Author Topic: Stopping striving or not?  (Read 22876 times)

Quardamon

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Stopping striving or not?
« on: July 22, 2014, 07:47:25 PM »
I want to speak of one of the things that I keep in the back of my mind.
In my view it would be healthy if people in general would suffer along with the biosphere that suffers throught the actions of humans. Think of the heating of the globe, and the climate change that it brings.

I must admit that I never felt a direct suffering from that.
Around 1992 I did a week workshop with Joanna Macy - an American Buddhist - on Deep Ecology. We did an exercise of going back in time - through our lives, through history and toward the beginning of evolution or earlier. And then we came back forward in time. I remember sobbing when in my experience, for the first time in evolution, a one-cellular being started eating an other one-cellular being.
Toward the end of that week, we did an exercise in which we were dared to tell what we would do when we were in possession of our full potential. I did not know - I got stuck. But my partner in that exercise said: "I know - you would become a father." Anyway, one or two years later I indeed became a father. Which I see as something positive - and have seen as positive, for the last 20 years.

I am trying to say, that maybe I am a bit over-the-top idealistic if I think we need to do something about global heating.
In December 2009 we were joined by sushil_yadav. He had a view that our modern society was going wrong, wrong, wrong.
See for instance: http://www.vipassanaforum.net/forum/index.php/topic,615.msg4801.html#msg4801
On a different forum, in 2010 or 2011 he wrote something to the effect that his vision was to be seen as an artist's impression, not as a call-to-action in the strict sense.
Today I googled his screen name again, and read some posts of him from summer 2013. Like this one:
http://forum.philosophynow.org/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=860&start=210#p138880
I am afraid, that his view does him more harm than good. And that promoting his view is not seen as proper social behaviour.

Maybe what I am trying to say - or just sigh - is:
"If I stop trying to better things, will they go better?"  ;)

Dharmic Tui

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Re: Stopping striving or not?
« Reply #1 on: July 23, 2014, 12:43:39 AM »
There is a lot of homo sapien guilt or blame out there which in my mind comes from an innate misunderstanding of what a human is and what they should do. We're an intelligent animal still largely ruled by emotions of self interest. It does seem like over time we're getting closer to greater levels of social empathy. I think if we could do away with scarcity that would speed things up no end.

Middleway

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Re: Stopping striving or not?
« Reply #2 on: July 23, 2014, 03:47:27 AM »
http://forum.philosophynow.org/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=860&start=210#p138880
Holy jumpin! This guy is nuts.... :).

The world does what it does. It is entirely random. Take for example, a dark cloud does not mean it will rain. It may or may not. You could infer trends from the set of individual events but when you increase the time scale, the set will just become an individual event. Like the rise and fall of the Roman Empire. It is a random event. But the guys living at the tail end of it must have been thinking "could have, should have, would have" etc. The evolution is also a random event.

We are all bound in a contained system with one's actions affecting others and we look for reasons or causes. Going down the trail of finding the causes or trying to predict the future is meaningless. Sure, a guy would promptly become a road kill if he runs into a busy highway during peak traffic hour. The result of his straying into highway is predictable, but for the guy who hit him, that event is entirely random. He probably wanted to leave the office sooner but may have caught up in discussion. He could say to himself, if only I left when I wanted to, this would not have happened to me etc.

Trying to change the world is futile. That is our ego getting entangled and surely we will suffer. We should not strive, but we should not stop either. We should let our ideas (for betterment) float away like pollen from a tree. The tree does not care if the pollen will take root and grow into big trees like it and keep its legacy. It just lets out the pollen because that is its nature.

World has no self. How can we make it change? We cannot make the cloud rain.
Take everything I say with a grain of salt.

Re: Stopping striving or not?
« Reply #3 on: July 23, 2014, 05:44:00 AM »
Better and worse , day and night, good and bad, on and off... These are all mental constrains.. Mind believes only one of these can exist as reality at any given time.. But if we come out of this constrain we see both exist simultaneously in nature...

Relax , all is well  :)

VinceField

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Re: Stopping striving or not?
« Reply #4 on: July 23, 2014, 06:18:58 AM »
"If I stop trying to better things, will they go better?"  ;)

Let's apply this question to the Buddhist path.  If you stop making an effort to end suffering in your life, will suffering end?  That is, if you stop following the path laid out by the Buddha, will you reach the path's destination?

