Enlightenment and Insanity

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Re: Enlightenment and Insanity

Postby shel » Sat Aug 31, 2013 5:49 am

undefineable wrote:It looks as if jeeprs used the term sociopath to mean the opposite of what it's come to mean among some researchers.

I requested clarification about what he meant but no response, sadly.

an un-sociopathic mind IS disadvantageous from the point of view of ego's natural aim of fully structuring and integrating the mind into the rest of reality (self-evidently a task every being must commit to whether the aim is to dominate reality or to reach enlightenment).

I don't know what you mean. A sociopathic mind is essentially a mind with no conscience. Such a mind is more capable, in some (socially unacceptable) ways, but less capable in other ways. It's believed that they cannot love, for instance. Love is a capability that is beneficial to a group or society.
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Re: Enlightenment and Insanity

Postby undefineable » Sat Aug 31, 2013 11:12 am

shel wrote:
an un-sociopathic mind IS disadvantageous from the point of view of ego's natural aim of fully structuring and integrating the mind into the rest of reality (self-evidently a task every being must commit to whether the aim is to dominate reality or to reach enlightenment).

I don't know what you mean. A sociopathic mind is essentially a mind with no conscience. Such a mind is more capable, in some (socially unacceptable) ways, but less capable in other ways. It's believed that they cannot love, for instance. Love is a capability that is beneficial to a group or society.
Without the ability to love, one will simply refocuses one's energy on higher things (from a Cognitive Science or indeed Nietzschean POV) like gaining power over others, with little distraction. Whatever negative karma may be generated for future lives would be partly offset by developing one's potential and (with it) fulfilment to a higher level with more ease -and therefore more often- than is 'normal', and in many cases ending up contributing more to society. {Since the intention to benefit others is completely lacking, I guess this constitutes neutral or even negative karma, though In a rational universe this would clearly not be the case :alien: }
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Re: Enlightenment and Insanity

Postby dharmagoat » Sat Aug 31, 2013 1:30 pm

jeeprs wrote:I see normality as being a bell-curve. The following model is based on Maslow's Heirarchy of Needs. Those with mental illnesses and who are poorly socialised and not integrated, are on the left side of the curve - they fall short of normality. But on the right side of the curve are those who surpass the normal condition - the 'Realised Being' in the sense defined by the non-dualist schools of Indian philosophy. Such Realisation is definitely not part of the normal condition of humanity.

Although fashionable in the 19th and 20th centuries, such elitist thinking is potentially destructive and is thankfully on the decline. This division into groups within a society and ranking them in terms of their inferiority vs. superiority needs to be avoided, especially among those proclaiming to be Buddhist.

There really is no need to think in these terms.
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Re: Enlightenment and Insanity

Postby Wayfarer » Sat Aug 31, 2013 2:46 pm

Hey it isn't an attempt to 'rank individuals' at all. It is more an attempt to create a model which accounts for the disparities between different levels and types of consciousness. As to whether society has improved in regards to this question, it seems to me that understanding and dealing with mental health issues is still an enormous problem in affluent societies. Many people seem to suffer from depression and bi-polar disorders, and yet there is enormous controversy about how to even classify what constitutes 'normality' and so what could be considered an illness. There is no concept corresponcing to avidya in Western psychiatry or psychology, nor any prospect of one, because there is also no concept of 'escape from suffering' and the wheel of birth and death.

Also, there are definitely senses of the gradations of beings and higher and lower levels and realms all throughout Buddhist tradition.
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Re: Enlightenment and Insanity

Postby shel » Sat Aug 31, 2013 9:16 pm

jeeprs wrote:There is no concept corresponcing to avidya in Western psychiatry or psychology, nor any prospect of one, because there is also no concept of 'escape from suffering' and the wheel of birth and death.


