever reducer and brought her home, gave it to her, and she went peacefully to sleep. I was in a PCE the whole time and it was a really enjoyable experience, actually, completely devoid of stress or strain and absolutely no sense of resistance or resentment about the fact that I had to go to Walgreens so late at night. The moon was huge and bright, very white, very low in the sky, which was a blue-black...it was very quiet out and also I wasn't the only mother in line at the pharmacy after 11pm and there was just a sense of magic, even in something as potentially stressful as this. (My daughter is now completely well, btw.)

On the other hand, my PCE state was disrupted by the appearance of my monthly friend, which really wasn't about physical pain, but somehow I became grumpy and wasn't able to shake it enough to get back into a PCE for about 3 days. Tarin has given me some helpful advice in that regard about working with these states so that one can get to felicity and then back to a PCE...

There is no real upshot here, except I guess that it's all a grand and wonderful adventure...

s.

RE: How does one avoid hedonism?
Answer
9/2/10 2:14 PM as a reply to Kerstin Upmeyer.
Oh, I guess I should also say...I forgot my password, and all that jazz, so had to create a new account. But I'm the same "S Kyle" from before.

RE: How does one avoid hedonism?
Answer
9/2/10 9:46 PM as a reply to Trent ..
Trent I don't see anyone desiring an imaginary afterlife, I just see people desiring the basics and not knowing how to go about getting them.... and then turning to spirituality and asking it to do a job it can't do.

Rape is a very good example of perverted desire. The normal sexual desire that never got fulfilled has led to that. Or, in the case that you see rape as an act of aggression or power, again, such things don't even occur to people who feel some reasonable degree of personal power, a power that success gives you. What is success? Getting all your natural desires fulfilled.

When a person wants his spouse to be different, again you're talking about perverted desire. The natural desire that never got fulfilled was unconditional acceptance. When you accept yourself fully, you have no need to change others or make them into something they're not.

So my "bias" as you put it, is that desire is normal. Problems occur when normal desires go unfulfilled, or a person doesn't know how to get what they need and want.

When you're a newborn your natural desires are: touch, warmth, nice cooing noises, etc. If they go unfulfilled, you will probably die or be severely psychologically and physically damaged.

When you're a toddler, your natural desires are: toys, mummy, friends, and all the other survival stuff as above. If they go unfulfilled, well.... have a guess what happens later in life.

When you're a teenager, your natural desires are: sex, money, social status, friends, fitting in, etc. if they go unfulfilled, you get someone who is controlling, insecure, destructive, anti-social, etc.

When you're an adult, your natural desires are: greater wealth accumulation, house, car, family, etc. If it goes unfulfilled.....

What I see happening is that people get drawn to spiritual pursuits because they have never had the basics fulfilled. They hear from Buddhists "desire is bad" and they say "wow, yes it is! Now I have an excuse to continue to live like this!"

Buddha himself was an extremely wealthy prince wasn't he? He had everything he wanted and more. Endless opportunities for pleasure. So he was in a position to say "ok, now what else is there that I want?" He decided the ultimate was to be free of desire. But I bet he didn't go to the poor starving masses and say "hey, don't worry about food, food just represents desire, and desire is bad".

RE: How does one avoid hedonism?
Answer
9/2/10 10:34 PM as a reply to Seraphina Wise.
SW:

I've thought a lot about your post and to be honest the question--"how does one avoid hedonism?"--seems somewhere beside the point from the perspective of a PCE. I must, of course, add the disclaimer that I am not actually free and only a very green actualist practitioner still working out many kinks--but I can tell you what I think about this question in regards to the PCE's I have experienced. I could be very wrong here and invite correction from Trent and Tarin if anything here is incorrect or misleading.


Hey, I'm greener than you Steph! :-) Like one of my fav. Buddhist teachers, Ethan Nictern quotes Trudy from the Cosby show, when asked what she will do with a 2nd grade education when she says she wants to quit school, "I'll teach 1st grade!" Sometimes someone else struggling closer to you on the path might know more what you are going through than someone a lot father down the path. I really appreciate your comments, thank you.

SW:
But for me, the PCE is completely outside of "pleasure" and it's opposite "displeasure," with "hedonism" in this case being aligned with pleasure and the opposite of hedonism being "asceticism." It is absolutely true that being in a PCE is a state of pure wonder, amazement, and is ambrosial (as it is often described by Richard and other actually free people) however it is not a state that adds to one's sense of craving, or at least not in my case. A PCE is a state of perfection which has no opposite, and craving automatically implies an opposition that is not there in a PCE...It is not like a "getting high" experience where you have lots of fun, or like, eating some truly divine chocolate cake, or like really good sex, or any of those kinds of experiences one can have--though of course one can definitely enjoy cake, sex, and have lots of fun while in the PCE, but the PCE is not akin to those things. With pleasurable experiences like the ones I listed above, there is a sense of beginning, middle, and end. You anticipate eating the cake, you generate excitement, you eat the cake, then, you finish eating the cake, and perhaps end up ruminating over what a great experience it was and then end up with craving. This is not like that...this is like entering an entirely different state where there is no beginning, middle, or end. There is a sense of unshakable continuity...I am not entirely sure if this is the right word, but a sense of permanence, because the actual world is always there even if we are unable to realize that we are experiencing it.

I go on about the cake at such length because you indicated you were interested in what I'd said about lack of craving for food. I am not sure, entirely, what to attribute that to (my meditative practices before I started practicing actualism or to actualism); but essentially, I don't experience hunger very often (maybe once per day) but I just eat when it is time to eat. This is really silly to say but it's pretty easy because things are set up in such a way that one doesn't have to figure it out...when I wake up the morning, I feed my daughter and myself, and then, at dinner, I feed my daughter and myself. Sometimes I eat lunch, sometimes I do not (sometimes, when I will not have my daughter for dinner, I eat lunch instead of dinner). But there really isn't any need to snack or to eat large portions as there isn't anything to satisfy. Does that make sense?


Actually this makes a TON of sense. I really appreciate how you are contrasting it against those specific sensual pleasures, it gives me a much better grasp. People throw a lot of terms out there about states and jhanas and things, "bliss" "Joy" "equanimity" and I sometimes, (though I don't think I've reached a first jhana in my concentration meditation practice), I will think to myself... "Bliss? REALLY? I feel very nice and relaxed and focused, but BLISS??" It helps to have a more concrete comparison description.

I think I've worried about the hedonist issue because, when I am trying to focus on my senses, since "I" am totally NOT in abeyance, there is a noting of some pleasurable sensations, and some thought I should focus on those to try to bring more pleasure to the experience, in hopes of bringing on a PCE. Trent's comments really helped me get a better grasp on the type of inquiry to take into what is felt when asking HAIETMOBA, and with your descriptions, I feel better understanding of what I'm looking for here. I especially appreciated your comments on the food stuff, it's always been an issue with me. I am well aware of the suffering craving and seeking fulfillment in things that will never fill you up brings. Part of my interest in Enlightenment and AF is a wish to learn to free myself from addictive behaviors with food and such and, as you said in an different post, I am deeply interested in ending suffering, by whatever means works best for this body and brain.

