Being Offended

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binocular
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Re: Being Offended

Post by binocular » Wed Aug 22, 2018 4:50 pm

JohnK wrote:
Wed Aug 22, 2018 3:59 pm
Yes, I meant to be referring to the subjective by using the phrase "the experience of" and the word "dukkha."
If you are from a culture in which being spat at is considred offensive; and you get spat at and you are offended and you feel offended: how do you draw the line between "being offended" and "feeling offended"?
Where exactly is "the experience of" in this?

Because you can be spat at and thus offended, experience the offense (know that something has been done to you which the culture that you live in considers offensive) -- and yet not feel offended.
You can accurately discern that someone has done something to you in order to offend you, and that other people around you consider you offened, but it is not necessary for you to feel offended. IOW, you don't suffer (even though those around you beileve you do or that you should suffer, given what was done to you).
(And, yes, agreeing on what is actually, really an objective offense would be difficult -- cultural, sub-cultural, personal differences
Absolutely.
-- and perhaps an exercise less relevant to "the end of suffering.")
It's not clear that such is the case, though.

It seems to me there is an awkward dichotomy in what is officially considered dukkha, and what one might personally consider dukkha.
However, in order to practice the Buddhist path, it seems that one has to internalize a set of standards for what counts as dukkha (and what doesn't), become accultured into the particular Buddhist culture (so that one feels offended by "all the right things") -- and then feel accordingly. Otherwise, one just doesn't fit into the Buddhist culture. And arguably, without such fitting in, one cannot make any progress on the Buddhist path.
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

JohnK
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Re: Being Offended

Post by JohnK » Wed Aug 22, 2018 6:44 pm

Hi, binocular. In case it helps clear things up, in this context, I am only interested in the thread title "being offended" as a subjective experience.
binocular wrote:
Wed Aug 22, 2018 4:50 pm
JohnK wrote:
Wed Aug 22, 2018 3:59 pm
Yes, I meant to be referring to the subjective by using the phrase "the experience of" and the word "dukkha."
If you are from a culture in which being spat at is considred offensive; and you get spat at and you are offended and you feel offended: how do you draw the line between "being offended" and "feeling offended"?
Where exactly is "the experience of" in this?
As I have been using the phrase, "being offended" is entirely subjective; it is the experience of feeling offended. (In this context, I have no real interest in the action of some other and whether or not it might be considered an objective "offense" that should cause one to legitimately feel offended -- not interested in such cultural norms here.)
Because you can be spat at and thus offended, experience the offense (know that something has been done to you which the culture that you live in considers offensive) -- and yet not feel offended.
You can accurately discern that someone has done something to you in order to offend you, and that other people around you consider you offened, but it is not necessary for you to feel offended. IOW, you don't suffer (even though those around you beileve you do or that you should suffer, given what was done to you).

Yes, that's what i am getting at; the "feeling offended" (dukkha) is theoretically optional -- the act of one person commiting a cultural "offense" does not necessarily result in another person "feeling offended." However, in any specific situation, a person's mental habit patterns may make it less optional from a practical standpoint.
...It seems to me there is an awkward dichotomy in what is officially considered dukkha, and what one might personally consider dukkha.
However, in order to practice the Buddhist path, it seems that one has to internalize a set of standards for what counts as dukkha (and what doesn't), become accultured into the particular Buddhist culture (so that one feels offended by "all the right things") -- and then feel accordingly.
My take on it is that there are no "right things" to be offended by -- feeling offended (a type of dukkha) is the result of attachment to some identity.
Otherwise, one just doesn't fit into the Buddhist culture. And arguably, without such fitting in, one cannot make any progress on the Buddhist path.
Hmmm, I imagine that a self-concept of "not fitting in" would cause dukkha (unless perhaps it was a group that one did not want to fit into) and getting to know dukkha is a critical task on the path.
(This responding to quotes w/in quotes is getting a bit beyond my technical competence! -- apologies if I have messed any of it up.
"...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.

