Hi all; glad to stumble upon a 'replacement' for e-sangha and interested to more or less pick up where (I think) I left off as an 'asperger' buddhist!
Seb, I take it you're also an 'aspie'. Asperger's is problematic if your personality traits -particularly your interests- clashes with your AS - If you're naturally drawn to knowledge and technical pursuits that don't depend on understanding others, then AS needn't be a problem once you learn how to avoid upsetting people. If you're a more of a self-contradictory personality whose natural focus is on people and their actions and/or feelings, then of course Asperger's presents a barrier, just as many other more 'normal' conditions such as bipolar depression do.We aspies do mature, which means feelings of "I'm supposed to (do x)" tend to have taken a back seat by my age (30s).
For me, autism has spiritual significance as a kind of inversion of enlightenment - solid/rigid nothingness (the 'poison of shunyata'?) as opposed to spacious emptiness; it can also be summed up by the concept of removing most subconscious parallel processing from a mind of human capacity. Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche had a severly autistic son, Taggie (read about his progress at http://taggiemukpo.org
), and although my ego is no longer overblown enough to imagine a connection beyond that family, Trungpa's descriptions of Vajra Hell sound remarkably like descriptions of autism, though (Daelm
) there are many angles from which one could experience such a state, and many ways one could feel it. It also makes more sense to see the results of the karma of previous lives in such conditions than in any random events.
Ofcourse, autism also wouldn't be autism if it were typical. Whether or not that's conceivable, autistics in this world have to face their fundmental isolation and separation from the sentient beings around them in one way or another; whether or not they fully feel (and learn to love) the cold, harsh gale of this karmic condition is another matter.
I don't expect to find enlightenment in my giving up all effort to deal with my autism (along with my life in general) any more than I expect to find a solid moon in a pond, as the old image has it. My apologies, angelicfruitcake, if this is not what you meant.
The clincher seems to be:
"Normal" may be in the eye of the observer, but being without cognitive independence is not just a matter of opinion.
as you put it, PadmaVonSamba - We're led to understand that enlightenment involves freedom of thought (as well as freedom from thought!) whereas the thoughts of animals and so on depend on instinct alone; why is thought more free if it is inspired by brain structure than if inspired by other beings?
Let's not forget that in Western culture atleast, it's almost impossible to conceive of human beings who are NOT self-created, no matter how much (as buddhists or scientists) we know the reverse -that we are not identical with our conventional selves- to be true. Autistics are tacitly seen, especially by themselves, as choosing their condition -the 'path less travelled by'- because most people 'grow into' the mechanical self that old karmas have passed onto their mindstream, and then spend the rest of their lives convincing themselves and the world that they were in some vague sense already that way before they were substantially that way - We instinctively believe that we created ourselves out of ourselves!