SW:
As for the pain issue...I haven't had any real physical pain to contend with, but I had wondered what would happen if some really stressful event popped up--what would being in a PCE be like, could I maintain it, etc., and a few days ago I had a chance to experience this...my ex-husband was out of town for a conference and my daughter became quite ill (with a temperature of 102) at about 11pm one night. I didn't have any fever reducer at home, so I had to bundle her up (and the dog) and go the pharmacy...so, I did. And I got the fever reducer and brought her home, gave it to her, and she went peacefully to sleep. I was in a PCE the whole time and it was a really enjoyable experience, actually, completely devoid of stress or strain and absolutely no sense of resistance or resentment about the fact that I had to go to Walgreens so late at night. The moon was huge and bright, very white, very low in the sky, which was a blue-black...it was very quiet out and also I wasn't the only mother in line at the pharmacy after 11pm and there was just a sense of magic, even in something as potentially stressful as this. (My daughter is now completely well, btw.)

On the other hand, my PCE state was disrupted by the appearance of my monthly friend, which really wasn't about physical pain, but somehow I became grumpy and wasn't able to shake it enough to get back into a PCE for about 3 days. Tarin has given me some helpful advice in that regard about working with these states so that one can get to felicity and then back to a PCE...


See this is also really helpful, the guys never mentioned you might need to work with states around the monthly visitor. :-) I've really enjoyed you and the other Steph's posts and that was part of what encouraged me to finally post. I have no kids by choice but treat my pets as such in some ways. I've had health scares with them, (and of course, sadly losses) and to be that unshakeable in the face of things is deeply desirous to me. I know there's the whole, 'don't want it for yourself only' thing, (and I do see being the best harmless human being as the best thing I can actually do in this crazy world to make things better) but again, ending my own suffering is what started me on this journey. I still do wonder if an AF person fell off a ladder and got a compound fracture, you know, something REALLY painful, if that would jolt the mood? And what about an Enlightened person? Not asking you specifically S, I just think about these things. Like everyone says, you can't fully grasp these states till you are in them, so I'm only ever going to be wondering from the outside till I get there.

SW:
There is no real upshot here, except I guess that it's all a grand and wonderful adventure...

s.


Exactly, like I think Trent said in one post (or maybe it was Tarin) and that I've heard from many Buddhist practitioners as well, that the journey itself is wonderful. I already am suffering less than before I started, and I just find a little more mindfulness and peace day by day. I'll take the adventure, rather than living an unexamined life. emoticon Thanks again Steph, I really appreciate your posts and your thoughtful reply to me, big help!
Kerstin

RE: How does one avoid hedonism?
Answer
9/3/10 7:32 AM as a reply to This Good Self.
C C C:
Trent I don't see anyone desiring an imaginary afterlife, I just see people desiring the basics and not knowing how to go about getting them.... and then turning to spirituality and asking it to do a job it can't do.

Rape is a very good example of perverted desire. The normal sexual desire that never got fulfilled has led to that. Or, in the case that you see rape as an act of aggression or power, again, such things don't even occur to people who feel some reasonable degree of personal power, a power that success gives you. What is success? Getting all your natural desires fulfilled.

When a person wants his spouse to be different, again you're talking about perverted desire. The natural desire that never got fulfilled was unconditional acceptance. When you accept yourself fully, you have no need to change others or make them into something they're not.

So my "bias" as you put it, is that desire is normal. Problems occur when normal desires go unfulfilled, or a person doesn't know how to get what they need and want.

When you're a newborn your natural desires are: touch, warmth, nice cooing noises, etc. If they go unfulfilled, you will probably die or be severely psychologically and physically damaged.

When you're a toddler, your natural desires are: toys, mummy, friends, and all the other survival stuff as above. If they go unfulfilled, well.... have a guess what happens later in life.

When you're a teenager, your natural desires are: sex, money, social status, friends, fitting in, etc. if they go unfulfilled, you get someone who is controlling, insecure, destructive, anti-social, etc.

When you're an adult, your natural desires are: greater wealth accumulation, house, car, family, etc. If it goes unfulfilled.....

What I see happening is that people get drawn to spiritual pursuits because they have never had the basics fulfilled. They hear from Buddhists "desire is bad" and they say "wow, yes it is! Now I have an excuse to continue to live like this!"

Buddha himself was an extremely wealthy prince wasn't he? He had everything he wanted and more. Endless opportunities for pleasure. So he was in a position to say "ok, now what else is there that I want?" He decided the ultimate was to be free of desire. But I bet he didn't go to the poor starving masses and say "hey, don't worry about food, food just represents desire, and desire is bad".


I think this is what the Buddha would call "biting the baited hook." We all hope that we can nibble away at the worm around the hook and not get caught, but just like fish, we inevitably do...And it wasn't that the Buddha said "what ELSE is there that I want," as if he wanted wealth and "endless opportunities of pleasure." He realized that enormous wealth and power were unsatisfactory and didn't produce liberation from suffering. He realized they were not important in other words...of course he also figured out that starving wasn't curative to suffering which is why Buddhism is often called "The Middle Way..."

I think that we must differentiate between "accumulation" and "basic needs." Having enough food, shelter, health care, an education, nurture as an infant, etc., and "accumulating" a house, a car, having a (certain kind of) family life., etc. are two different enterprises entirely.

One of the things that appeals to me about actualism is what some might call its social justice aspect--the emphasis on harmlessness is so important. To suggest that one must not do harm in order to be happy, as opposed to say accumulate things and construct one's internal and external world to one's liking, is wonderfully revolutionary, especially in contemporary societies where we are told that as long as we "get what we want" we will be happy.

If it was the case, as you argue here, that the "cause" of human suffering is unfulfilled desire, and that all we have to do to eliminate rape, etc., is to encourage humans to fulfill those desires, why is it that men who have absolutely no sexual frustration (like say...Kobe Bryant) end up raping people? (I'm not trying to make a claim about his guilt or innocence, but for the sake of argument...) Likewise, in this example, if someone as wealthy and famous and as lucky in their life circusmtances, with undoubtedly endless amount of willing and available groupie sex and a wife to boot, feels "powerless," then what *COULD* make a person feel powerful?

The cause and effect argument you set up for human suffering is flawed, because the root cause of human suffering is not lack of the most basic needs. No one here is going to argue that a person who steals, because they are literally starving, should simply "be spiritual" (and, of course, actualism is not spiritual at all, but I suppose we're talking more largely now about Buddhist pursuit as well) and forget that they are starving to death. And while this is the circumstance for quite a few people in the world, I would argue that the reason there are people starving to death is because there are quite of few people, represented by their governments for example, in the world who are more concerned with accumulation than they are with harmlessness, so that warehouses full of cheese and corn in the United States literally rot because there is too much to sell, a gross surplus--but instead of giving it away to starving people, corporations (which are run by individuals trying to get their desire for more capital met) operate under a model where profit trumps all other considerations...even like the logic of giving surplus food that cannot be sold to poor people. AIDS medicines could be supplied to people in so-called 3rd world countries for about the cost of a penny a day...but it is not made available at that price because pharmaceutical companies want to make money...etc., etc., etc.

