Can an Ariya suffer from mental disease?

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Can an Ariya suffer from mental disease?

Postby pilgrim » Thu Jun 20, 2013 6:25 am

Undoubtedly, ariyas suffer from physical ailments. But some physical ailments like chemical imbalances or trauma to the brain may also have psychological symptoms. Does that mean ariyas can also suffer from psychological sicknesses?
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Re: Can an Ariya suffer from mental disease?

Postby lyndon taylor » Thu Jun 20, 2013 7:12 am

Well I'm probably not an Arya, but I do have a mental illness,and I think a mental illness is just like any other disability, diabetes, being paralysed in a wheelchair, having heart disease etc etc, They are all something physically wrong with how the body works, I don't see how any of these situations should stop one from reaching or coming close to enlightenment. Of course mentally ill people might be more likely to be deluded into thinking they are enlightened when they are not. But if you read the history books,all kinds of religious saints were mistaken for crazy or had their crazy periods, Ramakrishnan is one I remember reading about. Lots of Tibetan saints did some crazy things. As a mentally Ill person, we have to struggle with people treating us differently; "less than normal" when in reality mentally people actually can and might have abilities normal people do not, especially in their spirituality. So put all your predjudices aside and treat people as equally able to grow, whether they actually do grow or not.
18 years ago I made one of the most important decisions of my life and entered a local Cambodian Buddhist Temple as a temple boy and, for only 3 weeks, an actual Therevada Buddhist monk. I am not a scholar, great meditator, or authority on Buddhism, but Buddhism is something I love from the Bottom of my heart. It has taught me sobriety, morality, peace, and very importantly that my suffering is optional, and doesn't have to run my life. I hope to give back what little I can to the Buddhist community that has so generously given me so much, sincerely former monk John
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Re: Can an Ariya suffer from mental disease?

Postby cooran » Thu Jun 20, 2013 7:14 am

Hello pilgrim,

You may find this article of interest:

Mental Health in Classical Buddhist Psychology
http://www.atpweb.org/jtparchive/trps-07-75-02-176.pdf

With metta,
Chris
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Re: Can an Ariya suffer from mental disease?

Postby lyndon taylor » Thu Jun 20, 2013 7:26 am

cooran wrote:Hello pilgrim,

You may find this article of interest:

Mental Health in Classical Buddhist Psychology
http://www.atpweb.org/jtparchive/trps-07-75-02-176.pdf

With metta,
Chris


I skimmed your article, cooran, I think the "delusions" the Buddha is focusing on are not the classic delusions of a mentally Ill person, necessarily. But the everday delusions like thinking posessions, money, wealth, fame etc are real and important, obviously the majority of people caught up in these delusions spoken of by the Buddha, are not mentally Ill people, but the "mentally healthy" as defined by societies norms.

In many ways you might have an easier time getting a mentally ill person to recognize the delusions the buddha taught, than a quote unquote "normal" person.
A lot of the mentally Ill people I have met live very simple lives and are not very materialistic, and are basically good hearted; could you say that about "normal' People.
18 years ago I made one of the most important decisions of my life and entered a local Cambodian Buddhist Temple as a temple boy and, for only 3 weeks, an actual Therevada Buddhist monk. I am not a scholar, great meditator, or authority on Buddhism, but Buddhism is something I love from the Bottom of my heart. It has taught me sobriety, morality, peace, and very importantly that my suffering is optional, and doesn't have to run my life. I hope to give back what little I can to the Buddhist community that has so generously given me so much, sincerely former monk John
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Re: Can an Ariya suffer from mental disease?

Postby gavesako » Fri Jun 21, 2013 7:47 am

Interesting reading precisely about this topic:

"Hysteria and the Holy Life"

http://thebahiyablog.blogspot.co.uk/201 ... -life.html

:rolleye:
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Re: Can an Ariya suffer from mental disease?

Postby binocular » Fri Jun 21, 2013 7:53 am

pilgrim wrote:Undoubtedly, ariyas suffer from physical ailments. But some physical ailments like chemical imbalances or trauma to the brain may also have psychological symptoms. Does that mean ariyas can also suffer from psychological sicknesses?

