Be sure and check out our discussion about the existence of God, Part I and Part II.
11-05-05 5:11  •  Hurt feelings

NoName: *sniff*  i'm going through a really rough time right now. and i've gotten advice from friends and from reading and everything says to return to the self, to love the self, to sit w/your feelings and love them unconditionally. But how?

Thoughts and feelings feed on attention. It doesn't matter if it is like or dislike, strong feelings can seem like they are running amok because they are so easy to focus all your attention on.

Because of this, it is important to distinguish between accepting them as they are and feeding them so that they swirl out of control.

If you are hurting just let yourself hurt. Accept that hurting is the state you are in. This will begin to unblock it so that it can ebb and flow naturally within your psyche.

Then focus your attention not on the thoughts about the hurt, but instead focus on the actual feeling itself. No feeling by itself is constant. It must be constantly reborn by a nest of surrounding thoughts which egg it on. Bypassing these thoughts to grasp the actual feeling is half the battle.

Just sit and watch the feeling in and of itself. It is your feeling. It is made by your mind and it serves you well. If a thought tries to get in the way, recognize it is a thought and then return to the feeling. Generally if it has words or pictures attached to it, it is a thought. Feelings come from a more direct part of the mind.

Eventually the natural equalibrium of your mind will begin to reassert itself. Other feelings will arise. Watch them as well.

When they have balanced one another there will be a sense of peace.

Like any skill it takes practice to find that point of balance, so don't worry about how long it lasts. It's not really a goal, anyway - it's more like a side effect of the process of letting your mind come into balance.

11-04-05 4:11  •  Religion isn't the only lame thing

S: 1. No religious system has a monopoly of bad or sick psychopathic people, and in this I'd include atheistic and sceintific systems as well.

The difference here is that science, while it is subject to all the limits of human endeavor like religion, is performance-oriented and self-policing. This keeps a certain percentage of the riffraff at bay. Becoming a scientist is no trivial matter and you have to advance the knowledge of science in some unique regard to be accepted as a full scientist.

S: 2. it doesn't take very many screwed-up power-hungry sociopaths in any given group to mislead the majority of the group with greed, with fear, by dividing them from sensible leaders who might have a conscience.

True, if the group has a centralized and hierarchical power structure without appropriate checks and balances. It's not just religion, the same social disease is present in despotic governments and businesses.

S: 4. and so addressing Swarm, and others who are quick to assign evil to religion... well, I'd say that without religion human history wouldn't particularly be better either.

While it is true the problems are endemic to humanity, religion seems to exacerbate the problem to extremes otherwise unobtainable.

Also, our brief blush with democracy seems to show that it is possible to mitigate these tendencies in masses of humans. If democracy had been hit upon earlier, it would seem that there would in fact be far less ill in the world.

11-04-05 4:11  •  Blind Faith

SillyGirl: What's wrong with blind faith in God and Heaven?

My question is, why even bother with words like god or heaven which seek to limit the je ne sais quoi of existence to mere human concepts?

Throwing these words in the void makes it seem like something is known, when it isn't known. The thing about blind faith is you can never know what it is you have faith in. To call it god is just self-deception.

11-03-05 3:11  •  Non-violence

Francesco: Wouldn't you say that being a passive bystander, and NOT acting when violence is perpetrated, is just as damaging to karma as perpetrating the violence yourself?

Who said that you have to be a passive bystander?

Even the most non-violent buddhist doesn't have to be a passive bystander. Step up, get in the way, call for aid...there are many things besides doing nothing.

Personally I'm a "not first" pacifist. I won't use violence first but I reserve the right to use what force I deem necessary if another chooses to impose violence on a situation.

11-03-05 11:03  •  Expectations

Mr. Hoppy: Buddha said, Human Suffering comes from Desire. And to undo that, we must identify the Desire that causes this Suffering. But how does one undo these Desires (or as I feel, "expectations")? I guess I wake up and expect the sun to be out, for gravity to exist, for certain levels of trust and affection from my partner -- so I'm supposed to not expect those things?

In order to expect something, you must create a model in your mind of what you desire to be. On the face of it, there is nothing wrong with that and it can be a very handy trick for planning. The problem is that because it is a model created out of nothing but your thoughts instead of making it accurate and dismissing it when you are done with it, you can make it alluring. You can make it "better" than what actually is and start desiring that it be real instead of imaginary.

That, of course, is where the suffering begins to seep in.

Gravity doesn't care what you expect. It is what it is.
In the case of gravity your expectations are superfluous, but I doubt you really have many expectations about gravity.

Now your expectations about getting laid tonight. Your expectations about winning the lottery tomorrow. Your expectations that you are perfect and every one will appreciate this.

These are expectations run amok. They no longer are part of any real planning and they compete for the moment and your attention while bringing constant disappointment.

They could easily be dropped and the effort turned to actually getting laid, etc.

Mr. Hoppy: How do Buddhists deal with loss?

The loss of expectations is usually greeted with great joy and relief.

10-29-05 10:22  •  Unattainable

Sandy: The Buddha said: “My doctrine implies thinking of that which is beyond thought, performing that which is beyond performance, speaking of that which is beyond words and practicing that which is beyond practice. The way that can be expressed in words stops short; there is nothing which can be grasped. If you are wrong by so much as the thousandth part of a hair, you will lose the Way in a flash.”

WTF? Basically it is saying one should attempt to attain the unattainable. Why?

