How to become a person with hope/expectation?

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dharmacorps
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Re: How to become a person with hope/expectation?

Post by dharmacorps » Sun Dec 03, 2017 5:52 pm

Its easy if you want to test it scientifically. Don't start out with meditation and mindfulness practice assuming any kind of religious beliefs. Just be a meditator. Go where it guides you. You'll probably see the benefit to moral behavior too if you keep meditating. If you jump into the identity as "buddhist" then you will be working backwards (but its still possible).

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Kim OHara
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Re: How to become a person with hope/expectation?

Post by Kim OHara » Sun Dec 03, 2017 9:51 pm

binocular wrote:
Sun Dec 03, 2017 4:42 pm
Kim OHara wrote:
Sat Dec 02, 2017 9:59 pm
Hi, binocular, here's a very good presentation of a non-religious path towards hope, expectation and happiness. I nearly posted it in the MBSR thread but I think it's even more appropriate here.
How Science Reveals That “Well-Being” Is a Skill
/.../
I didn't read or listen to everything at the link.
Do they explain how one is supposed to do those things when one doesn't believe (in) them?
Do they explain how one is supposed to make oneself believe those things?
As dharmacorps says, you don't need to believe in them to make them work, and you certainly don't need to think of yourself as 'a Buddhist' or think of the practices as 'Buddhist practices' to make them work.
The only 'belief' you need is to trust in the practices enough to get started on them.
If you begin by saying, 'this can't possibly work,' it won't work because you won't even try.
If you begin by saying, 'I don't think this will work,' you might start but your effort might not be enough to let you succeed.
If you begin by saying, 'I think this will work,' it probably will work - just because you give it a good try.
If you begin by saying, 'I am absolutely sure this will work,' it certainly will work because you won't stop until it does.

That last step is where Buddhism offers an advantage. Beginning by taking refuge in the Buddha, dharma and sangha gives you inspiration, a body of knowledge which you trust, and a support group. If you can - genuinely - do that, you have a stronger base to work from than just saying, 'these scientists seem to know what they are talking about, so I will try what they suggest.'

Metta,
:namaste:
Kim

JohnK
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Re: How to become a person with hope/expectation?

Post by JohnK » Mon Dec 04, 2017 12:03 am

binocular wrote:
Sat Dec 02, 2017 12:26 pm
...Some teachers, such as Thanissaro Bhikkhu, put forward the idea that one should test the teachings to see if they are true. I contend that this is not possible to do.
To test the teachings to see if they are true, one would have to approach them with the mindset that it is possible that they are not true. But if one has this kind of doubt to beign with in religious matters, one won't have the motivation to continue...
Hello, binocular.
I'm trying to figure out how to reply to your reply to me in a way that might be useful in some way (either to you or someone else). If I hear you right, you are saying blind faith is the only adequate support for practice. And you seem to contend that this is true for all ("one"), not just for you.

FWIW, my sense is that one needs "enough" faith or hope or conviction to motivate practice. Perhaps one finds the possibility of liberation compelling and finds the teachings "reasonable enough" to test them out in practice. Or perhaps one's hope is raised by contact with a teacher. Then, through practice, one may begin to see that some of the teachings appear more and more believable (for example, seeing repeatedly that one's clinging to views creates dukkha), which then supports more conviction/trust in the teachings to further motivate practice. Again, FWIW, this approach does not strike me as impossible as you seem to contend. (Of course, it may or may not work out this way for any specific individual, and I suppose if one does not at least hope that liberation may be possible, the motivation to practice probably is not there -- but in some cases, even the hope for a lessening of dukkha may be enough.)

I was just reading Ajahn Pasanno's Don't Hold Back where he emphasizes (in Ch.2) that: "Training is the distinguishing mark of the Buddha's teachings." He does not say that belief is the distinguishing mark (and of course believing the teachings is not what results in liberation).

Recall The Shorter Discourse on the Simile of the Elephant's Footprint (MN 27), where the hunter of a bull elephant does not finally conclude that the progressively more convincing signs actually indicate the presence of a bull elephant until he sees the bull elephant for himself. So too, the sutta continues, that a noble disciple going through the sequence of higher trainings does not conclude "The Blessed One is fully enlightened" until for himself the disciple "knows and sees thus, his mind is liberated..." Personally, I find this allowance for not-total-belief encouraging.

[Edit: The individual questions of (1) what was/is "enough" hope/conviction to motivate practice, and (2) what caused that degree of conviction do seem to be pretty interesting subjects for discussion here.]
"...the practice is essentially a practice, and not a theory to be idly discussed...right view leaves unanswered many questions about the cosmos and the self, and directs your attention to what needs to be done to escape from the ravages of suffering." Thanissaro Bhikkhu, On The Path.

chownah
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Re: How to become a person with hope/expectation?