In Maslow's hierarchy psychology and religion serve different needs. The latter essentially fulfilling the need for meaning and the former treatment for basic functioning or health. I don't see how there could be any confusion on this point.
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Re: Enlightenment and Insanity

Postby Wayfarer » Sun Sep 01, 2013 6:13 am

A passage on Maslow's take on 'the spiritual life':

"Transcenders" are those who "transcend," who live more at the level of being, who are meta-motivated, who are more inclined to have had peak experiences, which are experiences of ecstasy, rapture, bliss, the greatest joy, awe, mystery, humility, surrender and the happiest moments in life. Maslow’s characterisation of transcenders is captured in the following:


"transcenders" go beyond the basic needs and love the "ultimate good things, excellence, perfection, the good job"; identify with the cosmos and belong to it by right (cosmic consciousness); sacralize life, "reli-gionize" it; transcend the ego and are "impersonal-end motivated," "impersonally motivated"; have a "transcendent kind of objectivity," and thus "see reality better"; transcend deciding, choosing, planning, and being an agent; let the cosmos, from which they are no longer different, decide and the current take them; aren't preoccupied with their own uniqueness; are beyond healthy selfishness and extreme indi-vidualness; and see the "ought" with complete clarity: "right is right and wrong is wrong"


That's why I think the model I suggested is in accordance with the general thrust of his thinking, although I'm not saying he advocated that particular version of it. Nor do I think there is an ultimate separation between the domains of religion and psychology, although obviously there are secular schools of psychology, and styles of religiosity that are not particularly psychologically oriented. However of all the religious and spiritual traditions, I would be inclined to say that Buddhism has the most acute understanding of the intersection of psychology and spirituality.
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Re: Enlightenment and Insanity

Postby smcj » Sun Sep 01, 2013 7:38 am

Without the ability to love, one will simply refocuses one's energy on higher things (from a Cognitive Science or indeed Nietzschean POV) like gaining power over others, with little distraction.

For starters, the teachings on Buddha Nature say that we all have the qualities of a buddha in us, including love. A sociopath has taken that fundamental love and perverted it into self-love, or self-cherishing as the texts are translated. It is still love, only twisted into an expression of evil.

I find odd the idea that this lack of the ability to give love allows one to focus one's energy on "higher things." Higher things, like "gaining power over others"? Really?

Bodhisattvas are motivated by nothing but love, are never influenced by the 8 worldly dharmas (money, sex, power, & prestige or the lack thereof=x2), and are extremely focused. So the ability to love is definitely compatible with focusing on higher things.

Whatever negative karma may be generated for future lives would be partly offset by developing one's potential and (with it) fulfilment to a higher level with more ease -and therefore more often- than is 'normal', and in many cases ending up contributing more to society. {Since the intention to benefit others is completely lacking, I guess this constitutes neutral or even negative karma, though In a rational universe this would clearly not be the case}

For some weird reason I think you're modeling this after Steve Jobs. He wasn't a sociopath, although he did have the reputation be sometimes being a prick.
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Re: Enlightenment and Insanity

Postby Indrajala » Sun Sep 01, 2013 5:38 pm

jeeprs wrote: It is characterised by wandering religious mendicants who often appear completely mad but who also have some special grace or light about them. So none of this is clear cut, but I still think the bell-curve model has some relevance.


This is actually a celebrated character type in a lot of Buddhist literature.

Linji comes to mind.

When you see how bound one is by social conventions and how this limits your ability to aid others, as a bodhisattva you might make the strategic decision to simply do away with a lot of expectations. You would never harm others intentionally, though you'd still come across as eccentric if not insane by a lot of people.

If you stop and consider how ordinary human culture is saṃsāric, then someone liberated either partially or fully might not behave according to saṃsāric expectations. Remember the natural order of things is saṃsāra. You have to go against the current rather than being swept up in it.

At another level that is likely illustrated by going against the social current.
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Re: Enlightenment and Insanity

Postby oushi » Sun Sep 01, 2013 5:51 pm

Culture is not your friend ;) .
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Re: Enlightenment and Insanity

Postby undefineable » Sun Sep 01, 2013 6:35 pm

dharmagoat wrote: This division into groups within a society and ranking them in terms of their inferiority vs. superiority needs to be avoided, especially among those proclaiming to be Buddhist.

There really is no need to think in these terms.
Though not because those terms are untrue. Historically, however, it's clear that those who believe themselves to be superior tend to exploit and persecute those they believe to be inferior, while those who believe themselves to be inferior tend to abuse themselves and others while taking out their resentment on those they see as superior, so there's atleast a utilitarian case for an alternative perspective.

