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Was Gautama Buddha Enlightened?

 
SkyPanther
 
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01 March 2016 10:01
 
Niclynn - 29 February 2016 06:36 PM

Yes, see this is what I find interesting. Desire and a sense of “I” obviously interact, but they are not one and the same. And I think looking at situations of strongly felt volition or desire vs. very low level ones really highlights this. My cat, for example, has learned a neat new trick where she will yowl in a manner that suggests she is being slowly murdered, sometimes by the one sink she will drink from, upstairs, and sometimes by her food dish, downstairs (my cat, if I’m being entirely honest, is kind of a jackass, but she looks like an fuzzy animated teddy bear so she makes it work). I am trying to de-condition her out of this habit and yet I find myself bolting when I hear that yowling noise (at best, I can restrain myself long enough for a few minutes of ridiculous negotiating with the cat - “It’s ok baby! You still have food in your dish, I promise I’ll fill it soon! I’m right upstairs if you need me! Right he… oh, never mind, coming down for the eighth time today.”)

On the other hand, for a very low level desire like “When will I move my foot forward to take the next step?”, there’s seemingly more of a division between self / desire. I mean, it’s not like I’m going to stand in the woods all day, but the exact point that I choose to do it is neither here nor there. There has to be enough desire to finally compel the action, but it has a more arbitrary quality. And it interested me to realize that I couldn’t really feel the point of decision, as a different subjective experience, no matter how carefully I paid attention. I had done some of Sri Ramana Maharshi’s “self inquiry” practice before and thought I was ok at locating the sense of “I”, but that little exercise made me realize it’s probably much much subtler than I’d realized even with a lot of mindfulness and self-inquiry practice. After I took a step there was a definite sense of “I made a decision and I did something”, but that sense only seemed evident in hindsight.

Hah, an interesting tactic by your cat.  My cat does something similar, he really likes going outside every day for a few minutes (I monitor him), so as soon as I come home from work, he starts to kiss up, purr, wanting to be held, and being generally cuddly, all the while looking at the sliding door to the backyard. If I get close to the door, he either jumps out from my hands, or runs to the door and starts to paw the latch.

As for “I”  it does not exist wink  It is a concept, an illusion that we have all bought into, which is what the Buddha teaches we should see past. The I, is a compounded conceptual idea of the “self” based on what you like/dislike (or are neutral to). There is no “you” in any of the individual parts that make up the ego.

Niclynn - 29 February 2016 06:36 PM

I like those last two lines especially, I’ve never seen the concept phrased that particular way but that’s really cool.

It is a really good read, and touches on a few different subjects:

“Not-Self”, and “Empty” when talking about reality.

You can read it for free here:
http://www.dhammasukha.org/uploads/1/2/8/6/12865490/concept_and_reality.pdf

 
sojourner
 
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01 March 2016 11:17
 
SkyPanther - 01 March 2016 10:01 AM

Hah, an interesting tactic by your cat.  My cat does something similar, he really likes going outside every day for a few minutes (I monitor him), so as soon as I come home from work, he starts to kiss up, purr, wanting to be held, and being generally cuddly, all the while looking at the sliding door to the backyard. If I get close to the door, he either jumps out from my hands, or runs to the door and starts to paw the latch.


I think cats are a great lesson in the idea that how we hold things makes all the difference. From one perspective, they’re basically fuzzy little killing machines who are evolutionarily designed to be deceptively cute and get their own way via manipulation. Imagine the sense of ice cold dread one would feel upon suspecting those traits in a coworker (except for the fuzzy part, that might just be weird if your coworker wasn’t a bear or something) - and yet with a cat it’s easy to know a lot about their nature and still find them infinitely lovable. I try to keep that in mind as I feel like there are a lot of dehumanizing concepts out there in the news today - sociopath, narcissist, antisocial, etc. It makes it so easy to not just disagree with people strongly but to feel actual revulsion towards them. Maybe that kind of thing is necessary to maintain the functional boundaries of society but for myself personally, I try to remember my cat if I notice that reaction.

 

As for “I”  it does not exist wink  It is a concept, an illusion that we have all bought into, which is what the Buddha teaches we should see past. The I, is a compounded conceptual idea of the “self” based on what you like/dislike (or are neutral to). There is no “you” in any of the individual parts that make up the ego.