"Psychological sicknesses" according to whom, in whose understanding "psychological sickness"?

For some Western psychologists, it's enough that a person is celibate, for example, and those psychologists will consider such a person to be mentally unwell.
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Re: Can an Ariya suffer from mental disease?

Postby Zenainder » Fri Jun 21, 2013 12:09 pm

Mental illness from a western theory is neurological and chemically related, however these are conditions and manifestations of ignorance. My wife is studying psychology and we have a super relationship, so we often engage in conversation regarding psychology. She shared with me research regarding serial murderers and they did find a gene and neurological schema that was common, however not everyone with this "disorder" resulted as cold, mass murderer. They did not know exactly why, but admitted upbringing (loving vs unloving) as a potential factor in "activating" this gene. This seems to me to be a shining example of dependent origination.

I do not have all of the research or answers, but after observing and listening to my wife who is afflicted with a mental disorder. I am convinced that it is still conditionary and the missing piece is khamma and desire. We are all addicts, desire keeps us here, we just tend to label mental illness as a complete imbalance of desire and unwholesome objects that are grasped. Much of the mental illnesses have a strong concept of self-preservation, serious identity issues (again self), and drastic unskillful coping mechanisms that are uncommon to how "normal" people cope.

To answer the question, a stream-winner or arahant, are still made of the same mental make-up as we are the only defining difference is they are liberated to the degree of the attainment. So yes, they may have them, however the sense of self and identity is gone, so I seriously doubt it is an affliction that it is for someone who is not on the path.

These are my thoughts, anyways.
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Re: Can an Ariya suffer from mental disease?

Postby Dan74 » Fri Jun 21, 2013 12:39 pm

lyndon taylor wrote:Well I'm probably not an Arya, but I do have a mental illness,and I think a mental illness is just like any other disability, diabetes, being paralysed in a wheelchair, having heart disease etc etc, They are all something physically wrong with how the body works, I don't see how any of these situations should stop one from reaching or coming close to enlightenment. Of course mentally ill people might be more likely to be deluded into thinking they are enlightened when they are not. But if you read the history books,all kinds of religious saints were mistaken for crazy or had their crazy periods, Ramakrishnan is one I remember reading about. Lots of Tibetan saints did some crazy things. As a mentally Ill person, we have to struggle with people treating us differently; "less than normal" when in reality mentally people actually can and might have abilities normal people do not, especially in their spirituality. So put all your predjudices aside and treat people as equally able to grow, whether they actually do grow or not.


:goodpost:

My experience is that mental illness can come from different cause. Sometimes it is exclusively physical, sometimes completely psychological, other times a mix of both.

I have come across some amazing practitioners with mental illness. I think there used to be a member here who suffered from bipolar condition and what he shared about coping with it impressed me deeply.

At the end of the day we all have our limitations. As for Ariyas, I don't know, but freedom from suffering seems to include freedom from mental illness, or at least the way it is usually experienced.
_/|\_
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Re: Can an Ariya suffer from mental disease?

Postby Ben » Fri Jun 21, 2013 12:57 pm

binocular wrote:For some Western psychologists, it's enough that a person is celibate, for example, and those psychologists will consider such a person to be mentally unwell.

No that is not correct, binocular.
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725


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Re: Can an Ariya suffer from mental disease?

Postby Bakmoon » Fri Jun 21, 2013 2:33 pm

I don't see any particular reason why a mentally ill person couldn't be an Ariya. It doesn't seem to be incompatible with any of the traditional descriptions of an Ariya in the Canon itself, so I would say that yes, it is possible.
The non-doing of any evil,
The performance of what's skillful,
The cleansing of one's own mind:
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Re: Can an Ariya suffer from mental disease?

Postby binocular » Fri Jun 21, 2013 6:00 pm

Ben wrote:
binocular wrote:For some Western psychologists, it's enough that a person is celibate, for example, and those psychologists will consider such a person to be mentally unwell.

No that is not correct, binocular.

