The century of the self

Casual discussion amongst spiritual friends.

The century of the self

Postby Sekha » Wed May 15, 2013 1:38 pm

This is a very interesting award winning documentary from the BBC about the influence of Freud's and Willhelm Reich's ideas over modern society.

It is all the more interesting for buddhists, as it has a lot to do with how cultures around the world have evolved to celebrate and cater to self-indulgence, which is in direct opposition with the teachings of the Buddha. It allows to understand better our relations to desire and consumerism as well as the modern structures of our societies.

Where knowledge ends, religion begins. - B. Disraeli

http://www.buddha-vacana.org
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Re: The century of the self

Postby Lazy_eye » Wed May 15, 2013 3:29 pm

Fascinating stuff. Thanks for posting this, Sekha!

Freud's view of human nature seems to resemble Buddha's in many ways. As the documentary explains, Freud believed human behavior is driven by irrational sexual and aggressive impulses, which, if not tamed, can destroy us. Buddha, likewise, taught that human behavior is conditioned by lobha, dvesha and moha -- which, if untamed, can drag us into hell.

Both Freud and Buddha sought a path to awakening. Freud's thought he had found it via the psychoanalytic method. Buddha's, of course, was the eightfold path.

It's no surprise that corporations and governments exploited Freud's insights -- understanding human nature is key to manipulating it.

I once worked for a businessman, a self-made millionaire. He had taken two majors in college: electrical engineering and psychology. The first, he said, gave him the technological literacy he needed to design a new product. But it was the latter which enabled him to manipulate customers and markets in order to create a demand for his goods.

I've seen some examples of Buddhist teachings and practices being exploited in similar ways.
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Re: The century of the self

Postby Sekha » Wed May 15, 2013 3:58 pm

Werner Erhard's interview concerning the nature of the self is also interesting, in that he states that experiments have shown it is meaningless and empty. But of course, that was only intellectual understanding.
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Re: The century of the self

Postby michael davidson » Fri May 17, 2013 12:27 pm

I like this documentary but I find its title contradicts its message.

There is a huge difference between 'selfishness' and the idea of the 'self' ie that part of
a person which is aware, can perceive, understand, imagine, communicate, decide and act. The main
thrust of the the 2oth century is the denial of this meaning of 'self' - that people just react to
external stimuli, that their wants and desires are determined by genes or 'society'.

This is in the documentary but the title ought to be "the century of the denial of self".
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Re: The century of the self

Postby fivebells » Fri May 17, 2013 3:00 pm

If you liked that, you'll love his later documentary, All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace.
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Re: The century of the self

Postby binocular » Sat May 18, 2013 11:24 am

michael davidson wrote:I like this documentary but I find its title contradicts its message.

There is a huge difference between 'selfishness' and the idea of the 'self' ie that part of
a person which is aware, can perceive, understand, imagine, communicate, decide and act. The main
thrust of the the 2oth century is the denial of this meaning of 'self' - that people just react to
external stimuli, that their wants and desires are determined by genes or 'society'.

This is in the documentary but the title ought to be "the century of the denial of self".

:goodpost:

I never understood why drinking alcohol or eating lots of sweets is called "self-indulgence."
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