Well, having been exposed to the lexicon and some of the ‘hot topics’ of Buddhist groups for the past few years, I will give you a heads up that this is an area of great debate. In the Tibetan tradition they take a sort of ‘middle path’ that the “I” exists in something like a nominal way but does exist (and will say that going too far towards the I having no existence will lead to nihilism, which I tend to agree with,) there are also “mind only” schools of Buddhism that say all is a creation of something like One Mind, and so on. I believe this was one of those questions that the Buddha himself, like with the question of God, said he wasn’t going to answer, and I kinda hear him on that one. I didn’t come from a tradition that spent centuries slaughtering each other over the issue of whether or not God and Jesus (and if you wanted to get really complicated, the Holy Spirit or Ghost) were one or two or three or separate or unified or both just to go to another and have the same argument about Self. Clearly it’s not something that lends itself well to verbal communication, so personally I’m cool with getting the gist and leaving that one alone - but if it’s an area of interest for you, again, if you research it I’m sure you can find a lot of interesting debate on the topic.

 

 

It is a really good read, and touches on a few different subjects:

“Not-Self”, and “Empty” when talking about reality.

You can read it for free here:
http://www.dhammasukha.org/uploads/1/2/8/6/12865490/concept_and_reality.pdf


Thanks for the recommendation! Will try to read this later today.

 
 
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01 March 2016 12:59
 
Niclynn - 01 March 2016 11:17 AM

Well, having been exposed to the lexicon and some of the ‘hot topics’ of Buddhist groups for the past few years, I will give you a heads up that this is an area of great debate. In the Tibetan tradition they take a sort of ‘middle path’ that the “I” exists in something like a nominal way but does exist (and will say that going too far towards the I having no existence will lead to nihilism, which I tend to agree with,) there are also “mind only” schools of Buddhism that say all is a creation of something like One Mind, and so on. I believe this was one of those questions that the Buddha himself, like with the question of God, said he wasn’t going to answer, and I kinda hear him on that one. I didn’t come from a tradition that spent centuries slaughtering each other over the issue of whether or not God and Jesus (and if you wanted to get really complicated, the Holy Spirit or Ghost) were one or two or three or separate or unified or both just to go to another and have the same argument about Self. Clearly it’s not something that lends itself well to verbal communication, so personally I’m cool with getting the gist and leaving that one alone - but if it’s an area of interest for you, again, if you research it I’m sure you can find a lot of interesting debate on the topic.

Yeah, I am mainly talking about the Theravada point of view, based on the Suttas of Gautama Buddha;  I know that some of the Mahayana texts make the “self” a point of contention.

Where he talks about nibbana as either the “going out of a flame” or the unconditioned element.

The “self” was never a “thing” so the concept of “annihilation” does not apply.  It is applying a concept to a concept.  But he does go on to say that the unconditioned element is the most blissful, permanent, and satisfying, etc…

The “mind-stream” as it “ceases” creates another “mind”, and continues flowing… i.e arising and ceasing, endlessly - unless you reach the unconditioned - in which case clinging/ignorance, etc to arise, stops.

That Concept and Reality booklet touches on the topic quite a bit, it is pretty interesting.

 
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01 March 2016 17:56
 
SkyPanther - 01 March 2016 12:59 PM

Yeah, I am mainly talking about the Theravada point of view, based on the Suttas of Gautama Buddha;  I know that some of the Mahayana texts make the “self” a point of contention.

Where he talks about nibbana as either the “going out of a flame” or the unconditioned element.

The “self” was never a “thing” so the concept of “annihilation” does not apply.  It is applying a concept to a concept.  But he does go on to say that the unconditioned element is the most blissful, permanent, and satisfying, etc…

The “mind-stream” as it “ceases” creates another “mind”, and continues flowing… i.e arising and ceasing, endlessly - unless you reach the unconditioned - in which case clinging/ignorance, etc to arise, stops.

That Concept and Reality booklet touches on the topic quite a bit, it is pretty interesting.


I was trying to find a PDF link to this text from the Dalai Lamai in “The World of Tibetan Buddhism: An Overview of Its Philosophy and Practice” but I can’t, so apologies for a very long cut and paste, but I think you’ll like this - it’s a really nice concise summary of some of the history of this topic. Again, not something I have a particularly strong opinion on - I try to read a bit of the philosophy and then figure I’ll see what I see in introspection and mindfulness - but this will give you a basic breakdown of the schools of thought out there (the Dalai Lama does consider some to be ‘higher’ teachings but I’m assuming even that point of view varies among Buddhist schools):

From a philosophical point of view, the criterion that distinguishes a school as Buddhist is its acceptance of four fundamental tenets, known as the four seals. These are: All composite phenomena are impermanent. All contaminated things and events are unsatisfactory. All phenomena are empty and selfless. Nirvana is true peace. Any system accepting these four seals is philosophically a Buddhist school of thought. However, it is in the Mahayana schools (Cittam?tra and Madhyamaka) that the principle of selflessness—the emptiness of self-existence—is explained at its most profound level. As we have seen, there are two main approaches to the view of selflessness: the Hinayana and the Mahayana. The Hinayana, or Individual Vehicle, schools (Vaibh??ika and Sautr?ntika) adhere to the view of selflessness of the person as taught in the first turning, whereas the Mahayana schools adopt the more expansive view of selflessness indicated in the wisdom sutras taught in the second turning. In order to appreciate the difference in subtlety between these two views of selflessness, let us examine our own experiences and the ways in which we relate to others and to the world… (he goes on to give some examples here but I’ll have to omit them for space).

