A contemporary analysis of the dukkha of avoidance

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A contemporary analysis of the dukkha of avoidance

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Jun 24, 2013 1:00 am

Greetings,

I found the following article to contain a useful contemporary analysis of the dukkha of "avoidance"...

The Intention of Indulgement
http://mindfullasd.blogspot.com.au/2013 ... ement.html

Much of what it speaks to correlates with my own experiences and learnings over the last couple of years, so I thought I might share for anyone who might be interested in avoiding certain pitfalls.

:reading:

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: A contemporary analysis of the dukkha of avoidance

Postby chownah » Mon Jun 24, 2013 3:43 am

I read the article once and my main initial difficulty is how the word "indulgence" is used. For me it's use is off the mark. Imagine that "indulgence "is replaced with "confrontation". For me the article could still make sense in about the same way but the word "confrontation" would again be off the mark. Am I being understandable?....
If I can come to grips a bit with the usage of "indulgence" then I intend to read the article again but as it is I seem to mentally gnash my teeth every time that word appears and this interferes with my ability to follow the meaning.
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Re: A contemporary analysis of the dukkha of avoidance

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Jun 24, 2013 4:44 am

Greetings Chownah,

As I read it, it's saying that most traditional Buddhist teaching is focused on highlighting and removing the "craving for x" - you might call it 'indulgence'.

If one is geared towards avoidance behaviours (which are rooted in fear or aversion) they can easily think to themselves, "well that's easy enough... I don't want x anyway". Whilst that ticks the box in terms of "not craving for x", the avoidance behaviours underpinning that response might be masking a craving for other things - e.g. safety, security, a state of non-fear, a state of non-anxiety.

For example...

- I don't crave attending social functions... because I find them socially awkward and confronting
- I don't crave a nice car... because I'm too scared to drive
- I don't crave a promotion at work... because I'm scared of the extra responsibility and don't think I'm good enough
- I don't crave rollercoaster rides... because I think I'd freak out
- I don't crave holidays in the Bahamas... because I'm terrified of flying

Whilst the hypothetical respondent can say they don't crave, they don't endulge... this is really masking the shadow of fear and uncertainty that they're trying to hide from.

That shadow of fear and uncertainty needs to be outgrown and overcome if there is to be progress in terms of quality of life, and in support of the pursuit of the Dhamma... or in other words, craving is dukkha whether it's craving for indulgence or craving for safety - and overcoming craving is actually about finding a middle way through "indulgence" and "avoidance" and being mindful of when one is over-reaching in either direction.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: A contemporary analysis of the dukkha of avoidance

Postby IanAnd » Mon Jun 24, 2013 5:14 am

retrofuturist wrote:That shadow of fear and uncertainty needs to be outgrown and overcome if there is to be progress in terms of quality of life, and in support of the pursuit of the Dhamma... or in other words, craving is dukkha whether it's craving for indulgence or craving for safety - and overcoming craving is actually about finding a middle way through "indulgence" and "avoidance" and being mindful of when one is over-reaching in either direction.


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Re: A contemporary analysis of the dukkha of avoidance

Postby pegembara » Mon Jun 24, 2013 5:23 am

- I don't crave attending social functions... because I find them socially awkward and confronting
- I don't crave a nice car... because I'm too scared to drive
- I don't crave a promotion at work... because I'm scared of the extra responsibility and don't think I'm good enough
- I don't crave rollercoaster rides... because I think I'd freak out
- I don't crave holidays in the Bahamas... because I'm terrified of flying


Perhaps it is aversion or fear that hides the desire. In other words, it is not that I don't crave social functions, status or holidays but it is only the fear that is holding me back.
A reframing of the enquiry-

- I don't crave attending social functions... because I find the empty chatter wearisome
- I don't crave a nice car... because before long I will again look for another car with newer features
- I don't crave a promotion at work... because of the extra responsibility/stress and don't think it is worth it
- I don't crave rollercoaster rides... because I don't think being spun around is thrilling, it just gives me headaches
- I don't crave holidays in the Bahamas... because after a while holidays feel the same. Most of the fun is in the planning and all too soon the fun is over.

So is nibbida (disillusionment) subtle aversion?
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Re: A contemporary analysis of the dukkha of avoidance

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Jun 24, 2013 5:30 am

Greetings,

pegembara wrote:So is nibbida (disillusionment) subtle aversion?

I would suggest "subtle aversion" would actually obscure true "nibbida (disillusionment)"... a near-enemy, if you will.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: A contemporary analysis of the dukkha of avoidance

Postby Ben » Mon Jun 24, 2013 5:36 am

"indulgement"??
"One cannot step twice into the same river, nor can one grasp any mortal substance in a stable condition, but it scatters and again gathers; it forms and dissolves, and approaches and departs."

