Author Topic: Stopping striving or not?  (Read 28248 times)

VinceField

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Re: Stopping striving or not?
« Reply #25 on: July 25, 2014, 06:13:49 PM »
I believe the main idea behind the Buddhist concept of Karma is the causality of one's actions. 

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Karma is action. Action does not produce change. It produces consequences or results.

From the dictionary:

Change: make or become different.

Consequence:  a result or effect of some previous occurrence.

Effect: a change that is a result or consequence of an action or other cause.


You see, all consequences and results are inherently a change from a previous state of being. 

A very important concept in Buddhism is impermanence. 


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What makes us think that we can influence a change in others?

Example: A random person walks up to you one day and chops your legs off with an axe.  The results of that person's actions are not just physical change, but most likely a degree of mental change as well.

Another example:  Your parents beat and molest you as a child.  You develop an unhealthy world-view and mental state as a result.

Another example:  You are taught the teachings of the Buddha.  You go on to practice these teachings and as a result you become enlightened.

Need more examples?   ;)

Middleway

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Re: Stopping striving or not?
« Reply #26 on: July 25, 2014, 06:22:43 PM »
Need more examples?   ;)

No. I don't want to run the risk of getting yelled at again.... :)
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VinceField

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Re: Stopping striving or not?
« Reply #27 on: July 25, 2014, 06:49:50 PM »
I don't want to run the risk of getting yelled at again.... :)

Hmm you must be referring to another conversation.  There has been nothing but pleasant, civilized discussion here.

Middleway

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Re: Stopping striving or not?
« Reply #28 on: July 25, 2014, 07:18:04 PM »
I don't want to run the risk of getting yelled at again.... :)

Hmm you must be referring to another conversation.  There has been nothing but pleasant, civilized discussion here.

Obviously, I am influenced by others on this forum...  ;D
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Dharmic Tui

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Re: Stopping striving or not?
« Reply #29 on: July 25, 2014, 09:38:24 PM »
  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.
If you adopt a position that a species like a human manifests from a vacuum, yes I guess a human would indeed seem a lucky freak occurrence. If you applied causality to it, not so much.
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?
I guess it depends how much you want to relate a concept like a soul with concepts of intelligence and intent.

We have a tendency to bias our view of everything by anthropomorphizing the way we see, so the default position is to have a human as distinct and "special" from everything else. That is something one could come to view as illusory through practice, that we are no more special than an orange, we just came to be under a different set of circumstances. One just needs to be careful not to elevate the conscious, active intelligence of everything else to human-like levels.

Dharmic Tui

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Re: Stopping striving or not?
« Reply #30 on: July 25, 2014, 09:41:13 PM »
Example: A random person walks up to you one day and chops your legs off with an axe.  The results of that person's actions are not just physical change, but most likely a degree of mental change as well.

Another example:  Your parents beat and molest you as a child.  You develop an unhealthy world-view and mental state as a result.

Another example:  You are taught the teachings of the Buddha.  You go on to practice these teachings and as a result you become enlightened.

Need more examples?   ;)
I think Middleway was inferring to influencing someone to make a change on their own volition. People resist change they don't think they're an agent of, so it is quite a rare thing, especially with egos and all that sort of thing.

VinceField

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Re: Stopping striving or not?
« Reply #31 on: July 25, 2014, 11:50:51 PM »
Well Middleway said,
 
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We can act but the consequences are beyond our control or influence.

In Buddhism it is taught that skillful actions lead to skillful results, and unskillful actions result in unsatisfactory consequences.  The entire practice of Buddhism is essentially modifying our behavior to skillfully influence and control the outcome, which manifests as wholesome states of being.  In other words, the essence of Buddhism rests on the validity of the concept that a the nature of a person's actions will shape the consequences.  I certainly don't live in a world where consequences are beyond my control or influence, and I don't believe anyone else does either.  Otherwise the very concept of choice would be null and void.

And,
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What makes us think that we can influence a change in others?

Granted we cannot simply change another's view in the same way we can change the color of our drapes.  We can certainly influence other people to change, however.  Of course, this depends on the individual's receptiveness to change, the personality type and the strength of their attachments.  But as an example, by simply introducing an idea to a person who then takes that idea, assimilates it and then uses it as a basis to change a particular aspect of themselves, one has effectively had a degree of influence in the change of another person.  Choose any teacher whose teachings have lead his/her students to change and there you have it.  Influencing change and forcing change are entirely different concepts that I believe Middleway has lumped together.