.............

....Therefore, in the second turning of the wheel, the Buddha extends the principle of selflessness to encompass the entire expanse of reality, all things and events. Only by fully realizing the universal principle of emptiness can we overcome all levels of our deluded states of mind. We can appreciate this point by reflecting on the following statement from Candrak??rti in his Madhyamak?vat?ra (Entering into the Middle Way): The meditator who has realized the absence of a self [simply as the non-existence of an eternal self] would not comprehend the reality of form and the other [aggregates as expressed in the truth of the highest meaning]. On this account, clinging and the other [afflictions] would still be produced, for they arise through the [mis]apprehension of form, and he would not have comprehended the nature (i.e., the emptiness) of form [and the other aggregates].21 In this passage, Candrak??rti is saying that the doctrine of selflessness as expounded in the lower, or Hinayana, schools of Buddhist tenets is not complete, for according to these schools, the principle is limited only to the person and thus is relevant only in a discussion of personal identity. Moreover, this selflessness is understood only in terms of the absence of a substantially existent person possessing a distinct, self-sufficient identity. However, as mentioned earlier, even when one achieves insight into this level of selflessness, one is still unable to overcome the subtle clinging to external objects and, hence, to one’s own identity as well. Although all Buddhist schools of thought accept the principle of selflessness, there are major differences in their understanding of the doctrine. Compared to the lower schools, the presentation of selflessness in the higher schools of Buddhist thought is more profound. The realization of selflessness as understood by the lower schools does not constitute a full realization of the principle. The reason is that even though one may have realized the person as lacking self-sufficient and substantial existence, this still leaves room for grasping at one’s own self as possessing intrinsic identity, or being inherently existent. On the other hand, if one has realized the absence of intrinsic identity of the person—that the person totally lacks any form of independent nature or inherent existence—this precludes the possibility of apprehending the person as a self-sufficient entity. Given that the negation of self-identity—in the context of an understanding of emptiness—is much more radical in the presentation of the higher schools, the ascertainment of selflessness in accord with such a view naturally acquires a greater power to counteract both the delusions and the underlying misconception that apprehends phenomena as inherently existent and grasps onto that as true. However, it must be pointed out that the doctrine of emptiness in no way refutes the conventional existence of phenomena: the reality of our conventional world, within the framework of which all functions of reality—such as causation, relation, negation, and so forth—validly operate, is left unscathed and intact. What is demolished is the reified fiction that has resulted from our habitual tendency to grasp at phenomena as self-existent.

These divergent views in the various schools on the nature of selflessness must all be perceived within a coherent system: one view progressively leads to the next, as one step on a staircase naturally leads to the next. This understanding becomes possible if the different views of selflessness are examined against the background of the fundamental Buddhist principle of dependent origination…

 
 
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01 March 2016 18:06
 
Niclynn - 01 March 2016 05:56 PM
SkyPanther - 01 March 2016 12:59 PM

Yeah, I am mainly talking about the Theravada point of view, based on the Suttas of Gautama Buddha;  I know that some of the Mahayana texts make the “self” a point of contention.

Where he talks about nibbana as either the “going out of a flame” or the unconditioned element.

The “self” was never a “thing” so the concept of “annihilation” does not apply.  It is applying a concept to a concept.  But he does go on to say that the unconditioned element is the most blissful, permanent, and satisfying, etc…

The “mind-stream” as it “ceases” creates another “mind”, and continues flowing… i.e arising and ceasing, endlessly - unless you reach the unconditioned - in which case clinging/ignorance, etc to arise, stops.

That Concept and Reality booklet touches on the topic quite a bit, it is pretty interesting.


I was trying to find a PDF link to this text from the Dalai Lamai in “The World of Tibetan Buddhism: An Overview of Its Philosophy and Practice” but I can’t, so apologies for a very long cut and paste, but I think you’ll like this - it’s a really nice concise summary of some of the history of this topic. Again, not something I have a particularly strong opinion on - I try to read a bit of the philosophy and then figure I’ll see what I see in introspection and mindfulness - but this will give you a basic breakdown of the schools of thought out there (the Dalai Lama does consider some to be ‘higher’ teachings but I’m assuming even that point of view varies among Buddhist schools):

