« Religions are sort of like conspiracy theories | Main | Why quantum is relative, as Buddhism surmises »

March 20, 2021


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

As one Master put it, humans are in the act of doing one of two things in almost every given moment: A human is either thinking about or pursuing material desires - or he/she is averting and turning away from any type of pain. This is a natural response. Everyone loves pleasures and no one likes to be in pain, physically or mentally. General harmony and equilibrium is dependent on a life of comforts and pleasures, keeping pain at bay.

I like this description very much and see it clearly in myself, and others. As to the presence of a "self", there must be an executive decision maker within each of us, whether we are homeless bums or rich celebs. Decisions must be made continuously in the wakeful state and so our egos, coupled with the mind and its range of past experiences, chooses actions and reactions almost always leaning towards sense-pleasures and the avoidance of pain.

The presence of an aware "self" to carry out these decisions is a given, IMHO. Now, the great rishis and masters who have explored their own "self" in meditation and contemplation have outlined a graduated refinement of "self" as their practice fructified. Their journeys have always been intense and internal, rejecting the external world and all its fanfaronade. This is an area of study which I have always been attracted to. To come face to face with the question, "Who Am I", is a natural movement in our evolution.

It is an exciting and self gratifying experience to explore one's own being. There can be futility and many falls, but I believe this search is a genuine movement towards Truth.

Great post. Food for thought, absolutely.

Some thoughts and questions:

(1) The whole continuity myth is busted, if this kind of thinking is internalized. Sure, you might want to make sure your child is well cared for, even after you're gone. Perhaps your child's child as well, in as much her happiness would directly impact your own child's. So, maybe a generation, two, three at most. But beyond that? The kind of madness people indulge in, individuals, families, tribes, nations, to ensure "they" endure on and on .... What sense is there in that kind of thing?


(2) Given that the Buddha did not have access to modern science, HOW ON EARTH DID HE PRONOUNCE THESE THINGS SO MANY MILLENNIA AGO?

After all, this was not some random casual thought of his. This is something he "discovered", and clung to with such confidence and steadfastness that he allegedly renounced forever a kingdom and family and a life of opulence, all of which were his for the asking. So, how exactly did he get this revelation of his?

I think that's an extremely piquant question. Might there, after all, be some kind of ...faculty, that isn't simply reason, that might help us answer questions of this nature?

That sort of thinking sounds superstitious. And yet, unless this were so, then you cannot really explains how exactly modern science happens to converge on to the Buddha's teachings.


(3) I remain extremely curious to know what RW's take is, his take based on science, on what enlightenment, Buddhist style, might be. Is it merely this understanding? In which case, why the centrality of meditation to this process, of understanding this? Or is it RW's view that meditation is NOT essential to this enlightenment thing, given what we know and understand today?

Quote RW (and Brian) : "... there seem to be a series of selves that take turns running the show -- and in a sense, seizing control of the show.... If the way they seize control of the show is through feelings, it stands to reason that one way to change the show is to change the role feelings play in everyday life. I'm not aware of a better way to do that than mindfulness meditation."

Why wouldn't simply internalizing this realization, this understanding, suffice?

Sure, meditation has plenty of benefits. A better grip on your feelings is one of them. That much, sure. And a good many more benefits as well, absolutely.

But this isn't what RW is talking about here. He's speaking of an essential decoupling of our feelings and our thoughts with whatever it is "we" are.

And I'm wondering why merely understanding all of this clearly, merely internalizing this fully, wouldn't suffice to give one this changed perspective.

(Playing devil's advocate here, by the way. I meditate myself, and I'm sold on the Theravadin technique. But I do what I do because I enjoy it, and because I find it beneficial for my mental well-being.

How and why meditation might facilitate this decoupling of feelings and thoughts with our sense of self -- not just assist, not just oil the wheels so to say, but actually provide the motive power (which is what RW's words imply) -- is what I don't get.

And yes, this does tie in with my earlier comment. About how on earth the Buddha came to know all of this, without knowing a thing about all of what science has revealed to us of the world and about ourselves.)

Hi Albert
You ask
"To come face to face with the question, "Who Am I", is a natural movement in our evolution."

The answer is not who but what.
There is no who. The vessel, cleaned of debris and dust, is empty.

Yet that emptiness is bursting with an unseen, invisible, without taste or texture, indefinable but unavoidable, without source but effulgent, radiant light in a sea of darkness, life.

I'm am that.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)


  • Welcome to the Church of the Churchless. If this is your first visit, click on "About this site--start here" in the Categories section below.
  • HinesSight
    Visit my other weblog, HinesSight, for a broader view of what's happening in the world of your Church unpastor, his wife, and dog.
  • BrianHines.com
    Take a look at my web site, which contains information about a subject of great interest to me: me.
  • Twitter with me
    Join Twitter and follow my tweets about whatever.
  • I Hate Church of the Churchless
    Can't stand this blog? Believe the guy behind it is an idiot? Rant away on our anti-site.