Dharmic Tui

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Re: Stopping striving or not?
« Reply #32 on: July 26, 2014, 12:27:06 AM »
In Buddhism it is taught that skillful actions lead to skillful results, and unskillful actions result in unsatisfactory consequences.  The entire practice of Buddhism is essentially modifying our behavior to skillfully influence and control the outcome
Influence perhaps, control not so much. Control implies ownership and suffering.
I certainly don't live in a world where consequences are beyond my control or influence, and I don't believe anyone else does either.  Otherwise the very concept of choice would be null and void.
That raises some interesting questions.

Given consequences are usually unintended or and offshoot of an action, can one really say to have much in the way of influence, let alone control of them? Or is that a hopeless pursuit of trying to exert control on a complex, and often unpredictable system?

Is the concept of choice actual choice, or just a concept?

  Influencing change and forcing change are entirely different concepts that I believe Middleway has lumped together.
Perhaps he may be interchanging influencing change with trying to control or steer that change.
« Last Edit: July 26, 2014, 12:35:35 AM by Dharmic Tui »

VinceField

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Re: Stopping striving or not?
« Reply #33 on: July 26, 2014, 12:43:58 AM »
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Given consequences are usually unintended or and offshoot of an action, can one really say to have much in the way of influence, let alone control of them?

A consequence is simply "a result or effect of an action or condition."

Every mindful action that I make has an intended consequence.  Whether or not the consequence that manifests is in sync with my intention depends upon the skill I use in acting.  In other words, my degree of influence upon the consequences of my actions are determined by my skill and mindfulness in acting.  Usually the unintended consequences are born from unskillful and unmindful actions. 

A good majority of the world we live in has been mindfully influenced by one person or another, shaped in a person's mind, acted upon and then manifested into the world.  Everything that has ever been manufactured by humans, whether it is buildings, cars, cities, technology, all the social systems that exist, everything that brings law and order to civilization, these are all consequences, in the very definition of the word, that have been influenced or controlled to a degree by one person or another at one time or another.

Dharmic Tui

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Re: Stopping striving or not?
« Reply #34 on: July 26, 2014, 01:38:47 AM »
A consequence is simply "a result or effect of an action or condition."
Typically it is usually unintended though. So for instance, I choose to buy free range chickens because I believe it's more humane for the chickens, and as a consequence, the farmer of caged chickens goes out of business and commits suicide. I guess you could enter into buying free range chickens with a desire for a caged chicken farmer to commit suicide, although I'm not sure what karma would make of that.
Every mindful action that I make has an intended consequence.  Whether or not the consequence that manifests is in sync with my intention depends upon the skill I use in acting.
It also may depend on the reactions of a much larger system one has little to no control over, or can predict. The intention and the actual results can be far beyond mere individual skill.
A good majority of the world we live in has been mindfully influenced by one person or another, shaped in a person's mind, acted upon and then manifested into the world.
I don't think the results of a lot of it are very deliberate. Hitler wanted a world free of Jews and that resulted in a whole nation of them coming to be, for instance.

It's all personal opinion obviously but I don't think we're in much control of our destinies.

VinceField

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Re: Stopping striving or not?
« Reply #35 on: July 26, 2014, 02:19:15 AM »
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It also may depend on the reactions of a much larger system one has little to no control over, or can predict. The intention and the actual results can be far beyond mere individual skill.

Yup.  Sometimes unforeseen variables arise and throw us for a loop.  Nothing is certain, although there is a degree of probability and predictability that generally allows for favorable outcomes when skillful action is applied.

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Hitler wanted a world free of Jews and that resulted in a whole nation of them coming to be, for instance.

This is where the factor of skill comes in.  Hilter acted unskillfully and reaped the appropriate consequences.  Perhaps another way of looking at it is that the Jews acted more skillfully, taking advantage of the situation and "creating" a nation for themselves.  This was deliberate on their part.  Although I'm not sure how much wholesome skill is involved in essentially conquering and ethnically cleansing another nation. 

Dharmic Tui

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Re: Stopping striving or not?
« Reply #36 on: July 26, 2014, 03:59:37 AM »
Im more of the opinion we're only passengers on a bus than the driver.

A question you don't have to answer: have you at any point been a practising Christian of any regularity?

VinceField

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Re: Stopping striving or not?
« Reply #37 on: July 26, 2014, 04:35:57 AM »
Perhaps we're passengers trying to convince the driver to take the short cut.  ;)

I have never been a Christian, nor affiliated with any other religion.  I've always been somewhat of a mongrel, although for a time I resonated closely with the New Age belief paradigm, which is perhaps a mongrel-esque system of philosophy and practice anyway.  These days I'm more of a Buddhist at heart than anything else. 