Do you really believe that the root cause of human suffering is about not having one's desires fulfilled? Do you really think the answer to the world's problems is "everyone getting what they want?" You use the example of babies, of toddlers...as someone who has a young child I can tell you that not only does she want food, attention, medical care and a place to live...but she wants toys, and lots of them, regardless of how many she already has, regardless of when the last one was bought, regardless if she has identical toys to what she wants at any given moment. She also, if she sees ex-lax, for example, wants to eat that, thinking that it is chocolate and will not believe an adult who tells her it is not; she does not want to go to school, she doesn't want to eat broccoli and would rather eat cheese sticks and popsicles for every meal, and essentially, even if I gave her every single toy she wanted, whenever she wanted it, and only let her eat Smarties for the rest of her childhood, she would still be dissatisfied and she would find something else to want.

I know two people who spend all their time renovating houses. They bought a home some years ago, and renovated it in lovely fashion. Everything in this house is PERFECT; all the tiles, the fixtures, the paint job...it's over a 100 year old house they transformed into a beautiful, well-maintained, perfectly decorated pleasure palace! But as soon as the last bathroom was remodeled, they bought another house, a huge Victorian mansion that was basically in massive disrepair...but now they've embarked on another massive project to renovate this house, in the same grand fashion, to the tune of much debt. When will the happiness and fulfillment set in? Meanwhile, of course, toxic paint is being used to paint the walls, rainforests are being deforested to make wood for the new hardwood floors; quarries are working to mine for the granite they are using in their kitchen counters, and people die in those mines, mining devastates rural landscapes, and so on and so on...I am not suggesting no one renovate their home...but I'm illustrating that fulfilling desires doesn't satisfy, objects, or even procuring a certain set of relations to another, cannot *in and of itself* give satisfaction and further more that the endless fulfillment of non-essential desire has a relationship to other people's suffering. Satisfaction is a state the individual must reach independent of life circumstances; looking to the molding of life circumstances to provide satisfaction is exactly the way we end up with massive harm in the world.

To assume that the pursuit of all of our desires is unconnected to other people's suffering is to make the same mistake that leads to colonialism, of all kinds, to slavery, and to all kinds of exploitation. Hitler, for example, was not starving, had a girlfriend, had friends, a profession, success, lots of nice cars, and power, etc. He still felt the need to attempt to exterminate an entire group of people from the face of the earth...what was the unfulfilled physical desire there?

You may think that these larger injustices have nothing to do with the individual, but most people operate on the same grasping model of "more, more, more" in their lives. I see this with my students all the time. None of them want to be teachers because it doesn't make enough money; I see it with my colleagues; no one is content to live in their 3 bedroom house, they must have a bigger house, add more bathrooms, with the newest fixtures; one must have a new car, update one's wardrobe, have a mate who is handsome, beautiful, successful, fit, etc., on and on it goes endlessly. By your logic, married middle class people should be the happiest of all, but most studies of this kind of thing seem to indicate that as one's class level goes up, the happiness index goes down.

http://www.livescience.com/health/090528-goals-happiness-2.html

And we really must differentiate between "enjoyment" and "desire." One can enjoy life and people and things without having desire for them and that is an important distinction here...because if you are operating under the joy paradigm, you have no need to "make a world," but you can enjoy this world as it is.

As long as our lives are driven by getting what we want, squeezing the utmost out of our physical world, out of our bodies and out of the bodies of others, as long as we are motivated by such boundless greed of acquisition, there will be tremendous suffering. Meanwhile, the world that is already here, just as it is, in its abundance and perfect order is in no need of alteration or fixing or remodeling or adding to; it is like an undiscovered gem of pure perfection (except that, of course, it has been discovered)! You might say that most of the harm in the world really does come down to just this point of disagreement: would we rather have complete peace, for the world and for ourselves, or would we rather have a BMW (wouldn't want to be a meditation teacher with a shit car!) ?

s.

RE: How does one avoid hedonism?
Answer
9/3/10 7:28 AM as a reply to This Good Self.
Indeed CCC, no-one here is claiming that one shouldn't get satisfaction. What you still didn't seem to understand is that satisfaction is actually better defined in the negative rather than in the positive.

You observe the way it works: you desire something, you get what you want (...) and thus you get satisfied. This is how you look at it, and this is how you describe it. "Desiring things is normal" you say, and you are right, it is certainly very common. But if you look carefully enough, you will notice that there is an essencial aspect which you are ignoring, which is what happens in the dots (...).

Really look at what happens when you "get what you want." Is the desire still there? It isn't, is it? It is gone. You "got what you wanted," and now you feel satisfied. You usually describe it thus: "I feel satisfied because I got what I wanted."

But the actual causal link is different. And here is the crucial point which you have apparently missed, or at least which you make no mention of in your posts. The actual causality is: "I feel satisfied because I no longer have desire." Indeed, the reason why it feels great to "get what you want" is not because you "lived that experience" per se, but it is instead because after "living that experience" you "extinguished your desire." And THAT is what FACTUALLY makes you satisfied.

"Extinguishing desire" is what these PCE people have done, and that is why they go on and on about how satisfied they are. Now if you can imagine what it would be like to be permanently satisfied, you get an idea of what they are talking about.

This is the crucial understanding that I got from my insights into non-satisfactoryness, about which I wrote in the "foul insights" thread where we have discussed this matter. I understood this by repeatedly and exhaustively investigating my experience, through introspection, moment by moment, without "skipping any dots (...)." Now, if you tell me that you have done the same and you have come to a different conclusion, then please describe exactly what happens to you when you "feel satisfied," and maybe I can try to look at things from that perspective.

I think that you will find that "satisfaction = relief from getting rid of desire." And that's where "putting and end to desire" comes into equation for me. Having understood (or believing that I have understood) the mechanics of satisfaction, then: Why not be completely and utterly satisfied all the time? Why not simply be fully happy every moment of my life? Regardless if I have sex, success, power, or whatever, rather than depending on it. My reasons not to just be happy, given that I really obviously want to (as it is really the only thing "the I wants"), grow scarcer by the day.

RE: How does one avoid hedonism?
Answer
9/4/10 12:24 AM as a reply to Seraphina Wise.
Stef,

"Do you really believe that the root cause of human suffering is about not having one's desires fulfilled? Do you really think the answer to the world's problems is "everyone getting what they want?""