Post by chownah » Mon Dec 04, 2017 2:41 am

How to become a person with hope/expectations?
Easy. Just overcome ones own negativity.
Easy. Just don't wait for and expect others to define one's path forward.
Easy. Just take responsibilty for one's own life.
Easy. Just act and speak with integrity.
Easy. Just don't complain about it not being easy.
chownah

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binocular
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Re: How to become a person with hope/expectation?

Post by binocular » Mon Dec 04, 2017 9:46 am

Kim OHara wrote:
Sun Dec 03, 2017 9:51 pm
As dharmacorps says, you don't need to believe in them to make them work, and you certainly don't need to think of yourself as 'a Buddhist' or think of the practices as 'Buddhist practices' to make them work.
*wallbang*

Of course one has to believe in those things in advance, or at least have a metaphysical background that is compatible enough with the Buddhist one (or whichever one is suggested).

They say at your link, for example:
Try this kindness practice from Mindful magazine. Recite these words slowly and deliberately, starting first with yourself, then extending to others.

May I be safe.
May I be happy.
May I be healthy.
May I live with ease.

Extend to others…

May the people I encounter be safe.
May the people I encounter be happy.
May the people I encounter by healthy.
May the people I encounter live with ease.
This is _not_ value-neutral. Many people I know, including myself, get riled up just reading those words, what to speak of reciting them with any sort of happiness or hope. I do not know anyone who would be able to recite those words without pretending or cynicism.
The only 'belief' you need is to trust in the practices enough to get started on them.
Exactly.
If you begin by saying, 'this can't possibly work,' it won't work because you won't even try.
If you begin by saying, 'I don't think this will work,' you might start but your effort might not be enough to let you succeed.
If you begin by saying, 'I think this will work,' it probably will work - just because you give it a good try.
If you begin by saying, 'I am absolutely sure this will work,' it certainly will work because you won't stop until it does.

This is just a diversion, a character assassination in an effort to gloss over some key issues, namely, those of metaphysical compatibility mentioned earlier.

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Kim OHara
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Re: How to become a person with hope/expectation?

Post by Kim OHara » Mon Dec 04, 2017 10:46 am

binocular wrote:
Mon Dec 04, 2017 9:46 am
...
The only 'belief' you need is to trust in the practices enough to get started on them.
Exactly.
If you begin by saying, 'this can't possibly work,' it won't work because you won't even try.
If you begin by saying, 'I don't think this will work,' you might start but your effort might not be enough to let you succeed.
If you begin by saying, 'I think this will work,' it probably will work - just because you give it a good try.
If you begin by saying, 'I am absolutely sure this will work,' it certainly will work because you won't stop until it does.

This is just a diversion, a character assassination in an effort to gloss over some key issues, namely, those of metaphysical compatibility mentioned earlier.
No diversion, certainly no character assassination. It is as factual as these statements about a physical journey across town:
If you begin by saying, 'I can't possibly do it,' you won't do it because you won't even try.
If you begin by saying, 'I don't think I can do it,' you might start but your effort might not be enough to let you succeed.
If you begin by saying, 'I think I can do it,' you probably will do it - just because you give it a good try.
If you begin by saying, 'I am absolutely sure I can do it,' you almost certainly can - but we can't rule out accidents so I'm not going to say 'certainly'. :tongue:

I could set up a similar set of statements about learning a language, too. In all of these cases, starting - even without any certainty that it's the right path - is the absolutely essential first step. It's also the hardest. If you can't do it with the help you've been offered here, all I can suggest is that you find a real-life group of good people that you like and trust, and go along with what they are doing. At this level it doesn't even matter much whether they are Buddhists, Christians, Rational Humanists or Bahai'i, because the beginning of each path looks the same: compassion, love, respect, and honesty.

Oh, and this 'metaphysical compatibility' thing - forget it. Please. The main difficulty of that first step is that it isn't compatible with your current world view. If it was, it would be taking you further down the path you're on, wouldn't it?
And that path doesn't seem to be making you happy.

:namaste:
Kim

chownah
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Re: How to become a person with hope/expectation?

Post by chownah » Mon Dec 04, 2017 11:57 am

binocular wrote:
Mon Dec 04, 2017 9:46 am

Try this kindness practice from Mindful magazine. Recite these words slowly and deliberately, starting first with yourself, then extending to others.

May I be safe.
May I be happy.
May I be healthy.
May I live with ease.