This is obviously more complicated when applied to issues that require a lot more than just one person's efforts to induce change, but all large-scale change starts with the individual.   

Also, the manner in which one attempts to "better things" and one's motivation of same should be considered in the light of the Buddha's teachings.  If one comes from a place of selflessness and compassion, and the means to an end are in accordance with the eightfold path, I see no problems.  :) 




VinceField

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Re: Stopping striving or not?
« Reply #5 on: July 23, 2014, 06:30:15 AM »
Funny, I just came across this thread over at DW.  It's quite relevant:

http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=42&t=21318

Re: Stopping striving or not?
« Reply #6 on: July 23, 2014, 08:53:25 AM »
In matter like these karma yoga suits best for one to apply alongside the practice of vipassana.

shu

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Re: Stopping striving or not?
« Reply #7 on: July 23, 2014, 11:00:59 AM »
Better and worse , day and night, good and bad, on and off... These are all mental constrains.. Mind believes only one of these can exist as reality at any given time.. But if we come out of this constrain we see both exist simultaneously in nature...

Relax , all is well  :)

Disclaimer: the following questions are not meant in an aggressive way. :) I really want to understand this better.
Is this stance something that evolves out of the buddhist teachings: all is well, no need for action?
Do you watch the news and think 'All is well'? Do you think that the work of the activists of Greenpeace or Amnesty International is futile?
Or do you mean something like: we should be equanimous, relax about the problems, but still take action and try to better the situation?

Dharmic Tui

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Re: Stopping striving or not?
« Reply #8 on: July 23, 2014, 11:10:19 AM »
Also, the manner in which one attempts to "better things" and one's motivation of same should be considered in the light of the Buddha's teachings.  If one comes from a place of selflessness and compassion, and the means to an end are in accordance with the eightfold path, I see no problems.  :)
It does pose interesting moral connotations. Sometimes the morally right approach may not have as good effects as something with more dubious motivations. Take capitalism for instance, it can lead to economics which are clearly self interested and inequitable, but then there's also an argument to be made about it's ability to lift so many people from poverty. Conversely one can have noble or altruistic intentions, but consequences can be dire (refer: most instances of Communism).

Re: Stopping striving or not?
« Reply #9 on: July 23, 2014, 02:33:00 PM »

Or do you mean something like: we should be equanimous, relax about the problems, but still take action and try to better the situation?

Yes that's exactly what I ment... That's why I suggested karma yoga. Do what you can, what you feel is right and forget about the result and the bigger picture of cause and effect. Only a Buddha can know the exact reason for origination of everything... (Not even an arahanth knows)
« Last Edit: July 23, 2014, 08:18:02 PM by siddharthgode »

shu

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Re: Stopping striving or not?
« Reply #10 on: July 23, 2014, 06:35:19 PM »
Ok, thank you! I was hoping this was the answer. :)

Quardamon, sushil_yadav seems to be lost in anger and despair. You can't reach people anymore when you're so angry. And he's hurting his cause by acting like this and condemning mankind.
« Last Edit: July 23, 2014, 08:17:45 PM by shu »

Re: Stopping striving or not?
« Reply #11 on: July 23, 2014, 08:19:58 PM »
Quardamon, sushil_yadav seems to be lost in anger and despair. You can't reach people anymore when you're so angry. And he's hurting his cause by acting like this and condemning mankind.

I dont think they are angry , They are just a little dissatisfied. Well that is the nature of everything around us anyway.

Matthew

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Re: Stopping striving or not?
« Reply #12 on: July 23, 2014, 11:37:45 PM »
Referring to your original question Quardamon, I do not think it is a simple case of stop striving things will get better.

The eightfold path includes: right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort. All involve directed intentional action aimed at positive change. So in the Buddhist teaching these things are of great importance. I think, perhaps, there is a nuance in the word "striving" which we take as negative. Maybe "work" is more neutral?

Matthew
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Middleway

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Re: Stopping striving or not?
« Reply #13 on: July 24, 2014, 02:21:17 AM »
The eightfold path includes: right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort. All involve directed intentional action aimed at positive change.
Intentional actions aimed at positive change within ourselves. Not the world in general. Buddha never attempted to change the world and not even an individual. He provided us the eightfold path to follow to change ourselves. The change comes only if we are willing. He sent out the pollen of dhamma and his job was done.
Take everything I say with a grain of salt.