I absolutely believe this, yes. Remember when you sit in meditation it's because you desire to feel better, freer, more relaxed, more insightful, feel less burdened by your attachments/aversions. You don't meditate without intention. So whenever you sit to meditate or practice actualism, it's because you have a desire you wish to fulfill - you can't deny that. Intent always accompanies desire, so much so that they are basically the same thing. You desire to have the feelings/experiences (or lack thereof) that actualism affords you.

Hitler had power, a wife, friends, money, luxuries, and interesting job..... and he was beaten frequently by his father who had money problems. So basic fundamentals were unfulfilled in many ways there.

I propose that children who are allowed to choose what they eat will initially gorge themselves with sweets and lollies, then will start to realise they feel sick when they do this and revert to healthier foods (nature directs their desires, even when unsupervised). A quick look around any school yard at lunch time will show you that children who have unmet emotional needs choose high sugar high salt foods. Similarly, when you go shopping for food, have a look in people's baskets. The unkempt, the depressed, the downtrodden, the anxious - all have a basket full of unhealthy foods. The reverse is also true.

The couple who renovate houses may be doing it because they enjoy it (vocation). More likely however they are compensating for some unmet childhood need. Better uncover that need at meet it directly rather than depends on other people's "ooohs and ahhhs" to feel good about oneself. That's basically what theyr'e doing - living for other people's approval. Again a perverted desire, not a healthy natural desire.

If a man rapes a women and he is not sexually frustrated and he is powerful, there will always be something that makes him do it. Maybe he hates women. Why does he hate women? What did his mother do to create this? You can BET there was something. Hatred is not natural. Hate is a result of unfulfilled desire.

The basic missing ingredient is lack of unconditional love. If you get that, everything else falls into place. Spiritual pursuits take their proper place and are not used to compensate for unmet basic desires. Problems occur because people use big houses, excessive wealth, status and cosmetic surgery to compensate for the desire for unconditional love. Spritual pursuits cannot fill this void.

RE: How does one avoid hedonism?
Answer
9/4/10 1:10 AM as a reply to This Good Self.
C C C:
I absolutely believe this, yes. Remember when you sit in meditation it's because you desire to feel better, freer, more relaxed, more insightful, feel less burdened by your attachments/aversions. You don't meditate without intention. So whenever you sit to meditate or practice actualism, it's because you have a desire you wish to fulfill - you can't deny that. Intent always accompanies desire, so much so that they are basically the same thing. You desire to have the feelings/experiences (or lack thereof) that actualism affords you.


One could also sit in meditation, or contemplate with the employ of actualism methods, because one desires the end of all suffering for oneself and others...just thought I'd throw that one out there, as it is an altrustic intent which eventually leads to the fundamental goal all desire aims for but fails to secure (quite a different aim and result than those above).

C C C:
I propose that children who are allowed to choose what they eat will initially gorge themselves with sweets and lollies, then will start to realise they feel sick when they do this and revert to healthier foods (nature directs their desires, even when unsupervised). A quick look around any school yard at lunch time will show you that children who have unmet emotional needs choose high sugar high salt foods. Similarly, when you go shopping for food, have a look in people's baskets. The unkempt, the depressed, the downtrodden, the anxious - all have a basket full of unhealthy foods. The reverse is also true.

The couple who renovate houses may be doing it because they enjoy it (vocation). More likely however they are compensating for some unmet childhood need. Better uncover that need at meet it directly rather than depends on other people's "ooohs and ahhhs" to feel good about oneself. That's basically what theyr'e doing - living for other people's approval. Again a perverted desire, not a healthy natural desire.


First, are you aware that all desire is "natural" and that it is all "perverted?" Second, you seem to be stating that the baggage people have from childhood (or whenever) is what's in the way of salubrious action, sensible thought, etc. If that be the case, how is it that you oppose or otherwise belittle a method which leads to the ending of all baggage (and the bag)?

C C C:
If a man rapes a women and he is not sexually frustrated and he is powerful, there will always be something that makes him do it. Maybe he hates women. Why does he hate women? What did his mother do to create this? You can BET there was something. Hatred is not natural. Hate is a result of unfulfilled desire.


Hatred is very natural, hence why so many people are getting up to it, including tiny children who have no self conscious clue about what it is that is happening. Furthermore, while hate may result from a desirous root, it may also result from a fearful one; the two are inextricably linked. One will cut these quite-natural roots if one dares to care enough about oneself and others.

C C C:
The basic missing ingredient is lack of unconditional love. If you get that, everything else falls into place. Spiritual pursuits take their proper place and are not used to compensate for unmet basic desires. Problems occur because people use big houses, excessive wealth, status and cosmetic surgery to compensate for the desire for unconditional love. Spritual pursuits cannot fill this void.


Surely you are not saying that when one steeps oneself in narcissism so entirely that one is unconditionally feeling warm and fuzzy lovey feelings, that the following will "fall into place?" That the problems will stop occurring? Viz: Personal peace on earth, autonomy, perfect harmony with one's fellow human beings, utter contentment, unending wonder, sagacity of intellect and the end of delusion and also (if all humans were to attain this unconditional love) the end of all the wars and rapes and murders and suicides and loneliness and corruption and greed and so on that has been going on forever and a day (despite thousands of years of people touting the virtue of unconditional love)?

Trent

RE: How does one avoid hedonism?
Answer
9/4/10 1:33 AM as a reply to This Good Self.
Hi CCC,

You wrote:

I absolutely believe this, yes. Remember when you sit in meditation it's because you desire to feel better, freer, more relaxed, more insightful, feel less burdened by your attachments/aversions. You don't meditate without intention. So whenever you sit to meditate or practice actualism, it's because you have a desire you wish to fulfill - you can't deny that. Intent always accompanies desire, so much so that they are basically the same thing. You desire to have the feelings/experiences (or lack thereof) that actualism affords you.

-----

I realize this might be difficult to grasp and may not even align with other people's experiences here; but while it is true that initially in the pursuit of meditation one is motivated by desire, the more one practices, the less this is the case. Likewise, as an actualist practitioner I do not desire the "feelings" or "experiences" that actualism affords me. It doesn't work that way and I realize that it is difficult to grasp conceptually so I will try, probably with no great luck, to describe the way action without desire works for me...

It is more like this: when I was a kid, my mother used to send me on simple errands around the house. She would say for example, "Stefanie, go get that blue comb from my room." And I'd go. But on the way I'd be thinking about a short story I wanted to write, what I'd be wearing to school tomorrow, how annoyed I was to be running a simple errand she could run herself, etc., etc. By the time I got to her room, my brain would be so scrambled with thoughts and resentment for having to run the errand, that I would think I was looking *everywhere* for the comb, but I wouldn't be able to find it. I'd search high and low, and no comb. After some 15 minutes of looking everywhere, I would return to tell my mother the comb was not there. Of course then she would get up and go with me to her room, only to find the comb, of course, on her dresser, right in plain sight.

The practice of actualism is like finding the comb; once it is found, one no longer needs to look. There is no grasping, no clinging, and the more one is in a PCE state or mode, no desire.