In terms of the actual truth, then, from a relative theoretical point of view, any being is either inferior or superior (and not both or neither etc.) to any other being because each configuration of skandhas is just a mechanism that is either simpler or more complex, less developed or more developed, less effective or more effective, less adapted or more adapted. From an ultimate point of view, cockroaches, saints, sociopaths and Buddhas are all equal, because they are all instances of the natural actualisation of the infinite space of possibility that we call emptiness, however partial that actualisation may appear conventionally.
jeeprs wrote: Hey it isn't an attempt to 'rank individuals' at all. It is more an attempt to create a model which accounts for the disparities between different levels and types of consciousness. As to whether society has improved in regards to this question, it seems to me that understanding and dealing with mental health issues is still an enormous problem in affluent societies.
Most attempts to rank individuals either ignored or reversed the relationship between rank and levels of consciousness. I never heard of Hitler encouraging sensitivity among his followers - quite the reverse in fact!

Mental health issues may be related to the scope that conditions allow for consciousness to 'come into its own' (rather than being clouded by drudgery), but without a sense of permanent Self to enhance and protect as conditions became more amenable to it, would there be any sense in developing mental illness? :idea:
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Re: Enlightenment and Insanity

Postby undefineable » Sun Sep 01, 2013 6:58 pm

Indrajala wrote: When you see how bound one is by social conventions and how this limits your ability to aid others, as a bodhisattva you might make the strategic decision to simply do away with a lot of expectations. You would never harm others intentionally, though you'd still come across as eccentric if not insane by a lot of people.
Well social convention is the context within which people help and are of use to one another, so surely this wouldn't need to happen often-?
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Re: Enlightenment and Insanity

Postby smcj » Sun Sep 01, 2013 7:41 pm

...it's clear that those who believe themselves to be superior tend to exploit and persecute those they believe to be inferior, while those who believe themselves to be inferior tend to abuse themselves and others while taking out their resentment on those they see as superior...

If I were to assess the world around on the terms that I personally can see, I'd say that; might makes right, nice guys finish last, and no good deed goes unpunished. However Sakyamuni saw things a bit differently, seeing the role of karma over the long term, beyond my horizons.

If I were to continue to see things according to my mundane understanding, the world appears as a cold, brutal, meaningless place. That would make me someone that has concluded that I must be in conflict with the world, that I must then somehow make the world 'right' on the terms of my own impulses, and live a life so disposed. It is living life in a fundamentally frightened posture.

But, by extending myself to give credibility to Sakyamuni's understanding, I still see the same newspaper headlines, only now I see it as the appearance of negative karma ripening and live my life with the aspiration to not create negative karma.

...so there's at least a utilitarian case for an alternative perspective.

The teachings on Buddha Nature specifically address the problem of the arrogant, where he is told that we are essentially all equal. It also addresses the problem of the crippled, where he is told that his essence is as noble and fine as Sakyamuni's. If the teachings on Buddha Nature and karma are correct, then the mundane perception is nothing other than a serious error that helps perpetuate the problem, and is not reflective of the essential reality and truth at all.
Last edited by smcj on Sun Sep 01, 2013 7:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Enlightenment and Insanity

Postby smcj » Sun Sep 01, 2013 7:48 pm

undefineable wrote:
Indrajala wrote: When you see how bound one is by social conventions and how this limits your ability to aid others, as a bodhisattva you might make the strategic decision to simply do away with a lot of expectations. You would never harm others intentionally, though you'd still come across as eccentric if not insane by a lot of people.
Well social convention is the context within which people help and are of use to one another, so surely this wouldn't need to happen often-?

It happens often enough to be a well established theme in Dharma.

But that assumes that the someone is a bodhisattva, and how often does that happen?
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Re: Enlightenment and Insanity

Postby Wayfarer » Sun Sep 01, 2013 9:19 pm

smcj wrote:The teachings on Buddha Nature specifically address the problem of the arrogant, where he is told that we are essentially all equal


'The sage sees all as being equal'.

However, he is exceptional in that regard. :smile:
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Re: Enlightenment and Insanity

Postby smcj » Sun Sep 01, 2013 9:27 pm

jeeprs wrote:
smcj wrote:The teachings on Buddha Nature specifically address the problem of the arrogant, where he is told that we are essentially all equal


'The sage sees all as being equal'.

However, he is exceptional in that regard. :smile:

Statistically exceptional, yes. But ultimately correct.
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Re: Enlightenment and Insanity

Postby dharmagoat » Sun Sep 01, 2013 10:34 pm

jeeprs wrote:'The sage sees all as being equal'.

However, he is exceptional in that regard. :smile:

He is seen by others to be exceptional.

