Escapism

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Escapism

Postby flowerbudh » Sun Oct 20, 2013 3:51 am

How is escapism viewed in a Buddhist perspective? What would you say qualifies as such? Simply a removal from the present moment/situation at hand? Aren't all forms of media (music, movies, TV, internet) a kind of escapism? I'm curious.
Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without. - The Buddha
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Re: Escapism

Postby disjointed » Sun Oct 20, 2013 4:24 am

As a Buddhist I see most of people as escapists.
Most people spend their lives occupying their time with movies, work, family, fitness, hobbies, and sleep to escape from the reality they cannot handle.
This is very clear when you mention things like death. You can clear out a room of people by mentioning death. If you talk about death sometimes people will become hysterically angry or sad.
People sometimes think of Buddhists, particularly monastics as escapists. But the reality is while monastics are starring down these unpleasant truths, worldly people are covering their eyes and ears and running away in childish terror.
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Re: Escapism

Postby flowerbudh » Sun Oct 20, 2013 4:55 am

disjointed wrote:You can clear out a room of people by mentioning death. If you talk about death sometimes people will become hysterically angry or sad.


How true! This is one of the reasons I don't have many friends, haha. I like to converse about the reality of death and how it ultimately give's life its meaning, but most of my peers think I'm "weird" and "too dark" because of this.
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Re: Escapism

Postby Odsal » Sun Oct 20, 2013 6:28 am

flowerbudh wrote:How is escapism viewed in a Buddhist perspective? What would you say qualifies as such? Simply a removal from the present moment/situation at hand? Aren't all forms of media (music, movies, TV, internet) a kind of escapism? I'm curious.


All forms of media can be used for escaping, but whether media is used for escaping or not depends on the person using the media.
To me, what qualifies as escapism is anything that someone does in order to escape ones unhappiness with life. In order to start the Buddhist path you first have to be able to acknowledge the reality of your own suffering so that you can begin to do something about it. Escaping into sense pleasures does not address the problem of suffering it ignores it. That is why when Buddha Shakyamuni gave his first teaching he started with the truth of suffering.
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Re: Escapism

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Sun Oct 20, 2013 6:58 am

Samsara is all escapism..maybe that's not quite the word I don't know.

But you know the drill, everyone does this or that, thinks this or that, because they think one day things will somehow work out and they will have "arrived" at some final, satisfying destination. Of course they never will, but the illusion is a persistent one so they continue along getting absorbed in whatever preoccupation leads to "it" at the time.

Really..we are all escapists, because that's our state in Samsara. That most definitely includes Buddhists, who are different only in that they (hopefully) can be more honest about ourselves with it, and do something about it...lol. If we can't be honest, or Buddhism becomes another story like preoccupation, it's just more escapism.

If you're just looking for what media or entertainment forms people think is acceptable, and what is a useless distraction, that's a whole different ballgame, and hard to answer from anything but a personal perspective. Basically if you feel like you might be wasting your time doing something or something is bring you down, it probably is..and you can just limit it and go from there. If you have a good practice and some guidance I think you will be clear headed enough to know for yourself most of the time when something is unhealthy enough to let it go..even if the process itself isn't easy.
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is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
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Re: Escapism

Postby ClearblueSky » Sun Oct 20, 2013 9:06 am

In a way I think the entire path of Buddhism can be summed up as gradually becoming less and less of an escapist. Buddha lived in a palace of total escapism, until he realized that couldn't help him escape suffering forever. He then went to the other extreme of negative escapism, trying to escape any kind of care, responsibility or accepting of his body and the physical necessities of life. It wasn't until he realized the one thing he had to stop trying to escape was his own mind and ego, that he was finally able to escape the cycle of Samsara. Every time we sit to practice we are making the conscious decision to build up our tolerance to have a little less urgent need for escapism.
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Re: Escapism

Postby lobster » Sun Oct 20, 2013 1:28 pm

flowerbudh wrote:How true! This is one of the reasons I don't have many friends, haha. I like to converse about the reality of death and how it ultimately give's life its meaning, but most of my peers think I'm "weird" and "too dark" because of this.


Death has only a limited reality, confined to the body and sense of death. Death is of course a metaphor for sex and the death of self. In that sense, escapism . . .
. . . and now to the inner friends, fiends and escape mechanism . . . Buddhism in this sense is not an escape from but an escape to reality. In this sense too, we have to befriend the temporary existence we call weird and too dark - or others do . . .

