Master of mindfulness, Jon Kabat-Zinn

Exploring modern Theravāda interpretations of the Buddha's teaching.
binocular
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Re: Master of mindfulness, Jon Kabat-Zinn

Post by binocular » Sat Nov 25, 2017 2:10 pm

chownah wrote:
Sat Nov 25, 2017 1:53 pm
I agree. I need some advise as to when I should stop flossing my teeth. After a certain age the only benefit to be had from flossing is to the aesthetics of your skull's smile after death. So....at what age should I stop?
Beware. Unless you're seriously advanced, that optimism of yours could wane anytime, and you won't be able to get it back.

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aflatun
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Re: Master of mindfulness, Jon Kabat-Zinn

Post by aflatun » Sat Nov 25, 2017 3:57 pm

binocular wrote:
Sat Nov 25, 2017 12:55 pm


In the face of death, how can one be optimistic about ordinary life pursuits (including MBSR)?
some possibilities:

you believe in something beyond death, and are optimistic about your pursuit of that and enjoy ordinary life as a stop on the way

you believe in something beyond death, and are optimistic about that, and let go of ordinary life to facilitate your pursuit of that

you don't believe in something beyond death, and enjoy ordinary life while you have it

I don't mean to be harsh, but anhedonia is neither dispassion nor insight, so:
If one tells this to one's doctor, chances are one will be told that one is "depressed," prescribed a bunch of pills, and expected to believe that existential angst is merely a disease, something abnormal, not something to be taken seriously.
The doctor's assessment in the above example is not entirely off the mark (especially if we ditch the pills), at least in some cases. As I've said to you before (I think) I don't believe the existential angst of the philosophers has much to do with what the Buddha was talking about. I know some people see them as the same, but I don't.
"People often get too quick to say 'there's no self. There's no self...no self...no self.' There is self, there is focal point, its not yours. That's what not self is."

Ninoslav Ñāṇamoli
Senses and the Thought-1, 42:53

"Those who create constructs about the Buddha,
Who is beyond construction and without exhaustion,
Are thereby damaged by their constructs;
They fail to see the Thus-Gone.

That which is the nature of the Thus-Gone
Is also the nature of this world.
There is no nature of the Thus-Gone.
There is no nature of the world."

Nagarjuna
MMK XXII.15-16

mal4mac
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Re: Master of mindfulness, Jon Kabat-Zinn

Post by mal4mac » Sat Nov 25, 2017 4:17 pm

chownah wrote:
Sat Nov 25, 2017 1:53 pm
I agree. I need some advise as to when I should stop flossing my teeth. After a certain age the only benefit to be had from flossing is to the aesthetics of your skull's smile after death. So....at what age should I stop?
chownah
Actually there is little evidence that flossing does any good at all, at any age!

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2016 ... health-ad/
- Mal

mal4mac
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Re: Master of mindfulness, Jon Kabat-Zinn

Post by mal4mac » Sat Nov 25, 2017 4:32 pm

binocular wrote:
Sat Nov 25, 2017 12:55 pm

A pessimistic person, for example, thinks, "Yes, there are all those small pleasures, food, and drink, and parties, and relationships, and work, and surely mindfulness can provide a measure of relaxation or happiness. But what good are all those pleasures, when sooner or later, one has to die and it all comes to an end? All those pleasures are powerless against the problems of aging, illness, and death."
Well aren't these pleasures "good for the moment"? Isn't that enough? But you haven't plumbed the depths of pessimism and existential angst here. A really pessimistic person might think,"These small 'pleasures', food, and drink, and parties, and relationships, and work," actually lead to horrors like alcoholism, unrequited love, divorce, bullying bosses and endless tedium."

Such a dedicated pessimist perhaps need something like MBSR, although I'd argue something far stronger - maybe a ten year full-time course in Buddhism & Ancient Philosophy for starters...

Actually that one has to die, if it all comes to an end, seems to me rather good! No more suffering then. But you might die and find yourself back on the ship, so I think it's worth exploring philosophies that don't put you back on that ship (e.g., Buddhism...)
- Mal

chownah
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Re: Master of mindfulness, Jon Kabat-Zinn

Post by chownah » Sun Nov 26, 2017 2:21 am

mal4mac wrote:
Sat Nov 25, 2017 4:17 pm
chownah wrote:
Sat Nov 25, 2017 1:53 pm
I agree. I need some advise as to when I should stop flossing my teeth. After a certain age the only benefit to be had from flossing is to the aesthetics of your skull's smile after death. So....at what age should I stop?
chownah
Actually there is little evidence that flossing does any good at all, at any age!