From a philosophical point of view, the criterion that distinguishes a school as Buddhist is its acceptance of four fundamental tenets, known as the four seals. These are: All composite phenomena are impermanent. All contaminated things and events are unsatisfactory. All phenomena are empty and selfless. Nirvana is true peace. Any system accepting these four seals is philosophically a Buddhist school of thought. However, it is in the Mahayana schools (Cittam?tra and Madhyamaka) that the principle of selflessness—the emptiness of self-existence—is explained at its most profound level. As we have seen, there are two main approaches to the view of selflessness: the Hinayana and the Mahayana. The Hinayana, or Individual Vehicle, schools (Vaibh??ika and Sautr?ntika) adhere to the view of selflessness of the person as taught in the first turning, whereas the Mahayana schools adopt the more expansive view of selflessness indicated in the wisdom sutras taught in the second turning. In order to appreciate the difference in subtlety between these two views of selflessness, let us examine our own experiences and the ways in which we relate to others and to the world… (he goes on to give some examples here but I’ll have to omit them for space).

.............

....Therefore, in the second turning of the wheel, the Buddha extends the principle of selflessness to encompass the entire expanse of reality, all things and events. Only by fully realizing the universal principle of emptiness can we overcome all levels of our deluded states of mind. We can appreciate this point by reflecting on the following statement from Candrak??rti in his Madhyamak?vat?ra (Entering into the Middle Way): The meditator who has realized the absence of a self [simply as the non-existence of an eternal self] would not comprehend the reality of form and the other [aggregates as expressed in the truth of the highest meaning]. On this account, clinging and the other [afflictions] would still be produced, for they arise through the [mis]apprehension of form, and he would not have comprehended the nature (i.e., the emptiness) of form [and the other aggregates].21 In this passage, Candrak??rti is saying that the doctrine of selflessness as expounded in the lower, or Hinayana, schools of Buddhist tenets is not complete, for according to these schools, the principle is limited only to the person and thus is relevant only in a discussion of personal identity. Moreover, this selflessness is understood only in terms of the absence of a substantially existent person possessing a distinct, self-sufficient identity. However, as mentioned earlier, even when one achieves insight into this level of selflessness, one is still unable to overcome the subtle clinging to external objects and, hence, to one’s own identity as well. Although all Buddhist schools of thought accept the principle of selflessness, there are major differences in their understanding of the doctrine. Compared to the lower schools, the presentation of selflessness in the higher schools of Buddhist thought is more profound. The realization of selflessness as understood by the lower schools does not constitute a full realization of the principle. The reason is that even though one may have realized the person as lacking self-sufficient and substantial existence, this still leaves room for grasping at one’s own self as possessing intrinsic identity, or being inherently existent. On the other hand, if one has realized the absence of intrinsic identity of the person—that the person totally lacks any form of independent nature or inherent existence—this precludes the possibility of apprehending the person as a self-sufficient entity. Given that the negation of self-identity—in the context of an understanding of emptiness—is much more radical in the presentation of the higher schools, the ascertainment of selflessness in accord with such a view naturally acquires a greater power to counteract both the delusions and the underlying misconception that apprehends phenomena as inherently existent and grasps onto that as true. However, it must be pointed out that the doctrine of emptiness in no way refutes the conventional existence of phenomena: the reality of our conventional world, within the framework of which all functions of reality—such as causation, relation, negation, and so forth—validly operate, is left unscathed and intact. What is demolished is the reified fiction that has resulted from our habitual tendency to grasp at phenomena as self-existent.

These divergent views in the various schools on the nature of selflessness must all be perceived within a coherent system: one view progressively leads to the next, as one step on a staircase naturally leads to the next. This understanding becomes possible if the different views of selflessness are examined against the background of the fundamental Buddhist principle of dependent origination…

Yeah, this is the view that the “self” will eventually become a “universal” all. But this view was never mentioned by the Buddha.  This is from commentary, and the later Arahants. And is essentially the later “brahman” versions of a “universal” consciousness.

Not something I subscribe to, per se, I am agnostic on the topic, because the Buddha himself said that this question, if the Arhant, or the Buddha, exists after death is irrelevant to enlightenment.

 

 
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01 March 2016 18:13
 

A side note - I try to incorporate this into my own practice by doing some meditations on emptiness (I have certainly seen some viewpoint shifts with this although I don’t claim to have any deep, lasting insight into emptiness at a subjective level - maybe occasional flashes beyond my usual ‘edge’ during meditation, though.) I think one way I’ve seen this play out in my life is letting go a bit more of the concept of being ‘the good guy (gal)’. I think the inevitable paradox in spiritual traditions is that they tell you to let go of the self while becoming a bodhisattva or whatever. Now there’s a mixed message. Who is going to become a bodhisattva, then? I think I saw this a good bit in the past year or so when struggling with social anxiety - a part of that is about being so worried that I could say, do, or even think something that would hurt another person if I say the “wrong” thing to them. And at some point I realized (although I still really struggle with this) that this is like holding all the “goodness” in the world in myself, with everyone else as like a fragile porcelain dish. That I have to look at them and see resilience, the ability to forgive, benevolence, understanding, etc., etc., in order to offer that myself. So I have seen some examples of the idea of ‘interconnectedness’ in my life, although I don’t think that’s the level of seeing they are referencing in Buddhist texts.