Why ask "why?" Dukkha Buddha Dry!

The Buddha says all manner of stuff because so many people did his talking for him.

A lot of it is intentionally obscure because people so often mistake obscurity for profundity.

Basically anything which doesn't make immediate sense is not important enough to bother with. Go back to the basics and make sure you've got them tight and then ponder the rest when you're bored and have time to waste on silliness.

Why attempt the impossible? Because it is the only way to truly know what is impossible and what is just thought to be impossible. Also even if you fail, you will be stronger and wiser for the effort.

Sandy: That was beautiful Swarm, honestly. Thank you.

10-29-05 12:45  •  Perennial Philosophy

TwoWings: Please post a few things that you think religions or belief systems might have in common.

I'll start with one: most religions believe in right and wrong.

If you are interested in pursuing this in depth, I'd recommend starting with the Perennial Philosophy by Aldux Huxley. He explores just that question in depth. (Leibnetz also looked into the question, and coined the phrase, but his work isn't as accessable.)

Most religions have a push/pull of inexplicable guilt and otherwise unobtainable reward. For example, original sin is the push in xtianity and salvation/heaven is the pull.

Most religions concentrate power and wealth in an heirarchical authority supposedly backed by the "ultimate" authority.

Most religions do not welcome any form of serious inquiry into their central dogmas which are to be accepted just on the authority of the church they support.

Most religions are so desperate for members that they have zero quality control.

10-18-05 1:15  •  Death and Reason

Kip: What's with the Christians? If life will be better when you die, why live? If god has rewards for you, why wait? If mothers so strongly belived in heaven, why would they be sad when thier child dies?

Because even the most religious person is still a person.

J: Why do Chrisitans grieve their dead?

Because they are sad.

Kip: sooo why are they sad? thier loved one is with god, in the single most happiest place in the world.

Because someone they loved is dead.

Kip, you are trying to point out the walk doesn't match the talk, but this is getting a bit pedantic even for me.

All social mammals, and many other social animals, and even some non-social animals - and some would even say some plants - they all miss and mourn their dead. 2000 years is not enough time to deprogram something that basic.

Jon: Of course that is a good rational and scientific reason. However, Christian fundamentalists cannot use this as a reason.

Dogs cannot use reason at all, but it doesn't mean that they don't act in this way. Reason illuminates the truth, it doesn't create it. The xtians may not wish to understand why they act as they do, but they still will act that way.

10-18-05 9:21  •  Purpose in Life

Thor: I cannot imagine what my purpose in life could be; having said that, it is not any clearer if there is a purpose.

Purpose is just a head trip, as is purposelessness. It has nothing to do with anything, but if you like angst and ennui give it a whirl.

10-18-05 11:15  •  God is Love Pt. II   Part I

Kip: It's fine, you don't believe in god - and no one is asking you to.

Why is it so hard to understand that what I believe or don't believe is irrelevant, not pertinent, beside the point, and inconsequential?

Either there is a god, in which case he should step up, or at least there needs to be some solid no-bones-about it evidence; or, there is no god.

To try and make believe there is a god is not just crazy, it is dangerous.

And yes, you are asking me to believe.

Kip: You say "everyone who believes in god" (no matter what that god is to them) is just illogical, or stupid, or irrational, or living in fantasy land; that's really not a founded opinion.

Now you are putting words in my mouth so you can feel properly outraged. If, no matter what that god is to you, you secretly feel "illogical, or stupid, or irrational, or living in fantasy land" that's your business.

Kip: I was told by my teacher that the couch I'm sitting on is mostly - vastly - made of space. The only reason i have to belive this, is that he said it's true.

That is not the only reason there is to believe it however. There are ways to determine that question if you want to verify your teacher's opinion. Your ignorance is not a refutation of his/her statement.

Kip: I can't see the space. And just cause you say that "science" sees it, is really, fundamentally no different than a priest saying "When i say the word Doom, the sky will darken" knowing there was about to be an eclipse.

The objections you raise are specious and you know it. When scientists say things, there are reasons and supporting evidence, all of which are public and verifiable. Priestly prognostications are not the same at all.

When scientists lie or are deceived in some way, the scientific community eventually finds out. For example Mendelson's genetics experiments are now known to have been rigged by his gardener. Luckily he was pointed in the right direction, but the data was hopelessly flawed.

Kip: Science could make all this up just so they could get you to buy thier computers which really run on elf magic, for example.

If you truly think computers run on elf magic, I can tell you that god told me otherwise.

Kip: you really cannot Prove what you do not know.

Of course you can. Lie down and I will prove to your satisfaction that I do not know how to perform surgery. I will even allow you to decide when I have successfully proven the matter, but I suggest not being too stubborn about conceding the point.

Kip: If someone says "god to me is love", there is no logic that can disprove that, even on science's back.

Now you are just being silly and pretending these words have no established meaning or that words can simply be used haphazardly in any way one might wish and still remain intelligible.

To say "god is love" is to either so diminish the term god, or so inflate the term love, that either or both of the terms become unintelligible. I really find it incredible that you are even attempting such a weak defense.

Kip: I happen... to not belive in any god.

It is not a matter of belief.

Kip: I at least admit it's as much a rationalization of my gut instinct as it is anything else.

Then you lack the courage of your own convictions and should find out if the position you hold is actually reasonable. Being an atheist for "gut instinct" is no better than being a theist for the same reason. Either way find out.