Nibbana tangent part 2 (Agnosticism)

by David Turell @, Thursday, May 16, 2024, 18:13 (28 days ago) @ xeno6696

Matt: This is more interesting discussion here. I would suggest that what you think is *your* consciousness, isn't really yours. Ownership is illusion. I mean, do you even have a title granting you ownership? Can you make your consciousness do whatever you will? For as long as you will? Nietzsche said this best, "A thought comes when it wills, not when I will." The act of imagining or creating, as a writer yourself, when you have tried to "command" the entire process how good was the result vs when you were "in the zone" and it flowed from you naturally? Returning to the main theme, probably the only actual control you have over your consciousness is your ability to end your own life, and I think its obvious why that's considered anathema in almost all religions.


dhw: I feel like I have more control than that.


Matt: That certainly hasn't been my experience. When I focus to deliberately imagine things, sans distractions, eventually I get bored.

I don't control when I get bored, it just happens. I'd rather not get bored, I'd rather I stay in that state until I get my task done, but I absolutely have no control over it. I don't control the distractions either, those come purely from thoughts that zip in from the aether.

When emotional experiences arise, I don't control those either: the causes and conditions have to be right, and then it will bubble up or explode to the surface. I don't have control over those either. I CAN however, do metta meditations on someone I hate for weeks and wear that hatred down. All of that is to say, "free will" as we're taught it exists is hogwash. Free will is something you have to prepare and train for, so that way when you get into the right situation, it executes according to plan. The "free will" is in the planning and practice, once you're faced with the event, that almost always plays out like a symphony where the conductor might have to make do with what's at hand. A great experiment with free will is to have someone repeat a phrase over and over and then ask a question that makes someone say the opposite thing. If the person's never been exposed to the trick, they'll keep on going sometimes being aware of what they're doing while they're doing it.

Buddhism has definitely taught me to temper my expectations around free will, it does that by meditation and observation of the mind. We don't have an unfettered free will. We can set an intention, do a thing, but our minds inevitably intervene. Meditation sharpens the ability to see when this happens. In my case, I've come to accept that except for function of observing thoughts in the mind, I'm fairly helpless most of the time. Even in the course of writing this sentence, my brain is having two other streams of thought that interject, one reminding me to get back to work, and another wondering what I'm going to have for lunch.

It's pure folly from my experience, to claim I have any real control over more than maybe 25% of the total active brain activity I experience in a day. And this is all when I'm actively engaged in a task, writing these words, and not in the more common state between tasks where, well, that's just a whirlwind of randomness, like the nonstop shifting of a radio dial. >


Matt: As for the parts about grief and whatnot: Nowhere does it say not to grieve, but the steps here I originally posted was from a summary given to monks about the final stages of meditation before you break through to Nibbana. you are simply part of a bigger cosmos, that any sense of ownership you have is illusory and fleeting... All religions have a sense for this: give up your desire for control. Buddhism takes it a little farther by drawing those lines to all the things that go on inside your head as well.

I think though, I've found the spots that seem the most "sticky" to your thinking, "equanimity," and "attachment." I've hopefully filled out the definition for equanimity more fully, as well as filled out a little better the discussion on attachments. Just like with stoicism, the idea isn't to become robots, the idea is to have a better recognition for what's fleeting so you don't overidentify with those things and cause more suffering for yourself than you otherwise would have.


For some folks, stuck with hurtful memories, leaving the past is difficult. It is like fighting the inevitable. Losses must happen.


Forgiveness meditations for me, have helped immensely to heal exactly these sorts of things. Beyond just the logical "it's the past, you can't change it." It's like peeling back layers of an onion and finding bits of sand... that's the best analogy I can think of.

^^^I didn't control the construction of that analogy either, I asked myself, 'what's a good analogy for this,' and after a few seconds of buzzing, an onion appeared in my mind, and a reference to the princess and the pea. I then actively put those bits together, recognizing that we never actually find grains of sand in an onion, now do we? I better qualify that with 'best analogy I can think of...'

I am fascinated by your exposition of how your brain seems to struggle so actively. My mind is quiet by comparison. Perhaps it is because I'm not looking deeper as you do. I don 't have the desire but for some reason you do. Can tell us why you had to do this in Buddhism?


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