 
 
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01 March 2016 18:17
 
SkyPanther - 01 March 2016 06:06 PM

Yeah, this is the view that the “self” will eventually become a “universal” all. But this view was never mentioned by the Buddha.  This is from commentary, and the later Arahants. And is essentially the later “brahman” versions of a “universal” consciousness.

Not something I subscribe to, per se, I am agnostic on the topic, because the Buddha himself said that this question, if the Arhant, or the Buddha, exists after death is irrelevant to enlightenment.


Sorry, crossed post! To be honest, I always found history quite dull, so I’m not too into which idea got where when and how, but thought you might find the Tibetan view interesting. My thought is that all paths more or less lead to the same place, it’s a matter of which framing and language and so on that people connect with, so like I said, I try to focus more on the personal practice side and not worry too much about philosophical disputes.

 
 
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02 March 2016 09:26
 
Niclynn - 01 March 2016 06:13 PM

A side note - I try to incorporate this into my own practice by doing some meditations on emptiness (I have certainly seen some viewpoint shifts with this although I don’t claim to have any deep, lasting insight into emptiness at a subjective level - maybe occasional flashes beyond my usual ‘edge’ during meditation, though.) I think one way I’ve seen this play out in my life is letting go a bit more of the concept of being ‘the good guy (gal)’. I think the inevitable paradox in spiritual traditions is that they tell you to let go of the self while becoming a bodhisattva or whatever. Now there’s a mixed message. Who is going to become a bodhisattva, then? I think I saw this a good bit in the past year or so when struggling with social anxiety - a part of that is about being so worried that I could say, do, or even think something that would hurt another person if I say the “wrong” thing to them. And at some point I realized (although I still really struggle with this) that this is like holding all the “goodness” in the world in myself, with everyone else as like a fragile porcelain dish. That I have to look at them and see resilience, the ability to forgive, benevolence, understanding, etc., etc., in order to offer that myself. So I have seen some examples of the idea of ‘interconnectedness’ in my life, although I don’t think that’s the level of seeing they are referencing in Buddhist texts.

So this is going to be a bit personal but…  I am gay, and growing up, seeing how a lot of other gay guys conduct themselves (drugs, partying, meaningless sex, etc) never really appealed to me.  I was always introverted, my idea of a “fun” time is sitting at home reading a book, or playing World Of Warcraft (Or when I was younger EverQuest). I tried the meaningless sex thing after Grindr came out, and that just did not appeal to me, I got depressed/felt used, etc, from meaningless one night stands.  Conversely I have been married now for about 6 years (thankfully now with the option of getting full federal rights).

The reason I am bringing this up, is to point out the “good guy/gal” paradigm. “Good” is not really the point.  It is “moderation”, and harm. And I could be projecting, but I think that “goodness” is pretty much “natural” to most people nowadays, especially in the west. The “Golden Rule” appears in every culture and religion.

For instance, the Five Precepts in Buddhism are meant to help in both meditation and kamma, by loosening the hindrances:

For instance, killing stuff;  The reason you do not do it is because when you do you still have “aversion” (tied in with ill will) to whatever it is you are killing… so like bugs, etc…

Stealing stuff = Greed (if you are stealing for food, that is not “greedy” per se, in that case the intent matters)

Sexual misconduct = Greed/Craving/Ill Will (and only applies to harmful actions (rape, or cheating on your wife/husband) or having sex with underaged people)

incorrect speech = Greed, Ill Will, Harm, Wrong View (telling lies, spreading rumors, harsh speech, etc, are all a mix of the hindrances)

intoxicating drinks =  this one does not actually apply to the four “aryia” but in general, this is a precept because it causes you to lose mindfulness and do the other 4. If you can drink and not get intoxicated, and can control yourself, etc, this one is not actually a hinderance.

The bodhisattva vow is silly, in my opinion.  You are vowing to become a Buddha in a different time/lifetime.  This is really hard, and not all people can actually do it and will eventually have to break the vow.  A Buddha is supposedly the only person that can tell if another person has the stamina to become a Buddha in the future.

Once you get the “Sotapanna” stage, the five precepts take care of themselves.  You get a “no that’s a lie (or whatever other precept)” compulsion in your mind if you try telling lies (even white lies), and stop yourself from doing the action.  The other precepts are just kind of normally followed by most people (most do not rape, steal, kill, etc).

