Kim OHara wrote:kmath,
The Buddha taught that it isn't and that belief in the reality of the self is one of the fundamental causes of our suffering.
Both of your last two posts (above) make perfect sense if you believe that the 'self' is fixed or permanent. If you do believe that, I think you would benefit from going back to basics: anatta, 4NT, 8FNP. If you don't, then please think a bit harder about what I said, "Maybe 'being true to yourself' sometimes means changing the 'self' so that the right action is authentic."
You need to separate "authenticity" (being honest with yourself, and acting and speaking in accordance with your beliefs) from "virtue" and "skillfulness" (walking the dhamma path). If you add your Right Intention to your view of your "self" (to say it another way, if you remember that Right Intention is as much part of your "self" as greed and anger are), that changes what is or is not "authentic".
On famous short story The Death of Ivan Ilyich’ by Leo Tolstoy, read here http://golnarr.blogspot.com/2009/11/dea ... oy-in.html‘The Death of Ivan Ilyich’ by Leo Tolstoy in conjunction with ‘Being and Time’ by Martin Heidegger on tranquility and inauthentic living
‘Dasein’ is the German term for human reality, as noted during class lecture on Oct 8, 2009.
The evaluation of death in philosophy has been of utmost interest because it serves as the fundamental equalizer among the living. There is no living organism, conscious or otherwise, which does not share in the fate of ultimately not existing. What is especially unique about the human condition, however, is that we are conscious of this eventual ending to our existence. Martin Heidegger, the author of the philosophical text ‘Being and Time’, believes that because of this acutely unique consciousness, the idea of death contextualizes the very quality and movement of human life. The varying degrees of coming to terms with that supposed ‘horizon’ which the acceptability of death is included in, becomes the determining factor between living an authentic, versus an inauthentic life. In Leo Tolstoy’s ‘The Death of Ivan Ilyich’, a middle-aged man is forced to confront a terminal illness that arises spontaneously, and consequently- the expiration of his utter ability to exist. It is my contention that the protagonist of Leo Tolstoy’s novel ‘The Death of Ivan Ilyich’ lived a tranquilized and inauthentic life by definition of Martin Heidegger’s ideas, up until the very last moments before his death.
boris wrote:the idea of death contextualizes the very quality and movement of human life.
kmath wrote:I recently heard someone say: "Authenticity means, essentially, ignoring the feelings of others" and behaving in a way that feels best for you. I'm kind of curious what people think of that statement.
Does being "authentic" mean anything to you in your life? Or do you not really think about it?
To be surprised, to wonder, is to begin to understand.
The man who is capable of steering a clear course through it, who can perceive under the chaos presented by every vital situation the hidden anatomy of the movement, the man, in a word, who does not lose himself in life, that is the man with the really clear head. Take stock of those around you and you will see them wandering about lost through life, like sleep-walkers in the midst of their good or evil fortune, without the slightest suspicion of what is happening to them. You will hear them talk in precise terms about themselves and their surroundings, which would seem to point to them having ideas on the matter. But start to analyse those ideas and you will find that they hardly reflect in any way the reality to which they appear to refer, and if you go deeper you will discover that there is not even an attempt to adjust the ideas to this reality. Quite the contrary: through these notions the individual is trying to cut off any personal vision of reality, of his own very life. For life is at the start a chaos in which one is lost. The individual suspects this, but he is frightened at finding himself face to face with this terrible reality, and tries to cover it over with a curtain of fantasy, where everything is clear. It does not worry him that his "ideas" are not true, he uses them as trenches for the defence of his existence, as scarcecrows to frighten away reality.
If anyone in a discussion with us is concerned with adjusting himself to truth, if he has no wish to find the truth, he is intellectually a barbarian. That, in fact, is the position of the mass-man when he speaks, lectures, or writes.
When we are really going to do something and have dedicated ourselves to a purpose, we cannot be expected to be ready at hand to look after every passer-by and to lend ourselves to every chance display of altruism.
The majority of men have no opinions, and these have to be pumped into them from outside, like lubricants into machinery. Hence it is necessary that some mind or other should hold and exercise authority, so that the people without opinions- the majority- can start having opinions. For without these, the common life of humanity would be chaos, a historic void, lacking in any organic structure. Consequently, without a spiritual power, without someone to command, and in proportion as this is lacking, chaos reigns over mankind.
