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TOPIC: The truth of dukkha

The truth of dukkha 02 May 2015 00:15 #98650

Kenneth,

In an effort to keep the topic alive,

Yes to all the questions, I suppose. To be intellectually honest, I do not really notice some of the items in the questions as experiences so much anymore, i.e. boredom, loneliness, despair, following your 90 day rule, but you may have to give me 90 days to be aware if this arises, if I could even stay mindful of watching for those states for 90 days, lol. I really don't remember boredom that well anymore. Anger depends upon the definition of anger, if anger includes irritation , then yes, but not full blown anger, which I remember well. And there has been a lessening in many of the other unwholesome mental states. But, this mind was a mess for a while, so a lessening in my view may be a crazy mind in another view, it is all relative.

But a lot of the the states of consciousness you listed in your question are in the world whether it arises from within or not, even if it did not arise from within, one will still experience the aftershock from when these unwholesome emotional states arise from around us, from all living beings. Just get a dog, see if the dog does not come up to you, in what seems to be loneliness. Dog Dukkha, Can a dog experience no dog? Just kidding a little.

So yes, the world is full of Dukkha, whether we breath or not, or experience it or not. It went on before our first breath and it will go on after our last.

I do not know if that is the answer you are looking for, but would like the conversation to continue, we will never learn about what we are unaware of, and will not acknowledge with an objective mind, in this case Dukkha.

Metta

Bryan
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The truth of dukkha 02 May 2015 02:44 #98652

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The truth of dukkha 03 May 2015 19:33 #98662

Bryan wrote:
Yes to all the questions, I suppose. To be intellectually honest, I do not really notice some of the items in the questions as experiences so much anymore, i.e. boredom, loneliness, despair, following your 90 day rule, but you may have to give me 90 days to be aware if this arises, if I could even stay mindful of watching for those states for 90 days, lol. I really don't remember boredom that well anymore. Anger depends upon the definition of anger, if anger includes irritation , then yes, but not full blown anger, which I remember well. And there has been a lessening in many of the other unwholesome mental states. But, this mind was a mess for a while, so a lessening in my view may be a crazy mind in another view, it is all relative.

But a lot of the the states of consciousness you listed in your question are in the world whether it arises from within or not, even if it did not arise from within, one will still experience the aftershock from when these unwholesome emotional states arise from around us, from all living beings. Just get a dog, see if the dog does not come up to you, in what seems to be loneliness. Dog Dukkha, Can a dog experience no dog? Just kidding a little.

So yes, the world is full of Dukkha, whether we breath or not, or experience it or not. It went on before our first breath and it will go on after our last.

Thanks for your reply, Bryan.

I would also answer yes to all the questions on the emotional suffering checklist. One conspicuously absent emotion on the list is anxiety, which is crazy, because anxiety has been a cause of suffering througout my life and continues to be so. The fact that I left out anxiety as I composed the checklist shows how easy it is to miss what is right under our noses. I can feel anxiety now as I write this, listening to a family member bang cupboards in the kitchen uptairs; this body is sensitive to sounds, and easily goes into fight or flight response in reaction to everyday sounds like thumping footsteps, door slams, loud voices, and even traffic noises.

While I sometimes enter states, either by choice or by chance, via meditation, absorption in a task, or sleep, in which the sound sensitivity is reduced, those states are transitory. Throughout the day, I cycle through many, many states, some difficult, some easy; so the suffering of difficult emotions is a daily part of my experience.

A few years ago, I became interested in the possibility of cultivating continuous mindfulness with the aim of indefinitely suspending difficult emotions. Long story short, I found myself unable to note emotions other than peace, equanimity, calm, etc. This came after many years of noting the entire spectrum of emotions, so it was very noticeable and distinctly odd. I would note with new students in order to demonstrate the technique, and I would say, "there is something unusual about my experience of emotions lately, so I can only note a very limited range of states, but go ahead and note anything that comes up for you, whether it's a welcome emotion or an unwelcome one."

This was a real handicap in teaching. It made it seem to the students that the goal was to not be able to note emotions (after all, I was the teacher), and it was very hard for them not to feel somehow wrong for being fearful, irritated, bored, restless, etc. Nonetheless, this inability to note emotions was what was going on for me, so I worked with it as best I could.

