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TOPIC: Self-Awareness

Self-Awareness 10 Feb 2019 16:25 #110326

I posit that self-awareness is the gold standard of mental stability. I also posit that awakening is as much about finding and maintaining mental stability as it is about anything. Ergo, practice is about gaining and maintaining self-awareness. There is little to be gained from any of the woo-woo stuff we come across unless it contributes to the quest for self-awareness.

Who's with me?
Last Edit: 10 Feb 2019 16:27 by Chris Marti.
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Self-Awareness 10 Feb 2019 20:38 #110327

Ok just my view:
What does 'mental stability' mean?
What does 'self aware' mean in this case?

It seems to me that awakening is about knowing mundane experience just as it is (awareness) and being ok with it.... which may or may not involve mental stability given that its constantly changing and alive with paradoxes perceived from multiple perspectives at once :cheer: Its possible Chris that I am agreeing with you since 'Mental Stability' could be equal to 'content with' :) hard to discuss as there are many levels to this.

The woo woo stuff is just another experience but more on the edge of what we consider 'normality' at that point - in other words, its just stuff we are not accustomed to. It can be instructive/impactful but it also can reinforce deluded 'states' as well (some New Age and Cult perspectives come to mind). So I guess it depends how you use it, as it could be in service of supporting some fantasy state or view (and often is).

Caveat: How could words accurately describe 'awakening'? i.e. I have no skill at this :)
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Self-Awareness 11 Feb 2019 06:35 #110329

I suspect that I agree, but yeah some definitions would help.

One thing I ponder is how "resilience" is basically being able to function when the body experience and thoughts are unstable/unsupportive -- so it's a kind of meta-stability. I suspect that's the sort of thing you are pointing to rather than trite "stability". That kind of resilience comes from seeing the nature of self or seeing the nature of awareness as not the same as body and thought -- so along those lines "self" awareness is really crucial. I suspect that's the sort of thing you are pointing to rather than trite self-awareness like, I'm a moody capricorn, politically left of center, that is into kettlebell swings and paleo diets.
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Self-Awareness 11 Feb 2019 07:51 #110332

I define self-awareness, in brief of course, as being able to see one's behavior and its motivation in real time, as it goes down. It's not the labels we pin on our sleeves, like "I'm a mountain climber" or "I'm a parent."
Last Edit: 11 Feb 2019 20:16 by Chris Marti.
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Self-Awareness 11 Feb 2019 14:41 #110334

Yeah, behavior and motivation in realtime, that's huge! Mindfulness is like the only "protection" we have against being swept away by trance and unconscious self-interest.
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Self-Awareness 12 Feb 2019 01:01 #110336

I'm with you Chris! One of the juiciest fruits of the practice. :)
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Self-Awareness 12 Feb 2019 08:02 #110340

So, further, I notice that self-awareness is a differentiator. It may not lead to success in business or other pursuits, but it definitely means the self-aware individual is grounded, realistic, content (most of the time), aware of their own limitations and aware of the attributes and concerns others in their experiential orbit. Self-awareness in a leader or a boss is a wonderful thing. A leader or boss without self-awareness is usually a kind of living hell for everyone else.
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Self-Awareness 12 Feb 2019 14:01 #110350

Chris, can you also define "woo woo"?
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Self-Awareness 12 Feb 2019 14:11 #110351

Woo woo:

Weird experiences such as hallucinations, deep jhanas, hearing voices, seeing strange colored shapes, swirling lights, body distortion perceptions, and any other out of the ordinary experiences that are engendered by meditation practice.

Hope that is helpful.
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Self-Awareness 12 Feb 2019 15:37 #110353

I would say that I mostly agree with your premise, chris, after reading clarifications and definitions in the comments. However, I will say that for me personally that some woo woo stuff has been a HUGE driver for the cultivation of self awareness. I'm no New Ager, that's for sure, and that I'm into it at all would probably surprise most people who know me given my science background. And I mostly haven't sought it out--it just showed up and had to be dealt with like any other sensations. It's just data most people don't access, from my perspective. But yeah, huge driver for good practice, oddly enough. Grateful for the experiences now, although it has been an uneasy relationship.

