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  #1  
Old 21st November 2014, 12:44
kandro kandro is offline
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Default My story of using Buddhism

When I was 16 I had zero social skills. I had a view:
  • that other people were successful & I was the odd one out...
  • that other people were happy & I wasn't because something was wrong with me
  • that I was better than others because they were letting it all hang out whereas I was being considerate hiding it inside
  • a sense of superiority combined with isolation
  • the superiority was my only source of self confidence so I leaned on it & fed it
  • studying alone I developed knowledge & felt more intelligent than the crass people who rejected me
  • I was more interested in competing with people to gain self confidence than friendship
  • I was wanting revenge & outshining others was the way to get it

perfectionism led me to Buddhism & Buddhism dislodged my perfectionism in the very first 6 classes

I went into a room & sat in front of a lady of approx. 40 who was beautifully dressed & looked a great success....a happy marriage & 3 children.

As a 16 year old it was the 1st time I sat in front of an adult & was told by them that they have all the same feelings I have & problems. Buddhism contains an explanation that every single one of us experiences the world with the same view & this view means we all have the same mental problems. IE there is one universal mental illness that we all have. So no one is the perfect happy successful person. We all have the same struggles. From studying this I realised other people think in the same way I do & so I understand them...they are no longer a mystery that I cannot get my head round. I went out on the street & felt like I knew everyone & that they were the same as me. The stark contrast between myself & others was totally shattered.

Anyway this was my success to overcome being intimidated by other people & feeling of inferiority.
Basically you study 'the delusions' in Tibetan Buddhism or the 3 poisons or the 4 noble truths to get that if anyone wants to try. It give a picture of we are all in the same boat.

So anxiety gone I still couldn't make conversation. Ive been battling this for 20 years now. I joined religious groups because those people have to talk to you (they have committed their lives to love & kindness to all) so you can practice social skills with them.

The words don't come now because I have a blank mind...just no ideas of things to say. But I can sit in a comfortable silence and my friend feel just as comfortable. Friends do drift away though because of lack of social stimulation from me. So Im working hard on it. But I am comfortable
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  #2  
Old 21st November 2014, 13:06
Vasco Da Gama Vasco Da Gama is offline
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Default Re: My story of using Buddhism

^

interesting Kandro,.

I like the bullet points, very perceptive and honest of you to see that,.

pity there was a lull of 20 years where conversation didn't come easily after usch an insight into SA and your psyche,.
but it does sound as if you are content at least.
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  #3  
Old 21st November 2014, 20:14
Clayman Clayman is offline
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Default Re: My story of using Buddhism

Those bullet points are exactly how I felt when I was I a teenager and to a certain extent, I still feel that way. I have turned to buddhism for answers and what they talk about has helped me. I love the concepts of emptiness and suffering.
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  #4  
Old 22nd November 2014, 14:04
silenus silenus is offline
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Default Re: My story of using Buddhism

Buddhist ideas have had a positive influence on my life. The four noble truths give such a clear account of the human condition. I think they should be taught in primary schools as part of a secular education.

Discovering the concept of anatta was a pivotal moment for me. Suddenly everything seemed to make sense. I have been obsessed with the idea ever since, and what I have read in science and philosophy has only confirmed my intuition.

I don't believe it is actually possible to live as if we have no persistent identity, any more than we can live without desire, but I keep these ideas in the back of my mind and they always bring me back down to earth when I need them.
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Old 22nd November 2014, 14:44
Mr. Yippeeeeeee Mr. Yippeeeeeee is offline
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Default Re: My story of using Buddhism

Thank you for your post kandra, which I find deeply moving. I think it's an illusion to think we are in a different boat to other people and hence separate in various ways. I feel that we all mutually suffer in pursuit of happiness and for all in the s.a. in the world we are in reality very alike with everyone. We are all insecure in various ways, we are all vulnerable no matter how confident we may appear to be.
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Old 23rd November 2014, 21:37
Cognitive Cognitive is offline
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Default Re: My story of using Buddhism

Interesting post, what you say, I have experienced, partially, myself. Buddhism, as well as meditation can, overtime, change perception of yourself and the world, that we are almost always in a state of either kraving or rejecting something. Strange, although I have come to realise this, I still struggle with those same feelings. Even if I had all the things I currently desire, including have lots of friends, being loved, having a better job etc, would that really stop the problem(s)....I have my doubts, does any one have a view on this?
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  #7  
Old 24th November 2014, 19:37
silenus silenus is offline
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Default Re: My story of using Buddhism

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cognitive
Even if I had all the things I currently desire, including have lots of friends, being loved, having a better job etc, would that really stop the problem(s)....I have my doubts, does any one have a view on this?
I think you are absolutely right. To be alive is to be in a state of dissatisfaction. Achieving a goal may temporarily quench our desire, but soon enough we will be looking around for something else with the same amount of frustration. I've heard this referred to as 'the hedonic treadmill'.