I don't remember how long this phase lasted. Less than a year, I think. During that time, I got some very clear feedback from the people around me. One close friend said that he noticed a change in the way I interacted with him in our long phone conversations. I seemed distant, he said, not as funny or as fun, and he preferred me the way I used to be. It was also during this phase that the KFD forum went through a major disruption, and some of the core members left to form the Dharma Refugees Forum. Looking back, my experiment with suspending emotions was very much a part of that disruption in the community; while it felt good to me to be insulated from the experience of difficult emotions, it left me less able to relate to others in a way that felt good to them.

I remember the exact moment when something occurred to me that carried the seeds of a new phase, and the ending of the love affair with emotionlessness. I was walking by myself in Pacific Heights in San Francisco, enjoying the sea breeze and the beautiful views, pondering the question of how to talk about various feelings in my body that had recently become more noticeable. For some months, I'd been feeling what I referred to as proto-emotions. These were recognizable patterns of physical sensations that corresponded to certain mind states. As I thought of it, these were the unbundled versions of states that I had previously called emotions. Here was the proto-emotion of anxiety, here the proto-emotion of aversion, here the proto-emotion of joy. I wanted to be able to note them as a way to get clearer; my overall hypothesis is that vipassana meditation works by bringing into conscious awareness something what would otherwise fly under the radar, and that this process of bringing more and more previously inaccessible experience into conscious awareness is the very essence of awakening. The internal dialogue went something like this:

I want to be able to note this. At this moment, there is something similar to what I would previously have called fear. The experience isn't quite the same as what I used to call "fear," but it distinctly resembles fear.

Then, the revelation:

How 'bout I call it "fear."

Ha! Of course! Why didn't I think of it sooner? Yes, I'll call it fear.

Sigh of relief. The fact that it doesn't feel exactly the way it did a year ago isn't as important as that I recognize it as a pattern that repeats in a predictable way, and that I can use the label to systematically improve my ability to introspect it. I can bring it into conscious awareness through noting, just like a million other phenomena through the years. Proto-emotions aren't immune to waking up; they go in the hopper along with everything else.

Armed with this rediscovered tool of mental noting, I began a process of training the mind to identify these proto-emotions, these newly unbundled constellations of physical sensations and mental impressions, as emotions. Of course they were emotions. I was just seeing them at a new level of detail. And because I wanted to believe that I had overcome my emotions, my ideology had been blinding me to a pretty obvious reality; this organism has emotional reactions baked into it a such a deep level that it is implausible to imagine that it can even function without them. Emotions happen because they are the inevitable functioning of this living organism. Whether I notice them or not is another matter entirely, and here is the great irony of trying to meditate ourselves out of difficult emotions; a moment of bringing emotions into conscious awareness is a moment of awakening. By attempting to suspend my experience of emotions, I was going in the wrong direction. Yes, difficult emotions are suffering, and no, we can't get out of it while we are alive. Good news, bad news, who knows?

In my experience, the ability to know what's happening as it is happening is awakening. And the richness of feeling emotions across the entire spectrum outweighs the comfort that can come from parking myself in a state that makes emotions inaccessible. Yes, there is dukkha. Let's wake up to it and learn to deal with it as best we can, because the quest to escape it has the perverse effect of making it worse.
Last Edit: 04 May 2015 01:25 by Kenneth Folk.
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The truth of dukkha 04 May 2015 09:31 #98667

Kenneth Folk wrote:
Yes, difficult emotions are suffering, and no, we can't get out of it while we are alive.

Hi Kenneth. Thanks for sharing your experience in such detail. I am similarly a very sensitive person and can be jarred by loud noises, strong smells, and such.

I disagree with your conclusion, however. I have found relief from anxiety and depression that have plagued me since high school by using a combination of meditation, self-inquiry, and Sedona Method. In my experience, it is definitely possible to reduce and eliminate sources of suffering. I have not eliminated suffering in toto yet, but my interaction with Gary Weber strongly suggests that if I continue along this path, I have a very good chance of becoming free from all suffering.

Have you tried practices other than noting and vipassana? Both Sedona Method and self-inquiry have been instrumental for me for letting go of difficult emotions. Some kind of "letting go" or surrender practice seems to be very important, in my experience. __/\__
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The truth of dukkha 04 May 2015 15:31 #98669

I haven't weighed in earlier on this thread because the initial question didn't make sense. It seemed possibly a provocation, probably relating to some personal situation, or a leading question of some sort. Now that you, Kenneth, have made evident the back story (post a couple upthread), the point seems quite obvious.

