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I don’t get the idea that not craving will improve your life

 
NL.
 
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NL.
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19 April 2018 20:36
 
burt - 19 April 2018 07:28 PM

It isn’t a matter of not wanting to do anything, rather not be attached to the wanting. Stepping back and perceiving yourself “wanting” without becoming caught up in it so that one loses presence (which is likely to work against achieving what one wants in any case).


I (sort of) agree, although in this case I was just asking karmasoda to elaborate on his/her worldview, as it wasn’t clear to me given the limited info provided. Kind of assuming that KS does not agree that we should all sit around and dehydrate to death, so wanted to see what parameters KS sees in that dynamic, regarding positive/negative ‘wants’.


Personally, I think this gets back to the whole eastern / Buddhist paradox thing, which always remain, well, paradoxical, at least to some extent, via verbal rules and formulations. Wanting - in the form of anticipatory, ‘not in the moment, craving for future stuff’ - is actually a vital piece of any spiritual path (unless you go by an ‘only by the Grace of God or determinism’, interpretation, I suppose, where things just happen as they will and we are more or less only witnesses). If you didn’t want some outcome to be realized, there would be no point in following such a path in the first place and you’d wander off and eat ice cream. “Wanting not to want, but wanting to continue not wanting”. Eastern philosophy always ends in “This sentence is false” propositions, to my mind.


That said, at an experiential level, I do think there is a basis to think we can train ourselves to feel joy without craving. If you’ve been around spiritual circles, you’ve probably heard analogies referencing various studies involving monkeys and fruit juice and dopamine (the gist, I think, being that dopamine is initially paired with a pleasant sensation - more direct sensing - but eventually comes to be paired with the mere expectation of a reward - akin to the concept of ‘craving’, or the ‘conditioned’ realm.) (I also find this interesting because meditators tends to say our suffering is ‘in our thoughts’, but to me this indicates that the mechanism of conditioned experience actually precedes thoughts, although there is likely a feedback loop there. The monkeys don’t have to verbally think ‘juice is coming’, to experience a dopamine surge.) The difference between spontaneous enjoyment and conditioned enjoyment, more or less.


Even so… as always, Buddhism makes a lot of sense to me right up until the point when you get to the extreme logical conclusions, when it makes no sense, ha ha! Walking a path to decrease craving - sure, yeah, great. To some extent, learning how to enjoy things in the moment without getting caught up in anticipation sounds good - but to some extent it sounds as if it precludes activates such as planning and creating (and here there are also paradoxical messages - the Buddha was a wandering mendicant who really didn’t plan things, so far as I know, in the traditional sense, but also, the Buddha’s ‘goal’ was to free all beings, who are infinite, from suffering…)


Walking a path to achieve the end of all desire (I think ‘nirvana’, literally translated, is something like ‘to blow out’)? Then you would no longer desire to have no desire so you would have desire and we’re right back at pantheism, things are what they are, we’re all already enlightened so why worry about it, etc., etc. Argh! wink

 
burt
 
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burt
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20 April 2018 09:03
 
NL. - 19 April 2018 08:36 PM
burt - 19 April 2018 07:28 PM

It isn’t a matter of not wanting to do anything, rather not be attached to the wanting. Stepping back and perceiving yourself “wanting” without becoming caught up in it so that one loses presence (which is likely to work against achieving what one wants in any case).


I (sort of) agree, although in this case I was just asking karmasoda to elaborate on his/her worldview, as it wasn’t clear to me given the limited info provided. Kind of assuming that KS does not agree that we should all sit around and dehydrate to death, so wanted to see what parameters KS sees in that dynamic, regarding positive/negative ‘wants’.


Personally, I think this gets back to the whole eastern / Buddhist paradox thing, which always remain, well, paradoxical, at least to some extent, via verbal rules and formulations. Wanting - in the form of anticipatory, ‘not in the moment, craving for future stuff’ - is actually a vital piece of any spiritual path (unless you go by an ‘only by the Grace of God or determinism’, interpretation, I suppose, where things just happen as they will and we are more or less only witnesses). If you didn’t want some outcome to be realized, there would be no point in following such a path in the first place and you’d wander off and eat ice cream. “Wanting not to want, but wanting to continue not wanting”. Eastern philosophy always ends in “This sentence is false” propositions, to my mind.