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Bundokji
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Re: Being Offended

Post by Bundokji » Wed Aug 22, 2018 7:51 pm

JohnK wrote:
Wed Aug 22, 2018 3:49 pm
Being offended and not claiming to be (likely indicating some attachment to the self view, but also restraint based on a desire to "not make waves" -- for any number of reasons).
This type can be tricky in my opinion. Do you believe that Buddhism can be used as a cover up about some inconvenient truths about ourselves?

For example, i fear confrontation, so i cover this up by telling myself that the Buddha advised us to control ourselves. What would constitute going against the grain here?

Or to put it differently: can you do the right thing for the wrong reasons?

The problem as i see it, is: the teachings are presented to us as general set of rules, but things in reality can be always more tricky.
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"

This was the last word of the Tathagata.

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Sam Vara
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Re: Being Offended

Post by Sam Vara » Wed Aug 22, 2018 8:02 pm

binocular wrote:
Wed Aug 22, 2018 4:50 pm
It seems to me there is an awkward dichotomy in what is officially considered dukkha, and what one might personally consider dukkha.
However, in order to practice the Buddhist path, it seems that one has to internalize a set of standards for what counts as dukkha (and what doesn't)
I would have thought that the "official definition" of dukkha (i.e. what we find the Buddha saying in the suttas) is sufficiently broad and flexible to encompass any personal or subjective assessments. For example, there is:
Rebirth is suffering; old age is suffering; illness is suffering; death is suffering; sorrow, lamentation, pain, sadness, and distress are suffering; association with the disliked is suffering; separation from the liked is suffering; not getting what you wish for is suffering. In brief, the five grasping aggregates are suffering.
https://suttacentral.net/sn56.11/en/sujato

Is there anything outside of these that one might personally consider to be dukkha?

There is also this:
there are these three forms of suffering. What three? The suffering inherent in painful feeling; the suffering inherent in conditions; and the suffering inherent in perishing. These are the three forms of suffering.
https://suttacentral.net/sn45.165/en/sujato

These seem to be sufficiently comprehensive. If you find any experience unsatisfactory, then my guess is that the Buddha got there before you, and an effective teacher would be able to point this out to you.

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Sam Vara
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Re: Being Offended

Post by Sam Vara » Wed Aug 22, 2018 8:12 pm

Bundokji wrote:
Wed Aug 22, 2018 7:51 pm

This type can be tricky in my opinion. Do you believe that Buddhism can be used as a cover up about some inconvenient truths about ourselves?
Yes, definitely, if mishandled. For example, there is "spiritual bypassing", and there is allowing oneself or another being to be subjected to suffering because one wants to live up to a false image of a "good Buddhist" that one has seen.
For example, i fear confrontation, so i cover this up by telling myself that the Buddha advised us to control ourselves. What would constitute going against the grain here?
It depends on context, but generally it seems very reasonable to fear confrontation. The right thing to do initially is to admit to oneself that one does indeed fear confrontation, and not pretend that one's motivations are somehow more exalted. If one is covering things up, then it's the truthfulness which goes against the grain.
The problem as i see it, is: the teachings are presented to us as general set of rules, but things in reality can be always more tricky.
Agreed. Ultimately we have to "know for ourselves", as per the Kalama Sutta.

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Re: Being Offended

Post by JohnK » Wed Aug 22, 2018 8:23 pm

Bundokji wrote:
Wed Aug 22, 2018 7:51 pm
JohnK wrote:
Wed Aug 22, 2018 3:49 pm
Being offended and not claiming to be (likely indicating some attachment to the self view, but also restraint based on a desire to "not make waves" -- for any number of reasons).
This type can be tricky in my opinion. Do you believe that Buddhism can be used as a cover up about some inconvenient truths about ourselves?

For example, i fear confrontation, so i cover this up by telling myself that the Buddha advised us to control ourselves. What would constitute going against the grain here?