 

 
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02 March 2016 13:52
 
SkyPanther - 02 March 2016 09:26 AM

So this is going to be a bit personal but…  I am gay, and growing up, seeing how a lot of other gay guys conduct themselves (drugs, partying, meaningless sex, etc) never really appealed to me.  I was always introverted, my idea of a “fun” time is sitting at home reading a book, or playing World Of Warcraft (Or when I was younger EverQuest). I tried the meaningless sex thing after Grindr came out, and that just did not appeal to me, I got depressed/felt used, etc, from meaningless one night stands.  Conversely I have been married now for about 6 years (thankfully now with the option of getting full federal rights).


So this is a weird and possibly entitled / insensitive thing to say, but a little part of me has always been a bit jealous of gay people. My mother had a morbid obsession, among other things, with the AIDs epidemic when I was a kid (she said the Irish are prone to morbid obsessions) and so she read a lot of books about gay culture. While I don’t know what hearing about the goings-ons at bathhouses did to my 9-year-old psyche, she also said that most homosexuals said they always knew there was something different about them, but they didn’t get it or understand what, until they found out about homosexuality. I was just generally weird, so there was never that cool resolution at the end of my story, you know? Like “Oh wow, there’s this whole group of people who are different in the same way as I am, now it all makes sense and I can go and find them!”. If you were home playing World of Warcraft then I suspect you may be both gay and a bit weird as well, ha ha, so I feel a certain solidarity.


I thought you’re in your 20s, though, aren’t you really young to have been married 6 years? Although congrats either way, glad you live in a place where that’s possible. And I think the whole party scene is a thing whether you’re gay or straight. Social life in your 20s is just people going out and getting ridiculously trashed, basically. It’s kind of a shame. I feel like I didn’t start developing other interests until my late 20s / early 30s. 

The reason I am bringing this up, is to point out the “good guy/gal” paradigm. “Good” is not really the point.  It is “moderation”, and harm. And I could be projecting, but I think that “goodness” is pretty much “natural” to most people nowadays, especially in the west. The “Golden Rule” appears in every culture and religion.

For instance, the Five Precepts in Buddhism are meant to help in both meditation and kamma, by loosening the hindrances:

For instance, killing stuff;  The reason you do not do it is because when you do you still have “aversion” (tied in with ill will) to whatever it is you are killing… so like bugs, etc…

Stealing stuff = Greed (if you are stealing for food, that is not “greedy” per se, in that case the intent matters)

Sexual misconduct = Greed/Craving/Ill Will (and only applies to harmful actions (rape, or cheating on your wife/husband) or having sex with underaged people)

incorrect speech = Greed, Ill Will, Harm, Wrong View (telling lies, spreading rumors, harsh speech, etc, are all a mix of the hindrances)

intoxicating drinks =  this one does not actually apply to the four “aryia” but in general, this is a precept because it causes you to lose mindfulness and do the other 4. If you can drink and not get intoxicated, and can control yourself, etc, this one is not actually a hinderance.

The bodhisattva vow is silly, in my opinion.  You are vowing to become a Buddha in a different time/lifetime.  This is really hard, and not all people can actually do it and will eventually have to break the vow.  A Buddha is supposedly the only person that can tell if another person has the stamina to become a Buddha in the future.

Once you get the “Sotapanna” stage, the five precepts take care of themselves.  You get a “no that’s a lie (or whatever other precept)” compulsion in your mind if you try telling lies (even white lies), and stop yourself from doing the action.  The other precepts are just kind of normally followed by most people (most do not rape, steal, kill, etc).


Yes, see this is what I mean about seeing the interdependence of the situation. Most people don’t do that in the West presumably, at least in part, because they don’t have to. If one lived in an environment where it was kill or be killed, or law and order maintained via vendetta culture, etc., then even the saintliest person’s choices might be to act more aggressively or to be a passive bystander watching people get hurt. So in large part my goodness depends on your goodness and vice versa. For me that was a big shift from the more Christian maxim of “Be Good (or else!)!” wink

[ Edited: 02 March 2016 13:54 by sojourner]
 
 
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02 March 2016 14:03
 
Niclynn - 02 March 2016 01:52 PM

So this is a weird and possibly entitled / insensitive thing to say, but a little part of me has always been a bit jealous of gay people. My mother had a morbid obsession, among other things, with the AIDs epidemic when I was a kid (she said the Irish are prone to morbid obsessions) and so she read a lot of books about gay culture. While I don’t know what hearing about the goings-ons at bathhouses did to my 9-year-old psyche, she also said that most homosexuals said they always knew there was something different about them, but they didn’t get it or understand what, until they found out about homosexuality. I was just generally weird, so there was never that cool resolution at the end of my story, you know? Like “Oh wow, there’s this whole group of people who are different in the same way as I am, now it all makes sense and I can go and find them!”. If you were home playing World of Warcraft then I suspect you may be both gay and a bit weird as well, ha ha, so I feel a certain solidarity.