Have you ever, for example, eaten food you were not hungry for (i.e., were not craving)? I think we've all found ourselves in a situation where we were not at all hungry, but social convention made us feel that it necessary to partake of food. We've made a dinner date, yet we've also had a late lunch, but rather than break the dinner date, we proceed. We intend to eat when we show up at the restaurant, but we do not desire to eat. We do it for other reasons.

It isn't about "having a certain experience," though the wording of the pure consciousness experience might lead some people to think this. I get your larger point that one only comes to such pursuits through the vehicle of desire; but desire is merely a catalyst that is discarded along the way as one progresses. In these contexts desire is like a match that is utterly useless once the flame is lit.

It is quite possible to meditate without intent once one realizes the futility of intent. In a moment of apperception in meditation, one realizes that whether one is sitting folded up on the cushion or walking around, there is a somethingness always there--that somethingness is the actual world--and once this is realized it dawns on one that mediation is simply sitting, for whatever period of time one has allotted to the meditation. And there is nothing wrong with simply sitting, I seriously enjoy simply sitting--so there is no criticism here--but to think that simply sitting always requires intent is to not see the full spectrum of experience as it relates to the pursuit of meditation. And perhaps a new thread should be opened up so that the more advanced meditation practitioners can talk about meditating without intent, since I no longer meditate and certainly don't want to step on anyone's toes in that regard...

If you do not believe it is possible to operate in the world, to do anything, without desire then you're essentially contesting the entire premise of Buddhism as well as actualism. And while I'm somewhat used to and expect questions regarding actualism, it is rarer to hear someone make an argument here for desire as something that should be satisfied and preserved...


CCC writes:



Hitler had power, a wife, friends, money, luxuries, and interesting job..... and he was beaten frequently by his father who had money problems. So basic fundamentals were unfulfilled in many ways there.

----

Ok, but now you're getting into Hitler's "psychological" problems, which is the realm of the mind, the realm of the unseen, and includes problems solvable only say by a psychiatrist and/or psychologist or perhaps, some spiritual pursuit? We must parse out the difference between physical "fundamentals" and psychological ones. Are you suggesting psychological problems can be solved by obtaining success in the material world? Or do psychological (mind) problems also require a "mind" solution? And to what extent is there a difference between a "mind" solution and a spiritual one in your view, especially in light of Buddhism?



CCC writes:

I propose that children who are allowed to choose what they eat will initially gorge themselves with sweets and lollies, then will start to realise they feel sick when they do this and revert to healthier foods (nature directs their desires, even when unsupervised). A quick look around any school yard at lunch time will show you that children who have unmet emotional needs choose high sugar high salt foods. Similarly, when you go shopping for food, have a look in people's baskets. The unkempt, the depressed, the downtrodden, the anxious - all have a basket full of unhealthy foods. The reverse is also true.

----

Do you have children? This just isn't true. How can looking around the school yard let you know which kids have unmet emotional needs? The presence of a "Capri Sun" in someone's lunch is not the harbinger of a dysfunctional family. Nor is a kid with carrot sticks guaranteed to come from a perfect situation. I cannot tell you how many of my very wealthy, upper middle class, incredibly thin and healthy, students end up in my office telling me horrific stories of abuse which originated from within their homes. And trust me, where I teach most of these kids wouldn't be caught dead eating candy. The "unkempt" and downtrodden people you speak of are often working class people, who cannot afford many of the healthier foods. Being unable to afford healthy foods does not necessarily correlate to not meeting one's children's emotional needs... The assumptions you make here, about diet, about dysfunction, and about class are truly stunning.


CCC writes:


The couple who renovate houses may be doing it because they enjoy it (vocation). More likely however they are compensating for some unmet childhood need. Better uncover that need at meet it directly rather than depends on other people's "ooohs and ahhhs" to feel good about oneself. That's basically what theyr'e doing - living for other people's approval. Again a perverted desire, not a healthy natural desire.

----

How does one define what is "healthy" and what is "natural?" I am sure they enjoy renovating these homes, in fact I know they do! My point isn't really about them or the actual thing they are doing; it is more about a culture that communicates to us in every way that the only way we can be happy is to "get our needs met." And how we all get caught up in that idea, including my friends I mention here. And most of us don't actually stop to examine the idea of "need" before going out and squeezing the very last drop out of things. And this is what your post also seemed to be suggesting: "Hey kids, get a good house, a nice car, a good job, and find your soul mate, and then you'll be happy!" My response to you is that this is the way people have been doing it...FOREVER. But it hasn't produced happiness, peace, or fulfillment. In fact, it only creates more suffering...

And now that the material basis of your argument cannot be defended, you have actually switched to an entirely spiritual and affective paradigm altogether, which negates your original post entirely, as I'll show below.


CCC writes:


If a man rapes a women and he is not sexually frustrated and he is powerful, there will always be something that makes him do it. Maybe he hates women. Why does he hate women? What did his mother do to create this? You can BET there was something. Hatred is not natural. Hate is a result of unfulfilled desire.

----

And shall we examine the assumption that if a man rapes a woman it's his mother's fault? Maybe he hates women because he grew up in a sexist and patriarchal culture that rewards men for hating women (it's called misogyny) to greater and lesser degrees and that men who are NOT sexist have to actively work against a culture that belittles them if they are not? Or maybe he hates his mother because she let him gorge himself on sweets thinking one day he'd naturally get around to liking carrots, and all that sugar just ruined his life, so he became a rapist...? And, also to boot, when he could not find the comb his mother asked him to find, he became unkempt while eating all that candy...poor bloke didn't stand a chance, but I digress...


CCC writes:


The basic missing ingredient is lack of unconditional love. If you get that, everything else falls into place. Spiritual pursuits take their proper place and are not used to compensate for unmet basic desires. Problems occur because people use big houses, excessive wealth, status and cosmetic surgery to compensate for the desire for unconditional love. Spritual pursuits cannot fill this void.

----

This last statement makes absolutely no sense and embodies a contradiction: unconditional love is the answer (isn't this a spiritual thing, not a material one, since you can't touch it, bounce it, mail it, or take a photo of it?) however spiritual pursuits--where the goal is to shape you into an unconditional lover!--cannot fill the void that is caused by lack of...love? Do you see why this makes no sense?

And you yourself have shifted from talking about material things in your first post to now talking about unconditional love. The bottom line here is that it is very hard to make an altruistic argument for the preservation of desire and it is also not going to hold up argumentatively to pin all suffering on one's experiences as a child...to make everything purely psychological and about a failure of love when clearly something much, much larger has failed. Refusing to realize that larger failure is only sure to create more misery as one clings to a way of being and a system of organizing human relations that has a horrible, verifiable, and uncontested track record of violence and suffering.

RE: How does one avoid hedonism?
Answer
9/4/10 6:24 AM as a reply to Seraphina Wise.
Most of the points I have made I'm still ok with, having carefully read and considered your posts trent, stef and bruno. At some level perhaps I'd like to proven incorrect, but I don't see it anywhere I look. Not in my own life. Not in the life of anyone I have ever met.

