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657942 Posts in 9260 Topics by 3396 Members Latest Member: - vlozan86 Most online today: 83 - most online ever: 494 (Jul 01, 2007, 02:59:53 PM)
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Author Topic: Yoga, meditation, and related philosophical and spiritual study  (Read 4987 times)
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elpollodiablo
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« Reply #75 on: Feb 21, 2012, 03:47:29 PM »

I guess part of what I'm trying to express is that that gnawing sensation you describe is not something I've experienced, or at least not in a conscious way that allowed me to pick apart the particulars of it in relation to an existential quandary. I've always pretty much assumed this is all there is, because I've never experienced anything that would lead me to believe differently. If the pull toward transcendence can be figured as a gnawing need to answer the question "what's it all for?" then I suppose maybe I'm just... not spiritual. It's not that I've never confronted myself with that question; it's just that I don't suppose there's an answer, and even if there was, it would be qualitatively equivalent to the question, in that it's just a way language has patterned the world as I understand it. I wouldn't argue that there's no goal or selfhood beyond everyday concerns, only that I've no reason to believe that there is, my possible eventual longing for one notwithstanding.
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coldforge
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« Reply #76 on: Feb 21, 2012, 04:16:37 PM »

Well, as far as I see it, the absence of an answer doesn't stop the question from asking itself. Like I say, the meaning-drive (and I think 'what's it all for?' is a very slightly different question) is, in my experience, incorrigible and pre-linguistic. Indeed, it's NOT a question—it's not even 'is this all there is?' it's just—unsettledness. Dis-ease.

Indeed, I agree that there isn't AN answer, in the sense of: there is not objective, extra-human thing that I can tell you, you might not know it yet, but the purpose of your life is to achieve this thing. There's about half a dozen qualities of that sentiment that are utterly foreign to me.

But as I say, that's why we have the spiritual impulse. Not to presume too much about your own psychology, but it seems quite possible to me that you have found certain outlets, certain sublimations—life goals, aesthetic touchstones, qualities of self to cultivate, relationships to live through—which are doing just a fine job of keeping you afloat. Just because I propose that this drive exists for everybody does not entail that it exists and is fundamentally unfulfilled for everybody (it might be, ultimately, but that is beyond my knowledge). Any more than those who claim that man lives his life in constant drive for sexual fulfillment would propose that all human beings are therefore fundamentally sexually unfulfilled. One copes. It seems perfectly reasonable to me that I am a more 'spiritual' person than you are, in the sense that my inherent drive for transcendence is greater than yours, and less sustainably fulfilled through socially integrated pastimes, like having a job and getting drunk.

Anyway, tl;dr: I don't think that all people are constantly wracked by existential angst. But I do think that all people are driven, behaviorally, by need to create for themselves a sense of meaning that is not naturally occurring.
« Last Edit: Feb 21, 2012, 04:21:10 PM by coldforge » Logged

l'era del terzo mondo.
elpollodiablo
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« Reply #77 on: Feb 21, 2012, 04:31:04 PM »

Nothing in my experience is pre-linguistic, is where I'd start with a response. But most of what you've said there I otherwise agree with. But I have to actually write a reading response now. Sad I'm afraid it might get all angsty for me if I don't.
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coldforge
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« Reply #78 on: Feb 21, 2012, 04:32:44 PM »

Spooling that out a little bit: I am also not implying that since you are simply 'coping' while I am presumably  going directly for the prize, that some day, maybe on your deathbed, you will look back on the vanity of your life while I will have found the Key and will pass contented into death. Again: the drive is irrational. The point of my articulating it is not to follow up with, 'and that is why Buddhism is the True Path.' There is no true path, or authentic way of reaching happiness (that I know about), because what's causing suffering is not a quality of the universe, but a quality of our experience of the universe. That's what Buddhism says, in fact: enlightenment isn't a matter of realizing some kind of personal perfection, but realizing on a deep level that the sense of suffering that propels us is indeed self-generated—and not necessarily going anywhere. So a Buddhist can't argue, or practice, from a position which assumes that academia or homebrewing are INHERENTLY vain pastimes, because that sensation of vanity is self-created.

All of which I say just to underline that my response to 'I just don't think I'm that spiritual' isn't either: 'well, you should be' or, 'you're secretly miserable and you don't know it.'
« Last Edit: Feb 21, 2012, 04:38:41 PM by coldforge » Logged

l'era del terzo mondo.
coldforge
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« Reply #79 on: Feb 21, 2012, 04:33:13 PM »

Nothing in my experience is pre-linguistic
Well, THAT'S just crazy.
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elpollodiablo
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« Reply #80 on: Feb 21, 2012, 04:36:14 PM »

All of which I say just to underline that my response to 'I just don't think I'm that spiritual' is either: 'well, you should be' or, 'you're secretly miserable and you don't know it.'