That said, at an experiential level, I do think there is a basis to think we can train ourselves to feel joy without craving. If you’ve been around spiritual circles, you’ve probably heard analogies referencing various studies involving monkeys and fruit juice and dopamine (the gist, I think, being that dopamine is initially paired with a pleasant sensation - more direct sensing - but eventually comes to be paired with the mere expectation of a reward - akin to the concept of ‘craving’, or the ‘conditioned’ realm.) (I also find this interesting because meditators tends to say our suffering is ‘in our thoughts’, but to me this indicates that the mechanism of conditioned experience actually precedes thoughts, although there is likely a feedback loop there. The monkeys don’t have to verbally think ‘juice is coming’, to experience a dopamine surge.) The difference between spontaneous enjoyment and conditioned enjoyment, more or less.


Even so… as always, Buddhism makes a lot of sense to me right up until the point when you get to the extreme logical conclusions, when it makes no sense, ha ha! Walking a path to decrease craving - sure, yeah, great. To some extent, learning how to enjoy things in the moment without getting caught up in anticipation sounds good - but to some extent it sounds as if it precludes activates such as planning and creating (and here there are also paradoxical messages - the Buddha was a wandering mendicant who really didn’t plan things, so far as I know, in the traditional sense, but also, the Buddha’s ‘goal’ was to free all beings, who are infinite, from suffering…)


Walking a path to achieve the end of all desire (I think ‘nirvana’, literally translated, is something like ‘to blow out’)? Then you would no longer desire to have no desire so you would have desire and we’re right back at pantheism, things are what they are, we’re all already enlightened so why worry about it, etc., etc. Argh! wink

There is a 20+ year old New Yorker cartoon: A rather chunky man is seated on the deck of a large yacht with several other people standing around. He says: “I use to think I was highly motivated. By the time I realized I was just obsessive I’d already made my bundle.”

I do think the issue isn’t desire, but rather attachment to desire or the objects of desire. For example, I’ll be playing in a bridge tournament this afternoon. Naturally, I’d like to win. But if I think about winning, that gets in the way of actually playing well, and even wanting to play well can block actually playing well because it leads to trying to force things and make “brilliant” moves instead of simply taking each hand as it comes and keeping in mind the general rule: “not the best possible result, rather work for the best result possible.” (And don’t get mad at partner if she makes a mistake because that just frustrates her, keep the energy focused.) Now if I could only follow my own advice….

 
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20 April 2018 13:10
 
burt - 20 April 2018 09:03 AM

I do think the issue isn’t desire, but rather attachment to desire or the objects of desire.


I go back to what I responded to the OP last month… I think there are a couple of ways you could interpret it, depending on how accurate you think the translations handed down over generations are; and the degree to which one sees Buddhism as a metaphysical system vs. a more a practical approach to human psychology. I trend towards the former but am still somewhere in the middle, and go back and forth a good bit. I suspect that if I lived in a society where everyone was Buddhist and, upon hearing Buddhisty metaphysical ideas, completely agreed with me, I would simply be a full-on metaphysical Buddhist by now, talking casually about reincarnation and the psychic powers or iddhis of advanced meditators. I think it is probably a good thing that I live in a society that is highly skeptical of / critical of such ideas. If you start talking about the underlying unity of consciousness in our society, most people think you’re out of your gourd or, at best, way over-subscribing to new age tripe. I think this puts a good sort of skeptical check on whatever I experience in ‘practice’.


So - again, I go back and forth between “This may well have some truth to it” to “Meditation gives you a dopamine buzz that should be carefully regarded as just that, a buzz, one that, like any buzz, distorts reality.” However, I think that for the literal translation - that to end suffering one must end all desire - to be literally true, one can’t get around metaphysical propositions about some kind of continuation after death (or, alternately, that life and death are illusions anyways, or something like that.) Without that additional element, it’s simply not true, in a literal sense, that zero craving and life are compatible - you have to have at least minimal craving for food, water, and air.

 
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20 April 2018 22:41
 
NL. - 20 April 2018 01:10 PM
burt - 20 April 2018 09:03 AM

I do think the issue isn’t desire, but rather attachment to desire or the objects of desire.