Despite repeated readings I don't understand your analogy with the comb, stef. What impulse or force could cause a person to do something without the expectation of feel-good payoff? I have never seen a human act without desire/payoff...ever. Even the most inane, prosaic and miniature actions like brushing lint off my shoulder are motivated by desire. I don't want that bit of lint there. I desire for it not to be there. Unless what you're saying is that you are aligning with a "Higher" desire (as in God, say)...maybe I could accept that. Is that what you;re saying?

"This last statement makes absolutely no sense and embodies a contradiction: unconditional love is the answer (isn't this a spiritual thing, not a material one, since you can't touch it, bounce it, mail it, or take a photo of it?) however spiritual pursuits--where the goal is to shape you into an unconditional lover!--cannot fill the void that is caused by lack of...love? Do you see why this makes no sense?"

- -> my argument gets a bit circular there, so I'll have another go at expressing it properly. Unconditional love is a desire that must be fulfilled early in life, then toys, friends, sex, money, status, house, etc. ..finally leading to a desire to transcend all of that. If you get unconditional love early, you won't get hung up on any of the necessary stages that follow. I'm saying that with a base of unconditional love, you can eat the whole worm and not get hooked (addicted). You just go onto the next worm, and the next, leading you forward naturally towards "higher" desires. Higher desires I'd define as desires that are less egocentric, more spirit-centered.

bruno I usually understand your posts, even when i disagree with them, but I'm going to have to read yours a few more times. I just don't get what you're saying.





.

RE: How does one avoid hedonism?
Answer
9/4/10 10:04 AM as a reply to This Good Self.
C C C:


Despite repeated readings I don't understand your analogy with the comb, stef. What impulse or force could cause a person to do something without the expectation of feel-good payoff? I have never seen a human act without desire/payoff...ever. Even the most inane, prosaic and miniature actions like brushing lint off my shoulder are motivated by desire. I don't want that bit of lint there. I desire for it not to be there. Unless what you're saying is that you are aligning with a "Higher" desire (as in God, say)...maybe I could accept that. Is that what you;re saying?

.


Hi CCC,

Thanks for taking the time to explain your confusion and point of view. I can see that you're grappling with this different model of being in the world and that it is just not computing for you. I'll try to make a few more comments, as clearly as I can, to see if I can elucidate things further. But it may be the case, CCC, that you simply disagree with the Buddhist model, and the Actualist paradigm, for understanding what it means to be alive.

I'm not saying anything about "god" at all. I don't even think the desire for other people's suffering to end is a "higher" desire if you've actually witnessed other people suffering. Most people have enough empathy, in their unexamined state, to feel a need to prevent other people from suffering. Haven't you ever done anything you didn't want to do but had to? Like say, for example, remove a leech from a person who'd been wading through a river? Sure, one "wants" the person not have to a leech on their body but there is no feel good payoff for the person, there is only the service they can provide to another who is unable to help themselves, there is the necessity of helping another individual. Once, when I was a teenager I was at the beach and a child I was with was about to get stung by a jellyfish. She was about 5 or so at the time...so I ran over and picked her up and was subsequently stung by the jellyfish myself. There was no feel good pay off there. I didn't get any reward for it and I had a rather uncomfortable sensation around my ankles for awhile.

You must attempt to uncouple actions from their affective charge in order to understand this. You might say that most people experience the world through a relationship between an object and its shadow. That object would be your flesh and blood body and the shadow would be your feelings (including unconditional love, which I'll say more about below). Most of us spend our time talking and interacting shadow to shadow, then don't understand why we can't connect. So, for example, there is driving (the mechanical act) and then there is what I think about driving (the affective charge, the shadow): what kind of car do I drive, memories of when I learned to drive, anger at the other people who drive so horribly, unlike myself, who is a perfect driver, and so on, as the affective charge which parallels the act of driving. There is sitting and what I think about sitting; there is walking and what I think about walking; there is eating and what I think about eating (not to mention the other things I am thinking and feeling not related to sitting, eating, walking, etc.). But what if there was simply driving, sitting, walking, eating, for what they are themselves with all that other stuff added on?

You know here is the fact: you are alive. Here's another fact: because you are alive, you must eat, you must interact with other people, you must move your body through the world. You could do that with perfect harmony and without desire, with no need to throw things out of balance by grubbing for more. It's possible! Your relation to "what you do" could be dictated by "what needs to be done," rather than "What I want." Whether you want to eat or not, your body requires that you do so. Ask anyone who has ever been anorexic about uncoupling action from desire...

I'm sure you might argue that the feel good pay off, to the acts of necessity as it regards helping other people, is that I get to "feel" like a good person. But being unable to imagine the possibility of a self-less act is sort of sad in and of itself. Let's take your gold standard from which all harmony flows, unconditional love, and examine it in relation to the notion of desire. How can you argue for "unconditional love," which requires selflessness to actually operate to its own claim of not being conditioned, but not understand an essentially self-less act? How can one love another, without condition, if one only acts for a "feel good" payoff? Unconditional love is by definition, if it is going to exist true to its name, performed without desire. Unconditional love is called "unconditional" precisely because it is supposed to indicate the act of love without the pay off; that it is freely given regardless of what the giver gets.

What you're calling for, without realizing it, is the practice of a desire-less interaction, which is what unconditional love is supposed to be. If someone loves you so that they can feel good themselves, or so they can feel like a good person, then it is not unconditional love because as soon as they no longer "get" those things they will stop loving you. So if you think you love someone "unconditionally" ask yourself if you'd still "feel" the same way if you discovered they were secretly a serial killer? If there is desire in love, it is not unconditional. And there is always desire in love, which is why love doesn't work.

Acting without desire, yet performing actions nonetheless, is to perform the benign functions of being a human being without a self, without the delusion of an ego operating. The inability to imagine action without self-based desire is an inability to imagine living without the ego, without the self. And though there might be broad disagreement about how to do this, around these parts most people are trying to realize the illusion of selfness, of ego, precisely in order that the actions they take as necessary measures as living beings in this world are beneficial to all sentient beings (in Buddhist speak) or completely harmless (in Actualist speak).

What you imagine to be your intentionality is such a small part of who you actually are as an organism in this world. Giving over everything it means to be alive to desire is giving desire too much weight and credit and is precisely why we're in the mess we're in...Right now your body is handling myriad processes over which you have absolutely no control. "Who" is growing your hair? "Who" is handling the conveyance of oxygen through your blood stream? "Who" is processing the food you ate for breakfast through your bowels? "Who" is sending you the message, much later, that it's time to empty one's bowels? And then we get to the fundamental meditative question, "who" is breathing?