My thoughts, then, are largely in response to the most recent detailed post about the reasons for the topic, though also reacting to Jake's comment, which seems representative of the tendency to evaluate others, which I myself do, also. (eta: and to Bryan's comment about forgetting, which resonated.)

It seems to me that there is a tendency to think "awakening must be like whatever I happen to be going through lately." One guy is fascinated by his lack of inner narrative, another by his cool concentration states, another is ashamed of his anger, another fascinated by his bliss... it doesn't matter. Your spiritual process is where it is, and that's true for me, for Jake, for Kenneth, for Chris or anyone else here. We each develop from unique family and cultural conditions, we each have unique personality characteristics. It's okay that way. It goes where it goes. And it changes all the time. And even THAT is not something to defend, because maybe it only seems that way because of the particular context/conditions of now. How would I know?

I sympathise, Kenneth, with the difficulty teaching, not because I don't feel certain emotions, but because I have trouble remembering what it's like to be interested in certain things, or to have certain perceptions (Bryan touched a bit on this). If someone has a question I can babble random responses. Sometimes people find them inspiring, sometimes confusing. That, too, may change, or not, I have no idea. Every moment is a surprise that way. Everything works itself out.
Last Edit: 04 May 2015 15:31 by Ona Kiser.
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The truth of dukkha 04 May 2015 19:24 #98671

I think there's a precise (and personal) time to contemplate 'unsatisfactoriness' and its causes. And then there are all the other times and practices and idiosyncratic events of our lives. Rote practice, however plausibly advised or embraced, has a way of creating a peculiar dullness and disengagement. I have found this to be true of every sort of practice I've engaged, and every advice I've taken.

Could be I'm just strange that way, of course.
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The truth of dukkha 05 May 2015 09:30 #98677

If we can agree on our terms to this point, we can move on by clarifying what it might mean to walk around without suffering. Following is a list of questions. If you answer "no" to all of them, I will consider that you are claiming to be free from dukkha on a persistent basis.
======================
I looked at Kenneth's list and asked myself, do I experience them. The answer is yes. Then I asked myself a more important question which was, are there times when I am at peace with having these experiences. The answer is yes. If I am at peace, there is no suffering. Since I notice a slow but signicant progress in being at peace in more and more circumstances, I believe the end result can be complete alleviation of suffering but still having experience.

At times I have thought of my life as similar to a book by Dickens.. In one chapter I am a hero. In another, the goat. In another, peaceful and happy. In still another, undergoing great tribulations. If I look at my present state as the whole book instead of one chapter, all the experiences are the same, just part of life.

In the Indriya Bhavana sutta (MN III. p.298?302) / MN #152, Uttara talks about his teacher Parasaniya who doesn't see objects, doesn't hear sounds and the Buddha says it's not about cutting down the sense; if it was then the deaf and blind would be enlightened. It's about developing the senses.
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The truth of dukkha 05 May 2015 22:15 #98679

I have a lot of thoughts on this, and hope to be able to write much more at a later time.

As someone who practiced consistently (meaning all day, for an extended period of time) as best I could the grounding technique a few years ago, I find it a valuable and interesting resource. It certainly changed my perspective, and emotional life, in a seemingly continuous way. It did not get rid of emotions, but allowed for an increase in intimacy with the arising energy in the body that I think Kenneth is calling the proto-emotion where previously emotions felt mainly conceptual and disembodied.

For a while I too was interested in the idea of totally removing emotional suffering, at least that's how I would have framed it at the time, conveniently ignoring that this perspective itself was suffering. That was a few years ago. Now emotions arise, they are much more embodied. What this looks like is the focus is more on the palpable felt sense of energy in relation to whatever internal or external process is occuring. Sometimes I get lost in content, and at times the content, rather than felt sense, predominates. This seems to happen more if I don't sleep well, am not eating right, living right, etc.
At times when the content is heavy it can feel like a sort of disassociation as the attention narrows.