:smile: Now where? :hi:
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Re: Escapism

Postby dimeo » Sun Oct 20, 2013 7:54 pm

It's an interesting question, because sometimes I wonder about the amount of time I spend meditating....

But then I think about how many hours my friends at work spend drinking, smoking, gossiping and watching the game.

Buddhism teaches finding the 'middle way' of moderation. Getting enough sleep is a good idea to prevent illness. Sometimes lazy people sleep the day away, because they're depressed and avoiding dealing with things. So we try to not sleep too much.

The practice of meditation could be perceived as escapism or procrastination. Is meditation a desire to seek shelter and refuge within? Perhaps everything we do in life is action motivated by attachment or aversion. But it seems prudent to do some things, like putting a lock on the doors to your home to try and prevent crime.

It's human nature to attempt to escape suffering through delaying or attempting to prevent it. Is education a desire to avoid future suffering due to ignorance? Is hoarding food a desire to escape hunger? Is working a desire to accumulate money and escape poverty?

Part of the eightfold path is Right View(Samma Ditthi), Right Effort (Samma Vayama), and Right Mindfulness (Samma Sati).

From Bija Sutta, AN 10.104
...whatever bodily deeds he undertakes in line with that [right] view, whatever verbal deeds... whatever mental deeds he undertakes in line with that view, whatever intentions, whatever vows, whatever determinations, whatever fabrications, all lead to what is agreeable, pleasing, charming, profitable, & easeful.


In the Sona Sutta, a comparison is made between right effort and tuning an instrument to make the right sounding pitch:
"In the same way, Sona, over-aroused persistence leads to restlessness, overly slack persistence leads to laziness."
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Re: Escapism

Postby Thrasymachus » Thu Oct 24, 2013 12:23 am

Escapism is when you deny social realities, to engage in fantasies, to avoid doing anything about actually existing social conditions. Under such a dynamic, problems tend to be ignored and only grow in scope, under this neglect. Thus all religions, including Buddhism are escapism, because they encourage people to engage in more consumption of personal packets of religion as panacea and avoid actually transforming their social environment.

Escapism is the biggest problem of modern society in my view. Without the massive escapism, people would have to attempt to do something socially, but today you cannot even create a social movement, unlike in the past, due to the much increased power and omnipresence of escapism thanks to the increased means of technological transmission, etc. In the past it was much more difficult for elites to get everyone else to believe and think the same, today we have massively centralized schooling and media to make it easier for them.
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Re: Escapism

Postby Qing Tian » Thu Oct 24, 2013 12:46 am

Thus all religions, including Buddhism are escapism, because they encourage people to engage in more consumption of personal packets of religion as panacea and avoid actually transforming their social environment.


Is it possible to affect a meaningful transformation of the social environment before transforming one's internal spiritual environment?

To put it another way: Is it possible to apply the skills before you actually have the skills?
“Not till your thoughts cease all their branching here and there, not till you abandon all thoughts of seeking for something, not till your mind is motionless as wood or stone, will you be on the right road to the Gate.”
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Re: Escapism

Postby Thrasymachus » Thu Oct 24, 2013 12:51 am

Explain the history of every Buddhist country then if the fantasy claims of Buddhism were accurate. Or for that matter do the same with Christian countries.

Face it, religion is and will continue to be a tool for power elites, to encourage the ruled to remain subjects and dream of salvation in the afterlife(Christianity) or hope to accumulate enough merit to obtain liberation over several life-cycles(Buddhism). The common theme though is life ought to remain bad now. Of course it will, if you are ruled and treated by social conditions like a laboring mule, meant to benefit others.
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Re: Escapism

Postby Qing Tian » Thu Oct 24, 2013 1:03 am

Or, you could have a go at answering the actual question.

Apologies in advance for suggesting such a novel approach. :tongue:
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Re: Escapism

Postby padma norbu » Thu Oct 24, 2013 4:24 am

Don't worry about it so much, Thras. Before you know it, you will be dead.
"Use what seems like poison as medicine. We can use our personal suffering as the path to compassion for all beings." Pema Chodron
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Re: Escapism

Postby Qing Tian » Thu Oct 24, 2013 5:20 am

Ah yes, the ultimate escape... but wait... whaddya mean I've got to return? :tantrum:
“Not till your thoughts cease all their branching here and there, not till you abandon all thoughts of seeking for something, not till your mind is motionless as wood or stone, will you be on the right road to the Gate.”
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Re: Escapism

Postby ClearblueSky » Thu Oct 24, 2013 5:30 am

Thrasymachus wrote:Today you cannot even create a social movement, unlike in the past, due to the much increased power and omnipresence of escapism thanks to the increased means of technological transmission, etc. In the past it was much more difficult for elites to get everyone else to believe and think the same, today we have massively centralized schooling and media to make it easier for them.