Yes, it is correct. I knew one such psychologist, and he is not the only one.
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Re: Can an Ariya suffer from mental disease?

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Jun 21, 2013 10:37 pm

Greetings,

To turn the question on its head somewhat - Would becoming an ariya cure mental disease? Would having a mental disease prevent someone from becoming ariya?

Whilst I don't see the issue addressed in the suttas, my inclination would be to suggest the answer to both of those questions is "no".

I think bakmoon is correct.

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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: Can an Ariya suffer from mental disease?

Postby lyndon taylor » Fri Jun 21, 2013 11:59 pm

I would hardly think Mental Illness is any more a function of being "ignorant" than being "normal" is a form of ignorance. The Buddha taught that what we consider "normal" is in and of its self a state of delusion, and not realness. To say all Mentally Ill people by nature have a harder time perceiving the true nature of reality, than "normal' people would be a bit ridiculous, as the mentally ill are often more spiritual and open to alternative wisdoms than "normal" people.
18 years ago I made one of the most important decisions of my life and entered a local Cambodian Buddhist Temple as a temple boy and, for only 3 weeks, an actual Therevada Buddhist monk. I am not a scholar, great meditator, or authority on Buddhism, but Buddhism is something I love from the Bottom of my heart. It has taught me sobriety, morality, peace, and very importantly that my suffering is optional, and doesn't have to run my life. I hope to give back what little I can to the Buddhist community that has so generously given me so much, sincerely former monk John
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Re: Can an Ariya suffer from mental disease?

Postby binocular » Sat Jun 22, 2013 7:47 am

retrofuturist wrote:To turn the question on its head somewhat - Would becoming an ariya cure mental disease? Would having a mental disease prevent someone from becoming ariya?

Whilst I don't see the issue addressed in the suttas, my inclination would be to suggest the answer to both of those questions is "no".

It depends on what one thinks a "mental disease" is.

I would actually answer Yes to your questions, because I think that that which is ordinarily called "mental illness" is a blatant form of unskillful action, esp. unskillful mental action.

But in modern psychology, there is a tendency to stretch the meaning of the term "mental illness" to encompass larger and larger areas of human behavior and experience. Each new edition of the DSM lists more things as pathological, and more and more people thus fall into the category of mentally ill. What the official psychology says does have an influence on what people in general think counts as "mental illness".

This is where modern psychology and Buddhism may be at odds. The same thing that may be considered unskillful from a traditional Buddhist perspective, may be considered healthy from the perspective of modern psychology, and vice versa.

I'm sure that many a modern psychotherapist, if they somehow knew what "samvega" is, would qualify it as a "disorder" that ought to be treated with medication.
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Re: Can an Ariya suffer from mental disease?

Postby Ben » Sat Jun 22, 2013 8:14 am

binocular wrote:
Ben wrote:
binocular wrote:For some Western psychologists, it's enough that a person is celibate, for example, and those psychologists will consider such a person to be mentally unwell.

No that is not correct, binocular.

Yes, it is correct. I knew one such psychologist, and he is not the only one.

With respect, binocular, I do not believe it.
Either the 'psychologist' in question is not qualified, or there is far more to the diagnosis that has not been disclosed.
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725


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Re: Can an Ariya suffer from mental disease?

Postby binocular » Sat Jun 22, 2013 8:50 am

Ben wrote:With respect, binocular, I do not believe it.
Either the 'psychologist' in question is not qualified, or there is far more to the diagnosis that has not been disclosed.

Per Western standards, sex is generally considered a need, something non-negotiable, like the need for breathing or eating. See Maslow's hierarchy of needs and the whole idea of how first the lower needs must be satisfied before the person can move up the hierarchy of needs, and the idea that this hierarchy represents what normal humans are like.
In their view, not satisfying a need leads to a state of being unwell.
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Re: Can an Ariya suffer from mental disease?

Postby Ben » Sat Jun 22, 2013 8:57 am

binocular wrote:
Ben wrote:With respect, binocular, I do not believe it.
Either the 'psychologist' in question is not qualified, or there is far more to the diagnosis that has not been disclosed.