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2016 ... health-ad/
I read the article....it says that a "toothbrush" works good. Can you tell me what is this "toothbrush" they talk about?
Here is an article which gives a different view:
https://www.huffingtonpost.com/andrew-s ... 53762.html
I know this is off topic but dental health is important just like mental health and I think people should see both sides of an issue before making life changes.
:focus:
chownah

binocular
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Re: Master of mindfulness, Jon Kabat-Zinn

Post by binocular » Sun Nov 26, 2017 10:25 am

aflatun wrote:
Sat Nov 25, 2017 3:57 pm
I don't mean to be harsh, but anhedonia is neither dispassion nor insight
And I have begun addressing this at least by starting these discussions here:

Should mentally troubled people stay away from Buddhism?
Is hardship an invalid source of / conduit to insight?
Treating samvega with Western psychotherapy?

And it's not anhedonia; it's about experiencing wordly pleasures as pleasurable, but not seeing them worth of the strife necessary to obtain them; or at least not seeing them as pleasurable enough to devote one's life to them.

For example, I once calculated how much I need to work in order to earn enough to be able to go to the movies. Once I was done with the calculation, I was overcome with a sense "This isn't worth it." When the pleasures don't outweigh the strife of the work needed to earn for those pleasures, those pleasures aren't worth the effort anymore.

I'm sure that for people who don't have all that much trouble to earn enough for a materially comfortable life, the pursuit of worldly pleasures looks vastly different than for someone who despite backbreaking work barely manages to make ends meet, while living in poverty.

Modern psychology is written by and for the (upper) middle class. I'd like to see those people degraded to working hard labor in factories for pennies and living without electricity. I wonder how much they would enjoy their lives then! I wonder if they would still accuse of mental illness those who, living in those poor circumstances, aren't eager to pursue worldly pleasures.

There is this odd idea that a person is or should be willing to invest any amount of work to earn even for the smallest pleasures. But I don't think it works like that. At some point, it seems more feasible to die than to scrape by.
The doctor's assessment in the above example is not entirely off the mark (especially if we ditch the pills), at least in some cases. As I've said to you before (I think) I don't believe the existential angst of the philosophers has much to do with what the Buddha was talking about. I know some people see them as the same, but I don't.
I agree, and I've been trying to identify the difference for quite some time now.
To begin with, I think that if my insight into the unsatisfactoriness of worldly pursuits would be Buddhist, in line with the Dhamma, I wouldn't be so miserable about that insight, or Buddhism.

binocular
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Re: Master of mindfulness, Jon Kabat-Zinn

Post by binocular » Sun Nov 26, 2017 10:53 am

mal4mac wrote:
Sat Nov 25, 2017 4:32 pm
Well aren't these pleasures "good for the moment"? Isn't that enough?
No.
They're like that:
Image
But you haven't plumbed the depths of pessimism and existential angst here. A really pessimistic person might think,"These small 'pleasures', food, and drink, and parties, and relationships, and work," actually lead to horrors like alcoholism, unrequited love, divorce, bullying bosses and endless tedium."

Clearly, there are levels of pessimism.

chownah
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Re: Master of mindfulness, Jon Kabat-Zinn

Post by chownah » Sun Nov 26, 2017 11:27 am

Yep, it's all dukkha isn't it.
chownah

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aflatun
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Re: Master of mindfulness, Jon Kabat-Zinn

Post by aflatun » Sun Nov 26, 2017 5:08 pm

binocular wrote:
Sun Nov 26, 2017 10:25 am


And it's not anhedonia; it's about experiencing wordly pleasures as pleasurable, but not seeing them worth of the strife necessary to obtain them; or at least not seeing them as pleasurable enough to devote one's life to them.
(my emphasis)

Hopefully you can understand why I'm now confused and a bit concerned that you're not being honest with yourself?
I once had a strange experience where I felt detached from the taste of food while eating (I didn't consciously try to make that happen, it just happened). Since then, I can't get back the enjoyment of eating, the sense of detachment has remained. It's only if I consciously try to distract myself and partially zone out that I can (sort of) enjoy eating
I feel miserable about it. I wish I could just be like others and that I could actually enjoy food.
(my emphasis)

I'm not trying to force your experiences into a psychological bin, and I'm certainly not trying to dump on you. But when you start talking like this I recognize (I think) despair and unhappiness and I want you to pull out of this. :(
I'm sure that for people who don't have all that much trouble to earn enough for a materially comfortable life, the pursuit of worldly pleasures looks vastly different than for someone who despite backbreaking work barely manages to make ends meet, while living in poverty.

