What does authenticity mean?

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What does authenticity mean?

Postby kmath » Mon Dec 09, 2013 5:22 am

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?

:anjali:

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Re: What does authenticity mean?

Postby Kim OHara » Mon Dec 09, 2013 6:10 am

Saying, or believing, that "Authenticity means, essentially, ignoring the feelings of others," could easily lead to some very unpleasant and unskillful behaviour.
If the word means anything in the context of how we live our lives it is really being true to ourselves or honest with ourselves and others. That shouldn't mean ignoring the feelings of others, especially if the 'self' we want to be true to is Buddhist.
Maybe 'being true to yourself' sometimes means changing the 'self' so that the right action is authentic.

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Re: What does authenticity mean?

Postby BlackBird » Mon Dec 09, 2013 9:50 am

From wikipedia:
Authenticity is a technical term used in psychology as well as existentialist philosophy and aesthetics. In existentialism, authenticity is the degree to which one is true to one's own personality, spirit, or character, despite external pressures; the conscious self is seen as coming to terms with being in a material world and with encountering external forces, pressures and influences which are very different from, and other than, itself. A lack of authenticity is considered in existentialism to be bad faith.

- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Authenticity_(philosophy)

That's what it means to me, anyway. The quest for authenticity on a deeper existential level for me, is the quest to become an Ariyan. I am not being authentic when I avoid meditating or being mindful despite the full knowledge of how destructive I become when I allow the hinderances in. Franz Kafka's the Trial deals a lot with this (as Ven. Nyanavira points out) - When I learned of the Four Noble Truths, there was no going back - My existence became guilty, and as much as I tried to later forget about the Buddha 's teachings, to hide - as it were - in ignorance, I was guilty of knowledge of the gratuity of existing and thus to avoid the truth of suffering was inauthentic, to pursue the knowledge of suffering from a concept to a realization is the only authentic way of life for me, even if - At least in the short term - It is harder, much harder, than hiding in ignorance.

I hope that might provide some kind of example to illustrate the above quote.

metta
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Re: What does authenticity mean?

Postby Dan74 » Mon Dec 09, 2013 10:27 am

Authenticity means (to me) neither ignoring the feelings of others nor of oneself, nor any other pertinent circumstance. These days I prefer 'awareness' and 'clarity'. When there are also insight and wisdom, then we have skillful action.
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Re: What does authenticity mean?

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Dec 09, 2013 10:50 am

Excellent post, Jack.

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Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


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One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: What does authenticity mean?

Postby boris » Mon Dec 09, 2013 11:28 pm

[On Heidegger's notion of the 'inauthentic' man:] The word 'inauthentic' is used by Heidegger to describe the ostrich-like attitude of the man who seeks to escape from his inescapable self-responsibility by becoming an anonymous member of a crowd. This is the normal attitude of nearly everybody. To be 'authentic' a man must be constantly and deliberately aware of his total responsibility for what he is. For example, a judge may disclaim personal responsibility for sentencing people to punishment. He will say that as a judge it is his duty to punish. In other words it is as an anonymous representative of the Judiciary that he punishes, and it is the Judiciary that must take the responsibility. This man is inauthentic. If he wishes to be authentic he must think to himself, whenever he sits on the Bench or draws his salary, 'Why do I punish? Because, as a judge, it is my duty to punish. Why am I a judge? Is it perhaps my duty to be a judge? No. I am a judge because I myself choose to be a judge. I choose to be one who punishes in the name of the Law. Can I, if I really wish, choose not to be a judge? Yes, I am absolutely free at any moment to stop being a judge, if I so choose. If this is so, when a guilty man comes up before me for sentence, do I have any alternative but to punish him? Yes, I can get up, walk out of the courtroom, and resign my job. Then if, instead, I punish him, am I responsible? I am totally responsible.'
Nanavira Thera http://nanavira.org/index.php/letters/p ... ember-1961

You say that you are worried about 'the absolutely dispassionate and purely objective tone' in which I discuss my own probable suicide. I am glad that you are worried about this. In all my correspondence with you both now and earlier I have been hoping to be able to communicate the idea of what Heidegger calls 'authenticity'; and if you have felt a little uneasiness at a practical illustration of what I have been trying to convey that is not a bad sign. 'The very maximum of what one human being can do for another in relation to that wherein each man has to do solely with himself', said Kierkegaard 'is to inspire him with concern and unrest' (CUP, p. 346). And beyond preventing you from falling into complacency I do not think there is very much that anyone else can do for you in this particular department.