I go back to what I responded to the OP last month… I think there are a couple of ways you could interpret it, depending on how accurate you think the translations handed down over generations are; and the degree to which one sees Buddhism as a metaphysical system vs. a more a practical approach to human psychology. I trend towards the former but am still somewhere in the middle, and go back and forth a good bit. I suspect that if I lived in a society where everyone was Buddhist and, upon hearing Buddhisty metaphysical ideas, completely agreed with me, I would simply be a full-on metaphysical Buddhist by now, talking casually about reincarnation and the psychic powers or iddhis of advanced meditators. I think it is probably a good thing that I live in a society that is highly skeptical of / critical of such ideas. If you start talking about the underlying unity of consciousness in our society, most people think you’re out of your gourd or, at best, way over-subscribing to new age tripe. I think this puts a good sort of skeptical check on whatever I experience in ‘practice’.


So - again, I go back and forth between “This may well have some truth to it” to “Meditation gives you a dopamine buzz that should be carefully regarded as just that, a buzz, one that, like any buzz, distorts reality.” However, I think that for the literal translation - that to end suffering one must end all desire - to be literally true, one can’t get around metaphysical propositions about some kind of continuation after death (or, alternately, that life and death are illusions anyways, or something like that.) Without that additional element, it’s simply not true, in a literal sense, that zero craving and life are compatible - you have to have at least minimal craving for food, water, and air.

But I think it’s possible to be aware of the craving, to be in control of it, rather than the other way around. It’s like the caterpillar in Alice and Wonderland, “it’s a matter of who is in charge, you or the words.”

 
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21 April 2018 21:41
 
burt - 20 April 2018 10:41 PM


But I think it’s possible to be aware of the craving, to be in control of it, rather than the other way around. It’s like the caterpillar in Alice and Wonderland, “it’s a matter of who is in charge, you or the words.”


Again, as a personal philosophy, I think this is fine - but as a wannabe-Buddhist-y type, my thought is “Who or what is in ‘control’ of things?”. Buddhism also dispels the notion of a reified ‘I’, making this another paradoxical situation.


I say this not to be contrarian, but because I genuinely do think this is where Buddhism goes, at its roots - beyond verbal logic. That’s not to say verbal logic has no part in the ‘path’, and that desires along the way are not ranked by degree of ‘wholesomeness’ (as Buddhists say,) but ultimately, the Buddha measured understanding of his teachings by holding up a flower and seeing Mahakasyapa’s smile as confirmation.


Don’t get me wrong. Wherever the Buddha was, I am not ‘there’ yet. If someone said to me “Check out my awesome teachings!”, held up a flower, and just stood there, I would think “Oh gawd, some New Ager showing off how Super Spiritualz he is.” And yet I do have some faith that in the case of the Buddha, there really was something ‘to’ that, even if I make absolutely no claim to understand it at the moment and am generally just frustrated by the logical paradoxes of Buddhism.

 
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03 May 2018 17:33
 

Perhaps…

“The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.”
  - Thich Nhat Hanh

Ok, so I’m a sucker for Buddhist quotes.

 

 
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05 May 2018 15:49
 
proximacentauri - 03 May 2018 05:33 PM

Perhaps…

“The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.”
  - Thich Nhat Hanh

Ok, so I’m a sucker for Buddhist quotes.


I think about this general idea often. It’s so easy to get caught up in doing things for people you care about - planning activities, buying gifts, envisioning future birthdays and trips and so on - that it’s easy to lose sight of just being with them. (Sometimes when I’m with friends I notice we spend half the time talking about what we might do the next time we get together) Sometimes when I visit family members with little ones and we really can’t do much of anything because feeding, burping, and changing babies takes up so much time, I’m surprised at how pleasant it is just to hang out in a room together all day not doing much of anything. Not even watching tv, other than Peppa Pig, ha ha!


That said, as someone who is extremely shy and often tries to help ‘behind the scenes’ - planning a party and disappearing into the background when it’s set up, or leaving a gift on a doorstep when I know the person’s not home - I think there is beauty in all kinds of affection, no matter how people are able to express it. I think ultimately it’s the intent and what motivates the action that’s important. Sending a card because you are really thinking of someone and care about them is in some real, visceral way different than sending a card because you think “Oooo, cute card, I should buy it!!” - at least for the psyche of the person doing the giving.

 
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