Well that... sucks. Sorry you feel that way!
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coldforge
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« Reply #81 on: Feb 21, 2012, 04:37:30 PM »

oh shit! I meant ISN'T either
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elpollodiablo
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« Reply #82 on: Feb 21, 2012, 04:38:09 PM »

That makes much, much more sense.
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Thermofusion
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« Reply #83 on: Feb 21, 2012, 04:49:52 PM »

So a Buddhist can't argue, or practice, from a position which assumes that academia or homebrewing are INHERENTLY vain pastimes, because that sensation of vanity is self-created.

Is this how you'd personally reconcile, like, what appears to me to be a rather extreme material interest in clothing and appearance with your buddhism practices?

That sounds kinda dickish, but I don't mean it to sound dickish -- just curious!
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coldforge
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« Reply #84 on: Feb 21, 2012, 05:12:48 PM »

In the first place, I'd mention that my material interest in clothing has become drastically less extreme over the last year and a half, as a result of my Buddhist practice.

In the second place—sort of, but not exactly. You're begging the question there, with the word 'reconcile'. There's the assumption that in my value system, an interest in clothes is bad in some degree—sinful, or wasteful, or vain, or materialistic (and presumably moreso than an interest in baseball or politics—frankly, the question 'how do you reconcile having any worldly interests at all with your practice?' is a far more pressing one)—and that therefore I need to figure out a way to justify my interest in clothes with my values.

But my value system doesn't operate on any of those dimensions. It operates on a level of skillful–unskillful: is this behavior going to lead to long term peace or long term stress? Am I creating the conditions for grasping, attachment, dissatisfaction? Viewed through this lens, an interest in clothes is itself entirely neutral; it's the way that I hold it that needs to be reconciled. I can be obsessive and rapacious, I can pursue material goods as though they'll lead to my long-term happiness, I can spend enough money and time on them that I'm not able to provide for my basic necessities, or that I endanger my personal relationships; or I can engage in a pastime with interest and also equanimity.

And indeed, I once was considerably more compulsive and consumptive with regards to clothes than I am now, and these were decidedly unskillful qualities. So I sought to lessen them. A weakness for material goods is of course a weakness, and not a moral position—and thus one doesn't always act skillfully. Sometimes I still buy ties I don't need, in the exact same way that sometimes I eat ice cream at 11 o clock. One does not reconcile either behavior.
« Last Edit: Feb 21, 2012, 05:18:07 PM by coldforge » Logged

l'era del terzo mondo.
peacocks
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« Reply #85 on: Feb 21, 2012, 05:22:30 PM »

I am strongly intrigued by the phrase "there's just this." In the practice I grew up in things were not ever put that simply. There was a lot of talk about karma and building fortune through prayer which clouded the basic idea of acceptance and letting go.

In response to momo, growing up people said "enlightenment through earthly desires" a lot and I always took it to mean that by being aware of these material desires we can see ourselves more clearly and learn what we need and don't need, what helps and what doesn't help us. Like Zach said, there's not really a "should" or "shouldn't."
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elpollodiablo
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« Reply #86 on: Feb 21, 2012, 05:24:45 PM »

What if bangin Oxy is what helps me
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peacocks
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« Reply #87 on: Feb 21, 2012, 05:30:59 PM »

then that's your thing. but you'd probably find out that the effects from banging oxy aren't really what you want at some point.
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elpollodiablo
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« Reply #88 on: Feb 21, 2012, 05:32:11 PM »

perfect bliss, forever!
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elpollodiablo
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« Reply #89 on: Feb 21, 2012, 05:32:39 PM »

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uMimqfJVedE
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coldforge
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« Reply #90 on: Feb 21, 2012, 05:35:34 PM »

Oh, pollo, you were doing so good. We had a nice talk there and now you're trolling again.
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elpollodiablo
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« Reply #91 on: Feb 21, 2012, 05:38:04 PM »

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Thermofusion
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« Reply #92 on: Feb 21, 2012, 05:41:03 PM »

Cf, Thanks for a thoughtful, easy-to-follow answer. I could've phrased the question a little more charitably. I guess another place where I got a little tripped was the phrase "the sensation of vanity is self-created," to which my reaction was "no, it's not, the sensation of vanity is the dissonance between internalized societal expectations and your own perceived inferiority w/r/t meeting those expectations" but HEY if I'm talking about interfacing with society and inferiority complexes then I'm automatically taking a Western-informed approach to that phrase that's probably irrelevant here. So I wouldn't mind hearing more about what you meant there.
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elpollodiablo
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« Reply #93 on: Feb 21, 2012, 05:42:44 PM »