I lost interest in trying to free myself from emotions for a couple of reasons: When I turned the attention to the body I found a real richness in even the more painful emotions. Even in deep anger, looking right into the heart of it by moving attention to where it seemed centralized, I found a real tendreness and softness. And sadness had a sort of slow moving grace to it as well. It became more clear to me that it was not the emotion itself, but the attempt to tighten around and contain the energy, which itself is free, open, already awake (I know that's figurative language but I'll stand by it), but without form.
It seems to me to now that most subjective feelings involve a splitting off from the immediacy of direct experience. In order to buy into wanting to be free from all emotions I first needed to buy into the assumption that any and all splitting was bad and that direct, non-conceptual sensory experience was a better option all of the time. And I just never questioned this, but took it as a given since the experience of directness seemed so free of anything resembling subjective suffering. And some of it is and was clearly unskillful. But some of it is useful, for example reflecting on a past action that could have been performed more skillfully, or even being able to hold a conversation with someone.

I know there are probably contradictions above. That's ok. It's still something I'm working with, trying to figure out. And I'm not sure I really have a clear sense of what is most skillful in this area, at least not as a definite conclusion.
Last Edit: 05 May 2015 22:18 by Bill F.
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The truth of dukkha 06 May 2015 06:42 #98681

There have been a lot of good posts in this thread.

My two cents on dukka is that is a teaching idea that points toward the "leading onward" belief that a particular experience implies something more will happen, something worse will happen, and a reaction is triggered that isn't very conscious. Bad habits are the most gross form of dukka. You notice you are being unskillful, time and time again... But also emotional reactions which seem to obscure clarity and even proto-emotions which seem to just unbalance us for a second. Since it is human nature to simply want to avoid being humbled by seeing all of those imperfections, the first step in the practice is to acknowledge the truth of it.

The trick in all of these situations is to let the experience fully register and that will do it's trick. The natural intelligence will avoid unskillful actions, if it is really fully experienced as an unskillful action. It can be humbling to realize that half the time we don't even experience what has happened, so admit when we were "blind" is often a first step. Then comes the development of enough mindfulness to actually be present in the experience. It can be humbling to really see the part of us that is greedy and manipulative and prone to tearing down others, but that seems to be a lot of what's seen when we become more aware.

It seems defeatist to just build mindfulness when the problem seems to be a particular habit or emotion or proto-emotions -- why not go after those things and try to defeat them? -- but there really is no other way. If the tendency is to create a whole new conceptual framework for preventing it from ever happening again, that whole framework will be created by the same flawed mind that did the unskillful action, so that will just set up a counter-reaction, a new neurosis. It has the temporary feeling of "doing something about it" but it is like a bandaid that seems to cushions us from the full reality of what has happened. Rather than feel the full dimension of our inadequacy, we would rather become "the fixer".

The ironic thing is the truth of dukka is that it has already ended. The experience of dukka ends within the experiencing of dukka, in a paradoxically atemporal way. The insight that experience has already happened -- whether it is a habit, emotional reaction, or proto-emotion -- is a huge reduction in suffering. Similarly, to realize that self-sensations arise and end and are materially nothing more than proto-emotions... reveals "dukka" to be more of a conceptual orientation rather than a reality. What self-thing carries anything forward? Rather than the world being on fire with dukka, suffering creating more suffering creating more suffering, the suffering of the world is being blown out (like a candle) into nibbana, a suffering that ends and ends and ends, is extinguished is extinguished is extinguished. In the latter case, you could say that there is normal life difficulties but no dukka.

The truth of dukka is that the practice changes the metaphysical entity "Dukka" into the experiential reality of life, with all of it's ups and downs, and vagaries of being in a lump of red meat on this earth. You are only doing it wrong if you take Dukka and your Self too seriously, which we all do, so... you're not doing it wrong, but hopefully you can find yourself on the path of nibbana which leads to more nibbana rather than the path of dukka which leads to more dukka.

It's interesting that really only you know what path you are on.
Last Edit: 06 May 2015 06:44 by shargrol.
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The truth of dukkha 07 May 2015 08:18 #98693

I'm not a Buddhist fundamentalist and kinda hate it when people do appeals to authority,, but this sutta really seems relevant to the conversation -- and is refreshingly short! :)


SN 36.6 PTS: S iv 207 CDB ii 1263

Sallatha Sutta: The Dart


translated from the Pali by

Nyanaponika Thera

© 1998

Alternate translation: Thanissaro

"An untaught worldling, O monks, experiences pleasant feelings, he experiences painful feelings and he experiences neutral feelings. A well-taught noble disciple likewise experiences pleasant, painful and neutral feelings. Now what is the distinction, the diversity, the difference that exists herein between a well-taught noble disciple and an untaught worldling?