Or to put it differently: can you do the right thing for the wrong reasons?

The problem as i see it, is: the teachings are presented to us as general set of rules, but things in reality can be always more tricky.
Yes, can be tricky! I was thinking of this when I said "for any number of reasons" -- in fact I originally typed "some good and some bad" -- perhaps my use of the word "restraint" implied "good" -- probably not the best choice of word for that reason. When one feels the dukkha of being offended/insulted, there are situations where it might be skillful to let that be known -- other times perhaps to let it pass (if one sees no value in letting it be known for example that "I felt insulted by your behavior, and I realize I was being overly sensitive based on my attachments and you meant no harm" or "I felt insulted; I assume you meant to be insulting, but i would rather focus on the problem we were trying to fix when you insulted me." Yeah, is it useful? is it timely? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. (That is, sometimes "making waves" is skillful.)

Ah, to have the presence of mind when knowing "I feel offended/insulted," to pause and ask "What is most skillful right now?"
"...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.

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Bundokji
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Re: Being Offended

Post by Bundokji » Thu Aug 23, 2018 8:50 am

Sam Vara wrote:
Wed Aug 22, 2018 8:12 pm
It depends on context, but generally it seems very reasonable to fear confrontation. The right thing to do initially is to admit to oneself that one does indeed fear confrontation, and not pretend that one's motivations are somehow more exalted. If one is covering things up, then it's the truthfulness which goes against the grain.
I agree. So the right action would most likely be restrain by not acting on the initial feeling of being offended and acknowledgement of one's mixed intentions (both unpleasant).

This is why people who have the courage to follow the Buddha's teachings better count the costs. The practice as described here seems to squeeze the whole traditional doctrine with its deep cosmic conflicts into the narrow sphere of the human soul and conscious.
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"

This was the last word of the Tathagata.

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Sam Vara
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Re: Being Offended

Post by Sam Vara » Thu Aug 23, 2018 9:49 am

Paul Valery has a nice angle:
An attitude of permanent indignation signifies great mental poverty. Politics compels its votaries to take that line and you can see their minds growing more and more impoverished every day, from one burst of righteous anger to the next. Each party has its own program of indignation, and its standard reflexes.
Written some time in the first half of last century, but never more relevant.

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Re: Being Offended

Post by budo » Thu Aug 23, 2018 10:17 am

Bundokji wrote:
Wed Aug 22, 2018 7:51 pm

The problem as i see it, is: the teachings are presented to us as general set of rules, but things in reality can be always more tricky.
I remember reading a sutta that said the more rules there are the less enlightened beings there are. Good people don't need rules. What comes first, the rules or the good person? Rules are for bad people.

In my opinion, the core trait of a bad person is his/her willingness to lie to themselves. Integrity is the foundation.

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Bundokji
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Re: Being Offended

Post by Bundokji » Thu Aug 23, 2018 11:15 am

budo wrote:
Thu Aug 23, 2018 10:17 am
I remember reading a sutta that said the more rules there are the less enlightened beings there are. Good people don't need rules. What comes first, the rules or the good person? Rules are for bad people.

In my opinion, the core trait of a bad person is his/her willingness to lie to themselves. Integrity is the foundation.
I agree with the essence of your input, but may i express it a bit differently?

I would say wise people follow the rules for different reasons than the majority of human beings. The more the mind is well developed, the more the actions are driven by understanding rather than imitations which turns into generalizations and habits.

How to deal with general rules seems to be the story of our lives. Conventions are general set of rules, when taken literally and applied to every situation mindlessly, suffering arise.

Buddhism seems to be no exception in my opinion. We need something to begin with, don't we? For example, don't you remember at the beginning of your practice you took things into extreme? and as your understanding of the teachings began to develop, you became more skillful in applying the teachings into everyday situations.