Modern psychology is written by and for the (upper) middle class. I'd like to see those people degraded to working hard labor in factories for pennies and living without electricity. I wonder how much they would enjoy their lives then! I wonder if they would still accuse of mental illness those who, living in those poor circumstances, aren't eager to pursue worldly pleasures.

There is this odd idea that a person is or should be willing to invest any amount of work to earn even for the smallest pleasures. But I don't think it works like that. At some point, it seems more feasible to die than to scrape by.
If you're saying that those are the conditions you find yourself in then you're right I can't pretend to speak about this, as I am not in those conditions. But I've known and worked with relatively poor people and they seem to be as hedonic in their drives as anyone else. Am I missing something?
I agree, and I've been trying to identify the difference for quite some time now.
To begin with, I think that if my insight into the unsatisfactoriness of worldly pursuits would be Buddhist, in line with the Dhamma, I wouldn't be so miserable about that insight, or Buddhism.
I think 'valid' insights can bring with them some pain, but as I understand it, the general trajectory should be towards deeper and less perturbable happiness. And when considering what's pleasurable, the Buddha seems to advise letting go of A in favor of B. Then letting go of B in favor of C. Etc. It's always a superior pleasure replacing an inferior one. A superior happiness replacing an inferior one.

The "world denying" material in the Buddhist tradition-in any spiritual tradition-has to be taken in context. Unfortunately when intelligent and well read people are in the grips of despair it can make excellent material for reinforcing and rationalizing despair, denial, harmful patterns of thought, aversion, social issues, etc. I'm not directing that at you necessarily, I'm speaking based on my past mistakes. All the 'reflection on dhamma' can just become a mask for depressive and anxious rumination, papanca, etc.
"People often get too quick to say 'there's no self. There's no self...no self...no self.' There is self, there is focal point, its not yours. That's what not self is."

Ninoslav Ñāṇamoli
Senses and the Thought-1, 42:53

"Those who create constructs about the Buddha,
Who is beyond construction and without exhaustion,
Are thereby damaged by their constructs;
They fail to see the Thus-Gone.

That which is the nature of the Thus-Gone
Is also the nature of this world.
There is no nature of the Thus-Gone.
There is no nature of the world."

Nagarjuna
MMK XXII.15-16

binocular
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Re: Master of mindfulness, Jon Kabat-Zinn

Post by binocular » Sun Nov 26, 2017 6:52 pm

aflatun wrote:
Sun Nov 26, 2017 5:08 pm
binocular wrote:
Sun Nov 26, 2017 10:25 am
And it's not anhedonia; it's about experiencing wordly pleasures as pleasurable, but not seeing them worth of the strife necessary to obtain them; or at least not seeing them as pleasurable enough to devote one's life to them.
(my emphasis)

Hopefully you can understand why I'm now confused and a bit concerned that you're not being honest with yourself?
Note the "but" afterwards. It's about having an attitude of, "Yeah, this tastes nice, so what?"
Normally, when people enjoy food (or anything else for that matter), they seem to be totally immersed in that enjoyment, overcome by it. And it's this feeling overcome, immersed in enjoyment that I don't have. Instead, I have that, "Yeah, that's nice, so what?" This is the detachment I'm talking about.

(Besides, the matter is a bit more complex as it depends on what school of psychology/psychotherapy one comes from. Of the three big Viennese schools of psychotherapy, only Freud emphasises the will to pleasure as man's essential driving force, in contrast to Adler's will to power, and Frankl's will to meaning.)
I'm not trying to force your experiences into a psychological bin, and I'm certainly not trying to dump on you. But when you start talking like this I recognize (I think) despair and unhappiness and I want you to pull out of this.
I apologize. I, too, wish I wouldn't be so unhappy.
If you're saying that those are the conditions you find yourself in then you're right I can't pretend to speak about this, as I am not in those conditions. But I've known and worked with relatively poor people and they seem to be as hedonic in their drives as anyone else. Am I missing something?
I guess some are, some aren't. Then again, how many people sit down and calculate how much they need to work to earn enough to go to the movies or buy/do some other thing they like? Not many, I suppose.
The "world denying" material in the Buddhist tradition-in any spiritual tradition-has to be taken in context. Unfortunately when intelligent and well read people are in the grips of despair it can make excellent material for reinforcing and rationalizing despair, denial, harmful patterns of thought, aversion, social issues, etc. I'm not directing that at you necessarily, I'm speaking based on my past mistakes. All the 'reflection on dhamma' can just become a mask for depressive and anxious rumination, papanca, etc.
Of course.