Per Western standards, sex is generally considered a need, something non-negotiable, like the need for breathing or eating. See Maslow's hierarchy of needs and the whole idea of how first the lower needs must be satisfied before the person can move up the hierarchy of needs, and the idea that this hierarchy represents what normal humans are like.
In their view, not satisfying a need leads to a state of being unwell.


As I said earlier, binocular, I don't believe it. Not unless you can provide some evidence that a diagnosis of mental disorder has been arrived at on the sole basis of someone being celibate, and that diagnosis being made by a professional psychologist.
Anyway, this is a side issue to the main discussion and I do not wish to see this thread meander any further off topic.
kind regards,

Ben
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725


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Re: Can an Ariya suffer from mental disease?

Postby lyndon taylor » Sat Jun 22, 2013 9:26 am

lyndon taylor wrote:I would hardly think Mental Illness is any more a function of being "ignorant" than being "normal" is a form of ignorance. The Buddha taught that what we consider "normal" is in and of its self a state of delusion, and not realness. To say all Mentally Ill people by nature have a harder time perceiving the true nature of reality, than "normal' people would be a bit ridiculous, as the mentally ill are often more spiritual and open to alternative wisdoms than "normal" people.


it seems binocular did not read this, how is being depressed because of imbalances in brain chemistry cause by "unskillfull action", and how could a person that has some depression be unable to progress on a spiritual path, i guess a crippled person is in a wheelchair for "unskillful action" ie not using his legs to walk.
18 years ago I made one of the most important decisions of my life and entered a local Cambodian Buddhist Temple as a temple boy and, for only 3 weeks, an actual Therevada Buddhist monk. I am not a scholar, great meditator, or authority on Buddhism, but Buddhism is something I love from the Bottom of my heart. It has taught me sobriety, morality, peace, and very importantly that my suffering is optional, and doesn't have to run my life. I hope to give back what little I can to the Buddhist community that has so generously given me so much, sincerely former monk John
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Re: Can an Ariya suffer from mental disease?

Postby Ben » Sat Jun 22, 2013 9:29 am

Hi Lyndon,
lyndon taylor wrote:it seems binocular did not read this, how is being depressed because of imbalances in brain chemistry cause by "unskillfull action", and how could a person that has some depression be unable to progress on a spiritual path, i guess a crippled person is in a wheelchair for "unskillful action" ie not using his legs to walk.


I actually know quite a few people with chronic major depression who have made great strides on the path.
kind regards,

Ben
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725


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Re: Can an Ariya suffer from mental disease?

Postby lyndon taylor » Sat Jun 22, 2013 9:52 am

Ben wrote:Hi Lyndon,
lyndon taylor wrote:it seems binocular did not read this, how is being depressed because of imbalances in brain chemistry cause by "unskillfull action", and how could a person that has some depression be unable to progress on a spiritual path, i guess a crippled person is in a wheelchair for "unskillful action" ie not using his legs to walk.


I actually know quite a few people with chronic major depression who have made great strides on the path.
kind regards,

Ben


Also what about mentally ill people like myself who are 99% normal when stabilized on their medication??

ps Driving a new BMW and living in a million dollar house is caused by "unskillfull action" IMHO

Unskillfull action is mistakes that someone consciously makes, most mentally Ill people have no responsibility for their Illness, so if there is any unskillfull action it is unskillfull action by chemicals in their brain they have no control of.

Me, personally I took some really bad drugs that triggered my illness so perhaps I am in a sense I am in a minority of people who's mental illness may have been originally caused by the unskillfull action of using drugs, but many many mentally Ill people are ill through no explainable, possible, fault of their own.
18 years ago I made one of the most important decisions of my life and entered a local Cambodian Buddhist Temple as a temple boy and, for only 3 weeks, an actual Therevada Buddhist monk. I am not a scholar, great meditator, or authority on Buddhism, but Buddhism is something I love from the Bottom of my heart. It has taught me sobriety, morality, peace, and very importantly that my suffering is optional, and doesn't have to run my life. I hope to give back what little I can to the Buddhist community that has so generously given me so much, sincerely former monk John
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