Not long ago, a monk member of this community had his birthday, so a thread was opened to wish him a happy birthday. Another member of the forum protested the "un-buddhist" attitude of those who engage in such behavior. According to the teachings in its traditional form, birth is suffering, so he viewed the simple action of wishing someone a happy birthday to be against the teachings!

Few years ago, i was so upset with people celebrating new year so i sent messages to some friends wishing them happy present moment trying to wake them up :toilet:

The problem is: the teachings in their original form are accurate, and no one with moral integrity and a sense of gratitude to the Buddha would dispute that. If you allow everyone to change the original teachings according to his own understanding you end up with more evil than good.

And yet, through trial and error and through the help of more experienced Buddhists, our understanding of the original teachings begin to improve and we begin to use them more skillfully.

Even inner integrity is not as straightforward as often presented. The practice involves denying ourselves things we deeply desire. While acknowledging how attachment to desires leads to suffering involves inner integrity, denying desires may include self deception.

More generally, and from my current understanding of the teachings, the very structure of our being (the unenlightened) produces desires and it can't be otherwise. Until we find a way out, damage control is the best we can do.
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"

This was the last word of the Tathagata.

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Re: Being Offended

Post by Laurens » Thu Aug 23, 2018 4:48 pm

I agree that the sense of self has a lot to do with being offended.

Sometimes though, its not a strength in the sense of self that leads to offence, rather it is a weakness. It is a confrontation with something that a person finds difficult.

For example. If you were to say to somebody; 'God doesn't exist' they might get offended because it is confronting them with their own doubts. The response is often to get offended and shut down the conversation because that is easier than publicly admitting to an inner weakness.

So in a sense I guess being offended is a response to a weakness within a strong sense of self.
"If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?"

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

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one_awakening
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Re: Being Offended

Post by one_awakening » Fri Aug 24, 2018 5:50 am

Laurens wrote:
Thu Aug 23, 2018 4:48 pm
I agree that the sense of self has a lot to do with being offended.
Yes. If one could really penetrate and see oneself as a lump of five aggregates, then what is it that gets offended?
“You only lose what you cling to”

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Re: Being Offended

Post by diamind » Fri Aug 24, 2018 1:47 pm


binocular
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Re: Being Offended

Post by binocular » Sat Aug 25, 2018 4:00 pm

JohnK wrote:
Wed Aug 22, 2018 6:44 pm
...It seems to me there is an awkward dichotomy in what is officially considered dukkha, and what one might personally consider dukkha.
However, in order to practice the Buddhist path, it seems that one has to internalize a set of standards for what counts as dukkha (and what doesn't), become accultured into the particular Buddhist culture (so that one feels offended by "all the right things") -- and then feel accordingly.
Otherwise, one just doesn't fit into the Buddhist culture. And arguably, without such fitting in, one cannot make any progress on the Buddhist path.
Hmmm, I imagine that a self-concept of "not fitting in" would cause dukkha (unless perhaps it was a group that one did not want to fit into) and getting to know dukkha is a critical task on the path.
I'm talking about fitting in as a matter of acculturation on which depends one's proper understanding of Buddhist terms. Similar as in mastering and being able to function in a language requires acculturation to the society that speaks that language. Without such acculturation, it's not possible to have meaningful communication with members of that culture; one is incomprehensible to them, and they are incomprehensible to one (or else, perceived as rude).

If one isn't accultured to Buddhism, how can one be sure one understands any of the Buddhist terms correctly (such as "dukkha")? Heaven knows one can develop one's own idiosyncratic understanding of Buddhist terms (based on the reading of various texts), and even make this understanding internally consistent. But once faced with actual Buddhists, one might be incomprehensible to them, and the Buddhists be incomprehensible to one (or else, perceived as rude).

