The dark side ...

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The dark side ...

Postby Clueless Git » Wed Oct 28, 2009 10:39 am

Just a musing that came to mind whilst replying to the estimable Retro on another topic ...

Please excuse the following self indulgent ramble and blowing of my own trumpet (cool trick if you can do it?) but it is the only way I can think of to explain what it is that I am thinking;

IRL I have a reputation for extreme diligence in being honest and truthfull. Just about everyone who knows me knows that I will never knowingly lie to them nor lie on their behalf no matter what benefit a lie, or loss the truth, will cause me.

Thing being that from my days as a high pressure salesman I was trained in the black art of lying, deception more acurately, to the point of having mastered it as an art form. (The art of lying is mostly about creating a smoke screen of demonstrable, preferably totally self evident, truths under the cover of which a critical deception (often a deception by omission) will pass unnoticed btw).

To the best of my understanding my ability (I would not be aware of my own limitations, obviously) to avoid intentional deception is directly proportionate to the level of skill I attained in intentional deception. Kinda like the degree to which I know how be honest is in direct balance to the degree that I know how to be dishonest.
From that I was wondering if anyone has any thoughts on things like the following;

Is it possible to be compassionate past the degree to which we have the capacity for discompassion?

Is it possible to know what true happiness feels like without having felt true sadness?

Is our capacity for love proportionate to our capacity to hate?

If such things are so then could it be said that to the degree we wish to know the light side of life we must be first be prepared to venture the same degree onto the side of life which is dark?
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Re: The dark side ...

Postby PeterB » Wed Oct 28, 2009 10:50 am

Dark side/Light side define each other. as do love/hate and happiness/sadness. They arise dependently. The same is true to some degree of compassion/indifference, although Buddhism teaches us that true understanding of the nature of things is more likely from a compassionate viewpoint than from a position of indifference to the suffering of others. The Buddhadhamma it seems to me is about seeing the nature of conditioned things and the way that they arise dependently. Its not that we seek the light side is that we see that there is that which is prior to dark or light.
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Re: The dark side ...

Postby Dan74 » Wed Oct 28, 2009 11:44 am

I like your question CG, though I am not sure I have the answer.

I recall a friend at Uni who had a perfect childhood, great parents, lovely romance at 13 and then true love at 16, etc. She was unscarred, almost untouched by dukkha in the way most us aren't. And she was a lovely person, but there was some kind of shallowness. It was hard to put a finger on it, but I think it was what you are referring to - not having suffered, she had a very one-sided appreciation of what life was about.

The Buddha too had it perfect, but he had a tremendous capacity for compassion it seems. So perhaps past lives enter into the equation. Perhaps we all have seeds for these and life circumstances water and nourish them..

I've had it quite easy with study and though I've had it a bit tough money-wise a couple of times, I always managed to just cruise along without working too hard, or caring too much. One day (many moons ago) a Sri Lankan flatmate of mine, who was an exemplary scholarship student, told me out of the blue that he was disgusted with my attitude. He had tasted hunger and poverty since he was a little kid, and I, though not brought up in affluent circumstances, just took it all for granted. Not having had to really battle, I guess I developed no appreciation of the opportunities that I had been given and often squandered them.

I guess these life experiences can deepen our sensitivity and appreciation for aspects of life.

Sorry just rambling...

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Re: The dark side ...

Postby nowheat » Wed Oct 28, 2009 12:34 pm

Clueless Git wrote:Is it possible to be compassionate past the degree to which we have the capacity for discompassion?

Is it possible to know what true happiness feels like without having felt true sadness?

Is our capacity for love proportionate to our capacity to hate?

If such things are so then could it be said that to the degree we wish to know the light side of life we must be first be prepared to venture the same degree onto the side of life which is dark?

Is "having experienced" the same as "capacity for"? I don't think so.

