Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Eastern Promise - Part IV

Part I here

Having highlighted our differences between the Eastern traditions, we are now in a position to consider the next part of the question. Been busy writing, so my blog has been neglected of late...

You asked me what I think you are doing.

I think you are going down the same route many Eastern philosophies are. You are trying to reach Nirvana by rejecting the 'I'. If this is indeed a faulty assumption on my part, then I am more than willing to be corrected.

It seems in the last part, I have unfairly put all spiritual seekers in with the annihilation mob. This is not true simply because not all seekers are trying to annihilate all their thoughts and emotions, it seems some misguided people are trying to do this but not all. Thanks for pointing that out to me, you know who you are :)

So if we were to be rejecting an I, we would have to identify exactly what it is we are rejecting. This is not really possible though since 'I' refers to nothing. In order to reject something it has to exist. In order to reject an 'I' which our accuser is suggesting here, assumes that we have identified something that needs to be rejected. This gets tricky here quite simply. I sit here writing and using 'I' as a valid pronoun but as the man says:

“One of the most misleading representational techniques in our language is the use of the word 'I.'” (Wittgenstein)

What we mean is that 'I' has no meaning other than as a pronoun. Like the hand gesture towards me in sign language, that is all it really represents. 'I' does not refer to the self who is behind the thinking or actions, we just take it to mean that it does because we tack on extra semantic meaning on to it.

Now, one cannot deny that the thoughts about an 'I' exist. Its true really when we start to think of no self people often believe that we are rejecting an apparent part of our reality. This is simply not the case and is a misconception. 'I' is a thought, it is not real. Thoughts are real, 'you' are not. 'You' is merely a disposition to think in terms as though there is some entity behind those thoughts and actions that arise from the body.

That is as simple as we can boil it down.

The whole point of looking is to see this is a fundamental truth in real life. It requires rejecting nothing apart from faulty beliefs you can discard after empirically falsifying them for yourself.

Next we start to move on to the idea that we are rejecting something that doesn't exist, which of course makes no sense. I guess certain people must generally assume we are trying to reject the thoughts that we encounter? 
This would amount, from our point of view, to denying a fundamental aspect of reality that is blatantly in our awareness. This in itself would be the very epitome of delusion. So know the last thing anyone should be trying to do is rejecting thoughts. This would merely be resistance to what IS.

So from this position, we can start to look at the supposed 'achievement' we are supposed to be chasing. What is Nirvana? Can we really conceptualise it? It seems that there are various definitions of what it is, from the literal translation of Heaven in Hinduism, liberation from Samsara and karmic bondage, It is also Buddha's description as:

'The state of mind free from craving and an enduring transcendental happiness, [that is] qualitatively different from transitory happiness derived from impermanent things' (Buddha)

With this in mind, we have a variety of ambiguous terminology we should pick apart.
  • On the definition of heaven, the Hindus refer to the realm of Shiva. Of course if you believe in gods then good luck to you but we can say we are not searching for a god, this is simply a representation of belief.
  • Assuming there is such a thing called Samsara and Karma, we would simply be trying to escape from metaphysical dogma. This would make us no different from some deluded religious believer.
  • Perhaps Buddha's definition would be worth investigating here, although I am led to believe that our friend here was referring to the former definitions. Needless to say, if I am going to pick a suitable position then it is incumbent on me to demonstrate why I would say that this would be a better description.

A state of mind free from craving would be desirable of course. Whilst I could say that I am free from craving this is only true in a strict sense, where craving can arise but I am free from it. This sounds like a weird contradiction in terms, so let me elaborate further here and define what I mean.

Desire is a natural part of human nature that is essentially part of our goal seeking mechanism which is not inherently bad in of itself. 
We may say I want to go to a party and then we describe this as having a desire to go. This seems to be accurate but it is not for the simple reason that intention and desire can be read differently. I have an intention to go to a party.

I define desire as having the intention to go to the party but having a further contingent goal in mind. For example people may go to the party and hope people think they are well dressed or they will meet a girl/ guy there. 
The mental object in these cases is representative of desire. Now we could add further conditions to this and then literally fantasise about the outcome of the party even to the point that we convince ourselves that we must achieve a particular outcome, which in this case is our object of desire.