In my experience, one such strong point of incomprehensibility for me are precisely matters of respect and offense. It's like the Buddhists and I are living in totally different worlds. It makes me doubt whether I have understood any of the terms correctly. There appear to be numerous unwritten and mostly unspoken rules of communication and how to understand terms, rules that I didn't know and that I think go directly against what is said in the teachings, and discussing those unwritten, unspoken rules is tabooed. (For example, what I said just now is likely to be perceived as negative, critical, offensive by many Buddhists. I have no idea why.)
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

JohnK
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Re: Being Offended

Post by JohnK » Sun Aug 26, 2018 6:05 pm

I'll try to digest each paragraph, perhaps respond to each, and then see if it's even worth clicking "submit."
binocular wrote:
Sat Aug 25, 2018 4:00 pm
I'm talking about fitting in as a matter of acculturation on which depends one's proper understanding of Buddhist terms. Similar as in mastering and being able to function in a language requires acculturation to the society that speaks that language. Without such acculturation, it's not possible to have meaningful communication with members of that culture; one is incomprehensible to them, and they are incomprehensible to one (or else, perceived as rude).
Okay, so at this point, Buddhist communication is just an instance of the processes and difficulties of any language community (especially when one is not born into it -- I'm imagining someone emigrating to a country where they do not speak the language).
If one isn't accultured to Buddhism, how can one be sure one understands any of the Buddhist terms correctly (such as "dukkha")? Heaven knows one can develop one's own idiosyncratic understanding of Buddhist terms (based on the reading of various texts), and even make this understanding internally consistent. But once faced with actual Buddhists, one might be incomprehensible to them, and the Buddhists be incomprehensible to one (or else, perceived as rude).
Okay, so this a further statement of the difficulties of not being born into a language community -- Buddhist or otherwise. All I might say at this point is that there may not be a single, shared, non-problematic language community of "actual Buddhists" as there are many different sub-groups (and sub-groups w/in sub-groups) -- that is, even actual Buddhists probably have some of the same difficulties you are pointing out. And most language communities don't have "acculturation programs" so all this happens haphazardly and implicitly.
In my experience, one such strong point of incomprehensibility for me are precisely matters of respect and offense.
This also sounds typical of such situations where offense may be taken by native speakers or by the learners due to the learner not fully understanding the new language and the subtleties of its use. One might expect Buddhists to be better than average at attempting to understand the situation and not "disrespect" the learner and not take offense at the learner's attempts to understand and even be helpful -- maybe this is part of what you are getting at here?
It's like the Buddhists and I are living in totally different worlds. It makes me doubt whether I have understood any of the terms correctly.
I don't know if there is something especially problematic about Buddhism in this regard or if it just a matter of the learning curve and seeking clarification. It does seem to me that participating in an online forum is not the best way to get acculturated into a language community -- especially when so few are actually "native speakers" (and there is a lot of disagreement about what terms mean and how to behave).
There appear to be numerous unwritten and mostly unspoken rules of communication and how to understand terms, rules that I didn't know and that I think go directly against what is said in the teachings, and discussing those unwritten, unspoken rules is tabooed. (For example, what I said just now is likely to be perceived as negative, critical, offensive by many Buddhists. I have no idea why.)
Again, all communities have "unspoken rules of communication,"and I suspect trying to make them "spoken" makes native speakers a bit uneasy (one reason being that they don't necessarily experience themselves as following any rules -- they are just taken for granted) -- attempting to unpack the unconscious of a person or community w/o being asked to can be perceived to be offensive (is there an expectation that Buddhists should be more open to that?).

Ah, I think the most potentially "specific to Buddhism" point you make is that you think the unspoken rules go against the teachings. This might be worth being more specific about. Again though, I might be careful about taking the behavior of individuals on an online forum to represent some larger "Buddhist communication rules." It seems like the teachings on "right speech" are the place to start -- recognizing that "right speech" ain't easy and that individuals on a forum have different ways of dealing with that, have their own interpretations of what it looks like in action, and are at different stages of their training.
Now I'll click preview and see if I want to submit.
Okay, I'll submit.
"...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.

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