Likewise ask yourself "who" is wanting? "Who" is acting? As one kind of old school Zen-esque teacher put it--"What you took to be the thinker was really just one of the thoughts; what you took to be the feeler of feelings is really just one of the feelings."** So "who" is it that gives unconditional love? It quite simply can't be given because there is no one to give it and also no one to receive it, which is why that model fails. By laying the burden of human suffering on the failure of "unconditional love," you are essentially asking a group of shadows to construct a skyscraper. These shadows can't do it because they don't have hands. These shadows can try as much as they want but it will only be theatre, a pantomime, and completely un-actual. I don't say this to castigate love. Human beings have tried so hard to make that model work, we've banged our head against the wall of love for eons now, and we've cracked that nut so many times. But when you crack the nut of unconditional love, what you discover is that there is nothing inside the shell. It is also true that when you crack the shell of the self, you do not find within a fleshy edible thing but only space, emptiness, a nothing-is-there-ness. So from that space what can be given? What can be received? And then you realize that you thought you were cracking a nut, but that there was never any nut to crack to begin with...no nut and also no shell, and also, no cracker (as in, the one who cracks). Do you follow?

How can the desires of something that does not exist as an entity, which is actually just an unfolding process, be fulfilled? And how can desire, which is not an emptiness, which is not lack, is not an empty space that needs to be filled, answer itself when in fact the arising of desire is an independent object which is actually not related to anything? The arising of desire is a process of the ego and as long as there is an ego, desire will arise regardless of external conditions. This means you can pursue objects and conditions as much as you want, but desire will continue to arise in the same way that hunger will continue arise for the entire life of the organism. So yes, you fed yourself earlier today, but later, hunger will arise because that is the way the organism operates. Suggesting that desire should always be sated and then it will go away, when all the appropriate desires are met, is like suggesting that one will stop experiencing hunger if one simply eats the right things. And the only way to get rid of desire is to get rid of the ego, the affective self. However if you do not agree with the basic argument that desire is the cause of suffering, then there is actually no reason to belabor these points...

There is a scene in one of my favorite movies, "Mississippi Masala" directed by Mira Nair. In the film, Roshan Seth is an exiled Afro-Indian, who had to leave Uganda when the Asians were kicked out by Idi Amin. His long time friend and "brother," an African named Okelo, stays behind. One day, after many years of struggling with the trauma of being brutally uprooted from his homeland, and of harboring tremendous anger and resentment towards Okelo, he notices a picture of Okelo and his daughter, Mina, in the liquor shop his wife runs, pinned to the wall. He asks her, "Where did that come from?" And she answer, "Why, Jay, it's always been there."

We cannot see what we do not want to see; we cannot understand that which we are unwilling to understand. And often, our inability to understand something has very much to do with a resistance to what is being offered. Jay didn't see the picture of Okelo because he didn't want to; his anger, his resentment, and his fear kept it from his view. His mind literally "blacked it out." It may just be the case that you desire your desire, you want to hold on to it, and so it is unimaginable to you that others might operate differently or have even found a way to be free of it. Perhaps there is despair in your argument as you try to convince yourself, and us, that desire cannot be shaken off despite evidence to the contrary...that evidence being 2,500 years of Buddhist practice, and for those of us who are practicing Actualists and the actually free people, the discovery of a state known as actual freedom...

I understand that for some people this desire-based model, the "achieve your dreams" model, is what life is about for them. And I'm sure that there are some folks out there who are, right now, happier than Hugh Hefner at cheerleading camp in the pursuit and fulfillment of their desires... but understand that the critique offered of it here is a valid one even if one cannot, or chooses not to, understand it. And if there is some part of you that is secretly drilling away at the empty nut, please know that it is possible to decrease and extinguish desire, that the arahants and actually free people are not lying to you or pretending, and that you can realize this desire-less state too, despite the protestations of the self, despite the arguments of the ego.






**Alan Watts.

RE: How does one avoid hedonism?
Answer
7/3/12 4:55 PM as a reply to Trent ..
Trent .:


If one is impelled toward one sensation over another, one must ask again, HAIETMOBA (and what is implied in this context: why am I spending my only moment of being alive wishing I was experiencing something else)? Eventually-- perhaps gradually, or perhaps quickly-- one will find one is no longer impelled to do one thing or another, although one may still choose to do those activities if one wishes.



Trent, it sounds like an AF person WOULD spend their only moment of being alive wishing they were experiencing something else. Else how would they ever choose to do any other activity? And this begets the question "what is impelling them to choose another activity?" Would you say it is the predilections of the body sans affective character? In either case you would have to have a moment wherein you were wishing to experience something else, no?

-David

RE: How does one avoid hedonism?
Answer
7/6/12 4:53 PM as a reply to Seraphina Wise.
SW:
C C C:


Despite repeated readings I don't understand your analogy with the comb, stef. What impulse or force could cause a person to do something without the expectation of feel-good payoff? I have never seen a human act without desire/payoff...ever. Even the most inane, prosaic and miniature actions like brushing lint off my shoulder are motivated by desire. I don't want that bit of lint there. I desire for it not to be there. Unless what you're saying is that you are aligning with a "Higher" desire (as in God, say)...maybe I could accept that. Is that what you;re saying?

.


Hi CCC,

Thanks for taking the time to explain your confusion and point of view. I can see that you're grappling with this different model of being in the world and that it is just not computing for you. I'll try to make a few more comments, as clearly as I can, to see if I can elucidate things further. But it may be the case, CCC, that you simply disagree with the Buddhist model, and the Actualist paradigm, for understanding what it means to be alive.

I'm not saying anything about "god" at all. I don't even think the desire for other people's suffering to end is a "higher" desire if you've actually witnessed other people suffering. Most people have enough empathy, in their unexamined state, to feel a need to prevent other people from suffering. Haven't you ever done anything you didn't want to do but had to? Like say, for example, remove a leech from a person who'd been wading through a river? Sure, one "wants" the person not have to a leech on their body but there is no feel good payoff for the person, there is only the service they can provide to another who is unable to help themselves, there is the necessity of helping another individual. Once, when I was a teenager I was at the beach and a child I was with was about to get stung by a jellyfish. She was about 5 or so at the time...so I ran over and picked her up and was subsequently stung by the jellyfish myself. There was no feel good pay off there. I didn't get any reward for it and I had a rather uncomfortable sensation around my ankles for awhile.

You must attempt to uncouple actions from their affective charge in order to understand this. You might say that most people experience the world through a relationship between an object and its shadow. That object would be your flesh and blood body and the shadow would be your feelings (including unconditional love, which I'll say more about below). Most of us spend our time talking and interacting shadow to shadow, then don't understand why we can't connect. So, for example, there is driving (the mechanical act) and then there is what I think about driving (the affective charge, the shadow): what kind of car do I drive, memories of when I learned to drive, anger at the other people who drive so horribly, unlike myself, who is a perfect driver, and so on, as the affective charge which parallels the act of driving. There is sitting and what I think about sitting; there is walking and what I think about walking; there is eating and what I think about eating (not to mention the other things I am thinking and feeling not related to sitting, eating, walking, etc.). But what if there was simply driving, sitting, walking, eating, for what they are themselves with all that other stuff added on?