"When an untaught worldling is touched by a painful (bodily) feeling, he worries and grieves, he laments, beats his breast, weeps and is distraught. He thus experiences two kinds of feelings, a bodily and a mental feeling. It is as if a man were pierced by a dart and, following the first piercing, he is hit by a second dart. So that person will experience feelings caused by two darts. It is similar with an untaught worldling: when touched by a painful (bodily) feeling, he worries and grieves, he laments, beats his breast, weeps and is distraught. So he experiences two kinds of feeling: a bodily and a mental feeling.

"Having been touched by that painful feeling, he resists (and resents) it. Then in him who so resists (and resents) that painful feeling, an underlying tendency of resistance against that painful feeling comes to underlie (his mind). Under the impact of that painful feeling he then proceeds to enjoy sensual happiness. And why does he do so? An untaught worldling, O monks, does not know of any other escape from painful feelings except the enjoyment of sensual happiness. Then in him who enjoys sensual happiness, an underlying tendency to lust for pleasant feelings comes to underlie (his mind). He does not know, according to facts, the arising and ending of these feelings, nor the gratification, the danger and the escape, connected with these feelings. In him who lacks that knowledge, an underlying tendency to ignorance as to neutral feelings comes to underlie (his mind). When he experiences a pleasant feeling, a painful feeling or a neutral feeling, he feels it as one fettered by it. Such a one, O monks, is called an untaught worldling who is fettered by birth, by old age, by death, by sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief and despair. He is fettered by suffering, this I declare.

"But in the case of a well-taught noble disciple, O monks, when he is touched by a painful feeling, he will not worry nor grieve and lament, he will not beat his breast and weep, nor will he be distraught. It is one kind of feeling he experiences, a bodily one, but not a mental feeling. It is as if a man were pierced by a dart, but was not hit by a second dart following the first one. So this person experiences feelings caused by a single dart only. It is similar with a well-taught noble disciple: when touched by a painful feeling, he will no worry nor grieve and lament, he will not beat his breast and weep, nor will he be distraught. He experiences one single feeling, a bodily one.

"Having been touched by that painful feeling, he does not resist (and resent) it. Hence, in him no underlying tendency of resistance against that painful feeling comes to underlie (his mind). Under the impact of that painful feeling he does not proceed to enjoy sensual happiness. And why not? As a well-taught noble disciple he knows of an escape from painful feelings other than by enjoying sensual happiness. Then in him who does not proceed to enjoy sensual happiness, no underlying tendency to lust for pleasant feelings comes to underlie (his mind). He knows, according to facts, the arising and ending of those feelings, and the gratification, the danger and the escape connected with these feelings. In him who knows thus, no underlying tendency to ignorance as to neutral feelings comes to underlie (his mind). When he experiences a pleasant feeling, a painful feeling or a neutral feeling, he feels it as one who is not fettered by it. Such a one, O monks, is called a well-taught noble disciple who is not fettered by birth, by old age, by death, by sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief and despair. He is not fettered to suffering, this I declare.

"This, O monks, is the distinction, the diversity, the difference that exists between a well-taught noble disciple and an untaught worldling."

©1983 Buddhist Publication Society. You may copy, reformat, reprint, republish, and redistribute this work in any medium whatsoever, provided that: (1) you only make such copies, etc. available free of charge and, in the case of reprinting, only in quantities of no more than 50 copies; (2) you clearly indicate that any derivatives of this work (including translations) are derived from this source document; and (3) you include the full text of this license in any copies or derivatives of this work. Otherwise, all rights reserved. Documents linked from this page may be subject to other restrictions. From Contemplation of Feeling: The Discourse-grouping on the Feelings (WH 303), translated from the Pali by Nyanaponika Thera (Kandy: Buddhist Publication Society, 1983). Copyright © 1983 Buddhist Publication Society. Used with permission. Last revised for Access to Insight on 13 June 2010.


How to cite this document (a suggested style): "Sallatha Sutta: The Dart" (SN 36.6), translated from the Pali by Nyanaponika Thera. Access to Insight (Legacy Edition), 13 June 2010, www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn36/sn36.006.nypo.html .