For there is no doubt that the most radical division that it is possible to make of humanity is that which splits it into two classes of creatures: those who make great demands on themselves, piling up difficulties and duties; and those who demand nothing special of themselves, but for whom to live is to be every moment what they already are, without imposing on themselves any effort towards perfection; mere buoys that float on the waves.
The mass crushes beneath it everything that is different, everything that is excellent, individual, qualified and select. Anybody who is not like everybody, who does not think like everybody, runs the risk of being eliminated.
If I were to leave the matter here and strangle off my present essay without more ado, the reader would be left thinking, and quite justly, that this fabulous uprising of the masses above the surface of history inspired me merely with a few petulant, disdainful words, a certain amount of hatred and a certain amount of disgust. This all the more in my case, when it is well known that I uphold a radically aristocratic interpretation of history. Radically, because I have never said that human society ought to be aristocratic, but a great deal more than that. What I have said, and still believe with ever-increasing conviction, is that human society is always, whether it will or no, aristocratic by its very essence, to the extreme that it is a society in the measure that it is aristocratic, and ceases to be such when it ceases to be aristocratic. Of course I am speaking now of society and not of the State.
Surprising condition, this, of our existence! To live is to feel ourselves fatally obliged to exercise our liberty, to decide what we are going to be in this world. Not for a single moment is our activity of decision allowed to rest. Even when in desperation we abandon ourselves to whatever may happen, we have decided not to decide.
The mass-man is he whose life lacks any purpose, and simply goes drifting along. Consequently, though his possibilities and his powers be enormous, he constructs nothing.
For, in fact, the common man, finding himself in a world so excellent, technically and socially, believes that it has been produced by nature, and never thinks of the personal efforts of highly-endowed individuals which the creation of this new world presupposed. Still less will he admit the notion that all these facilities still require the support of certain difficult human virtues, the least failure of which would cause the rapid disappearance of the whole magnificent edifice.
This leads us to note down in our psychological chart of the mass-man of to-day two fundamental traits: the free expansion of his vital desires, and therefore, of his personality; and his radical ingratitude towards an that has made possible the ease of his existence. These traits together make up the well-known psychology of the spoilt child.
To spoil means to put no limit on caprice, to give one the impression that everything is permitted to him and that he has no obligations. The young child exposed to this regime has no experience of its own limits. By reason of the removal of all external restraint, all clashing with other things, he comes actually to believe that he is the only one that exists, and gets used to not considering others, especially not considering them as superior to himself. This feeling of another's superiority could only be instilled into him by someone who, being stronger than he is, should force him to give up some desire, to restrict himself, to restrain himself. He would then have learned this fundamental discipline: "Here I end and here begins another more powerful than I am. In the world, apparently, there are two people: I myself and another superior to me."
And these spoiled masses are unintelligent enough to believe that the material and social organisation, placed at their disposition like the air, is of the same origin., since apparently it never fails them, and is almost as perfect as the natural scheme of things. My thesis, therefore, is this: the very perfection with which the XIXth Century gave an organisation to certain orders of existence has caused the masses benefited thereby to consider it, not as an organised, but as a natural system.
In the disturbances caused by scarcity of food, the mob goes in search of bread, and the means it employs is generally to wreck the bakeries. This may serve as a symbol of the attitude adopted, on a greater and more complicated scale, by the masses of to-day towards the civilisation by which they are supported.
That man is intellectually of the mass who, in face of any problem, is satisfied with thinking the first thing he finds in his head. On the contrary, the excellent man is he who contemns what he finds in his mind without previous effort, and only accepts as worthy of him what is still far above him and what requires a further effort in order to be reached.
For me, then, nobility is synonymous with a life of effort, ever set on excelling oneself, in passing beyond what one is to what one sets up as a duty and an obligation. In this way the noble life stands opposed to the common or inert life, which reclines statically upon itself, condemned to perpetual immobility, unless an external force compels it to come out of itself. Hence we apply the term mass to this kind of man- not so much because of his multitude as because of his inertia.
As one advances in life, one realises more and more that the majority of men- and of women- are incapable of any other effort than that strictly imposed on them as a reaction to external compulsion. And for that reason, the few individuals we have come across who are capable of a spontaneous and joyous effort stand out isolated, monumentalised, so to speak, in our experience. These are the select men, the nobles, the only ones who are active and not merely reactive, for whom life is a perpetual striving, an incessant course of training. Training = askesis. These are the ascetics.