I'd say more but at work and short on time...
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Self-Awareness 12 Feb 2019 18:45 #110357

I'm not saying that woo woo stuff isn't sometimes important or a driver of practice. I'm saying it's not the goal or the real benefit. What I said in my opening comment:

There is little to be gained from any of the woo-woo stuff we come across unless it contributes to the quest for self-awareness.
Last Edit: 12 Feb 2019 19:02 by Chris Marti.
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Self-Awareness 13 Feb 2019 07:02 #110363

I guess I read that as being overly dismissive of the woo, to which I am somewhat sentimentally inclined. It's a double-edged sword--on one hand, potentially very potent fuel for good practice. On the other, a rabbit hole that can distract from good practice or even drive you insane. But I agree it's definitely not the goal.
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Self-Awareness 13 Feb 2019 07:46 #110366

Yeah, my intent with this topic was to try to boil the goal down to an understandable sound bite.

:cheer:
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Self-Awareness 13 Feb 2019 10:31 #110370

Chris Marti wrote:
Yeah, my intent with this topic was to try to boil the goal down to an understandable sound bite.

:cheer:

Chris, I'm curious who your audience would be for this sound bite. When I hear a sound bite, I often require context and explanation because the sound bite by definition is limited in terms of depth and complexity. It's easy for me to to bring in all kinds of assumptions.

I tend to think of a goal-oriented practice to be a utilitarian approach to meditation, one that can indeed be very helpful at times. But there is another side of practice that is highly exploratory and that's driven way more by unspoken, maybe even difficult to describe motivations. I'd love to hear what you come up with that can also capture that second driver.


Also, the following Richard Feyman anecdote sprung to mind when I read your comment:
Richard Feynman was asked by a journalist if he could please explain what he got his Nobel for in terms the average person could understand. He said no, if he could do that it wouldn't be worth a Nobel Prize.

From Wikipedia:
Richard Phillips Feynman (/ˈfaɪnmən/; May 11, 1918 – February 15, 1988) was an American theoretical physicist, known for his work in the path integral formulation of quantum mechanics, the theory of quantum electrodynamics, and the physics of the superfluidity of supercooled liquid helium, as well as in particle physics for which he proposed the parton model. For his contributions to the development of quantum electrodynamics, Feynman, jointly with Julian Schwinger and Shin'ichirō Tomonaga, received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1965.
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Self-Awareness 13 Feb 2019 11:25 #110374

Andy wrote:
Chris Marti wrote:
Yeah, my intent with this topic was to try to boil the goal down to an understandable sound bite.

:cheer:

Chris, I'm curious who your audience would be for this sound bite. When I hear a sound bite, I often require context and explanation because the sound bite by definition is limited in terms of depth and complexity. It's easy for me to to bring in all kinds of assumptions.

I tend to think of a goal-oriented practice to be a utilitarian approach to meditation, one that can indeed be very helpful at times. But there is another side of practice that is highly exploratory and that's driven way more by unspoken, maybe even difficult to describe motivations. I'd love to hear what you come up with that can also capture that second driver.

I'm glad you asked about the audience as I had the same question.

Also, that other side of practice that is not goal-oriented: for me, this is the most important part. Why do I practice? Because I do. And that's about all I can really say clearly on the subject because while there's a ton going on inside myself here--very strong feelings--it just doesn't fit into words. There certainly are benefits to practicing, but it isn't about that. It used to be, at least at times, but somewhere along the line that changed.
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Self-Awareness 13 Feb 2019 11:49 #110376

Andy wrote:
Also, the following Richard Feyman anecdote sprung to mind when I read your comment:
Richard Feynman was asked by a journalist if he could please explain what he got his Nobel for in terms the average person could understand. He said no, if he could do that it wouldn't be worth a Nobel Prize.
.

!!! :D :D :D
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Self-Awareness 13 Feb 2019 11:59 #110377

In my version of the audience is anyone who is contemplating a meditation or dharma practice and who would like some brief idea of what the objective of the activity might be. I'm not sure I've ever seen a simple version of it. We practitioners tend to go on about it with detailed explanations and many, many words. Or like do what they do in Zen, which is to say nothing, or ignore it.

Look, I'm in business and I have to sell things, so what I know about human behavior related to convincing someone of something (selling), especially in recent times, is that you get a few seconds, maybe a minute if you're lucky, to get someone's attention. So I was looking for a brief, impactful and easily understood sentence or two to grab someone's attention. It's meant to engender curiosity and to get folks to ask more questions. Once they start asking more questions there is more dialog, which is a good thing. Convincing people is an art, I have found, and it can be fun to find more efficient and impactful ways to do it. My business isn't selling dharma but it is selling things like leadership education. This topic is an intellectual exercise, a curiosity, a way to engage.
Last Edit: 13 Feb 2019 12:08 by Chris Marti.
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Self-Awareness 13 Feb 2019 12:00 #110378

He said no, if he could do that it wouldn't be worth a Nobel Prize.

