interesting article on process of awakening

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7 years 1 month ago - 7 years 1 month ago #17778 by Laurel Carrington
Quirky or eccentric is one thing, but could it sometimes slide over into violations of ethical norms?

Edit: or could someone who never had the strongest sense of ethics now find it easier to be unethical?
Last edit: 7 years 1 month ago by Laurel Carrington.

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7 years 1 month ago - 7 years 1 month ago #17779 by Chris Marti
This stuff is, I think, exceedingly complicated -- and I have been a serial over-analyzer for a long time. I have to admit that I really have no idea how all this fits together and, while I think Jeffery Martin has flaws, he is also due some major credit for even attempting to figure some of this stuff out. And he's doing it in a non-denominational, semi-scientific manner (I would, like shargrol, be skeptical about social science and its methods in general). When Jefferey uses an instrument at least he uses the gold standard, and at least he documents his findings and puts them out there for us to read and think about.

Still, all we are left with is

- conjecture
- personal experience/self-reporting (I'm putting Jefferey's study in this category)

Which is why now having so many practice logs online is so cool. Some day, maybe, neuroscience and fMRI technology will be advanced enough to help us figure out just what IS going on as we practice and wake up, but it's not there yet.
Last edit: 7 years 1 month ago by Chris Marti. Reason: clarity

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7 years 1 month ago - 7 years 1 month ago #17780 by Ona Kiser

Laurel Carrington wrote: Quirky or eccentric is one thing, but could it sometimes slide over into violations of ethical norms?

Edit: or could someone who never had the strongest sense of ethics now find it easier to be unethical?


I think it's definitely not so clear cut. Take stealing. Most (not all) of us are taught that stealing is wrong just because it is (not because if we do it we will be punished, just that we shouldn't do it even if we CAN get away with it.) The deterrent is that stealing would be shameful or embarrassing. In addition, our society has laws that punish different kinds of theft, which is intended to be a deterrent. So there are several deterrents: general teaching of cultural norms, shame/embarrassment, and the threat of punishment.

Despite this, some people steal. Some people even get caught over and over, punished over and over, and still steal. Some people steal because they are desperate for money, some people just as a weird quirk (I had a friend who was a kleptomaniac; she had no financial need, there was just some weird psychological thing I never understood).

I think the impact of people waking up and having less shame has probably about less than .000000001% impact on the overall statistics for crime and unethical behavior, particularly given how few people wake up in the overall population and given that a person who is prone to being unethical doesn't need much of an excuse.

I think the obsession with this question and related ones about free will, justice, karma, etc (which comes up all the time in dharma talks, forums, etc. tends to express our fear that if we wake up (more) we will lose control of ourselves and do weird things.
Last edit: 7 years 1 month ago by Ona Kiser.
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7 years 1 month ago #17782 by every3rdthought
Personally, I've never got the 'fear of waking up' thing, for any reason, but I guess that's because I started practice because I had a lot of suffering I would've paid most prices to get rid of, which was my motivation.

As far as undersocialized monks go, my experience with Western Theravada monks is that many (and more men than women, though it cuts both ways) seem to be somewhere on a mild Aspergers spectrum - extremely bad at normal unstructured 'human socialising' (particularly with women) but very good at following prescribed rules and etiquette in minute detail. On the one hand, I suspect people are attracted to monastic life in a society that deeply discourages it because they already have that kind of character - but on the other, it then doesn't necessarily encourage 'socialization' (I'm not saying it necessarily should, that would only be one perspective. I would say though that, at least in the West, it's not very good for the sangha's relationship to the laity when there's mostly people like this around).

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7 years 1 month ago #17783 by Ona Kiser
Another way of looking at it is that it offers a place for people like that to go and be "okay" - particularly in traditional societies where the only other option was to work in your father's business, get married, have kids, etc. A couple of the nuns here I've talked to said they were the only one in their rural family who was inclined to be studious and very religious. Their brothers and sisters just wanted to hang out at the plaza and flirt, party, find a spouse, work in the family bakery, and thought prayer and study was boring. So for them it was a whole fresh world to "escape" into, where they could be themselves and be appreciated for it. One of them told me it's also not uncommon for the some girls who enter the convents to be escaping abusive families or other unpleasant life circumstances. They have to have the drive and geekiness to survive the years of training and discipline - no one gets a free ride or shortcuts - but they do get a "new family" where they can be safe and heal, too.
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7 years 1 month ago #17786 by every3rdthought

Ona Kiser wrote: Another way of looking at it is that it offers a place for people like that to go and be "okay"


Yes, I agree, that's what I was trying to get at in my previous post about people being 'socialized' - why should they be if they don't want to? (Only that yeah, if all monastics or professional practitioners are like that it makes sangha interaction difficult, especially when you have a community of lay practitioners who want not only the formal blessing or the opportunity to make merit by offering, but social and teaching interaction).