I know well that many of my readers do not think as I do. This also is most natural and confirms the theorem. For although my opinion turn out erroneous, there will always remain the fact that many of those dissentient readers have never given five minutes' thought to this complex matter. How are they going to think as I do? But by believing that they have a right to an opinion on the matter without previous effort to work one out for themselves, they prove patently that they belong to that absurd type of human being which I have called the "rebel mass." It is precisely what I mean by having one's soul obliterated, hermetically closed. Here it would be the special case of intellectual hermetism. The individual finds himself already with a stock of ideas. He decides to content himself with them and to consider himself intellectually complete.
We find ourselves, then, met with the same difference that eternally exists between the fool and the man of sense. The latter is constantly catching himself within an inch of being a fool; hence he makes an effort to escape from the imminent folly, and in that effort lies his intelligence. The fool, on the other hand, does not suspect himself; he thinks himself the most prudent of men, hence the enviable tranquillity with which the fool settles down, instals himself in his own folly. Like those insects which it is impossible to extract from the orifice they inhabit, there is no way of dislodging the fool from his folly, to take him away for a while from his blind state. and to force him to contrast his own dull vision with other keener forms of sight. The fool is a fool for life; he is devoid of pores.
Properly speaking, there are no barbarian standards. Barbarism is the absence of standards to which appeal can be made. The varying degrees of culture are measured by the greater or less precision of the standards. Where there is little such precision, these standards rule existence only grosso modo; where there is much they penetrate in detail into the exercise of all the activities.
All life is the struggle, the effort to be itself. The difficulties which I meet with in order to realise my existence are precisely what awakens and mobilises my activities, my capacities.
This is the gravest danger that to-day threatens civilisation: State intervention; the absorption of all spontaneous social effort by the State, that is to say, of spontaneous historical action, which in the long run sustains, nourishes, and impels human destinies. When the mass suffers any ill-fortune or simply feels some strong appetite, its great temptation is that permanent, sure possibility of obtaining everything- without effort, struggle, doubt, or risk- merely by touching a button and setting the mighty machine in motion. The mass says to itself, "L'Etat, c'est moi," which is a complete mistake.
And as, after all, it is only a machine whose existence and maintenance depend on the vital supports around it, the State, after sucking out the very marrow of society, will be left bloodless, a skeleton, dead with that rusty death of machinery, more gruesome than the death of a living organism.
Sensuous objects are the cause of calamity, excrescence, danger, disease, a dart and a fear to me. Observing this danger resulting from sensuous objects, let one live alone like a unicorn horn. (Sn.v 51)
Detachment, loneliness, separation, seclusion, scission, aloofness – viveka has two main divisions. Kayaviveka is the initial environmental and physical condition, the physical (bodily) separation from sensuous objects; it is the abiding at ease in condition suited to growth in the Dhamma – if no one is found in front or behind me, it is very pleasant for one dwelling alone in the wood. (Theragata, v 537)
Cittaviveka is that very growth in the Dhamma, the inner, mental detachment from sensuous things.
Herein, Elder, whatsoever is past, that is abandoned, whatever is yet-to-come, that is relinquish, and the desire-and-lust for the present modes of personality is well under control. It is thus, Elder, that lone-dwelling becomes fulfilled in all details. (S II, 282)
This solitude is not loneliness of lack (tanha), the craving of the crowd, it is abiding in strength and ease, independent and aloof. This solitude becomes the path and the goal to the one with clear vision who apprehends samsara, and his own being as samsaric, who thus develops estrangement (nibbida) – pushed to the extreme, this feeling (estrangement) becomes even at times not only the resort but also the goal of philosophy: to exile (Grenier).
One seeks solitude because one seeks truth, and the crowd is untruth: “But the thing is simple enough: this thing of loving one's neighbor is self-denial, that of loving the crowd, or pretending to love it, of making it the authority in matters of truth, is the way to temporal and earthly advantages of all sort – at the same time it is the untruth, for crowd is untruth. (Kierkegaard).
