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Re: What has humanity actually achieved?

Posted: Fri Aug 28, 2015 2:10 pm
by Mkoll
mal4mac wrote:Music? Painting? Did the Buddha ever recommend these? Aren't Buddhist monks supposed to keep away from these entertainments and ornamentations so as to fully calm down the senses and fully train the mind to not be enslaved by sensual pleasures? Doesn't music and art increase the passions of the mind and arouse emotions which hinder a person's spiritual development?

OK, lay people aren't asked to be as strict as monks, but shouldn't these things be avoided as much as possible? I can see, as a lay person, that putting on Beethoven for half an hour to relax from dhamma studies & meditation attempts might be beneficial as a kind of rest stop on the path. But isn't there a great danger of attachment - you might linger at the rest stop and make no spiritual progress.
Sensual pleasures are to be avoided if one is ready for that and does it from a place of wisdom and understanding, not aversion. The vast majority of laypeople aren't at that point, yet some will make the mistake of thinking they are and try to practice in a way that does as much harm as good and ends up being unsustainable. I've seen many examples of this on this forum and I myself did this for a time when I first started serious Dhamma practice. There was a thread recently that referred to this as the "bhikkhufication of laypeople" and it seems to be a fairly modern, Western phenomenon.

In a marathon, slow and steady wins the race.
AN 4.62 wrote:Then the householder Anāthapiṇḍika approached the Blessed One…. The Blessed One said to him:

“Householder, there are these four kinds of happiness that may be achieved by a layperson who enjoys sensual pleasures, depending on time and occasion. What four? The happiness of ownership, the happiness of enjoyment, the happiness of freedom from debt, and the happiness of blamelessness.

(1) “And what, householder, is the happiness of ownership? Here, a clansman has acquired wealth by energetic striving, amassed by the strength of his arms, earned by the sweat of his brow, righteous wealth righteously gained. When he thinks, ‘I have acquired wealth by energetic striving … righteously gained,’ he experiences happiness and joy. This is called the happiness of ownership.

(2) “And what is the happiness of enjoyment? Here, with wealth acquired by energetic striving, amassed by the strength of his arms, earned by the sweat of his brow, righteous wealth righteously gained, a clansman enjoys his wealth and does meritorious deeds. When he thinks, ‘With wealth acquired by energetic striving … righteously gained, I enjoy my wealth and do meritorious deeds,’ he experiences happiness and joy. This is called the happiness of enjoyment.

(3) “And what is the happiness of freedom from debt? Here, a clansman has no debts to anyone, whether large or small. When he thinks, ‘I have no debts to anyone, whether large or small,’ he experiences happiness and joy. This is called the happiness of freedom from debt.

(4) “And what is the happiness of blamelessness? Here, householder, a noble disciple is endowed with blameless bodily, verbal, and mental action.
When he thinks, ‘I am endowed with blameless bodily, verbal, and mental action,’ he experiences happiness and joy. This is called the happiness of blamelessness.

“These are the four kinds of happiness that a layperson who enjoys sensual pleasures may achieve, depending on time and occasion.”

Having known the happiness of freedom from debt,
one should recall the happiness of ownership.
Enjoying the happiness of enjoyment,
a mortal then sees things clearly with wisdom.

While seeing things clearly, the wise one
knows both kinds of happiness.
The other is not worth a sixteenth part
of the bliss of blamelessness.

Re: What has humanity actually achieved?

Posted: Fri Aug 28, 2015 2:35 pm
by mal4mac
Sam Vara wrote:
As far as I know, the Buddha referred to them but did not recommend them. Buddhist monks are indeed advised to avoid entertainments. I don't know whether music and art increase the passions of the mind; some say they do, and some (Schopenhauer, for example) say otherwise.
Yes, Schopenhauer's theory of art is interesting. Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't he suggest art as an "easy alternative" to meditation and the extreme practices of Buddhist monks? He couldn't manage those, so he recommended listening to Wagner instead. I tried that, and spent several hours suffering greatly, begging for it to stop. I had more success with certain works of Beethoven and Mozart - losing myself in the way Schopenhauer suggested for long passages. But even there it was hit and miss - many times I just got bored.

Surely, also, music often generates "passions", some of Mozart and Tchaikovsky generate great feelings of sadness - but (strangely) combined with great beauty. I'm not sure if this is a good thing or not, long term. The sadness and beauty isn't "rooted" in your life, as soon as the music's over you are back with your good old, bad old self. (These two composers certainly came to bad ends...)

Re: What has humanity actually achieved?

Posted: Fri Aug 28, 2015 3:44 pm
by DNS
samseva wrote:So far, here are a few honourable mentions:
Dhamma
Language
Education
Internet
Philanthropy
Psychology
Medicine
Printing press
Technology
:thumbsup:

And:

ñāṇa
paññā

Re: What has humanity actually achieved?