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Re: A contemporary analysis of the dukkha of avoidance

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Jun 24, 2013 5:54 am

Greetings,

Ben wrote:"indulgement"??

Yes, I don't think English is the author's #1 skill... I also noticed "denile" in place of "denial" at one point too.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: A contemporary analysis of the dukkha of avoidance

Postby chownah » Mon Jun 24, 2013 3:11 pm

This is one paragraph from the indulgement article:

"This does not demand that everyone leave the household life for the party or to discard all sense security on the spot. The degree to which a person renounces depends on his or her disposition and situation. But what remains as a guiding principle is this: that the attainment of deliverance requires the complete eradication of fear, and progress along the path is accelerated to the extent that one overcomes fear. Breaking free from domination by avoidance may not be easy, but the difficulty does not abrogate the necessity. Since avoidance is a source of dukkha, putting an end to dukkha depends on eliminating avoidance, and that involves directing the mind to indulgement. "

and this is one paragraph from the article referenced at the bottom of the indulgement article which is authored by Bhikkhu Bodhi:

"The Buddha does not demand that everyone leave the household life for the monastery or ask his followers to discard all sense enjoyments on the spot. The degree to which a person renounces depends on his or her disposition and situation. But what remains as a guiding principle is this: that the attainment of deliverance requires the complete eradication of craving, and progress along the path is accelerated to the extent that one overcomes craving. Breaking free from domination by desire may not be easy, but the difficulty does not abrogate the necessity. Since craving is the origin of dukkha, putting an end to dukkha depends on eliminating craving, and that involves directing the mind to renunciation."

I haven't checked it all out but it appears that the article on indulgement took Bodhi's article on renunciation as a template and more or less just inserted "avoidance" and "indulgement" in place of "desire" and "renunciation"....check it out paragraph by paragraph. For me, Bodhi's article on renunciation makes good sense but this plagiarized article on indulge meant just doesn't really come across as being very coherent......and now I see why.
Perhaps along with English, independent thinking is not one of the author's major skills.
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Re: A contemporary analysis of the dukkha of avoidance

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Jun 24, 2013 7:15 pm

Thanks Chownah!

I fed the text into Turnitin, and it was 79% the same as Bhikkhu Bodhi's book:
The Noble Eightfold Path
Chapter III Right Intention (Samma Sankappa)

It would be a lot higher without the spelling mistakes...

Turnitin located dozens of sources, some credited to BB:
http://www.buddhachannel.tv/portail/spi ... rticle5474
Some not:
http://sarvajan.ambedkar.org/?p=574

Automatic fail for plagiarism...

Bhikkhu Bodhi is cool. :heart:

PS: Actually his other blog post does reference BB: http://mindfullasd.blogspot.co.nz/2013/ ... ation.html So perhaps he's just testing us...

:anjali:
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Re: A contemporary analysis of the dukkha of avoidance

Postby Zom » Mon Jun 24, 2013 9:16 pm

Ye, we discussed this (subj) matter in our Dhamma center not so long ago. The subject is quite important for the right practice. And we arrived at a conclusion that many monks disrobe precisely because they do not understrand this very thing. Indeed, some buddhists (lay people and monks as well) practise this so called "avoidance" instead of "renunciation". They think they practise well, because they run away from different personal problems to the monasteries, retreat-centers, another countries and regions. But the point is - they do not renounce the "problematic things". Instead, they just change their surroundings, not more than that. And keep thinking that if in these or that surroundings there is no their particular problems (they had before) in the sight, then they are real ascetics, who removed clinging and attachment, overcame delusion and craving. Later on (even years after) they disrobe, quit Buddhism, go somewhere else or just return to previous life. Why? Because they didn't remove craving. They removed outer things, surroundings, just changed scenery. When craving became strong enough, they can't bear its power anymore, and - what do they do? - they indulge those things they avoided -)

The right path here is to "see with wisdom" the problematic point (that is - the particular object of craving). You need to work it out well. If you won't do that - time will come and craving for this thing will overcome you. But the problem is that wisdom maybe weak enough, while craving will be strong. You may think you "saw it with wisdom", and may be you really did, but the problem is - this seeing was (and is) too shallow. And this is very easy to deceive yourself here and fall into denial. You say "I have no craving and attachment for that anymore", but craving pops up, and you turn your mind away from acknowledging that. In this case you are in delusion, not in understanding as it really is. If you keep up this denial, you will be practising avoidance. And later on some inner crisis or depression may arise. And so you may fall into indulgence .)