And this is very important for the way of the crowd is the way of samsara, and cultural, political, social constructions of society can never lead from samsara, for samsara is their origin, their meaning and goal. Cultures are particular to time and space, there are “Buddhist” cultures but these are not Dhamma, though inspired by, for culture is within time – the residue of the historic process – the Dhamma is akaliko, not involving time. One does not obtain sila (the ethical) let alone Dhamma, from the historical process, from majority opinions. The Dhamma is approachable by the wise (pandita) and each for himself (paccatam), separately, individually, that is in solitude).
Therefore the Dhamma is not “progressive” within the historical process, within the mass of human kind. Real progress (of the individual) is linear, but samsara is a revolving about a repetition, the wheel of birth and death, that merely reflects the inner revolving (vatta) – the centripetal vortex of name-and-form (namarupa) about consciousness (vinniana).
The Dhamma is not involved in the illusory “progress” of samsara – the politico-economic ideals of linear advancement within samsara, there is no progress in samsara, this straight line of “progress” is a result of myopia, a viewing to closely a particular section of curvature of the historical cycle. Real progress is against the centripetal attraction of samsara – against the stream – a tangent directed away from enveloping vortex into calm and this is kayaviveka.
Cittaviveka is that gradual journey from the samsara within that fules the outher – the revolving about of namarupa (feeling, perception, intention, contact, attention, and matter) with vinniana (consciousness) – the progress through nibbida (estrangement) to nibbana. These two vortices are two tangles within and tangles without (antojata, bahijata) SI, 13, the solution and unraveling of what is the Buddha's teaching and the two tools for this progress are kaya and cittaviveka.
This progress is only to the individual in his subjective solitude cut of from the crowd and the process of history – for between the historic process and the ideal of social progress the individual is dissipated and confused. Only by solitude, a cut of, an estrangement , can one truly approach the Dhamma in its immediacy as having meaning only to the individual.
Who has become subjective – and thus aware of anguish (dukkha) as personal, an existential and the problem of existence as an individualization of the process of tanha (lack/need). Only within this subjective solitude does one recognizing the problem and start toward ultimate solitude – Nibbana, cutting of all factors of existence.
Flee society as a heavy burden, seek solitude above all! (M3)
chownah wrote:I don't understand how death contextualizes life.
Viscid wrote:chownah wrote:I don't understand how death contextualizes life.
Most people don't think about the fact they're going to die when they go about their lives day-to-day.. they operate as if there was no possibility that tomorrow something tragic could occur, as if there was no urgency to living, that everything one wishes to do can be indefinitely postponed to be accomplished at a later time. When one deeply recognizes the existential threat that death imposes, a tremendous anxiety emerges. The only way to confront that anxiety directly is with courageous self-affirmation in the present. Death truly looms, always, and if we do not acknowledge its presence, our thoughts and actions will be wrongly predicated upon the mirage of our indefinite existence. Every moment, every action, should then become imbued with the recognition that it may be the very last of all. When we do this, our lives obtain an authenticity and vibrancy they hadn't before.
“The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.”
― Mark Twain
...The time remains destitute not only because God is dead, but because mortals are hardly aware and capable even of their own mortality. Mortals have not yet come into ownership of their own nature. Death withdraws into the enigmatic. The mystery of pain remains veiled. Love has not been learned. But the mortals are. They are, in that there is language. Song still lingers over their destitute land. The singer's word still keeps to the trace of the holy. The song in the Sonnets to Orpheus (Part I, 19) says it:
Though swiftly the world converts,
like cloud-shapes' upheaval,
everything perfect reverts
to the primeval.
Over the change abounding farther and freer
your preluding song keeps sounding
God with the lyre.
Suffering is not discerned,
neither has love been learned,
and what removes us in death,
Only the song's high breath
hallows and hails.
Meanwhile, even the trace of the holy has become unrecognizable. It remains undecided whether we still experience the holy as the track leading to the godhead of the divine, or whether we now encounter no more than a trace of the holy. It remains unclear what the track leading to the trace might be. It remains in question how such a track might show itself to us.
The time is destitute because it lacks the unconcealedness of the nature of pain, death, and love. This destitution is itself destitute because that realm of being withdraws within which pain and death and love belong together. Concealedness exists inasmuch as the realm in which they belong together is the abyss of Being. But the song still remains which names the land over which it sings... (Heidegger, Poetry Language and Thought pp94-95)
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