Nibbana tangent parts 1 & 2 (Agnosticism)

by dhw, Monday, May 20, 2024, 09:43 (24 days ago) @ xeno6696

dhw: A monk’s experience doesn’t explain to me why I should rid myself of all the personal desires which are integral to my individuality and the fulfilment of which have given me the greatest joy in life. But I can understand totally that if my desires cause unhappiness for me or other people, then I need to make changes to myself.

MATT: I think 2 is the only spot where I can at least offer something. If you don't see the need for any given philosophy/religion/whatever, then I mean, you're done really. For me, it made a whole lot of sense that suffering is ultimately caused by a whole lot of unchecked ego.

I have no disagreement with your last sentence! Apart from sufferings caused by the natural world, most of our pain is certainly caused by what I usually call selfishness – which is the same as the “unchecked ego”. And I certainly see the need for some sort of moral code, though that can be boiled down to the single precept of “do as you would be done by”. As for a “given” philosophy, there are countless philosophies and religions, and if any of them help people to enjoy life while doing as they would be done by, that’s fine with me. But none of this means that we must rid ourselves of all our desires and “all concept of self must disappear”.

MATT: I can offer only this: that what you believe to be integral to your individuality, might not be as integral as you think. I'm fairly certain, the things important to you at 20 were different than now, and 20yrs from now, will still likely be different again.

Again there is no disagreement. You are echoing what I said in my last post, but simply phrased from a different perspective: "However, if you’ve been a bigot and new information or new experiences teach you not to be a bigot, then of course the “I” will change, and this is how I see it – a mixture of the actual and the potential, and the potential can never become totally actual unless you undergo every experience life can offer you".

This means that changes may happen at any time according to each new experience. And that applies not only to priorities but also to opinions, beliefs, attitudes , and even tastes. But the ever changing “me” is still “me”. My aim is not to “make all concept of self disappear”, but to enrich the self (and if the self is sick, then to heal it), always with the proviso that the ego must not be “unchecked”. And so yes, the unchecked ego must be reined in, but that does not mean the ego must be obliterated.

MATT: […] Part of being a scientist is being an empiricist, and it's impossible for those things to not influence your personality, so I reject your rejection here!

What do you think I have rejected? Your personality may influence your beliefs, and your beliefs may influence your personality, but both may well be changed by later experiences, as with my example of the bigot.

MATT: You can measure your extent to your ego's involvement by how you feel when someone challenges you about it.

Of course you can. What is intrinsically wrong with an extensive involvement? Later you give an example about someone’s enthusiasm: “I should take note of that and not let it excite me too much!" For some people, that might "dull" life, but to me that's a healthy enjoyment, that also prevents my ego from harming myself or others.” If I rage against racism, social injustice, the dictator who slaughters his opponents, is this to be regarded as undesirable? A passionate ego is far more likely to do good deeds than an impartial one. But a passionate ego determined to pursue selfish ends at the expense of others is what causes trouble. The solution, as I see it, is not to “make all concept of self disappear”, but – if I may use your adjective – to create a “healthy” balance both within the ego (the balance being between what causes joy and what causes suffering to oneself) and in its relations to other egos.

I’ll leave it there for the time being, as I am becoming more and more convinced that in terms of the development of the self (as opposed to its total disappearance) we are actually in agreement.

DAVID: I must not be as critical. I feel at peace as is.

MATT: You must be dead! ;-)

Yep, that’s what I said about your Nibbana!:-)


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