You know here is the fact: you are alive. Here's another fact: because you are alive, you must eat, you must interact with other people, you must move your body through the world. You could do that with perfect harmony and without desire, with no need to throw things out of balance by grubbing for more. It's possible! Your relation to "what you do" could be dictated by "what needs to be done," rather than "What I want." Whether you want to eat or not, your body requires that you do so. Ask anyone who has ever been anorexic about uncoupling action from desire...

I'm sure you might argue that the feel good pay off, to the acts of necessity as it regards helping other people, is that I get to "feel" like a good person. But being unable to imagine the possibility of a self-less act is sort of sad in and of itself. Let's take your gold standard from which all harmony flows, unconditional love, and examine it in relation to the notion of desire. How can you argue for "unconditional love," which requires selflessness to actually operate to its own claim of not being conditioned, but not understand an essentially self-less act? How can one love another, without condition, if one only acts for a "feel good" payoff? Unconditional love is by definition, if it is going to exist true to its name, performed without desire. Unconditional love is called "unconditional" precisely because it is supposed to indicate the act of love without the pay off; that it is freely given regardless of what the giver gets.

What you're calling for, without realizing it, is the practice of a desire-less interaction, which is what unconditional love is supposed to be. If someone loves you so that they can feel good themselves, or so they can feel like a good person, then it is not unconditional love because as soon as they no longer "get" those things they will stop loving you. So if you think you love someone "unconditionally" ask yourself if you'd still "feel" the same way if you discovered they were secretly a serial killer? If there is desire in love, it is not unconditional. And there is always desire in love, which is why love doesn't work.

Acting without desire, yet performing actions nonetheless, is to perform the benign functions of being a human being without a self, without the delusion of an ego operating. The inability to imagine action without self-based desire is an inability to imagine living without the ego, without the self. And though there might be broad disagreement about how to do this, around these parts most people are trying to realize the illusion of selfness, of ego, precisely in order that the actions they take as necessary measures as living beings in this world are beneficial to all sentient beings (in Buddhist speak) or completely harmless (in Actualist speak).

What you imagine to be your intentionality is such a small part of who you actually are as an organism in this world. Giving over everything it means to be alive to desire is giving desire too much weight and credit and is precisely why we're in the mess we're in...Right now your body is handling myriad processes over which you have absolutely no control. "Who" is growing your hair? "Who" is handling the conveyance of oxygen through your blood stream? "Who" is processing the food you ate for breakfast through your bowels? "Who" is sending you the message, much later, that it's time to empty one's bowels? And then we get to the fundamental meditative question, "who" is breathing?

Likewise ask yourself "who" is wanting? "Who" is acting? As one kind of old school Zen-esque teacher put it--"What you took to be the thinker was really just one of the thoughts; what you took to be the feeler of feelings is really just one of the feelings."** So "who" is it that gives unconditional love? It quite simply can't be given because there is no one to give it and also no one to receive it, which is why that model fails. By laying the burden of human suffering on the failure of "unconditional love," you are essentially asking a group of shadows to construct a skyscraper. These shadows can't do it because they don't have hands. These shadows can try as much as they want but it will only be theatre, a pantomime, and completely un-actual. I don't say this to castigate love. Human beings have tried so hard to make that model work, we've banged our head against the wall of love for eons now, and we've cracked that nut so many times. But when you crack the nut of unconditional love, what you discover is that there is nothing inside the shell. It is also true that when you crack the shell of the self, you do not find within a fleshy edible thing but only space, emptiness, a nothing-is-there-ness. So from that space what can be given? What can be received? And then you realize that you thought you were cracking a nut, but that there was never any nut to crack to begin with...no nut and also no shell, and also, no cracker (as in, the one who cracks). Do you follow?

How can the desires of something that does not exist as an entity, which is actually just an unfolding process, be fulfilled? And how can desire, which is not an emptiness, which is not lack, is not an empty space that needs to be filled, answer itself when in fact the arising of desire is an independent object which is actually not related to anything? The arising of desire is a process of the ego and as long as there is an ego, desire will arise regardless of external conditions. This means you can pursue objects and conditions as much as you want, but desire will continue to arise in the same way that hunger will continue arise for the entire life of the organism. So yes, you fed yourself earlier today, but later, hunger will arise because that is the way the organism operates. Suggesting that desire should always be sated and then it will go away, when all the appropriate desires are met, is like suggesting that one will stop experiencing hunger if one simply eats the right things. And the only way to get rid of desire is to get rid of the ego, the affective self. However if you do not agree with the basic argument that desire is the cause of suffering, then there is actually no reason to belabor these points...

There is a scene in one of my favorite movies, "Mississippi Masala" directed by Mira Nair. In the film, Roshan Seth is an exiled Afro-Indian, who had to leave Uganda when the Asians were kicked out by Idi Amin. His long time friend and "brother," an African named Okelo, stays behind. One day, after many years of struggling with the trauma of being brutally uprooted from his homeland, and of harboring tremendous anger and resentment towards Okelo, he notices a picture of Okelo and his daughter, Mina, in the liquor shop his wife runs, pinned to the wall. He asks her, "Where did that come from?" And she answer, "Why, Jay, it's always been there."

We cannot see what we do not want to see; we cannot understand that which we are unwilling to understand. And often, our inability to understand something has very much to do with a resistance to what is being offered. Jay didn't see the picture of Okelo because he didn't want to; his anger, his resentment, and his fear kept it from his view. His mind literally "blacked it out." It may just be the case that you desire your desire, you want to hold on to it, and so it is unimaginable to you that others might operate differently or have even found a way to be free of it. Perhaps there is despair in your argument as you try to convince yourself, and us, that desire cannot be shaken off despite evidence to the contrary...that evidence being 2,500 years of Buddhist practice, and for those of us who are practicing Actualists and the actually free people, the discovery of a state known as actual freedom...

I understand that for some people this desire-based model, the "achieve your dreams" model, is what life is about for them. And I'm sure that there are some folks out there who are, right now, happier than Hugh Hefner at cheerleading camp in the pursuit and fulfillment of their desires... but understand that the critique offered of it here is a valid one even if one cannot, or chooses not to, understand it. And if there is some part of you that is secretly drilling away at the empty nut, please know that it is possible to decrease and extinguish desire, that the arahants and actually free people are not lying to you or pretending, and that you can realize this desire-less state too, despite the protestations of the self, despite the arguments of the ego.






**Alan Watts.




Major bumpage. In all my time reading "spiritual" text, this is by far one of the best-written pieces I've ever encountered. Thanks again, Stef.

RE: How does one avoid hedonism?
Answer
8/11/12 12:09 AM as a reply to Kerstin Upmeyer.
The practice of actualism is not "avoid" affective experiences and then subsequently take up sensual experiences as the mainstay.

Rather the point of it is to be attentive to your experience, here and now, whatever that may be.