Also 'cocks please don't take that as a slight of what you said (although now I realize that's exactly what it looks like), I'm just a bit zany from working in isolation all day and drinking cup after cup of coffee
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Thermofusion
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« Reply #94 on: Feb 21, 2012, 05:46:55 PM »

Man hope you don't get a caffeine headache cause I've heard rumors that aspirin is going out of business
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elpollodiablo
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« Reply #95 on: Feb 21, 2012, 05:48:01 PM »

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S51v6JKXlpg
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think 'on the road.'
coldforge
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« Reply #96 on: Feb 21, 2012, 06:04:42 PM »

Cf, Thanks for a thoughtful, easy-to-follow answer. I could've phrased the question a little more charitably. I guess another place where I got a little tripped was the phrase "the sensation of vanity is self-created," to which my reaction was "no, it's not, the sensation of vanity is the dissonance between internalized societal expectations and your own perceived inferiority w/r/t meeting those expectations" but HEY if I'm talking about interfacing with society and inferiority complexes then I'm automatically taking a Western-informed approach to that phrase that's probably irrelevant here. So I wouldn't mind hearing more about what you meant there.

One simple potential source of miscommunication: I mean vanity in the sense of meaninglessness, vanitas; not of being self-centered or, you know, vain. I'm not sure where inferiority comes into it so I'm not sure if that applies.

Otherwise (and as a disclaimer I am now talking religious doctrine, so if you don't think this is true for yourself, that's ok): I believe that the mind and body are dissatisfaction generators. I think we are inherently predisposed, as an evolutionary adaptation, well before socialization, to grow tired of pleasures, to always desire more of what we have, to overestimate the happiness and security that would be derived from a desired object. Some of us more than others, but all of us to a degree, repeatedly and reliably spend energy on things we think will make us happier than they do, for longer.

This process is mutually reinforcing: we are inclined to overrate things we don't have, and we are inclined to underrate things already have (as a motivation to get more things). Desirability and undesirability, in other words, are functions of our phenomenology, not the real-world object qualities that the mind tends to paint them as.

So we can't win, ultimately, by achieving goals or acquiring goods. We are predisposed, after the fact, to always want more, to be dissatisfied. This quality of unsatisfactoriness is called dukkha in Buddhism. And it exists, like all felt qualities, entirely in the mind. Nothing either satisfactory or unsatisfactory, but thinking makes it so.

So, though we are basically conditioned to always want more of pleasing things, and to grow tired of the pleasures we've obtained, those qualities are always generated within one's own experience. We come to see things that were once terribly vital as childish and petty—this quality of vanitas—but that quality only exists as a function of our perceptive apparatus. It's generated within the perceiving self.
« Last Edit: Feb 21, 2012, 06:07:07 PM by coldforge » Logged

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coldforge
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« Reply #97 on: Feb 21, 2012, 06:13:25 PM »

This is also pretty high-level stuff. I'm probably not doing a great job of explaining it because it's like, second- or third-level reasoning. it might be entirely predicated on a prior understanding of buddhist psychology, dukkha, not-self, nonduality, et cetera.
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fishjim
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« Reply #98 on: Feb 21, 2012, 09:19:03 PM »

Nothing in my experience is pre-linguistic
Well, THAT'S just crazy.

Word, CF. If nothing's pre-linguistic, I wouldn't be able to communicate with Petra, who knows about 4 words. But we do communicate: she conveys desires & emotions through gestures & facial expressions. Language is just a more precise & developed means of communicating for industrious upright monkeys. "Grooming does for baboons most of what words do for us." (A.R. Ammons)

Poets articulate desires & emotions which "oft were thought but ne'er so well expressed" (Alexander Pope) and which are repeated by other industrious upright monkeys, eventually entering and shaping the language. "I speak what you're thinking, that's just how it is" (Lil B). That's transcendence, for me - the transcendence of a personality, or voice, that tells me what I've always known, but never put into words.

CF, still haven't listened to your talk. Will do that on the drive down to Santa Cruz tonight for a Fat Tuesday party. Carnival -> carne val -> farewell to the flesh!
« Last Edit: Feb 21, 2012, 09:20:57 PM by fishjim » Logged

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peacocks
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« Reply #99 on: Feb 21, 2012, 09:21:24 PM »

Also 'cocks please don't take that as a slight of what you said (although now I realize that's exactly what it looks like), I'm just a bit zany from working in isolation all day and drinking cup after cup of coffee

Knew you were being silly, didn't take offense. Don't even hold much stock in what I said in the first place so it's cool.
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