chownah
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Re: Master of mindfulness, Jon Kabat-Zinn

Post by chownah » Mon Nov 27, 2017 2:46 am

binocular wrote:
Sun Nov 26, 2017 10:25 am
When the pleasures don't outweigh the strife of the work needed to earn for those pleasures, those pleasures aren't worth the effort anymore.
What work do you do that is so ridden with strife?
chownah

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aflatun
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Re: Master of mindfulness, Jon Kabat-Zinn

Post by aflatun » Tue Nov 28, 2017 3:07 pm

robertk wrote:
Fri Nov 24, 2017 5:03 am
Kim OHara wrote:
Thu Nov 23, 2017 9:43 pm
binocular wrote:
Thu Nov 23, 2017 6:52 pm
In my experience, when I try to let in the seen be only the seen etc., I end up in a kind of anomic, zoned-out state, like a blissed-out zombie. That can't be right!
It isn't right, but it's a fairly common 'wrong turning' for people to take. I'm not sure if I can explain the difference in any understandable way, though.


Similarly, when we are trying to simply observe the seen, we can slip into trying to actively shut down our thoughts and judgements, rather than letting them float away.



:namaste:
Kim
Exactly right. :anjali:

All of that *trying* to observe etc is based around a subtle belief that there is someone who can make things occur.
How did Robert the Abhidhammika become so Zen? :tongue: :heart:

Then, the monk asked: "I find it impossible to control all my passions and delusions. What should I do? It's simply proved too much for me, and I wish to receive your instruction."

The Master replied: "Your idea of wanting to control your passions and delusions is itself delusion, changing the Buddha Mind for delusion! Delusions don't have any actual substance when they arise. In fact, they're nothing but shadow figures, things you've seen and heard that pop up sporadically in response to circumstances."
Bankei Zen, Trans Haskel, pg. 83
"People often get too quick to say 'there's no self. There's no self...no self...no self.' There is self, there is focal point, its not yours. That's what not self is."

Ninoslav Ñāṇamoli
Senses and the Thought-1, 42:53

"Those who create constructs about the Buddha,
Who is beyond construction and without exhaustion,
Are thereby damaged by their constructs;
They fail to see the Thus-Gone.

That which is the nature of the Thus-Gone
Is also the nature of this world.
There is no nature of the Thus-Gone.
There is no nature of the world."

Nagarjuna
MMK XXII.15-16

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robertk
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Re: Master of mindfulness, Jon Kabat-Zinn

Post by robertk » Tue Nov 28, 2017 5:39 pm

aflatun wrote:
Tue Nov 28, 2017 3:07 pm
robertk wrote:
Fri Nov 24, 2017 5:03 am

Exactly right. :anjali:

All of that *trying* to observe etc is based around a subtle belief that there is someone who can make things occur.
How did Robert the Abhidhammika become so Zen? :tongue: :heart:

Then, the monk asked: "I find it impossible to control all my passions and delusions. What should I do? It's simply proved too much for me, and I wish to receive your instruction."

The Master replied: "Your idea of wanting to control your passions and delusions is itself delusion, changing the Buddha Mind for delusion! Delusions don't have any actual substance when they arise. In fact, they're nothing but shadow figures, things you've seen and heard that pop up sporadically in response to circumstances."
Bankei Zen, Trans Haskel, pg. 83
Thanks for that quote!
The right way is the right way, whoever says it. ;)

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aflatun
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Re: Master of mindfulness, Jon Kabat-Zinn

Post by aflatun » Wed Nov 29, 2017 3:17 am

robertk wrote:
Tue Nov 28, 2017 5:39 pm

Thanks for that quote!
My pleasure!

robertk wrote:
Tue Nov 28, 2017 5:39 pm

The right way is the right way, whoever says it. ;)
I agree 100% :thumbsup:
"People often get too quick to say 'there's no self. There's no self...no self...no self.' There is self, there is focal point, its not yours. That's what not self is."

Ninoslav Ñāṇamoli
Senses and the Thought-1, 42:53

"Those who create constructs about the Buddha,
Who is beyond construction and without exhaustion,
Are thereby damaged by their constructs;
They fail to see the Thus-Gone.

That which is the nature of the Thus-Gone
Is also the nature of this world.
There is no nature of the Thus-Gone.
There is no nature of the world."

Nagarjuna
MMK XXII.15-16

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