So true. Getting entangled in obsessively asking ourselves "why, why, why?" is such a setup for suffering, isn't it? I like your answer "just because." Another answer that has been working in kicking me from self-righteous victim mode into distancing myself from the anguish and, slowly but gently moving through the grief of my disappointments (at Its own time, of course) is "well, why not?"It’s the question of “Why” I think people struggle with. To which now I’m convinced that the answer was truly all along “Just because….”
I agree that we seem to have huge philosophical and practice overlap but differences in terminology. I don't think we're being forced into duality, but do believe we all have a choice in the matter (and that there are plenty of times when it's a perfectly appropriate option). That conviction might be a form of superstition on my part, but I like it, because it gives me hope for mankind... and I like hope.I’ll have to go back and re-read the prior posts, it sounds like we’re saying the same thing again and just using different terms. I remember you mentioning that in order to function in the world we are forced into a “dual” mode. Kind of like “being in the now” and also being aware of "clock time". I think we are of the same opinion here.
See, I'm such a stubborn optimist about people. I do think that Buddha and Jesus are prototypical wisdom models for all of us. Not out there somewhere in the Heavens but on earth, right here, right now. I believe that, whenever there is a moment you are fully present with your experience, here, now, without analyzing it, thinking about it, wondering about it, second-guessing it, just fully immersed into the flow of what is at the time, then you are having one of those Buddha/Jesus moments. Maybe it's only there for an instant, and then the layer of analysis kicks back in. And, as I said before, there's nothing wrong with analyzing situations, as long as we notice that this is what we're doing when we're doing it. We might only have Buddha or Jesus moments rather than long stretches, which are then again interrupted by selfish fears, but I trust and believe that we all have those moments. It's different what triggers them, I suspect, that's why different practices work for different people and why what is medicine for one person can be poison for another.Not many people are capable of “Truethink”. (Buddha, Jesus, etc…). So there is a danger that acting on best of intentions may cause harm. I believe the key here is letting go emotional responses.
I might disagree with you about the "letting go emotional responses" part. It depends on what you mean with "letting go." I do believe that it is possible to have an emotional response but let it go without clinging, moving on from it, carried away by the stream of time. That is beautiful theory in my case rather than practical experience. I'm so not there, practice wise, at this point of my life. As anybody else, I'm work in progress, and this is one of the things I'm working on. I still spend a painfully disproportionate amount of time whining, worrying, raging, grieving, and being too much (for my taste) of a drama queen (most of it on my own and without causing damage to others... wrestling my demons, I guess). But more and more I am learning to simply consider that a constitutional tendency than to judge and beat myself up over it. It seems that I am wired to be a passionate person. So the idea of some older (Theravadan) Buddhist traditions to interpret the "letting go emotions" as an actual cessation of emotion and a state of ongoing perfect equanimity, doesn't seem realistic for somebody with a nervous system as reactive and fickle as mine. So, this might simply be my personal bias, but I am working on moving on from the emotion rather than trying to not have it at all, so if that is what you meant, then we're completely on the same page here. To me, trying for cessation of emotion seems as pointless as trying to stop pooping. Yes, poop stinks and might be annoying at times, but it fulfills a function and is part of a functional body. We all do it. I do believe that all emotions have important functions in social interaction (sadness can show us when we're overdoing it and need alone time, anger helps me locate an unrealistic expectation or boundary violation, etc.), that it is the attachment to emotion that can make it so destructive. I remember one of the teachers at my Zen center once saying, when I commented that being around her, I had the feeling she's keeping the demons away, that she doesn't keep them away, she simply made friends with them.
Exactly. There is still emotion, but we don't have to be overly dramatic or self-righteous about it.Still, in my experience, states of non-separation are NOT automatically pleasant.
This is where I would try to exercise compassion and loving kindness and not become drawn into the emotional state.
