Learning To Learn

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation

Learning To Learn

Postby danieLion » Thu Aug 02, 2012 5:34 am

From: viewtopic.php?f=14&t=13339#p199260
Dmytro wrote:
danieLion wrote:Learning how to develop what's in your own mind is what's going to make all the difference. The Buddha's discernment isn't going to give you awakening; his virtue and concentration aren't going to give you awakening. You have to develop your own. Nobody else can develop these things for you. Other people can give you hints; they can help point you in the right direction. But the actual work and the actual seeing is something you have to do for yourself.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... dultdhamma


IMHO, this is about learning from own experience, which requires learning how to learn.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Experiential_learning
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timothy_Gallwey

Ven. Thanissaro explains this in detail:

Suppose that anger is interfering with your concentration. Instead of getting involved in the anger, you try simply to be aware of when it's there and when it's not. You look at the anger as an event in and of itself — as it comes, as it goes. But you don't stop there. The next step — as you're still working at focusing on the breath — is recognizing how anger can be made to go away. Sometimes simply watching it is enough to make it go away; sometimes it's not, and you have to deal with it in other ways, such as arguing with the reasoning behind the anger or reminding yourself of the drawbacks of anger. In the course of dealing with it, you have to get your hands dirty. You've got to try and figure out why the anger is coming, why it's going, how you can get it out of there, because you realize that it's an unskillful state. And this requires that you improvise. Experiment. You've got to chase your ego and impatience out of the way so that you can have the space to make mistakes and learn from them, so that you can develop a skill in dealing with the anger. It's not just a question of hating the anger and trying to push it away, or of loving the anger and welcoming it. These approaches may give results in the short run, but in the long run they're not especially skillful. What's called for here is the ability to see what the anger is composed of; how can you take it apart.

One technique I like to use — when anger is present and you're in a situation where you don't immediately have to react to people — is simply to ask yourself in a good-natured way, "Okay, why are you angry?" Listen to what the mind has to say. Then pursue the matter: "But why are you angry at that? " "Of course, I'm angry. After all..." "Well, why are you angry at that?" If you keep this up, the mind will eventually admit to something stupid, like the assumption that people shouldn't be that way — even though they blatantly are that way — or that people should act in line with your standards, or whatever the mind is so embarrassed about that it tries to hide from you. But finally, if you keep probing, it'll fess up. You gain a lot of understanding of the anger that way, and this can really weaken its power over you.

In terms of the positive qualities like mindfulness, serenity, and concentration, it's a similar sort of thing. First, you're aware of when they're there and when they're not, and then you realize that when they're there it's much nicer than when they're not. So you try to figure out how they come, how they go. You do this by consciously trying to maintain that state of mindfulness and concentration. If you're really observant — and this is what it's all about, being observant — you begin to see that there are skillful ways of maintaining the state without getting all tied up in failure or success in doing it, without letting the desire for a settled state of mind actually get in the way of the mind's settling down. You do want to succeed, but you need a balanced attitude toward failure and success so that you can learn from them. Nobody's keeping score or taking grades. You're here to understand for your own sake. So this process of developing your foundation of mindfulness or developing your frame of reference is not "just watching." It's more a participation in the process of arising and passing away — actually playing with the process — so that you can learn from experience how cause and effect work in the mind.


http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... cmind.html


Hi Dmytro,
What about operant conditioning as a learning theory? Thanissaro's work on kamma reminds me an awful lot of behaviorism.
Best,
Daniel
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Re: Learning To Learn

Postby Dmytro » Thu Aug 02, 2012 6:03 pm

Hi Daniel,

What about operant conditioning as a learning theory? Thanissaro's work on kamma reminds me an awful lot of behaviorism.


Well, Ven. Thanissaro work on kamma has also a distinct cogntitive component:

Thus the quality of the views on which one acts — i.e., the quality of the perception and attention informing the intention — is a major factor in shaping experience.


http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... ml#part1-b

There are strong parallels with cognitive-behavioral approach.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_ ... al_therapy

There's a good book:
Thoughts and Feelings: Taking Control of Your Moods and Your Life
Martha Davis,Patrick Fanning,Matthew McKay

http://books.google.com.ua/books?id=ygR ... frontcover
http://www.amazon.com/Thoughts-Feelings ... 608822087/

Best wishes,
Dmytro
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Re: Learning To Learn

Postby danieLion » Sun Aug 05, 2012 4:00 am

Hi Dmytro,
Possibly no charge is more often leveled against behaviorism or a science of behavior than that it cannot deal with purpose or intention. A stimulus-response formula has no answer, but operant behavior is the very field of purpose and intention....

Human thought is human behavior.


B.F. Skinner, About Behaviorism, (pp. 61, 130).