Dharmic Tui

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Re: Stopping striving or not?
« Reply #38 on: July 26, 2014, 04:52:37 AM »
I like to sit back and enjoy the ride.

I guess my view is to be a positive agent for change in a much more significant system.

VinceField

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Re: Stopping striving or not?
« Reply #39 on: July 26, 2014, 06:13:58 PM »
Enjoying the ride is of upmost importance, although I don't believe that means that one cannot direct where one is heading.

In the passenger/driver analogy with the bus symbolizing life, my view is that a passenger doesn't do much in the way of directing where one is going.  That is why I resonate more with the driver.  This life necessitates choice, and those choices to a large extent determine our destination.  I live in a completely different part of the world than where I was raised and live a quality of life that I didn't even imagine was possible at one point in my life.  Had I not made the choices to alter the path that my bus was once heading, this would not be the case.  In fact, I may not even be alive in this body today.  Of course, this does not mean that I do not enjoy all the views that are available to the passenger- enjoying the ride is also a choice that one must make, whether one is driving or idly sitting by. 

I'm curious how what I have just said fits in with your view of this analogy.  Surely it cannot be denied that we are constantly making choices that shape our present and future, and surely one can enjoy oneself while still being in control of the choices that one makes.  With these two things in mind, what do you see as the differences between the driver and passenger?  Do you have a different interpretation of these two aspects than what I have described? 

Middleway

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Re: Stopping striving or not?
« Reply #40 on: July 26, 2014, 09:44:30 PM »
Enjoying the ride is of upmost importance, although I don't believe that means that one cannot direct where one is heading.

In the passenger/driver analogy with the bus symbolizing life, my view is that a passenger doesn't do much in the way of directing where one is going.  That is why I resonate more with the driver.  This life necessitates choice, and those choices to a large extent determine our destination.  I live in a completely different part of the world than where I was raised and live a quality of life that I didn't even imagine was possible at one point in my life.  Had I not made the choices to alter the path that my bus was once heading, this would not be the case.  In fact, I may not even be alive in this body today.  Of course, this does not mean that I do not enjoy all the views that are available to the passenger- enjoying the ride is also a choice that one must make, whether one is driving or idly sitting by. 

I'm curious how what I have just said fits in with your view of this analogy.  Surely it cannot be denied that we are constantly making choices that shape our present and future, and surely one can enjoy oneself while still being in control of the choices that one makes.  With these two things in mind, what do you see as the differences between the driver and passenger?  Do you have a different interpretation of these two aspects than what I have described? 

The driver DT is referring to is the Dhamma. Dhamma also means the natural and universal law(s). Actions that are consistent with the Dhamma are considered skillful and those that are not are considered unskillful. If a structural engineer does not correctly understand the natural laws and designs a bridge, it may collapse. Someone made a mistake in the design and broke the natural law and caused the space shuttle to explode in the skies. When our actions are consisted with the natural laws, all other environmental factors which also follow the same law come to our support and we likely reap positive consequences. It is said that the entire nature supports us when we follow the Dhamma.

Free will, making choices and controlling our own destiny is a myth. Can I make a free will choice to stop the hair on my head from growing? Can I decide to live in the ocean with the rest of the marine life near Bahamas? Any choice we make or action we take that is inconsistent with the laws of the nature, we will be immediately reminded (most often not so nicely!). So, who is driver and who is the passenger?

All 7.5 billion of us cooped up on a spec of dirt hurtling through space at 500,000 miles per hour. And guess what, nobody is flying our space ship. Anytime an asteroid could hit the earth, or a massive volcano can erupt and wipe us out. But somehow, we think that we can control and shape our own future.

Let us all be passengers on the Dhamma flight.. sit back, relax and enjoy! And let us spread the Dhamma to help some of us (those who may be frightened that there is no pilot flying our plane) to do the same.
Take everything I say with a grain of salt.

Dharmic Tui

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Re: Stopping striving or not?
« Reply #41 on: July 26, 2014, 10:02:37 PM »
Enjoying the ride is of upmost importance, although I don't believe that means that one cannot direct where one is heading.

In the passenger/driver analogy with the bus symbolizing life, my view is that a passenger doesn't do much in the way of directing where one is going.  That is why I resonate more with the driver.  This life necessitates choice, and those choices to a large extent determine our destination.  I live in a completely different part of the world than where I was raised and live a quality of life that I didn't even imagine was possible at one point in my life.  Had I not made the choices to alter the path that my bus was once heading, this would not be the case.  In fact, I may not even be alive in this body today.  Of course, this does not mean that I do not enjoy all the views that are available to the passenger- enjoying the ride is also a choice that one must make, whether one is driving or idly sitting by. 