The way I see it is that wanting more and more stuff is part of our genetic inheritance. Easily satisfied organisms were less likely to pass on their genes.
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Old 26th November 2014, 20:05
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Default Re: My story of using Buddhism

Quote:
Originally Posted by silenus
I think you are absolutely right. To be alive is to be in a state of dissatisfaction. Achieving a goal may temporarily quench our desire, but soon enough we will be looking around for something else with the same amount of frustration. I've heard this referred to as 'the hedonic treadmill'.

The way I see it is that wanting more and more stuff is part of our genetic inheritance. Easily satisfied organisms were less likely to pass on their genes.
Yes, I agree Silenus, I've been studying Evolutionary Psychology in my spare time (by no means an expert on the subject) but, in my opinion, it does provide some interesting discussions and theories about what motivates human behaviour. In addition, it seems at least some of these complement observances made through Buddhist philosophy. Do you believe that following Buddhist philosophy can elevate (not sure if this is the appropriate word) us from this 'hedonic treadmill?'
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  #9  
Old 26th November 2014, 21:24
silenus silenus is offline
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Default Re: My story of using Buddhism

Personally, I think there is no escape. We are just wired for desire. Some Buddhists would disagree, but the whole thing seems paradoxical, because wanting freedom from desire is a desire in itself.

Also, I don't think there's anything wrong with having goals. If we can't satisfy our desire we can at least improve our quality of life. And as long as we're stuck on this godforsaken planet we may as well do something to pass the time. The important thing, in my opinion, is not to let our desires get out of control.
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  #10  
Old 26th November 2014, 21:56
Cognitive Cognitive is offline
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Default Re: My story of using Buddhism

That's interesting, I suppose we would need to define what it would be 'to escape' from this bind. Does it mean actually being able to totally stop feelings of craving and desire, or, being able to observe them when they arise, without engaging with them. I think the later may be attainable, not sure if you have any view on this? Yes, most of the time, I think goals are good as they do give a some reason to get up in the morning, however, conversely, could say that attaining a goal always improves the quality of our life. For example, what if attaining a certain goal actually only serves to produce further and more intense cravings for yet another goal? Perhaps it depends on the exact nature of the goal? Not that I disagree with you, or, your approach of moderation, I think that is the most realistic approach, unless you are a monk of course.....
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  #11  
Old 27th November 2014, 13:09
silenus silenus is offline
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Default Re: My story of using Buddhism

I think it is beneficial to be aware of the process which gives rise to desire. We may not be able to end it, but if we understand what is happening, we can approach it with a sense of ironic detachment. I also think it is possible to identify the ways in which certain desires may be selfish, harmful, or prone to acceleration, and choose not to engage with them. But ultimately we have to choose something. I don't believe desire is ever benign - even if it's just a desire to be a world class meditator. Whatever you want will try to take control of your mind.

Of course, I'm just a typical western dilettante with a typically idiosyncratic interpretation of Buddhism. I've spent enough time talking with Buddhists to deter me from making any serious commitment to the path. Others might see things quite differently.
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Old 27th November 2014, 13:43
Vasco Da Gama Vasco Da Gama is offline
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Default Re: My story of using Buddhism

^

what if the "I" itself is the root of desire,.?
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  #13  
Old 27th November 2014, 17:29
silenus silenus is offline
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Default Re: My story of using Buddhism

Quote:
what if the "I" itself is the root of desire,.?
Yeah, I think it probably is. That's why self-negation is so important to those seeking to escape from desire. Similarly, if you really could eradicate desire, there would be nothing left to recognise as a self. Desire and self are two aspects of the same thing.

In my opinion, a self is just a description of a causal chain. There is nothing essential which persists over time. This is a fairly orthodox position in science and philosophy, and finds a lot of common ground with the Buddhist idea of anatta.
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Old 28th November 2014, 09:45
Cognitive Cognitive is offline
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Default Re: My story of using Buddhism

[QUOTE=silenus;1952469]Yeah, I think it probably is. That's why self-negation is so important to those seeking to escape from desire.

Yes, this is interesting. The self seems to change according to circumstance, its almost like running through a hall of mirrors. I confess that although losing the self is central to liberating the mind, it frightens me, that strange concept, 'I/me,' is all I am....what would happen if it was lost. I am still as attached to the self as I ever was. How's your practise progressing?
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Old 28th November 2014, 17:28
silenus silenus is offline
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Default Re: My story of using Buddhism

Quote:
How's your practise progressing?