And yet if you've ever read anything written by Feynman you will know he was a wonderful science popularizer and communicator.
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Self-Awareness 13 Feb 2019 12:16 #110380

And wait, there's more!

Look at how you all have approached this topic. It's been from your perspective. That probably won't be convincing or interesting to someone new to the dharma. The wonderful details, the personal preferences, the nuance, all would be lost on a "newbie."

Assuming you want for some reason to explain to someone why you do what you do, or why they should do it, you might need a brief, understandable but impactful sound bite. And yeah, it's a sound bite. The goal, however is to pique their curiosity, to get them to engage with you.

:cheer:
Last Edit: 13 Feb 2019 12:49 by Chris Marti.
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Self-Awareness 13 Feb 2019 13:05 #110383

Ah, ok--I see where you're going with this now.

Some thoughts--specifically, what demographic of "newbie" would you be looking to attract? There needs to be a tighter circle of potential practitioner described to tailor the appropriate marketing message. Too broad, and it just won't work. Meditation used to be a niche thing, but now its everywhere. Do you want a Tricycle crowd? Bored housewives? High achievers in their 20s? Sports fanatics? Goth teenagers? Etc.

For some reason, the thing that crossed my mind--possibly because you mentioned leadership--is the recent popularity of Stoic philosophy, which I was really into about 20 years ago. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) actually has its roots in Stoicism. It seems to me like there might be good overlap between people into that and people who might be game enough to drum up the grit for really getting to know the dukkha nanas. Niso and I had actually talked about putting a book discussion on The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius here (I positively love this book and have read it multiple times). We could link to it in the Reddit /r/stoicism sub just for funsies. But I'm just spewing random ideas here...
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Self-Awareness 13 Feb 2019 13:33 #110384

Andromeda:

There needs to be a tighter circle of potential practitioner described to tailor the appropriate marketing message. Too broad, and it just won't work

Why not? The objective isn't niche marketing :P
Last Edit: 13 Feb 2019 13:33 by Chris Marti.
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Self-Awareness 13 Feb 2019 13:39 #110385

In other words, the catchphrase/sound bite is used to get a conversation going. The conversation and interaction thus achieved is used to tailor the message to the person you're talking to.
Last Edit: 13 Feb 2019 15:36 by Chris Marti.
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Self-Awareness 13 Feb 2019 15:28 #110386

Here I am! :) :)

My realization of the decade is about how difficult it is to understand and be understood. For this conversation, it means to me that it's a great skill to design the catchphrase a works for whatever the current situation is.

Relatedly, in my recent cohousing projects, I've learned that people are afraid to say anything definite about the project because you will loose some customers when you define any particular aspect. But of course, hopefully that same stake *attracts* some people.
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Self-Awareness 17 Feb 2019 01:46 #110442

Chris Marti wrote:
And wait, there's more!

Look at how you all have approached this topic. It's been from your perspective. That probably won't be convincing or interesting to someone new to the dharma. The wonderful details, the personal preferences, the nuance, all would be lost on a "newbie."

Assuming you want for some reason to explain to someone why you do what you do, or why they should do it, you might need a brief, understandable but impactful sound bite. And yeah, it's a sound bite. The goal, however is to pique their curiosity, to get them to engage with you.

:cheer:

Don't you think 'self-awareness' is a rather boring sell, compared to 'ending suffering' or 'eternal life' or something? :D

I do think it is fundamental, but I think it is a more of a side-effect, not the goal. In classical Christian practice it is a principal exercise and is also considered a grace (arises not from your direct effort but as a fruit of practice). The practice of confession serves in part to train self-awareness (especially at more advanced levels of practice, such as with a spiritual director or using Ignatian exercises on retreats and such). Self-knowledge (self awareness) is considered to be a coming into seeing yourself as God sees you, and develops in parallel with ones intimacy with God and knowledge of God. I would posit it also arises in parallel with compassion, in part because as one becomes intimate with ones own motivations, inauthenticities, faults, imperfections, incapacities, etc. one has more tenderness for the same in others.

Thoughts?
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Self-Awareness 17 Feb 2019 08:52 #110445

I do think it is fundamental, but I think it is a more of a side-effect, not the goal.

I think I got a lot of things out of this decades-long exercise but when it comes down to it the self-awareness side effect ( :P ) makes the most difference in my day to day life.
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