The sages exceptionality is a quality perceived by others. The sage himself would have chosen not to see it that way.
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Re: Enlightenment and Insanity

Postby undefineable » Sun Sep 01, 2013 10:40 pm

smcj wrote: If I were to continue to see things according to my mundane understanding, the world appears as a cold, brutal, meaningless place. That would make me someone that has concluded that I must be in conflict with the world, that I must then somehow make the world 'right' on the terms of my own impulses, and live a life so disposed.
I think the issue with the sociopaths the thread detoured around earlier is that they remain trapped in the "mummy's big strong boy" stage that most of us (ladies presumably included) pass through as small children, and develop towards taking it seriously as the final truth about themselves. This explains over-confidence in general, and also explains in part why many atheists take all the quoted passage as self-evident, and yet do not end up:
smcj wrote: living life in a fundamentally frightened posture.
. In other words, there is the delusion that one can permanently control the outside world as far as is necessary for the satisfaction of ego.
smcj wrote: If the teachings on Buddha Nature and karma are correct, then the mundane perception is nothing other than a serious error that helps perpetuate the problem, and is not reflective of the essential reality and truth at all.
I hope I've just explained why 'mundane perception' in this context can be satisfiying enough for the right people. As to its 'correctness', look up 'Two Truths' -Relative/Conventional and Ultimate- for a Buddhist perspective that shows that both the ordinary and extraordinary perspectives (or whatever you prefer to call them) are equally valid.
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Re: Enlightenment and Insanity

Postby dharmagoat » Sun Sep 01, 2013 10:52 pm

undefineable wrote:I hope I've just explained why 'mundane perception' in this context can be satisfiying enough for the right people. As to its 'correctness', look up 'Two Truths' -Relative/Conventional and Ultimate- for a Buddhist perspective that shows that both the ordinary and extraordinary perspectives (or whatever you prefer to call them) are equally valid.

I would explain it like this:

Reality can be perceived from many different vantage points, no one view can apprehend reality in its entirety.
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Re: Enlightenment and Insanity

Postby Wayfarer » Sun Sep 01, 2013 11:56 pm

Well, how are you in a position to say that? I think it is exactly what the Buddha's enlightenment entails, which is why one of the honorifics of a Buddha is lokavidu 'knower of worlds' or 'knower of the cosmos'. In the parable of the blind men and the elephant, I have always assumed that the implication was that the Buddha (Awakened One) sees the elephant whilst the blind men (putthajana) do not.


Shel wrote:I don't know where you got this graphic from or how it relates to Maslow's hierarchy but sociopaths are normal and socialized, in the sense that they are all but undetectable in society. Their needs are not normal of course, there are apparently gaps in some areas, but they span the length of Maslow's heirchy.


I beg to differ. In this model if they are 'sociopathic' they are on the left of the bellcurve. Moving towards the right is also realizing ever-higher degrees of integration. That is reflected in the observation that exceptional humans are 'people of integrity'. 'Integrity' is 'functioning as a whole'. It is significant that one of the common manifestations of delusional disorders is 'hearing voices' which are perceived by the subject as belonging to some other being or force but actually come from within themselves.

Anyway, the broader point is that in liberal societies 'normal' is 'normative'. Sure sociopaths can perform in society, I wouldn't be surprised if many run Wall Street banks, but in the context of this discussion there is something 'beyond normal', in other words something which can't be defined or assessed in terms of the 'consensus reality' that we 'normally' inhabit.
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Re: Enlightenment and Insanity

Postby shel » Mon Sep 02, 2013 12:01 am

Indrajala wrote:
jeeprs wrote: It is characterised by wandering religious mendicants who often appear completely mad but who also have some special grace or light about them. So none of this is clear cut, but I still think the bell-curve model has some relevance.


This is actually a celebrated character type in a lot of Buddhist literature.

Linji comes to mind.

When you see how bound one is by social conventions and how this limits your ability to aid others, as a bodhisattva you might make the strategic decision to simply do away with a lot of expectations. You would never harm others intentionally, though you'd still come across as eccentric if not insane by a lot of people.

If you stop and consider how ordinary human culture is saṃsāric, then someone liberated either partially or fully might not behave according to saṃsāric expectations. Remember the natural order of things is saṃsāra. You have to go against the current rather than being swept up in it.

At another level that is likely illustrated by going against the social current.


You mean like killing the Buddha in the street? That would certainly be considered insane by standard social convention. However Linji did not actually kill the Buddha. I point this out because I'm curious about what actual insane enlightened behavior could be. Does anyone have any real examples?
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