Actually, no. I consider all forms of thinking dualistic. In that regard, I don't think there is such thing as "Truethink," just more or less functional "think," guiding by our experience with the causes and karmic or other conditions of life (dualism) and monistic "NO-think." Both, thinking selfishly and thinking selflessly are dualistic in my usage of the word. But considering my needs more important than other people's needs (the unhealthy "us vs. them" attitudes that you mention) is in my eyes a kind of dysfunctional dualism, because it operates under the assumption that one can clearly separate self or other. Since I consider such separation between "self" and "other" a mental exercise rather than a reality, it's a simple misunderstanding. Unfortunately, it's not one that's clarified easily for most people, because it's such a big part of most human cultures. Dualism that is aware of its own nature is still dualism. It tends to be less destructive but it is still dualistic.Yes, if I substitute the word “dualism” with “metacognition” this paragraph works for me. I guess “thinking about thinking” is a “dualist” notion. Ego vs Self.
To me "thinking about thinking" is actually one entry way towards monism. When I think about my thinking, I no longer completely buy into it. For example, when I have the thought, "this is unfair, that person is an enemy" without questioning it, then that thought can cause damage to my peace of mind and relationship with that person. But if I think about that thought, and take a mental step back towards analyzing which events led to the thought (maybe I had an unrealistic expectation about that person's behavior, maybe we got too close to one another and violated some innate territorial instinct, maybe I haven't had any food in a while and am grumpy and hypoglycemic, etc. etc.), then I no longer need to take an aggressive stance towards that person but can actually choose what might be the most functional approach in meeting both of our needs (or creating the space necessary for turning a confrontational situation with potential for hurt into one that might be less confrontational and provide room for learning and cooperation). That is a laudable strategy, but it is still a strategy, an attempt at (more skillfully) control the universe and nudge it toward becoming a better place. That is NOT yet a monistic attitude. However, such skills can create the conditions for safely entering monistic states. If I sit down to sit Zazen and not do anything else at the time, that is a luxury, I feel. It means at that moment I'm neither starving nor being attacked by a ferocious beast, nor having my overreactive nervous system simulate either of the two when triggered by something I considered "upsetting." So, this "metacognition" could be one of many paths towards momentarily abandoning self into the ocean of One-ness, but that resulting monistic attitude itself is neither cognitive nor meta-cognitive, I believe. It just is. There might be thought, but that thought is no longer valued higher than for example a fart or a burp. Your colon sometimes produces farts. Your mind sometimes produces thoughts. Both have a function, but neither of them is what uniquely makes you "you." Both are simply parts of a more complete picture. I know this example sounds kind of weird, because growing up most likely both of us were taught to value thoughts so much higher than farts, but I don't see ultimate value in making such judgments, only relative, dualistic value.
I hope you don't think I'm toying with you. I'm not. I'm also not trying to argue with you, but am simply attempting to clarify the thoughts and ideas under which I currently operate. Sorry about being such a stickler for words... I sincerely hope that this discussion feels like a joyful unfolding to you rather than an ordeal.
Not in my experience. Any experience of true monism I've ever had (based on how I define the term) was immediately preceded by some kind of momentary mental silence. The triggers were different, sitting meditation, physical exertion, artistic flow, but the moments themselves would only truly reveal themselves when the inner chatter (and my chatter tends to be highly metacognitive) stopped for a moment. Then, instants later, ego usually pops up again in my case and I start picking apart what was happening, which destroys the experience. It's ok. As you say further above... "just because." What I just described reminds me of the following Emily Dickinson poem:I would say monism is an experience because of a mode of thought (metacognition or dualistic thinking).
In my understanding a beautiful description of the both deadly and lively relationship between experience of analysis and analysis of experience.Split the Lark--and you'll find the Music--
Bulb after Bulb, in Silver rolled--
Scantily dealt to the Summer Morning
Saved for your Ear when Lutes be old.
Loose the Flood--you shall find it patent--
Gush after Gush, reserved for you--
Scarlet Experiment! Sceptic Thomas!
Now, do you doubt that your Bird was true?
I like your waterfall.