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Last Edit: 07 May 2015 08:18 by shargrol.
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The truth of dukkha 07 May 2015 10:19 #98696

Right! This is the view that I see all this. Sensations are not Dukkha, Sensations are either painful , pleasant , or neutral Sensations. Feelings and emotions are not synonymous, in this sense. Feelings would be better translated as sensations, when we say feelings it makes one think of emotions, as in emotional feelings, this is not the case here. Emotions are mental states, that can arise after a sensation. In most the mental state that arises after sensation is an automatic response, one either like or dislikes the sensation, on other words craving. But, one can train the mind to recognize the sensation as it occurs as what it is, just a sensation, and cut off the craving response system then and there. One is then Guarding the Sense Doors. But, one does not then become a shuffling Mindless Zombie, or anything, :woohoo: quite to the contrary!

With Bare Attention one sees the pleasant, unpleasant , and neutral sensations as they are, and being aware of reality in the present moment, one can , through practice, not proceed to the next stage of the response system. If the mind does react in liking or disliking some sensation, there are other methods to remedy and apply antidotes to bring the mind and body states back into equilibrium.

Better worded below from the Bahiya Sutta, and indeed better experienced and practiced than just read.
"Then, Bāhiya, you should train yourself thus: In reference to the seen, there will be only the seen. In reference to the heard, only the heard. In reference to the sensed, only the sensed. In reference to the cognized, only the cognized. That is how you should train yourself. When for you there will be only the seen in reference to the seen, only the heard in reference to the heard, only the sensed in reference to the sensed, only the cognized in reference to the cognized, then, Bāhiya, there is no you in connection with that. When there is no you in connection with that, there is no you there. When there is no you there, you are neither here nor yonder nor between the two. This, just this, is the end of stress."[2]

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/ud/ud.1.10.than.html


Just some thoughts,take 'em or leave 'em,

Also, It could be that the seeking for a permanent end to Dukkha also creates some stress, I find it is just better to deal with it here and now, one by one as it occurs, one small battle at a time, rather than seen as some Giant Epic Lifetime Battle. Though Battle, may not be such a good metaphorical word and could be easily understood, but I hope everyone gets my drift....

There is Dukkha ! :sick:

Bryan
Last Edit: 07 May 2015 10:27 by Bryan. Reason: link
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The truth of dukkha 08 May 2015 02:07 #98703

Had a few more thoughts , but had to go to work, er, I mean I got to go to work, haha

Anyway there is pain, pain signals and reactions, then there is the mind and its reaction to pain signals, emotional distress, ruminations.

So there are sensations, and then there is Dukkha, if I am getting all this right, but here is my little real life stories from my childhood, I'll try to be short.

My Great Uncle took me out to shoot his .22, shooting frogs,clean up his pond he said, I guess I was a fair shot I shot over 20 of them. We gathered the ones by the bank, but what is sickening is that some of the frogs I shot, knowing they were unretrievable , as they were in the middle of the pond, but I shot them anyway. Remorse, yeah... Now, one can only forgive themselves for not having been in training, and move on, learn from the lesson of irresponsible killing of innocent beings, and not do it again. But, that is not the point.

The point is, the frogs that were gathered were taken back to the farmhouse, where we cleaned them, cut off their legs, skinned them I think, and my Great Aunt fried them in the skillet. And, the legs would hop, no brain, no mind, but the legs would hop and twitch in the skillet. We would pull out most of the nerves first, as I now remember more.

So, there is pain, and physical reaction to pain, but the pain in the mind is separate from the pain in the body. The body has no mind, yet still responds to pain. And, it may also be that the mind responds to pain that is sometimes only in our imaginations. But not pain as in the body pain, but pain as in mental anguish, out of proportion to what is actually going on in the present moment. I mean we cause ourselves grief over things that happened decades ago, or worry about things that might not even happen. So, for me anyway, this is but one example of the difference between sensations and dukkha.

I guess we can all see that the body will respond to stimulus with impersonal responses, but why is it that we, (humanity in general, that is), want to hang on to the idea that the mind does not also respond to stimulus with impersonal responses?

Okay, back to Joy and Equanimity, lol :cheer:

Bryan
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The truth of dukkha 11 May 2015 20:58 #98767

One can learn to let go of a fair amount of attachment and conditioning, and that reduces suffering. The 2nd arrow stuff, maybe more. That's the game we're playing as I see it.