Modern Western and particularly Anglo societies mostly now assume that if you don't want to socialise much or want to be celibate there must be something wrong with you - and that these things are an integral part of human-ness, and people who don't or don't want to practice them must be 'life-denying' or running away from something (a side-note there interesting for the evaluation of celibate practitioners is the rise of 'asexual' identifying people, especially through net communities).

Incidentally, I regularly see this in PD circles too - the (sometimes somewhat self-congratulatory) idea that it's harder or there are more challenges to practice as a lay practitioner (sometimes also alongside the idea that monastic practice is an outmoded relic). Certainly there are different challenges, and (some) monastics have much more dedicated time for formal practice, but having observed a fair few at close quarters and lived in monastic settings, there's no way I'd say it's either an easier life or an easier contemplative path...

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7 years 1 month ago - 7 years 1 month ago #17787 by Chris Marti
Can anyone relate the monastic vs lay practice issues to the topic of this topic? I suspect there are implications....

:P
Last edit: 7 years 1 month ago by Chris Marti.

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7 years 1 month ago #17788 by Ona Kiser
I'll have to go reread the thread to remember what the original topic was. :P

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7 years 1 month ago #17789 by Laurel Carrington
Good idea, Ona, considering that you started it! :silly:
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7 years 1 month ago #17792 by Ona Kiser
I'm not sure, really, what your line of inquiry is there, Chris... what part relating to what? you have something in mind? Like what would the results be like if the study were only done on monks, not lay people?

Meanwhile it occurred to me this: that in some contexts being a monk or nun is not about waking up - it's a way of life dedicated to serving God, and serving God via service to others, which may or may not take a material form (praying for others is considered a useful and worthy way to spend ones time). We have here on this forum a subset of people whose "spiritual" practice may largely tend to be focused on waking up; but in other contexts that's not necessarily the sole purpose of being religious/spiritual nor of participating in a life-time commitment to monastic life. In Christian monastic orders it varies a lot by order (some focus on charitable work, some on education, some solely on prayer, some on providing religious service to others, etc.). For instance the Clarissas grow flowers and do embroidery, besides their prayer "work" - and they never leave the convent. The Augustinians here run a church and a school - the church (and its related functions such as funerals, weddings, confession, Mass, etc.) being considered a service to the community as much as the school is. There's a subgroup of Franciscans that just work with the homeless, and another order of Franciscans that specialize in offering all-day-long confession and counseling at their monastery. The Minsters to the Sick are an order of nuns that visit the sick in hospitals and at home.

Not sure if that's as true in Buddhism as in Christianity, though I'd imagine at least some monks or orders of monks have the "duty" of running temples for the community, providing ritual services like funerals or prayers for the ancestors or dead, running schools, etc.

Anyone know other examples?

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7 years 1 month ago #17793 by Derek
I only know about Buddhism in Thailand, and it's true there that there are town-monks, forest-monks, scholar-monks, and maybe more I don't know about.

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7 years 1 month ago #17794 by Chris Marti

I'm not sure, really, what your line of inquiry is there, Chris... what part relating to what? you have something in mind? Like what would the results be like if the study were only done on monks, not lay people?


The topic here is Jeffery Martin's study on the effects of waking up, and the conversation ended up being about monks and lay people having different orientations, or whatever you might call it, to practice. And thus that monks might gravitate to becoming monks because they are not well socialized, or don't want to be specialized, so a monastery might give them a place to be less socialized legitimately. That has implications for ego development, which is what Jeffery is saying may or may not correlate very well to awakening.

I was trying to get the conversation back on track, assuming it has a track :-)
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7 years 1 month ago #17797 by Ona Kiser

Derek wrote: I only know about Buddhism in Thailand, and it's true there that there are town-monks, forest-monks, scholar-monks, and maybe more I don't know about.


That's interesting. Never thought about "forest tradition" being ... um... in the forest!! Thanks.

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7 years 1 month ago #17805 by Derek

Chris Marti wrote: I was trying to get the conversation back on track, assuming it has a track :-)


LOL. After awakening from the illusion of a separate self, the tendencies in the mind remain. The fetter model assumes continued practice after awakening. That won't be the case for everyone/

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7 years 1 month ago #17808 by every3rdthought
Here's a back-on-track post, from an interesting new piece by Jayarava on the self in Buddhism
( 'If there is no self, who is responsible for what actions?' )

In terms of morality, post-awakening we are able to behave in ways that are consistent (Skt. samyañc) with how experience actually works instead of inconsistent (Skt. mithyā) and especially in relation to other people we don't behave selfishly because we see through our sense of being a self. Thus realising the contingent nature of self and not treating the self as a really existent entity allows for naturally skilful actions.
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