For me, personally, growing up in a Russian/Jewish family, I did not know what “gay” really meant until I saw “Danny” from the Real World on MTV. One, I knew I was really attracted to him, and two, I saw someone that was “normal”.

I knew I had attractions to men, even in Jr High School because I started feeling attracted to guys in the locker rooms, etc… but did not know this was “homosexuality”, I just thought all guys go through that…  that I would eventually like girls, etc…  that never happened…hehe…

I have never been to a bath house, so cannot speak about that… hehe…

Niclynn - 02 March 2016 01:52 PM

I thought you’re in your 20s, though, aren’t you really young to have been married 6 years? Although congrats either way, glad you live in a place where that’s possible. And I think the whole party scene is a thing whether you’re gay or straight. Social life in your 20s is just people going out and getting ridiculously trashed, basically. It’s kind of a shame. I feel like I didn’t start developing other interests until my late 20s / early 30s.

I am 34, going to be 35 this year in May (the 14th).  I got drunk really bad a few times, (like 3 or 4) and I made a resolution not to do that again.  I never really “partied” I had a few close friends I hung out with.

Niclynn - 02 March 2016 01:52 PM

Yes, see this is what I mean about seeing the interdependence of the situation. Most people don’t do that in the West presumably, at least in part, because they don’t have to. If one lived in an environment where it was kill or be killed, or law and order maintained via vendetta culture, etc., then even the saintliest person’s choices might be to act more aggressively or to be a passive bystander watching people get hurt. So in large part my goodness depends on your goodness and vice versa. For me that was a big shift from the more Christian maxim of “Be Good (or else!)!” wink

Yeap, that is the interesting thing, in Buddhism a lot of it is about “intent”.  Not so much a strict “no, can’t do that” or it’s a “sin”.  More about skilful and unskilful action and the intent behind it.

For instance one of the things that Joseph Goldstein has said “knowing that you are doing something wrong is “better” than not knowing what you are doing is wrong.”  Because at least that action is not tied up with ignorance. And the intent might be more “pure” (like stealing to feed yourself/family).

[ Edited: 02 March 2016 14:20 by SkyPanther]
 
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02 March 2016 18:17
 
SkyPanther - 02 March 2016 02:03 PM

For me, personally, growing up in a Russian/Jewish family, I did not know what “gay” really meant until I saw “Danny” from the Real World on MTV. One, I knew I was really attracted to him, and two, I saw someone that was “normal”.

I knew I had attractions to men, even in Jr High School because I started feeling attracted to guys in the locker rooms, etc… but did not know this was “homosexuality”, I just thought all guys go through that…  that I would eventually like girls, etc…  that never happened…hehe…


Ha, that’s such a good attitude! I am totally the opposite, like “No one has ever experienced this before, I am the only human in the world who has gone through it!!”, whatever I happen to be feeling. This is part of why I meditate, obviously, to try and dispel such illusions. Sometimes I just feel like I was born on the wrong planet.

 

Yeap, that is the interesting thing, in Buddhism a lot of it is about “intent”.  Not so much a strict “no, can’t do that” or it’s a “sin”.  More about skilful and unskilful action and the intent behind it.

For instance one of the things that Joseph Goldstein has said “knowing that you are doing something wrong is “better” than not knowing what you are doing is wrong.”  Because at least that action is not tied up with ignorance. And the intent might be more “pure” (like stealing to feed yourself/family).


That’s an interesting way of putting it. I like how in the Buddhist paradigm it’s a lot more “forgive them for they know not what they do”, where “sin” is almost a form of innocence. Not the sweet kind that we usually associate with the word, but perhaps on par with a cat clawing up the furniture or a child pouring water on a computer - we may not like such acts, but we recognize the actors as innocents.

 
 
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03 March 2016 10:44
 
Niclynn - 02 March 2016 06:17 PM

That’s an interesting way of putting it. I like how in the Buddhist paradigm it’s a lot more “forgive them for they know not what they do”, where “sin” is almost a form of innocence. Not the sweet kind that we usually associate with the word, but perhaps on par with a cat clawing up the furniture or a child pouring water on a computer - we may not like such acts, but we recognize the actors as innocents.

Yeap, I think that is where the “Love the Sinner, hate the Sin” thing comes from.