I'm curious how what I have just said fits in with your view of this analogy.  Surely it cannot be denied that we are constantly making choices that shape our present and future, and surely one can enjoy oneself while still being in control of the choices that one makes.  With these two things in mind, what do you see as the differences between the driver and passenger?  Do you have a different interpretation of these two aspects than what I have described?
This one's easy because we're living parallel lives. I was born and raised in a city, and now I live a half hour bicycle ride from a small town on another island, doing a job that's almost the antithesis of what I spent the bulk of my adult life doing. I made a choice to come here, but that choice had conditions, and those conditions were many, many choices made by other people, that I had no control over. My mother had an affair. Someone fleeced me for every cent I had. Someone close to me got hurt by someone that should have been looking after them. Several people committed suicide. Someone had their neck broken in a car accident. And so on, and so on. Most of those happenings were a source of great upheaval either directly for myself, or people close to me. They were not the stops I wanted the bus to make (there's also more pleasant happenings that had effects, but the unpleasant ones seem to cause the greatest change). Most people's lives are governed by the same sort of flow of tragedy and serendipity.

So I guess it's how isolated you make an individual choice. I can sit back and think "I'm where I'm at because I took control of the bus and steered it where I wanted it to go", but in the scheme of things my input into where I am and what I'm doing is almost insignificant. My decision to change what I'm doing and where I'm doing it could just as easily lead to unintended consequences (and in fact we had a rather massive earthquake last year that could have been far worse). All I'm doing, all that anything does, is react to conditions.

One of the greatest barriers to the progress in my own practice was a desire to control, whether it be my breath, people around me or my own life. Relinquishing that desire and just going with whatever comes along has benefited me immeasurably. Sometimes up, sometimes down, no matter.
« Last Edit: July 26, 2014, 10:05:01 PM by Dharmic Tui »

VinceField

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Re: Stopping striving or not?
« Reply #42 on: July 26, 2014, 10:22:15 PM »
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Free will, making choices and controlling our own destiny is a myth. Can I make a free will choice to stop the hair on my head from growing? Can I decide to live in the ocean with the rest of the marine life near Bahamas?

LOL This is kinda like saying eating is a myth because you can't eat your car.  There are certain things you can eat and there are certain things you can't eat, just as there are certain things we, as humans, can influence and shape by the choices we make, and there are certain things we have no say over.  I chose to write this post.  I chose to put on these specific clothes today.  I chose to marry my wife.  Of course, other aspects of my life I have a more limited influence over, or none at all, but this in no way negates all of the things that I can and do shape via personal choice and free will. 

And as it relates to this forum, once again, if free will and choice were not valid concepts, the teachings of the Buddha would likewise be invalid, for they necessitate personal change via free will choice to embody the wholesome states of mind necessary to eliminate suffering. 

You're quite the "all or nothin" kinda guy, huh?  The world isn't black and white my friend, there are an infinite variety of shades of grey.  :)


VinceField

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Re: Stopping striving or not?
« Reply #43 on: July 26, 2014, 10:48:08 PM »
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All I'm doing, all that anything does, is react to conditions.

Yup.  Conditions arise and then we react to them.  Our choice and influence lies in the way we react to conditions.  For example, the conditions arose in my life to make the choice to move to Brazil.  These conditions were a conglomeration of my own past choices and choices made by others that happened to affect me in certain relevant ways.  I could have chosen to stay in the States, but in my mind, moving was a more skillful option, and so here I am.  Of course we cannot choose something that is not an option, such as to live on Mars or something wacky like Middleway suggested.  But within our personal field of conditions that arise in our lives, we have the power and influence to either make the best of them via skillful action, or not.  We also have the power to give rise to new conditions that aren't simply fallen into our laps, but rather are devised and manifested via skillful action.  Of course, nothing is certain, so our influence cannot be absolute, but it exists nonetheless to the degree that we act skillfully after the random variables of uncertainty are accounted for.

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One of the greatest barriers to the progress in my own practice was a desire to control, whether it be my breath, people around me or my own life. Relinquishing that desire and just going with whatever comes along has benefited me immeasurably.
 

I have likewise discovered this in my own life.  Although, I think that skillful direction of ones life is possible without necessarily having to become involved with all of the craving and aversion that, for many people, comes along with it.