But the question of authenticity (which more or less corresponds to the subjectivity-reflexion pair of attitudes discussed earlier) is another matter. If this mode of thinking can be achieved, it is capable of making a great deal of difference to one's life. Once one recognizes that one is totally responsible for all one's decisions and actions, one can no longer hide behind convenient ready-made excuses; and this, though it makes life rather less comfortable by removing one's habitual blinkers, endows one with unexpected self-reliance and resilience in difficult situations.[c] And once it becomes habitual to think in this way the task of living is discovered to be a full-time job and not merely a drudge to be got through by killing time as best one can. In other words, it abolishes boredom.[d] Finally, as I think I mentioned some time ago, it is only in this authentic or responsible attitude that the Buddha's Teaching becomes intelligible.

You say that I am one who thinks not only of other people but also of himself as 'they'. I see what you mean and I will not deny it, but it needs stating differently. Two paragraphs back I pointed out that it is inherently impossible to see oneself (unless one is simply thinking of one's body) as one sees another person (at least, not authentically), so I cannot be 'they' to myself as others are 'they' to me. People, for the most part, live in the objective-immediate mode (discussed earlier). This means that they are totally absorbed in and identified with positive worldly interests and projects, of which there is an unending variety. That is to say, although they differ from one another in their individual natures, the contents of their respective positivities, they are all alike in being positive. Thus, although the fundamental relation between positives is conflict (on account of their individual differences), they apprehend one another as all being in the same boat of positivity, and they think of men generally in terms of human solidarity, and say 'we'.

But the person who lives in the subjective-reflexive mode is absorbed in and identified with, not the positive world, but himself. The world, of course, remains 'there' but he regards it as accidental (Husserl says that he 'puts it in parentheses, between brackets'), and this means that he dismisses whatever positive identification he may have as irrelevant. He is no longer 'a politician' or 'a fisherman', but 'a self'. But what we call a 'self', unless it receives positive identification from outside, remains a void, in other words a negative. A 'self', however, is positive in this respect—it seeks identification. So a person who identifies himself with himself finds that his positivity consists in negativity—not the confident 'I am this' or 'I am that' of the positive, but a puzzled, perplexed, or even anguished, 'What am I?'. (This is where we meet the full force of Kierkegaard's 'concern and unrest'.) Eternal repetition of this eternally unanswerable question is the beginning of wisdom (it is the beginning of philosophy); but the temptation to provide oneself with a definite answer is usually too strong, and one falls into a wrong view of one kind or another. (It takes a Buddha to show the way out of this impossible situation. For the sotāpanna, who has understood the Buddha's essential Teaching, the question still arises, but he sees that it is unanswerable and is not worried; for the arahat the question no longer arises at all, and this is final peace.)

This person, then, who has his centre of gravity in himself instead of in the world (a situation that, though usually found as a congenital feature, can be acquired by practice), far from seeing himself with the clear solid objective definition with which other people can be seen, hardly sees himself as anything definite at all: for himself he is, at best, a 'What, if anything?'. It is precisely this lack of assured self-identity that is the secret strength of his position—for him the question-mark is the essential and his positive identity in the world is accidental, and whatever happens to him in a positive sense the question-mark still remains, which is all he really cares about. He is distressed, certainly, when his familiar world begins to break up, as it inevitably does, but unlike the positive he is able to fall back on himself and avoid total despair. It is also this feature that worries the positives; for they naturally assume that everybody else is a positive and they are accustomed to grasp others by their positive content, and when they happen to meet a negative they find nothing to take hold of.

It quite often happens that a positive attributes to a negative various strange secret motives, supposing that he has failed to understand him (in a positive sense); but what he has failed to understand is that there is actually nothing there to be understood. But a negative, being (as you point out) a rare bird himself, is accustomed to positives, by whom he is surrounded, and he does not mistake them for fellow negatives. He understands (or at least senses) that the common factor of positivity that welds them together in the 'we' of human solidarity does not extend to him, and mankind for him is 'they'. When a negative meets another negative they tend to coalesce with a kind of easy mutual indifference. Unlike two positives, who have the differences in their respective positivities to keep them apart, two negatives have nothing to separate them, and one negative recognizes another by his peculiar transparency—whereas a positive is opaque.