But as to some kind of complete removal of suffering, it's part of the actual playing field itself that we have to experience, say, pain. The field requires feedback to survive and operate properly, just like even an android would. The people who genetically don't feel physical pain have a pretty hard time of it, they don't understand when they are hurting themselves.
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The truth of dukkha 13 May 2015 16:32 #98787

I am a new member of AwakeNetwork, and as my first engagement with it I just read this entire thread launched by Kenneth Folk. He opened with a pithy triple proposition, namely that "As long as you draw breath, there is dukkha. It's not because you are doing it wrong. To misunderstand this is to misunderstand Buddhism", and asked us to respond. My response is that Kenneth's triple proposition is painfully correct. I say painfully, because it goes to the heart of the pivotal issue of not only Buddhism, but of any path, method or discipline purported to promote release from bondage (in liberation, awakening, enlightenment, moksha, kaivalya, nibbana). The issue, in other words, of what it is that is left behind in that release, and what that release is a release into. I take the release itself for granted, having undergone it myself as a young man of 21 more than 50 years ago, as have untold others in or outside of disciplines designed to promote it (in my case it was spontaneous, no teacher, no systematic formal practice).

That release, moreover, defines, identifies and announces itself by the dawning of an ultimate certainty that the very possibility of suffering, of dukkha, of entanglement, has been left behind, and has been left behind on a permanent basis, indeed forever. And so it has, at least for a while. Initially one simply dwells in the full emptiness of release - days, weeks, months - and then some little cloud beclouds the clear skies of freedom, but the slightest light reminder suffices to dispell it. Yet over time the reminders become more frequent, and work less well, till one day one may realize that contrary to all indications and expectations, one is again bound and entangled, in very much the way one was prior to release from bondage.

There are ways to postpone that reckoning, or to hide from it altogether. Special circumstances, such as those enjoyed by teachers surrounded by adoring disciples catering to their every whim, or a monastic environment providing a buffer against the buffeting of a less than delicate world, or special efforts, such as engaging in one or another mental discipline by which the knocks and bruisings of that world are assimilated, digested and neutralized in the course of practice.

But wait! Nothing like that was needed, even conceived of, in the wake of release from bondage! There one dwelt in freedom without effort or special circumstances - indeed effortlessly - so something most assuredly must have changed, no?

As certain as I was 50 years ago that I had left the very possibility of suffering behind forever, as certain am I today, with half a century of living in the world without special circumstances or special efforts behind me, that that original certainty was an illusion, as deep as it was sublime. And what is more: that that illusion is not attributable to some idiosyncracy or failing of mine, but lies in the very nature of things. Instead of starting to teach in the first blush of release from bondage, I decided to find out what actually took place in that release - what bondage consists of, how it is acquired, how it can be brough to cessation, and so on. This led me, among other things, to choose neuroscience as a profession, which in some marginal ways helped me arrive at answers, though most of what I now know derives from self-examination under ruthless strictures of honesty.

What I have concluded agrees perfectly with Kenneth's triple proposition. There is much more to say about this. Among other things it reminded me of an analysis of the four noble truths, and the two distinct forms of suffering involved in the Buddhist conception of dukkha, which I wrote some years ago. I think it would be eminently relevant to Kenneth's propositions, but I hesitate to post it because of its length, amounting to 2826 words. But just now I notice the "attachments" option below this reply box, so I will try using that.

File Attachment:

File Name: FourNobleTruths.rtf
File Size: 18 KB


Yes, it seemed to work! Thank you for your many interesting comments and takes on Kenneth's opening post; they inspired me to post the above as my "opening post" on AwakeNetwork. Glad to be here!.
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The truth of dukkha 13 May 2015 16:43 #98788

I just noticed some formating glitches in the attachment, so I enclose a cleaned-up version here.

File Attachment:

File Name: FourNobleTruths2.rtf
File Size: 18 KB
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The truth of dukkha 13 May 2015 16:57 #98789

Nice.