Speaking only from my experience of love and hate, I might have hated one person in my life, really hated, wished dead even, when I was a teenager; but that only for a few years, then faded. I am sure I've never hated anyone else (I'm pretty easy-going). Loved though? Oh, loved lots, loved many, loved fully; still do. I would guess I don't have much capacity for hate; I certainly don't have much experience of hate. But I have plenty of capacity and experience of love.
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Re: The dark side ...

Postby Individual » Wed Oct 28, 2009 10:53 pm

Clueless Git wrote:Just a musing that came to mind whilst replying to the estimable Retro on another topic ...

Please excuse the following self indulgent ramble and blowing of my own trumpet (cool trick if you can do it?) but it is the only way I can think of to explain what it is that I am thinking;

IRL I have a reputation for extreme diligence in being honest and truthfull. Just about everyone who knows me knows that I will never knowingly lie to them nor lie on their behalf no matter what benefit a lie, or loss the truth, will cause me.

Thing being that from my days as a high pressure salesman I was trained in the black art of lying, deception more acurately, to the point of having mastered it as an art form. (The art of lying is mostly about creating a smoke screen of demonstrable, preferably totally self evident, truths under the cover of which a critical deception (often a deception by omission) will pass unnoticed btw).

To the best of my understanding my ability (I would not be aware of my own limitations, obviously) to avoid intentional deception is directly proportionate to the level of skill I attained in intentional deception. Kinda like the degree to which I know how be honest is in direct balance to the degree that I know how to be dishonest.
From that I was wondering if anyone has any thoughts on things like the following;

Is it possible to be compassionate past the degree to which we have the capacity for discompassion?

Is it possible to know what true happiness feels like without having felt true sadness?

Is our capacity for love proportionate to our capacity to hate?

If such things are so then could it be said that to the degree we wish to know the light side of life we must be first be prepared to venture the same degree onto the side of life which is dark?

I think it's a silly philosophical question that's best put aside. If you develop compassion and find happiness and love, what else matters?
The best things in life aren't things.

The Diamond Sutra
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Re: The dark side ...

Postby Dan74 » Thu Oct 29, 2009 12:05 am

On the contrary, I think this question points to the importance of life experiences which can be extremely helpful in developing compassion and finding happiness and love.

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Re: The dark side ...

Postby pink_trike » Thu Oct 29, 2009 12:23 am

The more clarity (clear, light) we have, the more aware we become of the depth/breadth of confusion, delusion, darkness. This is the recipe for authentic compassion to arise. Turn up the light, see the madness, heart activates, rinse and repeat.
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

---

Disclaimer: I'm a non-religious practitioner of Theravada, Mahayana/Vajrayana, and Tibetan Bon Dzogchen mind-training.
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Re: The dark side ...

Postby Individual » Thu Oct 29, 2009 2:58 am

Not everything has a physical opposite, even if we can fabricate one for sake of discussion.

Example: There is "orange", the actual fruit, what one might call orange-rupa, and there is "orange", the concept, the idea, the name, the definition, orange-nama, the pointer I've just used several times now to reference orange-rupa. The two are derived from eachother: orange-rupa is the origin of orange-nama, but orange-nama is the way in which we understand orange-rupa. However, "not-orange" is itself just a concept, a negation of orange, and it has no physical correlate. Orange did not arise from "not-orange". You could use "not-orange" to specify everything orange might've arisen from, in dependence on it, and that would be correct, but then, you're not actually describing anything at all, just playing games with language in a way that's confusing. Hence, the world probably didn't begin with Yin and Yang, Yab-Yum, 3 Gunas, or whatever other grandiose and superstitious simplification.

So, in conclusion, I don't really need to know everything that's "not-orange" to eat an orange. Studying apples -- which are not orange -- tell me much less about oranges than oranges themselves. And in order to experience an orange, I don't even necessarily need a concept for orange at all. Without any preconceptions at all, with mindfulness I can eat an orange and know what it tastes like.

Similarly, without any preconceptions and with mindfulness, you can find happiness and develop compassion.
The best things in life aren't things.

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