Obviously there is no “Sin” in Buddhism, but I see people that do “unwholesome” actions as ignorant, or pulled to do that by craving/habitual tendencies, etc so they do not upset me… I just send them metta, and really have a sort of compassionate feeling toward them. There is no hate of the action per se, but a mild sense of “this is wrong”. I can see that they are hurting, or essentially have a fever of the mind from hate, anger, etc…  It is kind of an interesting experience; mostly because before that I had a sort of “righteous anger” going.  Sort of a fantasy you get from playing too much D&D or WoW where you play the good guy that destroys all evil. wink

[ Edited: 03 March 2016 10:58 by SkyPanther]
 
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03 March 2016 13:54
 
SkyPanther - 03 March 2016 10:44 AM

Yeap, I think that is where the “Love the Sinner, hate the Sin” thing comes from.

Obviously there is no “Sin” in Buddhism, but I see people that do “unwholesome” actions as ignorant, or pulled to do that by craving/habitual tendencies, etc so they do not upset me… I just send them metta, and really have a sort of compassionate feeling toward them. There is no hate of the action per se, but a mild sense of “this is wrong”. I can see that they are hurting, or essentially have a fever of the mind from hate, anger, etc…  It is kind of an interesting experience; mostly because before that I had a sort of “righteous anger” going.  Sort of a fantasy you get from playing too much D&D or WoW where you play the good guy that destroys all evil. wink


Well that’s cool. So what do you do in practice, then, mostly work on cultivating metta?

 
 
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03 March 2016 14:05
 
Niclynn - 03 March 2016 01:54 PM
SkyPanther - 03 March 2016 10:44 AM

Yeap, I think that is where the “Love the Sinner, hate the Sin” thing comes from.

Obviously there is no “Sin” in Buddhism, but I see people that do “unwholesome” actions as ignorant, or pulled to do that by craving/habitual tendencies, etc so they do not upset me… I just send them metta, and really have a sort of compassionate feeling toward them. There is no hate of the action per se, but a mild sense of “this is wrong”. I can see that they are hurting, or essentially have a fever of the mind from hate, anger, etc…  It is kind of an interesting experience; mostly because before that I had a sort of “righteous anger” going.  Sort of a fantasy you get from playing too much D&D or WoW where you play the good guy that destroys all evil. wink


Well that’s cool. So what do you do in practice, then, mostly work on cultivating metta?

Yes, Used to be metta, but now it is more Equanimity, or Sublime Joy(sometimes called vicarious joy).  Metta/Compassion is too “energetic”. I also “smile” during meditation (walking or sitting), this mimics the “joy” and is easier to feel in your chest (also makes it easier to enter the 3rd Jhana). Once you get into the 4th Jhana, you just feel Equanimity, the other 3 become too energetic.

When not trying to be mindful/meditative - which interestingly is now getting to be a bit of a default, I zone out into mindfulness randomly - I send Metta to people, or just radiate it from my chest.

 

 

 

 
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03 March 2016 16:52
 
SkyPanther - 03 March 2016 02:05 PM

Yes, Used to be metta, but now it is more Equanimity, or Sublime Joy(sometimes called vicarious joy).  Metta/Compassion is too “energetic”. I also “smile” during meditation (walking or sitting), this mimics the “joy” and is easier to feel in your chest (also makes it easier to enter the 3rd Jhana). Once you get into the 4th Jhana, you just feel Equanimity, the other 3 become too energetic.

When not trying to be mindful/meditative - which interestingly is now getting to be a bit of a default, I zone out into mindfulness randomly - I send Metta to people, or just radiate it from my chest.


Equanimity is a tough one. When I am in a peaceful mood in a tranquil atmosphere I’m like “Doing friggin awesome at equanimity!” but then I forget that the whole trick is that one’s mind state itself, along with stimuli, change with the environment. Which makes it doubly hard to work on, because often a difficult circumstance and a difficult mind state arise together (as opposed to during meditation, where you may be able to explore some difficult circumstance like a pain in the body in a more peaceful mind state). I was at work the other day, for example, and started to feel really sick from some medicine I had to take for bronchitis (I am a walking talking upper respiratory issue from December to early April). I was trying reeeeeeally hard to do equanimity practice, but I feel like the mind state that comes with ‘sickness’ - that weak, heavy, clammy feeling where your whole body is just like “We are not doing this, get down on the floor before you puke, right now” combined with embarrassment (“Am I going to throw up in front of a client! Aaaa! No!”) combined with trying to focus on my job combined with the physical pain itself was like way to much, so then I had to go back to mindfulness (“Sooooo, this is what a total equanimity fail feels like. I am here. Experiencing my wishing I had equanimity but do not.”).


I think eventually the idea is that you reach a space where you can ‘hold’ all of that with awareness but not distress, but it’s definitely a place where I kinda have my edge and I know when I’m there. Joy sounds like a fun one to work on! Other than metta I haven’t worked a ton on cultivation of states but that’s an interesting idea. I haven’t read much about the Jhanas but I do notice sort of happy, bubbly, laughy states like that on retreat and soon after, where suddenly everything seems hilarious.

 
 
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