I do a short meditation twice a day, just counting breaths and trying to still my mind. Sometimes I begin to feel very relaxed, but more often I am continually refocusing my attention. I don't know if I have made much progress, but I feel quite stressed if I miss a day, so I guess there have been some changes. If nothing else, meditation has taught me how to take control of my thoughts. I think it is quite instructive just to slow the mind down and observe how it operates. My brain no longer seems like a mysterious place, if you know what I mean.

With regards to self-negation, I am convinced that the self is an abstract concept, but one that is so integral to existence that we can't do without it. Daniel Dennett calls it a 'centre of narrative gravity'. Personally, I find it quite comforting to reduce my self to a bundle of sensations, others seem to find it a horrific idea. For some it seems so obvious as to be banal. A British philosopher called Derek Parfit has written about this topic extensively, and drawn out the moral implications of a world where we have no persistent identity. I heard some of his work is being used as a mantra in a Buddhist monastery in India. This quote from his book Reasons and Persons sums up my feelings on the matter:

"Is the truth depressing? Some may find it so. But I find it liberating, and consoling. When I believed that my existence was such a further fact, I seemed imprisoned in myself. My life seemed like a glass tunnel, through which I was moving faster every year, at the end of which there was darkness. When I changed my view, the walls of my glass tunnel disappeared. I now live in the open air. There is still a difference between my life and the lives of other people. But the difference is less. Other people are closer. I am less concerned about the rest of my own life, and more concerned about the lives of others."
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Old 28th November 2014, 22:03
Cognitive Cognitive is offline
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Default Re: My story of using Buddhism

What an insightful quote, thank you for sharing that Silenus. I am going to look into those works that you have cited, they sound very interesting. The description of your practise is almost identical to mine. I seem to have reached a plateau of sorts. I find, during meditation, that much time is spent attempting to bring the mind back to the breath. Its so natural just to fall back into the patterns of worrying, fantasy and just random junk that occurs in the mind. Like yourself, I am also beginning to approach thoughts differently, its strange when you suddenly find yourself viewing your mind, even, at times, your whole body from a distance, like a part of the mind has separated itself from the rest. I begin to see how patterned my behaviour and responses are to the world, effectively just like any other animal. I begin to see just how vulnerable I am and, sometimes, how others are exactly the same. A sort of sadness falls over me. Perhaps its just me, have you ever found this, or, have you experienced something different?
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  #17  
Old 29th November 2014, 09:43
silenus silenus is offline
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Default Re: My story of using Buddhism

Glad you liked the quote

I think I understand what you mean about the sadness. For me it is exhilarating and melancholy at the same time, but most of all it is a very calm sort of feeling - as though there is no reason to worry about anything ever again. It doesn't happen often, but these rare experiences are what inspire me to keep meditating, even when I feel disillusioned about the whole thing.

Certainly, there is a dark side to meditation. Hardcore meditators talk about a 'dark night' or 'falling into the pit of the void'. Buddhism is sometimes marketed as a self-help programme, which I suppose it can be, but I don't see anything fluffy or feel-good about it. To me it is a rather austere and challenging system. I think at its worst Buddhism can lend itself to a kind of nihilism. Don't know if you have any opinions about this?
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Old 29th November 2014, 10:10
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Default Re: My story of using Buddhism

Yes, nihilism/existentialism (although my understanding of these subjects are basic) seems to have intuitive links to Buddhism. There is something strange and unsettling about the idea.....as if there is an inextricable risk linked with cultivating a sense of detachment and how this could lead to cruelty without thought or compassion. I believe that one has to be more aware, at times, about what general direction the mind is drifting. Specifically, is it expanding into selflessness and generosity, or, retracting into some form of selfish isolation. Easily said, but that is my opinion at the present. What are your thoughts?
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Old 29th November 2014, 10:43
silenus silenus is offline
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Default Re: My story of using Buddhism

I agree entirely. Disbelief in selves puts you at a kind of fork - you can choose absolute compassion or absolute selfishness. Buddhism can be, and has been, used to rationalise all sorts of atrocities. I don't particularly want to voice my negative opinions here, and I certainly wouldn't want to discourage anyone from looking into Buddhism - or nihilism, for that matter. Whatever helps people is good.
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Old 29th November 2014, 11:01
lone*star lone*star is offline
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Default Re: My story of using Buddhism

Quote:
Originally Posted by silenus
Disbelief in selves puts you at a kind of fork - you can choose absolute compassion or absolute selfishness.