Best,
Daniel
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Re: Learning To Learn

Postby waimengwan » Sun Aug 05, 2012 12:08 pm

I have also used ways to try to break the anger's momentum.

As anger has that ability to get out of control, when anger unleashes we can lose our friends and forget all the good and happy moments we've had with them.

And asking ourselves why we are angry is so very powerful I used to be quite a volcano myself but I realised it takes so much of my energy and make me feel so shitty so thats why I wanted to find ways to overcome it.
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Re: Learning To Learn

Postby danieLion » Sat Aug 11, 2012 4:01 am

Hi Dmytro,

Another way to make my point:

Thanissaro wrote:Applied to karma, or intention, the dual principle means this: Any moment of experience consists of three things: (1) pleasures and pains resulting from past intentions [what behaviorists call Antecedents or a history of reinforcement and punishment], (2) present intentions [what behaviorists call operant Behaviors], and (3) pleasures and pains resulting from present intentions [or what behavorists call Consequences and which alludes to what they call the principle of immediacy (in terms of reinforcer effectiveness)]. Thus the present is not totally shaped by the past. In fact, the most important element shaping your present experience of pleasure or pain is how you fashion, with your present intentions, the raw material provided by past intentions. And your present intentions can be totally free.

This is how there's free will in the midst of causality.

From Faith In Awakening

Also, The Four Right Exertions is a beautiful example of a behavioral engineering program. Essays like Thanissaro's The Road to Nirvana Is Paved with Skillful Intentions seems to me to explain the theory and practice of this quite well.
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Daniel
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Re: Learning To Learn

Postby Dmytro » Sat Aug 11, 2012 5:22 am

Hi Daniel,

Thanissaro wrote:Applied to karma, or intention, the dual principle means this: Any moment of experience consists of three things: (1) pleasures and pains resulting from past intentions [what behaviorists call Antecedents or a history of reinforcement and punishment], (2) present intentions [what behaviorists call operant Behaviors], and (3) pleasures and pains resulting from present intentions [or what behavorists call Consequences and which alludes to what they call the principle of immediacy (in terms of reinforcer effectiveness)]. Thus the present is not totally shaped by the past. In fact, the most important element shaping your present experience of pleasure or pain is how you fashion, with your present intentions, the raw material provided by past intentions. And your present intentions can be totally free.

This is how there's free will in the midst of causality.


I have some reservations. Ven. Thanissaro came up with the original two-tiered theory of past and present causality, based on his understanding of idapaccayata (in his translation, 'this/that conditionality'): http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... ml#part1-b . However, when we look closely at the suttas, there's just one conditionality: viewtopic.php?f=23&t=6014#p94684

Also, The Four Right Exertions is a beautiful example of a behavioral engineering program.


If one looks closer at the detailed definition of four right efforts, one finds that the primary tool here is the redirection of attention:

4. Samvarasuttaṃ - Restraint.

002.04. Bhikkhus, these four are the endeavours. What four?

Endeavour, to restrain, to dispel, to develop and the endeavour to protect.

Bhikkhus, what is the endeavour to restrain?

Here, bhikkhus, the bhikkhu seeing a form does not take the sign (nimitta) or the detail. If abiding with the faculty of the eye uncontrolled, there would be a leaking of evil demeritorious thoughts of covetousness and displeasure, he falls to the method of protecting the faculty of the eye. Hearing a sound, ... re ... smelling a scent ... re ... ṭasting, ... re ... cognizing a touch or cognizing an idea, does not take the sign or the detail. If abiding with the faculty of the mind uncontrolled, there would be a leaking of evil demeritorious thoughts of covetousness and displeasure, he falls to the method of protecting the faculty of the mind.

Bhikkhus, this is the endeavour to restrain.

Bhikkhus, what is the endeavour to dispel?

Here, bhikkhus, the bhikkhu does not endure, dispels, removes and destroys arisen sensual desires, makes them not arise again. The bhikkhu does not endure, dispels, removes and destroys arisen, hateful thoughts, ... re ... hurting thoughts and whatever arisen ... re ... demeritorious thoughts, makes them not arise again.

Bhikkhus, this is the endeavour to dispel.

Bhikkhus, what is the endeavour to develop?

Here, bhikkhus, the bhikkhu develops the enlightenment factor mindfulness rooted in seclusion, rooted in purifying, rooted in cessation, until mature to surrenderṬhe bhikkhu develops the enlightenment factor investigation of the Teaching, ... re ... the enlightenment factor effort, ... re ... the enlightenment factor joy, ... re ... the enlightenment factor delight, ... re ... the enlightenment factor concentration, ... re ... and the enlightenment factor equanimity rooted in seclusion, rooted in purifying, rooted in cessation, until mature to surrender.