Extend to others…

May the people I encounter be safe.
May the people I encounter be happy.
May the people I encounter by healthy.
May the people I encounter live with ease.
This is _not_ value-neutral. Many people I know, including myself, get riled up just reading those words, what to speak of reciting them with any sort of happiness or hope. I do not know anyone who would be able to recite those words without pretending or cynicism.
So is the problem with may I be safe etc. or is the problem with may the people I encounter with be safe. If that is the case then you should change the part about the people you encounter with:
May the people I encounter be in danger.
May the people I encounter be sad.
May the people I encounter by sick.
May the people I encounter live with difficulty.

I'm serious. Maybe your heart is black. If it is you should find out so you could do something about it. Not being able to deliberately say "may the people I encounter be safe" is the sign of black heartedness in my view. I'm not saying that you are black hearted but then what is your explanation for your inability to wish that people would be safe, happy, healthy, and living with ease? Misanthrop comes to mind. This could very well have alot to do with why you have no hope......you do say that you have no hope don't you ?

Please note that I am not making this discussion about you; you have made this discussion about you.
chownah

mal4mac
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Re: How to become a person with hope/expectation?

Post by mal4mac » Mon Dec 04, 2017 1:13 pm

chownah wrote:
Mon Dec 04, 2017 11:57 am
So is the problem with may I be safe etc. or is the problem with may the people I encounter with be safe. If that is the case then you should change the part about the people you encounter with:
May the people I encounter be in danger.
May the people I encounter be sad.
May the people I encounter by sick.
May the people I encounter live with difficulty.

I'm serious. Maybe your heart is black. If it is you should find out so you could do something about it. Not being able to deliberately say "may the people I encounter be safe" is the sign of black heartedness in my view. I'm not saying that you are black hearted but then what is your explanation for your inability to wish that people would be safe, happy, healthy, and living with ease? Misanthrop comes to mind. This could very well have alot to do with why you have no hope......you do say that you have no hope don't you ?

Please note that I am not making this discussion about you; you have made this discussion about you.
chownah
This prayer needs to be nuanced.

What if the person is a psychopathic, ignorant, evil boss who makes many others miserable. I'd think he should be safe, like everyone, but safely living on the dole after being fired. If a psychiatrist says this psychopath is only happy when he is wielding power, and ordering others around, I would have to say, "let him be sad". This may lead to him becoming ill and living with difficulty, and in the end not being safe!

This prayer seems to be like a "never, never, land" wish - like, "Tomorrow let no one be hungry, in pain, sad, or have any difficulties at all". It just isn't going to happen, wishing doesn't make it so. I don't think binocular has a bad heart, or is a misanthrope, he sees just sees things without rose tinted binoculars.
Last edited by mal4mac on Mon Dec 04, 2017 1:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
- Mal

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binocular
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Re: How to become a person with hope/expectation?

Post by binocular » Mon Dec 04, 2017 1:16 pm

chownah wrote:
Mon Dec 04, 2017 11:57 am
So is the problem with may I be safe etc.
This.
Where I come from, wishing any kind of happiness or wellbeing for oneself is considered very problematic, at least selfish and uncaring and a mark of poor character.
It is also painful to even just think about one's own wellbeing, as in this universe, so many factors are directly opposed to it, so wishing for one's own wellbeing is as absurd as playing the lottery where one's ticket gets destroyed once one buys it.

What if the truth of the matter is that some people (particular persons) would be better off dead, and with that, others would be better off as well?
The law already thinks that way about many people, so it sentences them to the death penalty. Medical doctors also believe that some people are better off dead, so they help or let them die. But there could be more such people, those who don't neatly fit the criteria for "better off dead" set by the law or the medical profession, but who would still be better off dead and where others would be glad that they are dead. In this world, the death of some is required for the happiness of others. This is evident with animals that humans kill for food, with convicted criminals sentenced to the death penalty, with terrorists killed by anti-terrorist forces. But the category of those "better off dead" could be much bigger and more complex.
Last edited by binocular on Mon Dec 04, 2017 1:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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binocular
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Re: How to become a person with hope/expectation?

Post by binocular » Mon Dec 04, 2017 1:23 pm

Kim OHara wrote:
Mon Dec 04, 2017 10:46 am
No diversion, certainly no character assassination. It is as factual as these statements about a physical journey across town:
If you begin by saying, 'I can't possibly do it,' you won't do it because you won't even try.
If you begin by saying, 'I don't think I can do it,' you might start but your effort might not be enough to let you succeed.
If you begin by saying, 'I think I can do it,' you probably will do it - just because you give it a good try.
If you begin by saying, 'I am absolutely sure I can do it,' you almost certainly can - but we can't rule out accidents so I'm not going to say 'certainly'.