Surely a disbelief in selves doesn't put you anywhere, because there is no 'you' left to be put anywhere?

Similarly, there is then surely no you to choose between compassion or selfishness either?
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Old 29th November 2014, 11:59
silenus silenus is offline
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Default Re: My story of using Buddhism

I know what you're saying, but it's a problem of language. Words are not the same as things. Words like 'you' or 'I' are useful concepts to describe choice-making agents.

From some hypothetical, abstract point of view we probably don't get to make choices, but so long as we have intentions (as we all do) we are forced to make choices, and have to be held accountable for our actions.
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Old 29th November 2014, 13:29
lone*star lone*star is offline
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Default Re: My story of using Buddhism

^ The trouble is, 'intentions', as you put it, is rather a vague word, and can be used to cover both necessary physical needs, as well as personally (ie. mentally) generated purposes and ideas. So I would say we need to identify the difference between the two in each case. That will then give us a clearer picture of who/what exactly is making these apparent choices.
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Old 29th November 2014, 13:50
silenus silenus is offline
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Default Re: My story of using Buddhism

An intention, in the sense I used it, is anything which is about something else. If you are reading this then you have intention. If you feel hungry you have intention. You can't help it. It's part of the condition of being alive.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intentionality

I know the position you are taking and I think you probably know mine. Do we really want to get into this?

Last edited by silenus; 29th November 2014 at 14:26. Reason: clarification
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Old 29th November 2014, 16:06
lone*star lone*star is offline
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Default Re: My story of using Buddhism

I must admit, I had not previously heard of 'intentionality'. Reading the Wikipedia description, it strikes me that the concept of intentionality might well be 'intentional' in itself - yet another example of the desperate and ever increasingly complicated attempts of philosophers to explain the unexplainable; argument for argument's sake perhaps?

Quote:
Originally Posted by silenus
I know the position you are taking and I think you probably know mine.
^ That sentence sounds like a good example of intentionality!

I'm afraid I certainly don't know your 'position' (although I'm beginning to get a sense of something). Regarding my own 'position', the only thing I'm interested in, as far as this conversation is concerned, is revealing the truth, believe it or not.

But presumably, according to intentionality, that simply isn't possible? There must be some, perhaps dastardly, underlying intention behind my actions?
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Old 29th November 2014, 17:15
silenus silenus is offline
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Default Re: My story of using Buddhism

I'm really not qualified to be discussing intentionality. As you rightly said, it's an ambiguous term. Philosophy is a fool's errand and usually ends up with a tedious debate about language.

Sorry, if I was a little terse. I've seen you take a position of hard determinism elsewhere on the board. I understand where you're coming from with that.

My opinion is that freedom is a matter of perspective. We are not free, but we do make choices. It's just that we have no choice about the things we choose, if that makes any sense. Our lack of real freedom doesn't exempt us from moral responsibility. The fact that people can't accept this is because they can't let go of the idea that we are more than just machines.

If you're interested in this topic you might like this (mercifully lucid) essay, which pretty much covers everything that need be said on the matter:

http://www.timeshighereducation.co.u...107995.article
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Old 29th November 2014, 19:00
lone*star lone*star is offline
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Default Re: My story of using Buddhism

I read the essay you linked to, but I'm afraid I can't agree with you that it 'pretty much covers everything that need be said on the matter'. For me, it barely touches the truth at all! Why is that? Because, although being nicely written, it falls into the same old trap as I talked about regarding your previous link (to Intentionality): the human mind, indulging in mental masturbation over a subject it knows very little about - and therefore still being tediously dry and dull for the reader to digest.

It spends too much time talking about "we" and "us" and "our" and too little time inquiring into the truth about everything - the universe, human existence, consciousness. Before you can talk about free will (and/or lack of), you need to start at the beginning. You need to go deeper into the nature of reality and experience. Only once you've grasped a basic understanding of how everything works can you then start talking about free will and determinism with any authority.

Otherwise, even your own observation that you've seen me 'take a position of hard determinism elsewhere on the board' simply doesn't make sense. So rather than provide links to other authors, perhaps you could state your own personal beliefs on those bigger questions in life. We might then get a better idea of exactly where you're coming from.
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  #27  
Old 29th November 2014, 19:34
silenus silenus is offline
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Default Re: My story of using Buddhism

Fair enough.

I think I shall withdraw from this conversation now. I have no confidence in any of my half-baked ideas. All I know is that I don't know anything, and neither does anyone else.

Thanks for the exchange anyway
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