VinceField

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Re: Stopping striving or not?
« Reply #14 on: July 24, 2014, 03:01:31 AM »
Quote
Buddha never attempted to change the world and not even an individual.

My understanding is that Buddha's goal was to liberate the world from suffering by teaching the Dharma. 

Of course, he did not aggressively seek to change the world through forceful implementation of policies or other assertive methods, but I do believe that through teaching the path to liberation he was attempting to assist in the liberation of not just some people, but of the entire world.  I would imagine that his compassion was limitless and thus he would desire for all beings to be free from suffering.  Of course, the path to liberation that he taught cannot by implemented by anyone other than the person on the path, so by teaching others how to break free from suffering he was effectively helping to induce positive change, both on an individual level and on a planetary level.

yossarian

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Re: Stopping striving or not?
« Reply #15 on: July 24, 2014, 03:22:01 AM »
Right, change enough individuals and you can change the world. That being said, the Buddha also pressed kings to provide for the poor in their kingdoms... so it's complex.  I think that Gotama, from an ethical standpoint, took definite stances on a large number of issues.
The question then becomes what we should do about it... well, what did he do about it? He gave people another option and also advocated for the poor and sick, though perhaps not as overtly as Jesus.

From what I've been reading, it seems that the Sramana ethic of removing oneself from society often comes into conflict with what most would call "moral action". Although the Buddha recommended checking out to better yourself and aspiring to harmlessness, there are a set of principles behind his teaching which can be taken as a view on proper action and expanded upon, IMHO. The Dalai Lama and Tich Nhat Hanh certainly seem to think so. Otherwise, we wouldn't know who they are.

I definitely reject the view that we can't change anything, so why bother. Look at how far humans have come just in the past century (civil rights, women's suffrage, etc)
« Last Edit: July 24, 2014, 04:15:20 AM by yossarian »

Dharmic Tui

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Re: Stopping striving or not?
« Reply #16 on: July 24, 2014, 06:07:38 AM »
Contextually I wonder how big the "good" things are.

Matthew

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Re: Stopping striving or not?
« Reply #17 on: July 24, 2014, 11:17:28 AM »
The eightfold path includes: right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort. All involve directed intentional action aimed at positive change.
Intentional actions aimed at positive change within ourselves. Not the world in general. Buddha never attempted to change the world and not even an individual. He provided us the eightfold path to follow to change ourselves. The change comes only if we are willing. He sent out the pollen of dhamma and his job was done.

Within "ourselves" - this is where I would disagree. The Buddha, of course, was teaching first and foremost about this yet changing ourselves does change the world around us. Also the Buddha took stances on many social and political issues and there were many attempts on his life as a result. The doctrine of rebirth vs reincarnation was a radical political stance against the caste system.
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Quardamon

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Re: Stopping striving or not?
« Reply #18 on: July 24, 2014, 11:44:21 AM »
Thank you Siddharthgode, for pointing me to karma yoga.

And yes, Shu, I know this theme of being lost in anger and despair. It rings a bell, because my father was lost in those feelings, when I grew up. (He wanted to better the world very dearly.)
Yesterday night, when I meditated at four o'clock in the morning, the thought / picture came to me of a predatory conviction: I did not have a conviction, but a conviction held me.

Middleway, I am not so sure that the world has no self. I really do not know. I never met it.
Did you know that one of the books of Joanna Macy is called: "World as Lover - World as Self"?

I think that being nuts is part of human life. It is like the logical is surrounded by the mythical & non-logical. There are people that believe, that they are saved from original sin by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Even when they learn that there is no biblical basis for that conviction, they hold on to that believe. That believe is not logical, but still it it basic in their lives, and it would be silly to try and take it away.
Once I was on my way with four people who were going to pray and fast four four days in the woods. Three of them told, that they were convinced that it was possible to live eternally, fysically. That is not the kind of thing that one hears from people under normal circumstances.
What I mean to say is, that ideas about how the world is put together come and go. And they do not need to be logical or sane. Most have a kind of logic within themselves, or within the social group that holds them in regard. And it seems that we can live with that, and that we haved lived with that for ages.