Yes, I had my tongue in my cheek when I suggested mindfulness of death as a subject of meditation for you. But also, though you could hardly know this, I had a perfectly serious purpose at the back of my mind. It happens that, for Heidegger, contemplation of one's death throughout one's life is the key to authenticity. As Sartre has observed, Heidegger has not properly understood the nature of death, regarding it as my possibility, whereas in fact it is always accidental, even in suicide (I cannot kill myself directly, I can only cut my throat and wait for death to come). But death of one's body (which is always seen from outside, like other people's bodies) can be imagined and the implications envisaged. And this is really all that is necessary (though it must be added that there are other ways than contemplation of death of becoming authentic). Here, then, is a summary of Heidegger's views on this matter (from 6ET, pp. 96-7):

Death, then, is the clue to authentic living, the eventual and omnipresent possibility which binds together and stabilizes my existence.... I anticipate death...by living in the presence of death as always immediately possible and as undermining everything. This full-blooded acceptance...of death, lived out, is authentic personal existence. Everything is taken as contingent. Everything is devalued. Personal existence and everything encountered in personal existence is accepted as nothing, as meaningless, fallen under the blow of its possible impossibility. I see all my possibilities as already annihilated in death, as they will be, like those of others in their turn. In face of this capital possibility which devours all the others, there are only two alternatives: acceptance or distraction. Even this choice is a rare privilege, since few are awakened by dread to the recognition of the choice, most remain lost in the illusions of everyday life. To choose acceptance of death as the supreme and normative possibility of my existence is not to reject the world and refuse participation in its daily preoccupations, it is to refuse to be deceived and to refuse to be identified with the preoccupations in which I engage: it is to take them for what they are worth—nothing. From this detachment springs the power, the dignity, the tolerance, of authentic personal existence.

http://nanavira.org/index.php/letters/p ... nuary-1963
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Re: What does authenticity mean?

Postby Kim OHara » Tue Dec 10, 2013 1:02 am

:goodpost: , Boris - thanks.
I had forgotten the roots of "authentic" behaviour in phenomenology, and never realised their connection to the dhamma.

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Re: What does authenticity mean?

Postby boris » Thu Dec 12, 2013 3:36 pm

Kim OHara wrote:I had forgotten the roots of "authentic" behaviour in phenomenology, and never realised their connection to the dhamma.


Yes, there is relation between authenticity and practicing Dhamma, relation which is essential. In the terms of the First Noble Truth, our practice is, or rather should be an attempt to understand suffering. We fight with our avijja. Avijja is not knowledge of suffering, and as in paticcasamuppada: not knowledge of not knowledge. I do not know, and I don't know that I don't know. But not only that. When we assimilate idea of inauthenticity into Dhamma, it turns out that I also don't want to know. Avijja is not simple not knowledge, it is aversion to the truth. Nanavira Thera:

It is obvious enough that there can be no progress in the Dhamma for the inauthentic man. The inauthentic man does not even see the problem—all his effort is devoted to hiding from it. The Buddha's Teaching is not for the serious-minded. Before we deal with the problem we must see it, and that means becoming authentic.
http://nanavira.org/index.php/letters/p ... 8-may-1965

In terms of freedom, inauthentic mode of being is an escape from freedom. It is not true that freedom is pleasant and easy, it is difficult -says Berdyaev. So inauthentic man will always chose mental slavery which gives him security, above freedom. But what Berdyaev does not see, when authenticity is associated with practice of Dhamma, it may change into pleasant freedom of ariya.

In terms of sakkaya-ditthi, inauthentic “Buddhist” will stick to identification: “I am a Buddhist”. Ajahn Sumedho said, that even to identify yourself with idea: “I am a schizophrenic”, can give you pleasure of knowledge, that you know who you are; so what about such nice identification as “I am a Buddhist”. :smile:

It will never occur to him, that in order to see Dhamma directly, it is necessary on the first place to reject idea “I am a Buddhist” … Some kind of samsaric paradox.
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Re: What does authenticity mean?

Postby dagon » Thu Dec 12, 2013 8:40 pm

In my view authenticity means what is true to something. In the context of following the Dhamma the first requisite is inward honesty or being truthful with ourselves. The need to be truthful is a requirement to follow the N8FP but in following the path the depth and scope of our honesty can increases. I think that this is one of the major barriers that we face - but I maybe just outwardly projecting my own issues. :thinking:

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Re: What does authenticity mean?

Postby Viscid » Thu Dec 12, 2013 9:13 pm

Fantastic thread and quotes from Nanavira.

Does being fully authentic necessitate a particular ethic? Can we derive Buddhist ethics from the authentic mode of being?
"What holds attention determines action." - William James
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Re: What does authenticity mean?

Postby Kim OHara » Thu Dec 12, 2013 9:36 pm

Viscid wrote:Fantastic thread and quotes from Nanavira.

Does being fully authentic necessitate a particular ethic? Can we derive Buddhist ethics from the authentic mode of being?

It's easy to derive Right Speech from authenticity (at least, lying is inauthentic) but I can't - at the moment - see a way of deriving the rest of Buddhist ethics in the same way.