This cascade of mental phenomenon, one encounters related to this perceived outcome, is what we can correctly call craving. I am sure you can think of times when you have craved food and cigarettes for example. Craving is simply a temporal perpetuation of this desire.

My view now, is that craving may slip in to my thinking now and then but it can simply be seen as transparent. For instance, I am looking for a job at the moment, so my intention is to get a job.

If I had a job my life would be 'better' for x reasons. This is a healthy level of desire, there is nothing wrong with this in of itself. 

I used the term better in the sense that having more money enables me to do more things. This is preferable to being able to do less things, despite the futility of this state and exchanging my time for money, we find ourselves inextricably bound to obtain money to go and do certain things. Within this you could identify with 'the position I get' but for me that level of identification has fallen away and there is just a desire to get a job.

Now, perhaps the job is not forthcoming at the moment and my salience could focus on the 'negative' aspects of not working. Perhaps I could focus on how dire the employment situation is in the UK and of course the thought 'will I ever get a job?'

This mechanism can be seen through but it may not be believed, be believed for a few seconds, a minute, or if Maya really creeps in a few days before it is seen as fantasising. So in that respect, this would be where liberation would not be abiding for me. 
However, once it is looked at, the structure collapses and it is seen as inert. It is just a force of habit that these things are identified with briefly and I sense it is slowly unraveling of its own accord.

This then leads us to question the next stage of inquiry. What would be beneficial now? 
Would it be to never experience these thoughts again, or to automatically see them as inert?

This I think highlights the dilemma of the annihilation mob. There seems to be a school of thought that has mistakenly taken the words of the Eastern philosophies literally. In my experience I have come across various people whose goal it was to destroy the capacity to think.

First, a Cambodian meditation school in Pnomh Penh, where they told me their ultimate goal was to slow down the chain of thoughts until they stopped completely and they had no thoughts. 
Secondly, I learnt meditation and martial arts in Thailand. My Kruu was preparing to go off in to the mountains in China to burn his ego in a few months time. He literally planned to be a solipsist cave dweller. Then of course this memorable quote by the guy who asked me these questions.

You are voluntarily reverting back to a vegetative state. No, that is not even true. Plants learn and adapt as well. You are reverting to a pre-vegetative state”.

What the guy said there was true. If you do not think then you are no better off than a plant - that is what the message is. This I think is the mistake that an alarming amount of people seem to make in thinking this is what enlightenment actually is.

I will tell you categorically here that this is nonsense. We are not trying to annihilate all thought, this is not actually what enlightenment is. 
By trying to annihilate and run away from your thoughts you are resisting what happens in real life. What we are trying to see is that we are of a disposition to think in illusory terms and really, these thoughts are merely fantasy.

This is where I think Ciaran fell short in his search. Ciaran heralded the 'heresy of annihilation' as something that was to be avoided. This guy here even sees it as:

'The problem with both Enlightenment and Liberation, is that it takes you out of the world. And you can read that in any way you want.'

I even believed it to start with but it seems to me that it is an inevitability of this journey whether I want to cling to it or not. It is plain that the construct is weakening bit by bit as time goes on and the egos ability to con this biological machine in to believing that it is controlling life is lessening. It just seems to be more in line with servicing humanity these days.  
Since there is nothing to annihilate I don't forsee a problem with this, the only way it cannot happen is by clinging and identifying it would seem. Since this is what we are weeding out, there is no rush to be enlightened this will come naturally as the illusion fades away.

So what else is there to say on the matter? Well I was going to lay in to karma and Samsara but I feel I have covered this eastern angle for now and I am at a loss to explain how since there is no division that anything can have a foundation to carry the karmic conditions that loop round in Samsara. 
That is a real mystery perhaps I will look in to it one day but there again, we all have better things to do than talk about metaphysical conjectures ;)

In this series I think I have unravelled some of my perceptions of the Eastern traditions and how they relate to us, and also from the exchanges I have had with various people my thinking has been corrected and my misconceptions have been highlighted to me. 

Part III saw the RT dogma surface but I am thankful that was highlighted to me and it seems that it was misdirected but there was an element of truth to it in the sense that we are inevitably breaking our conditioning. 
This has opened my eyes alot more for sure and I am not anti spiritual as I was initially, however as a caveat, if you want to discuss spiritual notions they have to be grounded in reality! 


Post a Comment

Popular Posts