Now, the real renunciation happens and is based upon seeing with wisdom. To whatever degree you see it, to that same degree you will be able to practise renunciation. Not more than that. And it is because of this many people are not ready to be monks. They just do not see with wisdom deeply enough to renounce to the level of monk. So, becoming monks, they start practising avoidance, not renunciation. If they are lucky enough and can develop wisdom and reduce defilements to some degree, they may start seeing deeply and thus renounce deeply and avoid less, until they feel comfortable with the life of a monk. If not - they just disrobe; or worse, commit grave wrongdoings and hide them, while being in robes (I know at least one such case and that "monk" is still in robes).
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Re: A contemporary analysis of the dukkha of avoidance

Postby Coyote » Mon Jun 24, 2013 9:56 pm

I agree that real wisdom is necessary and that surface avoidance will be problematic in the long run if it is not replaced by renunciation.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.002.than.html

[5] And what are the fermentations to be abandoned by avoiding? There is the case where a monk, reflecting appropriately, avoids a wild elephant, a wild horse, a wild bull, a wild dog, a snake, a stump, a bramble patch, a chasm, a cliff, a cesspool, an open sewer. Reflecting appropriately, he avoids sitting in the sorts of unsuitable seats, wandering to the sorts of unsuitable habitats, and associating with the sorts of bad friends that would make his knowledgeable friends in the holy life suspect him of evil conduct. The fermentations, vexation, or fever that would arise if he were not to avoid these things do not arise for him when he avoids them. These are called the fermentations to be abandoned by avoiding.

I think that avoiding in some cases can be a manifestation of wisdom, which then allows greater wisdom to develop. Shallow wisdom may allow you to avoid unskillful situations in the beginning so that you have a chance for "real" wisdom to develop. If one doesn't have the basic wisdom of avoidance down, you may not have a chance to tackle the bigger issues, just like the bodhisatta when he left home.
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Re: A contemporary analysis of the dukkha of avoidance

Postby peteG » Tue Jun 25, 2013 12:01 am

Hi - my name is Pete and I am the author of said article. About my background - I have aspergers syndrome (so yes - I am very good with numbers but not so with words). I was attending my local sangha and they had a session on renunciation. What do people turn to to avoid what they do not want to face - like drugs, etc. I thought about it and it did not really apply to me, my biggest difficulty is social isolation, it is not uncommon for me to go for four weeks without doing anything social. So I thought about how I could use this concept of 'renunciation' to my situation and concluded that avoiding social interaction is my addiction. Out teacher referenced the 'The Intention of Renunciation' on the internet so I thought to turn it around to 'The Intention of Avoidance' with the idea that that point of view may help other people in the Autism Spectrum, who's situation is different from those in recovery. I very much enjoy your discussion and I can assure you that future posts will be more original (but not necessarily any more grammatically correct).
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Re: A contemporary analysis of the dukkha of avoidance

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Jun 25, 2013 1:23 am

Greetings,

peteG wrote:Out teacher referenced the 'The Intention of Renunciation' on the internet so I thought to turn it around to 'The Intention of Avoidance' with the idea that that point of view may help other people in the Autism Spectrum, who's situation is different from those in recovery.

Thank you for this transposition - I find it apt.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: A contemporary analysis of the dukkha of avoidance

Postby chownah » Tue Jun 25, 2013 2:50 am

peteG,
Thanks for coming online. Can you tell me about the meaning of the alternative title (which is "F'EM IF THEY NEED A JOKE) and how you mean it to apply to your article?
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Re: A contemporary analysis of the dukkha of avoidance

Postby robertk » Tue Jun 25, 2013 4:52 am

The commentary to the Netti pakarana has a section on the 38 vancakkha dhammas- the cheating dhammas.
For example on of them is related to renunciation: one moves to a secluded place, gives up meeting with people and feels this is because they are developing renunciation. It is just as likely to be done out of subtle aversion to the problems that come with society. On the othe rhand one stays in society and feels that one is doing this through equanimity or metta- but doesn't see the attachment to sensuality that is really motivating the behavior..

And practically every real right action in the spiritual realm has its not always obvious cheating counterpart (vangakkha). If there is no genuine awareness one might be 'cheated ' by these fakes for a lifetime.
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Re: A contemporary analysis of the dukkha of avoidance

Postby Ben » Tue Jun 25, 2013 4:56 am

robertk wrote:The commentary to the Netti pakarana has a section on the 38 vancakkha dhammas- the cheating dhammas.
For example on of them is related to renunciation: one moves to a secluded place, gives up meeting with people and feels this is because they are developing renunciation. It is just as likely to be done out of subtle aversion to the problems that come with society. On the othe rhand one stays in society and feels that one is doing this through equanimity or metta- but doesn't see the attachment to sensuality that is really motivating the behavior..