Couldn't disagree more on that. In the past, when monarchies and dictatorships were more the norm (yes, I'm aware there are still dictators, but as whole the world is more democratic now), and with the lack of anything but religion ruling in many places, it was actually much easier than now to make everyone believe the same. I'd like you to take a look at Europe a few hundred years ago, and then Europe now, see which one has a larger percentage of the population conforming to the same ideals and beliefs, and which one the elite seem to have more control over.

And you can't create a social movement now, due to media and technology? Really? Heard about what happened in the recent Iranian revolution? Social media and technology played a gigantic role, that probably would not have been possible without it. Also, just to remind you, this forum you've willingly posted hundreds of posts on could be called "technology", and more or less "social media".

Instead of just disagreeing with you though, I will say I at least understand what you mean that Buddhism can occasionally lead too far towards escapism. Obviously the goal is to escape suffering (a good escapism), but it does seem like practitioners, especially those just starting out, can sometimes get escapism/ignoring problems mixed up with renunciation. There is a subtle difference between the two. And sometimes it is better for everyone's happiness to engage things in an active way, instead of "escaping" into prayer or meditation. But overall, because Buddhism is a very compassionate religion, it often engages the real world in a very legitimate, non-escapist, and beneficial way. And since you're talking about how religion effects the world, I believe earth's population is better off with Buddhism specifically than without it.
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Re: Escapism

Postby padma norbu » Thu Oct 24, 2013 5:43 am

Qing Tian wrote:Ah yes, the ultimate escape... but wait... whaddya mean I've got to return? :tantrum:

Nah, "you" don't gotta return, but I am not saying to carelessly collect all the bad karma you can. I just think it makes sense to do your best and don't let others destroy your peace of mind, that's all. People get so bent out of shape about stuff they can't possibly change and which barely affects them personally unless they think about it constantly. Stuff they wouldn't know was even happening if it wasn't for this marvelous technology that was supposed to make our lives so much easier. Now, I can see the suffering of people all the way around the world! Yay! I don't understand the point of dwelling on the worst possible things in the world; a world which you know is illusory, temporary, inherently dissatisfactory from top to bottom and which you will be shortly exiting, never to return.
"Use what seems like poison as medicine. We can use our personal suffering as the path to compassion for all beings." Pema Chodron
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Re: Escapism

Postby Qing Tian » Thu Oct 24, 2013 7:55 am

It was a joke...


... but I appreciate the clarification anyway! :smile:
“Not till your thoughts cease all their branching here and there, not till you abandon all thoughts of seeking for something, not till your mind is motionless as wood or stone, will you be on the right road to the Gate.”
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Re: Escapism

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu Oct 24, 2013 9:37 am

Qing Tian wrote:Or, you could have a go at answering the actual question.

Apologies in advance for suggesting such a novel approach. :tongue:
:rolling:
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Escapism

Postby padma norbu » Thu Oct 24, 2013 4:38 pm

Qing Tian wrote:It was a joke...


... but I appreciate the clarification anyway! :smile:


I know, it just seemed like a good opportunity to clarify my earlier statement for Thras. I get the feeling he's not Buddhist but might be exploring it / challenging it because he has some interest in it or resentment toward it.
"Use what seems like poison as medicine. We can use our personal suffering as the path to compassion for all beings." Pema Chodron
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Re: Escapism

Postby KonchokZoepa » Thu Oct 24, 2013 5:14 pm

padma norbu wrote:
Qing Tian wrote:Ah yes, the ultimate escape... but wait... whaddya mean I've got to return? :tantrum:

Nah, "you" don't gotta return, but I am not saying to carelessly collect all the bad karma you can. I just think it makes sense to do your best and don't let others destroy your peace of mind, that's all. People get so bent out of shape about stuff they can't possibly change and which barely affects them personally unless they think about it constantly. Stuff they wouldn't know was even happening if it wasn't for this marvelous technology that was supposed to make our lives so much easier. Now, I can see the suffering of people all the way around the world! Yay! I don't understand the point of dwelling on the worst possible things in the world; a world which you know is illusory, temporary, inherently dissatisfactory from top to bottom and which you will be shortly exiting, never to return.

:good:
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