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September 26, 2022


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"I'm bringing this up because some people do believe that a goal of spirituality is to be in a steady state of detached calm, no matter what happens in their life.

This sounds horrible to me. "

..........Haha, agreed!

That's kind of the central focus of Buddhist meditation, though. That is, Mahayana, and more so Vajrayana, hint at transcendence, where these fluctuations at this lower level won't matter any more. Kind of like RSSB, I guess. But the original unvarnished message of the Buddha, which is captured in some of the older versions of Theravada, is, as I understand it, squarely about exactly what you're talking about here. Desire is suffering, ergo, to get rid of suffering, get rid of desire (and its obverse, aversion) --- primarily by directly apprehending the essential transience and therefore the futility of desire (and aversion).

That's kind of what I think too, I mean the essentially skeptical/critical/analytical outlook about all of this that your article reflects. People tend to swallow these things wholesale, those that do that is. But goals like these --- are they, to begin with, even possible? If they are, then are they necessarily desirable? These are questions that science is far better equipped to answer, than the traidtions themselves that birthed these ideas.

(And the same, I suppose, can be said for RSSB meditation. I say this to involve the others here, the majority of whom have a background of that tradition. Is the kind of goals that RSSB teaches, are those goals actually accessible? And even if accessed, is that accessing necessarily a happy thing? Those two are questions that science --- real science, not "science of the soul" pseudoscience --- is best equipped to answer, should anyone familiar with and equipped with the actual methods and tools of science be interested in scoping them out.)

Horrible? So, Buddha, Ramana, Nisargadatta , etc. were all miserable??

Yes, life is full of ups and downs, we may try to avoid the downs by various means – one being to identify with something (we believe) is greater than ourselves. This could take the form of perhaps a spiritual path, family or nationality, maybe a celebrity or a team, something to identify with as being part of who I am - identification being basically the process of 'to make the same as'.

And yes, to identify with something does have its emotional ups and downs, but that is all part of life. Unless one sticks ones head in the ground and pretends as Brian's piece ends (some people do believe “a goal of spirituality is to be in a steady state of detached calm, no matter what happens in their life”). Indeed, there are many who practice this pseudo calm. They wear a perpetual smile and appear unmoved by life's highs and lows. The reality often is that they merely think or believe themselves to be happy and calm.

Indeed, many in Buddhist traditions seem to believe that desires and suffering go hand in hand so their answer is to get rid of desires. And this is just the same as other religions fundamentalist thinking. In the Zen and Chan schools its seen somewhat differently. They talk of non-desire or rather non-attachment but understand that attachment is really about not wanting things to be the way they are.

We worry about things we are tightly attached to, we want them to be the way we want them. If our partners – or car or computer – does not perform in the way we expect, then disappointment (or suffering) can result. Mental equanimity reflects an accepting attitude of all that arises. Doesn't mean to behave like a doormat but to be able to deal with whatever life throws at us and not be totally thrown when it does not conform to our desires – or beliefs.

After all, there is nothing wrong about being upset, just as there is nothing wrong with being happy – its all a matter of living life as it is and not how we desire it to be.

@ Brian Ji [ I'm bringing this up because some people do believe that a goal of spirituality is to be in a steady state of detached calm, no matter what happens in their life. This sounds horrible to me. ]

I used to believe that... a blissful calm was worth any cost. Especially
if it eliminated the emotional roller-coaster. But I've since decided that
the more cogent goal is just enjoying the ride moment-to-moment while
always being mindful you're on a roller coaster. Kinda like taking a
refreshing scenic drive in the country on a motorbike.

How? By mindfulness. Accept the emotion that comes fully. Embrace
the highs and lows. But mindfully... with no agenda to be perpetually
"calm". Or on auto-pilot either. Otherwise, your little joy ride vehicle
can veer into the oncoming lane.

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