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Cynicism, "realistic pessimism" - Dhamma Wheel

Cynicism, "realistic pessimism"

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
duckfiasco
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Cynicism, "realistic pessimism"

Postby duckfiasco » Fri Jun 21, 2013 6:51 pm

I notice among a lot of my friends a deep anxiety that the world is just terrible.
I've heard "I'm not a pessimist, I'm a realist" while they clearly suffer from these worries.
Whenever a piece of bad news comes out, dismay follows.
Hatred bubbles up for entire blocs of people.
They feel those in power or those with certain opinions are ruining everyone's lives, including theirs.

It breaks my heart to see.

Views like this are hardly new.
There may however be a special concoction of painful views coming together in our time.
Pessimism is in a frame of modern objectivism: our mode of deductive rationality is absolute and objective, therefore the final word on everything.
Things are "just so" and we have no real control over our reactions or experience in life.
Bad people "out there" are hurting my peace "in here".
Pessimism is constantly saying "that's just how it is" and objectivism feeds this externalizing: it's the world I see that makes everything bad, the world says itself how it really is, nothing else.

I have no idea how to help this kind of suffering so prevalent among the people I know.

How can we be generous with the Dharma with those who are skeptical of anything remotely religious?
Anything that ruffles the uncomfortable security that pessimism provides?
Those already overburdened with so many views?

What do you respond when a friend tells you, "to be realistic now is to be a cynic"?

Thank you for sharing your opinions, or any ways you may have approached this as well.
:popcorn:

binocular
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Re: Cynicism, "realistic pessimism"

Postby binocular » Fri Jun 21, 2013 7:20 pm


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fivebells
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Re: Cynicism, "realistic pessimism"

Postby fivebells » Fri Jun 21, 2013 8:14 pm

Realism/cynicism/world-weariness is a good place to start. It's samvega, the emotion which drove the Buddha to practice in the first place. Learning that you can cope by shaping your intentions, perceptions, feelings and cravings leads to prasada, confidence that there's a way out.

If you're not going to pursue the way out, you're probably better off with positivity/optimisim/enthusiasm, though. :)

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mirco
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Re: Cynicism, "realistic pessimism"

Postby mirco » Fri Jun 21, 2013 9:13 pm

"An important term for meditative absorption is samadhi. We often translate that as concentration, but that can suggest a certain stiffness. Perhaps unification is a better rendition, as samadhi means to bring together. Deep samadhi isn't at all stiff. It's a process of letting go of other things and coming to a unified experience." -

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retrofuturist
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Re: Cynicism, "realistic pessimism"

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Jun 21, 2013 10:44 pm

"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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SDC
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Re: Cynicism, "realistic pessimism"

Postby SDC » Fri Jun 21, 2013 11:20 pm

We have our ideas about how the world should be, how life should be. If the world is like THIS then I will be HAPPY.

Some of us rush to adjust (or yap about adjusting) the circumstances in life to be in line with what we think is right rather than adjusting ourselves to the circumstances.

The reason your friends feel this way about life is because they are so confident that they know what they need to be "happy" and have likely convinced themselves that they will never have it. They are heartbroken that their fantasy about how life "could" be is not ever going to be. The fantasy has corrupted them and until they question the fantasy and question their own thinking they will never emerge from despair. They underestimate and fear the ability they have to adjust and develop so instead they are taking the high road by asking the world to do the hard work and change for them.

Sein
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Re: Cynicism, "realistic pessimism"

Postby Sein » Sat Jun 22, 2013 4:39 am

I used to find myself "a realist".
The nature of the world is not "happily ever after" and there are not always "happy ending".
But that the way the world is, and that drives people practice.
You could used this reference

But, your friend could have joy or equinimity from practice meditation.

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appicchato
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Re: Cynicism, "realistic pessimism"

Postby appicchato » Sat Jun 22, 2013 6:02 am

Cynicism and pessimism are apples and oranges...

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mirco
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Re: Cynicism, "realistic pessimism"

Postby mirco » Sat Jun 22, 2013 6:05 am

"An important term for meditative absorption is samadhi. We often translate that as concentration, but that can suggest a certain stiffness. Perhaps unification is a better rendition, as samadhi means to bring together. Deep samadhi isn't at all stiff. It's a process of letting go of other things and coming to a unified experience." -

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lyndon taylor
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Re: Cynicism, "realistic pessimism"

Postby lyndon taylor » Sat Jun 22, 2013 6:36 am

I think he means they are quite similar.

lets try that again; aren't you saying the amount of difference between cynicism and pessimism is similar to the amount of difference between apples and oranges, they're both fruit, they're both round, but in other respects they're quite different
Last edited by lyndon taylor on Sat Jun 22, 2013 10:33 pm, edited 2 times in total.
18 years ago I made one of the most important decisions of my life and entered a local Cambodian Buddhist Temple as a temple boy and, for only 3 weeks, an actual Therevada Buddhist monk. I am not a scholar, great meditator, or authority on Buddhism, but Buddhism is something I love from the Bottom of my heart. It has taught me sobriety, morality, peace, and very importantly that my suffering is optional, and doesn't have to run my life. I hope to give back what little I can to the Buddhist community, sincerely former monk John

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appicchato
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Re: Cynicism, "realistic pessimism"

Postby appicchato » Sat Jun 22, 2013 10:17 pm


duckfiasco
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Re: Cynicism, "realistic pessimism"

Postby duckfiasco » Sun Jun 23, 2013 2:58 am

Thank you everyone for the great replies.
I found especially helpful the sutta on universal love regardless of how others speak to us.

I wasn't however making the case for cynicism or pessimism, neither would I say cynicism and pessimism are the same.
The connection I make is that those I know who are generally pessimistic extend this view to the motives/minds of others.
In this way, they struggle with a deep cynicism as well.

I also suffered from pessimistic regarding the world for a long time.
It resulted in a lingering depression and total isolation from others.
So seeing similar views in those close to me, I want to try to spare them the possible destination of such negativity.
I know the Three Jewels were of immeasurable help to me, but I doubt my skill to directly share this remedy.

I guess I was hoping for some kind of expedient way to turn pessimism on its head.
You know, how those Zen masters say a snappy one-liner and voila, instant insight for the listener :tongue:
But maybe patience and a loving attitude are what's needed.

Doesn't anyone else know people with such a painful relationship with the world?
Maybe it's a generational thing :tongue:

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fivebells
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Re: Cynicism, "realistic pessimism"

Postby fivebells » Sun Jun 23, 2013 6:52 am

You're not going to turn a long-habituated world view on its head with the work of a mere moment.

You can effect a slow change by emphasizing positive observations and rewarding other's positive observations with warmer attention.

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Dan74
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Re: Cynicism, "realistic pessimism"

Postby Dan74 » Sun Jun 23, 2013 8:53 am

_/|\_

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Aloka
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Re: Cynicism, "realistic pessimism"

Postby Aloka » Sun Jun 23, 2013 11:47 am


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Crazy cloud
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Re: Cynicism, "realistic pessimism"

Postby Crazy cloud » Sun Jun 23, 2013 1:13 pm

your name Mori means forest like the infinite fresh green distances of your blindness


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