Dharmic Tui

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Re: Stopping striving or not?
« Reply #44 on: July 26, 2014, 10:48:40 PM »
Free will is an oxymoron. Freedom from will is where it's at.

Matthew

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Re: Stopping striving or not?
« Reply #45 on: July 26, 2014, 11:08:32 PM »
Quote from: Tulku Ringu Rinpoche
The most basic teaching of the Buddha is simple: you can change yourself.

You can't control the world but you can change yourself. In changing yourself you change the world around you. You change your reactions (actually you stop reacting and start responding) to events in the world.

Regarding free will, M. Scott Peck wrote, "99% of the people don't know why they are doing what they are doing 99% of the time". My experience tells me there is much truth in this, that most people most of the time are reacting unconsciously and in a conditioned manner to events in their world. The Buddhist path is about deconstructing the false self that is doing the reacting, undoing the conditioning, stopping the reacting, seeing things clearly and responding with progressively greater awareness, wisdom and compassion. That is very much about discovering true 'free' will - will that is free of confusion and conditioning, free from ignorance, greed and intolerance. It's not 'will' as most people ever experienced it.

Matthew
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Dharmic Tui

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Re: Stopping striving or not?
« Reply #46 on: July 26, 2014, 11:29:15 PM »
Of course we cannot choose something that is not an option, such as to live on Mars or something wacky like Middleway suggested.
His point (at least I think) was you might as well live on Mars. We like to think we're making these grand independence decisions but for most people the available options, and our ability to devise and pick choices is greatly conditioned. That is not to say they're pre-determined however.

Middleway

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Re: Stopping striving or not?
« Reply #47 on: July 27, 2014, 12:06:08 PM »
Of course we cannot choose something that is not an option, such as to live on Mars or something wacky like Middleway suggested.
His point (at least I think) was you might as well live on Mars. We like to think we're making these grand independence decisions but for most people the available options, and our ability to devise and pick choices is greatly conditioned. That is not to say they're pre-determined however.

I was making the point that it is against the nature for people to live under water. Like I said, we MUST follow natural laws, if not we SHALL be punished. So, where is the freedom to make our own choices? Living in this world is like going to a casino. We MUST follow ALL the house rules. If we don't, we are immediately thrown out. And yet, the casino gives us the illusion that we are going to win big and we clean out our pockets. When we run out of money, ATMs are nearby. They accept credit cards too. A couple of days later when the hangover is all gone, we will be kicking ourselves. So much for the free will and free choice! Did we make a conscious decision to go bankrupt?

The nature has given us this wonderful thing called mind. This mind is a brilliant random thought generator. It takes a billion external stimuli and decades of past internal stimuli and instantly generates a random thought. All our actions are gross forms of our thoughts. If thoughts are random, then our actions are random. And yet the nature would have us believe (through ego and ignorance) that we make all the decisions and actions out of our free will. That is the illusion! House always wins!
« Last Edit: July 27, 2014, 01:20:34 PM by Middleway »
Take everything I say with a grain of salt.

shu

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Re: Stopping striving or not?
« Reply #48 on: July 27, 2014, 04:37:01 PM »
The nature has given us this wonderful thing called mind. This mind is a brilliant random thought generator. It takes a billion external stimuli and decades of past internal stimuli and instantly generates a random thought. All our actions are gross forms of our thoughts. If thoughts are random, then our actions are random. And yet the nature would have us believe (through ego and ignorance) that we make all the decisions and actions out of our free will. That is the illusion! House always wins!

Middleway, "random thought generator" is too simplistic. Humans are glorified animals, ok. Most people are conditioned, yes. Most people tend to live in autopilot, yes. The idea of 'control over anything' is an illusion, ok.

But we can change ourselves. We can change our thoughts, our view of the world. We can control our actions. We can influence other people and change their view of the world. That isn't a sure thing and if one expects people to change he will be disappointed. But it's possible nevertheless. We can do good for other people. It's not all random.

You make it sound as if we were a horde of automatons, just friking around (thank you, forum filter :) ) without any choice or responsibility. While that may be true for a lot of people almost always (me included), we all have the ability to step out of robot mode and make decisions that are not in line with our programming.

This ability is the foundation of buddhism or any spiritual path. To sit down to meditate is not an action that is born out of a random thought. To become sober or to become clean is not a random action.

If you deny this ability you do many people wrong.

Matthew

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Re: Stopping striving or not?
« Reply #49 on: July 27, 2014, 05:06:09 PM »
Nicely put shu :)
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