Bhikkhus, this is the endeavour to develop.

Bhikkhus, what is the endeavour to protect?

Here, bhikkhus, the bhikkhu protects the arisen good sign (nimitta) of concentration, the sign of bones, the sign of, the worm infested corpse, the corpse turned blue, the festering corpse, the corpse with little holes all over, the bloated corpse.

Bhikkhus, this is the endeavour to protect.

Restraining, dispelling, developing and protecting,
Are the four endeavours declared by the kinsman of the sun.
If the bhikkhu becomes zealous in them he destroys unpleasantness.


http://awake.kiev.ua/dhamma/tipitaka/2S ... ggo-e.html

Essays like Thanissaro's The Road to Nirvana Is Paved with Skillful Intentions seems to me to explain the theory and practice of this quite well.


Well, the skilfullness of intentions are an important thing to reflect upon, but the the primary tool to make behaviour more skillful is fundamental attention (yoniso manasikara).

"[Then if they ask,] 'But what, friends, is the reason, what the cause, why unarisen passion arises, or arisen passion tends to growth & abundance?' 'The theme (nimitta) of the attractive,' it should be said. 'For one who attends inappropriately to the theme of the attractive, unarisen passion arises and arisen passion tends to growth & abundance...'

"[Then if they ask,] 'But what, friends, is the reason, what the cause, why unarisen aversion arises, or arisen aversion tends to growth & abundance?' 'The theme of irritation,' it should be said. 'For one who attends inappropriately to the theme of irritation, unarisen aversion arises and arisen aversion tends to growth & abundance...'

"[Then if they ask,] 'But what, friends, is the reason, what the cause, why unarisen delusion arises, or arisen delusion tends to growth & abundance?' 'Inappropriate attention,' it should be said. 'For one who attends inappropriately, unarisen delusion arises and arisen delusion tends to growth & abundance...'


http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

The fundamental attention is developed proactively, in advance, and is not immediately rewarded.

So while there are some parallels between the writings of Ven. Thanissaro and operant conditioning, the suttas present somewhat different picture.

Best wishes, Dmytro
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Re: Learning To Learn

Postby danieLion » Sat Aug 11, 2012 6:12 am

Hi Dmytro,
Dmytro wrote:...redirection of attention..."
is what a behaviorist might call "stimulus control" or "differential reinforcement".

Dmytro wrote:Well, the skilfullness of intentions are an important thing to reflect upon, but the the primary tool to make behaviour more skillful is fundamental attention (yoniso manasikara).

Appropriate attention is itself a behavior'; it could also be called a part of operant behavior processes.


Dmytro wrote:The fundamental attention is developed proactively, in advance, and is not immediately rewarded.

"Proactive development" is virtually synonymous with operant behavior, and immediacy speaks only to reinforcer effectiveness.

Dmytro wrote:So while there are some parallels between the writings of Ven. Thanissaro and operant conditioning, the suttas present somewhat different picture.

Do they? I've read enough of them to think otherwise. Behaviorists define behavior as anything we do, and we find the the Buddha not only doing a lot, but giving instructions to a lot of people on doing this or that.

Which reminds me, while I agree with your analysis in terms of the Pali alone, having the D.O. formula as this/this OVER this/that doesn't necessarily imply ONE conditionality. It could also imply we don't quite understand the idiom, among other things.
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Daniel
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Re: Learning To Learn

Postby Dmytro » Sat Aug 11, 2012 7:36 am

Hi Daniel,

Surely attention is also a behavior. In Buddha's terms, action of the mind.

It's just the framework which is different - there's no reinforcer.

And appropriate attention is developed even when the immediate result is short-term suffering.

The practice also invloves estimating and balancing the key factors. It's like governing a country - a complex multidimensional activity with remote results, and no single right solution in terms of practical steps to take.

Best wishes, Dmytro
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Re: Learning To Learn

Postby danieLion » Sat Aug 11, 2012 11:08 pm

Dmytro wrote:Hi Daniel,

Surely attention is also a behavior. In Buddha's terms, action of the mind.

It's just the framework which is different - there's no reinforcer.

And appropriate attention is developed even when the immediate result is short-term suffering.

The practice also invloves estimating and balancing the key factors. It's like governing a country - a complex multidimensional activity with remote results, and no single right solution in terms of practical steps to take.

Best wishes, Dmytro

Sure. Why not. And you're right. The overlap between Skinner et al and The Buddha has definite boundaries. The two most important differences are mentalistic and ethical. You cannot reconcile Skinner's anti-mentalism with sāsana, and while behaviorism contains a moral component, it does not carry the penetrating and effective pragmatic force that sīla has on our mental, verbal and bodily actions.
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