Welcome, Bjorn, to our little online outpost.
Last Edit: 13 May 2015 16:57 by Chris Marti.
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The truth of dukkha 14 May 2015 07:20 #98792

Thank you, Chris, Kenneth, and Kacchapa, good to be here!
Last Edit: 14 May 2015 07:22 by Bjorn Merker.
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The truth of dukkha 15 May 2015 13:00 #98812

Hi Bjorn,
I was interested to read your post #98787 a couple of days ago and the reference to "neuroscience as a profession" caught my eye just because as a lay person with minimal science education I've been enjoying reading a little bit from neuroscience popularizations. (I got started with this when Kenneth recommended the Ego Tunnel a few years ago.)

So I found a couple of your lectures online and enjoyed them a lot. Hope you don't mind if I link to them as I think a number of folks here are interested in these topics:

Youtube: The functional logic of an orienting superhub in the roof of the midbrain


I really enjoyed this one and look forward to seeing it again this weekend,
Download: The brain's need for sensory consciousness
andara.uqam.ca/Panopto/Content/Sessions/...dc5-61cfa17df1c3.mp4

Now that I see the depth of your research and scholarly background I can better appreciate the scholarly style of the FourNobleTruths article and look forward to finishing that this w.e also.
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The truth of dukkha 15 May 2015 21:37 #98813

Bjorn Merker wrote:
I just noticed some formating glitches in the attachment, so I enclose a cleaned-up version here.

File Attachment:

File Name: FourNobleTruths2.rtf
File Size: 18 KB

Can I suggest you post this into the "magazine" section of this site? Click on "Read" in the top navigation, and then click on "Write an article". Contact me privately if you run into trouble.
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The truth of dukkha 16 May 2015 13:33 #98833

I will do so forthwith; thank you for the suggestion!
Last Edit: 16 May 2015 14:00 by Bjorn Merker.
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The truth of dukkha 16 May 2015 14:29 #98834

Thank you, Kacchapa, for your good words! These lectures, being delivered to my neuroscience colleagues, are of course quite technical, and are presumably not everyone's cup of tea. Fine to post them, however, for those with an interest in neuro matters.

By the way, were you able to play the lecture in the second link (andara.uqam.ca/etc...)??? It is my contribution to a big meeting on The Evolution and Function of Consciousness held in Montreal in 2012. Since about 2013 I have been unable to access this - and all the other videos from that meeting - and when I clicked on your link I got the same error-message about "damaged file" as before. I am wondering, in other words, whether the problem is at my end or in Montreal?

Eventually I will be putting into print the gist of what I have learned about brain mechanisms in as far as it bears on the kind of concerns that animate AwakeNetwork. I have recently had some inspiring exchanges with Kenneth Folk, and he encouraged me in no uncertain terms to go ahead with that plan. I have some other projects to get out of the way before that work can commence, and in the meantime you will run into me now and then here on AwakeNetwork, my first public engagement ever on the kind of topics you deal with.
Last Edit: 16 May 2015 14:40 by Bjorn Merker.
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The truth of dukkha 16 May 2015 15:30 #98835

Bjorn, after reading your essay on the four noble truths I am even more interested your future contributions here. I'm happy you have decided to go public and that you chose us as witnesses :)
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The truth of dukkha 16 May 2015 16:55 #98842

Bjorn Merker wrote:
By the way, were you able to play the lecture in the second link (andara.uqam.ca/etc...)??? It is my contribution to a big meeting on The Evolution and Function of Consciousness held in Montreal in 2012. Since about 2013 I have been unable to access this - and all the other videos from that meeting - and when I clicked on your link I got the same error-message about "damaged file" as before. I am wondering, in other words, whether the problem is at my end or in Montreal?

When I tried to stream that link it played but halted, paused & resumed a lot. When I downloaded the mp4 file, though, it worked fine on my Windows 7 laptop played with Quicktime. Looks like it's a 70 MB file. If downloading doesn't give you a working copy, I could email the one that works for me. Or upload it to AN? I thought this was an intriguing and inspiring talk in the sense of more thoroughly challenging my own default naive realism (and inspire meditative inquiry). I've been reading your expanded print version, the first chapter of The Unity of Mind, Brain and World to try to get a fuller picture. Ditto to what Chris said, looking forward to your future writings here.
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The truth of dukkha 17 May 2015 08:35 #98849

Thank you for this information - I'll try to download, and will get back to you if I fail!
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The truth of dukkha 17 May 2015 12:28 #98852

Well, I got it to work - had to switch browser, but got it to work! It's been more than two years since I saw it, thank you Kacchapa for the nudge!
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