And practically every real right action in the spiritual realm has its not always obvious cheating counterpart (vangakkha). If there is no genuine awareness one might be 'cheated ' by these fakes for a lifetime.


Hi Robert,

How does one become aware and counter these vangakkha dhammas if they are so subtle as to be easily mistaken for kusala dhammas?
kind regards,

Ben
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Re: A contemporary analysis of the dukkha of avoidance

Postby peteG » Tue Jun 25, 2013 5:01 am

I came across the great blog called 'Musings of an Aspie' and a post 'What is a Neurotypical?' http://musingsofanaspie.com/?s=neurotypical . I particularly liked this part about 'small talk' -
"Perhaps the most obvious giveaway is an NT’s tendency to make “small talk” or to want to “chat” with you. While small talk appears to be nonfunctional, for NTs it serves a very specific purpose. It’s a good idea to humor them and participate to whatever degree you can tolerate. If you’re patient with them, many NTs will soon feel comfortable enough to move from small talk to more interesting, in-depth conversations."

Now when I read this, I could particularly relate to this, because, although I enjoy deep meaningful conversation, 'small talk' often leaves me confused and empty.

As for the the title, there is an album by the band the Dictators called "f*** em if they can't take a joke", and I thought of how small talk is a way to humor social interaction in a way I don't completely get, so I turned the phrase around in way only an aspie would get as an inside joke.
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Re: A contemporary analysis of the dukkha of avoidance

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Jun 25, 2013 6:16 am

Greetings,

peteG wrote:If you’re patient with them, many NTs will soon feel comfortable enough to move from small talk to more interesting, in-depth conversations."

I believe they call it "building rapport"... I share your bewilderment in why this needs to be an activity separate and distinct from the meaningful in-depth conversations and exchange of information though. Human beings are funny critters.

peteG wrote:As for the the title, there is an album by the band the Dictators called "f*** em if they can't take a joke", and I thought of how small talk is a way to humor social interaction in a way I don't completely get, so I turned the phrase around in way only an aspie would get as an inside joke.

Perhaps, but I think on net value, it probably diminishes the otherwise valuable message you're trying to communicate here...

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: A contemporary analysis of the dukkha of avoidance

Postby pegembara » Tue Jun 25, 2013 6:40 am

Ben wrote:
robertk wrote:The commentary to the Netti pakarana has a section on the 38 vancakkha dhammas- the cheating dhammas.
For example on of them is related to renunciation: one moves to a secluded place, gives up meeting with people and feels this is because they are developing renunciation. It is just as likely to be done out of subtle aversion to the problems that come with society. On the othe rhand one stays in society and feels that one is doing this through equanimity or metta- but doesn't see the attachment to sensuality that is really motivating the behavior..

And practically every real right action in the spiritual realm has its not always obvious cheating counterpart (vangakkha). If there is no genuine awareness one might be 'cheated ' by these fakes for a lifetime.


Hi Robert,

How does one become aware and counter these vangakkha dhammas if they are so subtle as to be easily mistaken for kusala dhammas?
kind regards,

Ben


By being aware of the subtle pull/desire and push/aversion present ie. vedanaupassana which would appear to be no mean feat.

"There are these three kinds of feeling: a pleasant feeling, a painful feeling, and neither-pleasant-nor-painful feeling. On the occasion when one feels a pleasant feeling, one does not feel either a painful feeling or a neither-pleasant-nor-painful feeling. One feels only a pleasant feeling on that occasion. On the occasion when one feels a painful feeling, one does not feel either a pleasant feeling or a neither-pleasant-nor-painful feeling. One feels only a painful feeling on that occasion. On the occasion when one feels a neither-pleasant-nor-painful feeling, one does not feel either a pleasant feeling or a painful feeling. One feels only a neither-pleasant-nor-painful feeling on that occasion.

"A pleasant feeling is inconstant, fabricated, dependently co-arisen, subject to ending, subject to vanishing, fading, ceasing. A painful feeling is also inconstant, fabricated, dependently co-arisen, subject to ending, subject to vanishing, fading, ceasing. A neither-pleasant-nor-painful feeling is also inconstant, fabricated, dependently co-arisen, subject to ending, subject to vanishing, fading, ceasing.

"Seeing this, an instructed disciple of the noble ones grows disenchanted with pleasant feeling, disenchanted with painful feeling, disenchanted with neither-pleasant-nor-painful feeling. Disenchanted, he grows dispassionate. From dispassion, he is released. With release, there is the knowledge, 'Released.' He discerns, 'Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for this world.' A monk whose mind is thus released does not take sides with anyone, does not dispute with anyone. He words things by means of what is said in the world but without grasping at it."
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
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