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Re: What does authenticity mean?

Postby kmath » Thu Dec 12, 2013 11:17 pm

Kim OHara wrote:
Viscid wrote:Fantastic thread and quotes from Nanavira.

Does being fully authentic necessitate a particular ethic? Can we derive Buddhist ethics from the authentic mode of being?

It's easy to derive Right Speech from authenticity (at least, lying is inauthentic) but I can't - at the moment - see a way of deriving the rest of Buddhist ethics in the same way.

:namaste:
Kim


These are the ideas I wanted to address. See in my view, it seems to be most authentic at times would mean to express anger or even to act violently. I suppose that depends on your definition of authentic. But if we say: to be authentic is to be true to oneself and one's desires -- then these behaviors follow quickly.

Thanks by the way for the fantastic responses so far. :smile:
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Re: What does authenticity mean?

Postby boris » Thu Dec 12, 2013 11:52 pm

Viscid wrote:Does being fully authentic necessitate a particular ethic? Can we derive Buddhist ethics from the authentic mode of being?

Obviously, there is necessity for some kind of ethic in authentic mode of being. There is relation between inauthentic man and Ortega a Gyasset's concept of Masses.

The mass-man would never have accepted authority external to himself had not his surroundings violently forced him to do so. As to-day, his surroundings do not so force him, the everlasting mass-man, true to his character, ceases to appeal to other authority and feels himself lord of his own existence. On the contrary the select man, the excellent man is urged, by interior necessity, to appeal from himself to some standard beyond himself, superior to himself, whose service he freely accepts. Let us recall that at the start we distinguished the excellent man from the common man by saying that the former is the one who makes great demands on himself, and the latter the one who makes no demands on himself, but contents himself with what he is, and is delighted with himself. * Contrary to what is usually thought, it is the man of excellence, and not the common man who lives in essential servitude. Life has no savour for him unless he makes it consist in service to something transcendental. Hence he does not look upon the necessity of serving as an oppression. When, by chance, such necessity is lacking, he grows restless and invents some new standard, more difficult, more exigent, with which to coerce himself. This is life lived as a discipline- the noble life. Nobility is defined by the demands it makes on us- by obligations, not by rights. Noblesse oblige. "To live as one likes is plebeian; the noble man aspires to order and law" (Goethe).
The revolt of the masses
But, ethic which base on Dhamma require Dhamma :smile: either by external information (Suttas) or as an "implant" (ariya experience). Without this, there is no possibility to derive Buddhist ethics from the authentic mode of being.

A puthujjana may adopt a set of moral values for any of a number of different reasons—faith in a teacher, acceptance of traditional or established values, personal philosophical views, and so on—, but in the last analysis the necessity of moral values, however much he may feel their need, is not for him a matter of self-evidence. At the end of his book (op. cit., p. 111) Jean Grenier writes: 'En fait toutes les attitudes que nous avons passées en revue au sujet du choix ne se résignent à l'absence de vérité que par désespoir de l'atteindre et par suite des nécessités de l'action. Elles n'aboutissent toutes qu'à des morales provisoires. Un choix, au sens plein du mot, un "vrai" choix n'est possible que s'il y a ouverture de l'homme à la vérité; sinon il n'y a que des compromis de toutes sortes: les plus nobles sont aussi les plus modestes.' ('In fact all the attitudes we have passed in review on the subject of choice are resigned to the absence of truth only out of despair of attaining it and as a consequence of the necessities of action. They end up, all of them, only at provisional moralities. A choice, in the full sense of the word, a "real" choice is possible only if man has access to the truth; if not there are only compromises of all kinds: the noblest are also the most modest.') And Sartre, more bleakly, concludes (op. cit., p. 76) that man is bound by his nature to adopt values of one sort or another, and that, although he cannot escape this task of choosing, he himself is totally responsible for his choice (for there is no Divine Dictator of values), and there is absolutely nothing in his nature that can justify him in adopting this particular value or set of values rather than that. The puthujjana sees neither a task to be performed that can justify his existence—not even, in the last analysis, that of perpetual reflexion (Heidegger's Entschlossenheit or 'resoluteness', acceptance of the guilt of existing; which does no more than make the best of a bad job)—nor a way to bring his unjustifiable existence to an end.
http://nanavira.org/index.php/notes-on- ... otes/kamma
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Re: What does authenticity mean?

Postby boris » Fri Dec 13, 2013 12:02 am

kmath wrote: But if we say: to be authentic is to be true to oneself and one's desires -- then these behaviors follow quickly.