Posted: Fri Aug 28, 2015 4:53 pm
by Vanda
Mal:
Music? Painting? Did the Buddha ever recommend these? Aren't Buddhist monks supposed to keep away from these entertainments ... so as to fully calm down the senses and fully train the mind to not be enslaved by sensual pleasures? Doesn't music and art increase the passions of the mind and arouse emotions which hinder a person's spiritual development?

OK, lay people aren't asked to be as strict as monks, but shouldn't these things be avoided as much as possible? I can see, as a lay person, that putting on Beethoven for half an hour to relax from dhamma studies & meditation attempts might be beneficial as a kind of rest stop on the path. But isn't there a great danger of attachment - you might linger at the rest stop and make no spiritual progress.

Also, are these artists great examples of how to live? Beethoven had a tortured, romantic personality, often reflected in his music. This may be "interesting", and even generate some worldly pleasure, but is it something to dwell upon? ...
Very good point Mal.

The question currently posed by Samseva: What remarkable, positive and purposeful things has humanity achieved? It is a very narrow question. Genuine, true self expression is an "achievement" (to some degree), but doesn't really amount to much.

I agree with you Mal
:smile:

Re: What has humanity actually achieved?

Posted: Fri Aug 28, 2015 5:27 pm
by Vanda
All of our achievements center or revolve around ourselves. I think objectively, we would be seen as a destructive, self-serving species by others:
https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/73 ... 074aa9.jpg

:|

Re: What has humanity actually achieved?

Posted: Fri Aug 28, 2015 6:10 pm
by Sam Vara
mal4mac wrote: Yes, Schopenhauer's theory of art is interesting. Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't he suggest art as an "easy alternative" to meditation and the extreme practices of Buddhist monks?
As you invited me to, you're wrong. He thought that some forms of art (preeminently music) were potentially capabable of allowing the subject to experience pure perception, temporarily free from the blind urges of the will. A good place to start on Schopenhauer's aesthetics is the wiki entry:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Sc ... aesthetics
He couldn't manage those, so he recommended listening to Wagner instead.
I doubt it. The recommendations were the other way around. His philosophy had a big impact on Wagner, but Schopenhauer had already written most of his work (except perhaps Parerga und Paralipomena) by the time Wagner began to get famous.
I tried that, and spent several hours suffering greatly, begging for it to stop. I had more success with certain works of Beethoven and Mozart - losing myself in the way Schopenhauer suggested for long passages. But even there it was hit and miss - many times I just got bored.
Yes, that's quite common. With the names substituted, it also sounds like many people's account of their first experiences of meditation.

Re: What has humanity actually achieved?

Posted: Sat Aug 29, 2015 10:03 am
by mal4mac
Sam Vara wrote:
mal4mac wrote: Yes, Schopenhauer's theory of art is interesting. Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't he suggest art as an "easy alternative" to meditation and the extreme practices of Buddhist monks?
As you invited me to, you're wrong. He thought that some forms of art (preeminently music) were potentially capable of allowing the subject to experience pure perception, temporarily free from the blind urges of the will.
I think you're probably right, i.e., that I am probably wrong, it was probably some critic of Schopenhauer who made that suggestion. I read Schopenhauer's main works a few years ago, and various commentators like Bryan Magee... I've probably forgotten & mis-remembered much of it... I certainly agree with your excellent summation that, "He thought that some forms of art (pre-eminently music) were potentially capable of allowing the subject to experience pure perception, temporarily free from the blind urges of the will."

Re: What has humanity actually achieved?

Posted: Sat Aug 29, 2015 3:28 pm
by Sam Vara
mal4mac wrote: I read Schopenhauer's main works a few years ago, and various commentators like Bryan Magee...
Magee certainly does Schopenhauer justice. I first read Schopenhauer in the 1970s, when he was ignored by academics in the UK. But Magee always had a deep love for his work, and did a lot to repopularise him.

Re: What has humanity actually achieved?

Posted: Sat Aug 29, 2015 7:11 pm
by m0rl0ck
mal4mac wrote:Humanity has achieved wanton destruction of the environment.

If you say so, but if we make our environment unlivable for us, the planet wont die. In a few thousand or million years it will bounce back and be fine, just like we were never here :)

Re: What has humanity actually achieved?

Posted: Sat Aug 29, 2015 11:07 pm
by SarathW
Hi Morlock
Yes you are right, but it is not the right attitude to have it.
It is like thinking " I will kill this animal or a person because he/it going to re-birth again any way"
Enviornmental destruction may cause lot of pain and suffering to living beings.
:sage:

Re: What has humanity actually achieved?

Posted: Sun Aug 30, 2015 12:24 am
by samseva
m0rl0ck wrote:If you say so, but if we make our environment unlivable for us, the planet wont die. In a few thousand or million years it will bounce back and be fine, just like we were never here :)
It is interesting to notice when people say "It is the end of the world.", when that is actually false. Even if humans are extinct, the planet will survive. What is meant is, "It is the end of the human race."