I could set up a similar set of statements about learning a language, too. In all of these cases, starting - even without any certainty that it's the right path - is the absolutely essential first step.
You're still missing the point. You're talking about generalities that are not the issue here.
You can probably find studies that show that repeating affirmations that one doesn't actually believe has the opposite effect.
If one doesn't believe a particular statement, repeating it won't make it true or make one believe it, Goebbels be damned.
It's also the hardest. If you can't do it with the help you've been offered here, all I can suggest is that you find a real-life group of good people that you like and trust, and go along with what they are doing. At this level it doesn't even matter much whether they are Buddhists, Christians, Rational Humanists or Bahai'i, because the beginning of each path looks the same: compassion, love, respect, and honesty.

And in the meantime, it's the people who are not like that that get ahead in life.

chownah
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Re: How to become a person with hope/expectation?

Post by chownah » Mon Dec 04, 2017 2:04 pm

binocular wrote:
Mon Dec 04, 2017 1:16 pm
chownah wrote:
Mon Dec 04, 2017 11:57 am
So is the problem with may I be safe etc.
This.
Where I come from, wishing any kind of happiness or wellbeing for oneself is considered very problematic, at least selfish and uncaring and a mark of poor character.
It is also painful to even just think about one's own wellbeing, as in this universe, so many factors are directly opposed to it, so wishing for one's own wellbeing is as absurd as playing the lottery where one's ticket gets destroyed once one buys it.

What if the truth of the matter is that some people (particular persons) would be better off dead, and with that, others would be better off as well?
The law already thinks that way about many people, so it sentences them to the death penalty. Medical doctors also believe that some people are better off dead, so they help or let them die. But there could be more such people, those who don't neatly fit the criteria for "better off dead" set by the law or the medical profession, but who would still be better off dead and where others would be glad that they are dead. In this world, the death of some is required for the happiness of others. This is evident with animals that humans kill for food, with convicted criminals sentenced to the death penalty, with terrorists killed by anti-terrorist forces. But the category of those "better off dead" could be much bigger and more complex.
Good. Study this. Maybe you will develop some compassion....maybe not.
chownah

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binocular
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Re: How to become a person with hope/expectation?

Post by binocular » Mon Dec 04, 2017 2:32 pm

JohnK wrote:
Mon Dec 04, 2017 12:03 am
If I hear you right, you are saying blind faith is the only adequate support for practice.

No, I think there are more supports for practice, at least these:
1. blind faith,
2. faith gained in previous lifetimes,
3. faith gained from being born and raised into a particular religion,
4. faith gained from relationships with trustworthy religious people.

My question is about what a person can do for whom none of the above applies.
FWIW, my sense is that one needs "enough" faith or hope or conviction to motivate practice. Perhaps one finds the possibility of liberation compelling and finds the teachings "reasonable enough" to test them out in practice. Or perhaps one's hope is raised by contact with a teacher. Then, through practice, one may begin to see that some of the teachings appear more and more believable (for example, seeing repeatedly that one's clinging to views creates dukkha), which then supports more conviction/trust in the teachings to further motivate practice. Again, FWIW, this approach does not strike me as impossible as you seem to contend.
What you describe above seems too simplistic. In my experience, what has happened is that I became sure of some Buddhist claims, but also of some non-Buddhist ones that run contrary to the Buddhist ones. For example, I find that both clinging to views, as well as not clinging to views produces suffering. So ...
Recall The Shorter Discourse on the Simile of the Elephant's Footprint (MN 27), where the hunter of a bull elephant does not finally conclude that the progressively more convincing signs actually indicate the presence of a bull elephant until he sees the bull elephant for himself. So too, the sutta continues, that a noble disciple going through the sequence of higher trainings does not conclude "The Blessed One is fully enlightened" until for himself the disciple "knows and sees thus, his mind is liberated..." Personally, I find this allowance for not-total-belief encouraging.
It's also an allowance which, if one takes it seriously and as one's guideline, makes it impossible for one to be a member of a Buddhist community.
Because if one wishes to be a member of a Buddhist community, it's not enough to just hope that the Buddha could be enlightened, no, one has to be sure that he was. Of course, it's possible that Buddhist communities consist of noble disicples who have all already personally found the bull elephant, so to speak.

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Re: How to become a person with hope/expectation?

Post by cappuccino » Mon Dec 04, 2017 10:59 pm

Faith is developed from study. By understanding.
Then there is no doubt.
Dhamma is karma & rebirth.

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