You make wrong assumption. You rightly recognize that beheviour depends on one's desires. But there are desires and desires. There are quite a lot noble desires after which will follow noble behaviour.
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Re: What does authenticity mean?

Postby kmath » Fri Dec 13, 2013 12:27 am

boris wrote:
kmath wrote: But if we say: to be authentic is to be true to oneself and one's desires -- then these behaviors follow quickly.


You make wrong assumption. You rightly recognize that beheviour depends on one's desires. But there are desires and desires. There are quite a lot noble desires after which will follow noble behaviour.


My point was just to say: if you're always true to yourself, it's likely some unwholesome behavior will follow.
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Re: What does authenticity mean?

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Dec 13, 2013 12:44 am

Greetings,

kmath wrote:My point was just to say: if you're always true to yourself, it's likely some unwholesome behavior will follow.

I don't see it as such. If you have Right View and you are true to yourself, it will be a reflection of Right Intention (samma sankappa)

See: http://www.vipassana.com/resources/8fp3.php

Bhikkhu Bodhi wrote:When the intentions are right, the actions will be right, and for the intentions to be right the surest guarantee is right views. One who recognizes the law of kamma, that actions bring retributive consequences, will frame his pursuits to accord with this law; thus his actions, expressive of his intentions, will conform to the canons of right conduct. The Buddha succinctly sums up the matter when he says that for a person who holds a wrong view, his deeds, words, plans, and purposes grounded in that view will lead to suffering, while for a person who holds right view, his deeds, words, plans, and purposes grounded in that view will lead to happiness

(The use of the word "retributive" is a bit cringeworthy, but otherwise this is a good paragraph)

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: What does authenticity mean?

Postby BlackBird » Fri Dec 13, 2013 1:52 am

Glad to see a fellow follower of Ven. Nyanavira's existentialist take on things Boris :)
"For a disciple who has conviction in the Teacher's message & lives to penetrate it, what accords with the Dhamma is this:
'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta
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Re: What does authenticity mean?

Postby Kim OHara » Fri Dec 13, 2013 2:53 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

kmath wrote:My point was just to say: if you're always true to yourself, it's likely some unwholesome behavior will follow.

I don't see it as such. If you have Right View and you are true to yourself, it will be a reflection of Right Intention (samma sankappa)

See: http://www.vipassana.com/resources/8fp3.php

Bhikkhu Bodhi wrote:When the intentions are right, the actions will be right, and for the intentions to be right the surest guarantee is right views. One who recognizes the law of kamma, that actions bring retributive consequences, will frame his pursuits to accord with this law; thus his actions, expressive of his intentions, will conform to the canons of right conduct. The Buddha succinctly sums up the matter when he says that for a person who holds a wrong view, his deeds, words, plans, and purposes grounded in that view will lead to suffering, while for a person who holds right view, his deeds, words, plans, and purposes grounded in that view will lead to happiness

(The use of the word "retributive" is a bit cringeworthy, but otherwise this is a good paragraph)

Metta,
Retro. :)

Absolutely. This is what I had in mind when I said earlier that, "Maybe 'being true to yourself' sometimes means changing the 'self' so that the right action is authentic."

:namaste:
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Re: What does authenticity mean?

Postby kmath » Fri Dec 13, 2013 3:08 am

Kim OHara wrote:
retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

kmath wrote:My point was just to say: if you're always true to yourself, it's likely some unwholesome behavior will follow.

I don't see it as such. If you have Right View and you are true to yourself, it will be a reflection of Right Intention (samma sankappa)

See: http://www.vipassana.com/resources/8fp3.php

Bhikkhu Bodhi wrote:When the intentions are right, the actions will be right, and for the intentions to be right the surest guarantee is right views. One who recognizes the law of kamma, that actions bring retributive consequences, will frame his pursuits to accord with this law; thus his actions, expressive of his intentions, will conform to the canons of right conduct. The Buddha succinctly sums up the matter when he says that for a person who holds a wrong view, his deeds, words, plans, and purposes grounded in that view will lead to suffering, while for a person who holds right view, his deeds, words, plans, and purposes grounded in that view will lead to happiness

(The use of the word "retributive" is a bit cringeworthy, but otherwise this is a good paragraph)

Metta,
Retro. :)

Absolutely. This is what I had in mind when I said earlier that, "Maybe 'being true to yourself' sometimes means changing the 'self' so that the right action is authentic."

:namaste:
Kim


Changing yourself doesn't sound much to be like being true to yourself.
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Re: What does authenticity mean?

Postby kmath » Fri Dec 13, 2013 3:12 am

retrofuturist wrote:I don't see it as such. If you have Right View...


If you're an arahant?
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