So I am playing with the idea, that it would be healthy in our time to believe that there is a world-soul.

And also, indeed Shu, I am afraid that I could be knocked off balance totally. (Hence the idea of "being held by a conviction".)

It feels good for me that we have an exchange on this. Thank ye all.

Middleway

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Re: Stopping striving or not?
« Reply #19 on: July 25, 2014, 01:39:08 AM »
Middleway, I am not so sure that the world has no self. I really do not know. I never met it.
Did you know that one of the books of Joanna Macy is called: "World as Lover - World as Self"?

I think that being nuts is part of human life. It is like the logical is surrounded by the mythical & non-logical. There are people that believe, that they are saved from original sin by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Even when they learn that there is no biblical basis for that conviction, they hold on to that believe. That believe is not logical, but still it it basic in their lives, and it would be silly to try and take it away.
Once I was on my way with four people who were going to pray and fast four four days in the woods. Three of them told, that they were convinced that it was possible to live eternally, fysically. That is not the kind of thing that one hears from people under normal circumstances.
What I mean to say is, that ideas about how the world is put together come and go. And they do not need to be logical or sane. Most have a kind of logic within themselves, or within the social group that holds them in regard. And it seems that we can live with that, and that we haved lived with that for ages.

So I am playing with the idea, that it would be healthy in our time to believe that there is a world-soul.

And also, indeed Shu, I am afraid that I could be knocked off balance totally. (Hence the idea of "being held by a conviction".)

It feels good for me that we have an exchange on this. Thank ye all.

I did not mean to be disrespectful to Sushil Yadav or his views. I started reading his opinion at the start of that thread and found that it was very long for a typical post in a discussion forum. I did not read that book you mentioned but I do believe that there is a universal consciousness with the universe as its cosmic body.




Take everything I say with a grain of salt.

Middleway

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Re: Stopping striving or not?
« Reply #20 on: July 25, 2014, 01:49:28 AM »
Folks, we all agree that we cannot control our own thoughts and actions. I have been taught that in order to subdue the mind, I have to let go. How do we expect to control or change other people's thoughts and actions for good or bad? One can do it for a while by force but eventually they are bound to fail. I guess we will have to agree to disagree on this one.

Kindly,

Middleway
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VinceField

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Re: Stopping striving or not?
« Reply #21 on: July 25, 2014, 02:37:47 AM »
I believe that the concept of Karma is a testament to the idea that we indeed cause change to the world around us. 

I agree that we cannot force change upon others, it must come from within the individual.  However, this does not mean that one cannot help to influence change in others.  This is what the Buddha did.

Dharmic Tui

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Re: Stopping striving or not?
« Reply #22 on: July 25, 2014, 10:11:57 AM »
Change usually lasts better if it's gradual. Equanimity FTW

VinceField

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Re: Stopping striving or not?
« Reply #23 on: July 25, 2014, 05:45:51 PM »
So I am playing with the idea, that it would be healthy in our time to believe that there is a world-soul.

I tend to agree with the idea that perhaps there is a level of collective consciousness that encompasses all living beings on the planet and the planet itself.  I believe it is logical to conclude that Earth itself has both consciousness and intelligence, for the intricacy and balance of the life-sustaining systems it has in place is something that surpasses even the brightest human intelligence.  In a way it can be said that all living beings are essentially creations of the planet, and I couldn't conceive of the odds that the nearly impossible complexity of the human brain and body that has come to be was just an accident, or not the work of a higher intelligence.

I would assume that many Buddhists would say that entertaining the belief of a world soul is an act of delusion, and would essentially only bring suffering, as all delusions do.  Why do you believe this would not be so in this case? 

Middleway

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Re: Stopping striving or not?
« Reply #24 on: July 25, 2014, 05:54:07 PM »
I believe that the concept of Karma is a testament to the idea that we indeed cause change to the world around us. 

I agree that we cannot force change upon others, it must come from within the individual.  However, this does not mean that one cannot help to influence change in others.  This is what the Buddha did.

Karma is action. Action does not produce change. It produces consequences or results. For example, good actions with wholesome intent will likely produce good consequences or good results. The operative word is "likely". We can act but the consequences are beyond our control or influence. A billion environmental factors come into play to produce one particular consequence and our action is being one of them.

What makes us think that we can influence a change in others?
Take everything I say with a grain of salt.