Autism

Alleviating worldly suffering along the way.
Angelic Fruitcake
Posts: 32
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Re: Autism

Postby Angelic Fruitcake » Sat Feb 04, 2012 3:29 pm

I will bow out of this discussion now, as it stirs too much negativity in me. Thank you for your input. :namaste:

undefineable
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Re: Autism

Postby undefineable » Sat Feb 04, 2012 4:48 pm

Angelic Fruitcake wrote:I call myself autistic as I do not consider my autistic features separate from myself any more than the color of my skin or eyes. I may say I'm white or I'm a person with white skin. Granted, my personality may be easier to start working with than my skin color, but nonetheless.

Actually, the background to my use of the word autistic comes from trying to use my words to work against a particular type of opinion, represented among others by Autism Speaks. They insist on saying their children have autism rather than are autistic, because they consider autism almost a monster or a demon that has overtaken their loved one. Me and many others take offense to that and want to emphasize that this is not our experience. It seems especially important since many of these children cannot speak for themselves and I think it's seriously detrimental to grow up with parents who think you have a demon inside you.


I think you may have misunderstood what myself and Padma were saying - Yes, autism is something basic within humanity, the same way as gender, or other conditions such as sociopathy. But by the Mahayana level of Buddhism (which I'll not reach in this lifetime by the way), it's said that the practicing Buddhist intuits directly that all beings -all things even- are without a fundamantal identity, autistic, human, or whatever else.

The 'Autism Speaks' video, I imagine, comes from the place of the shock that any being is likely to feel when it has given birth to another being whose behaviours bear no relation whatsoever with its own behaviours, or even with the surrounding physical world. He or she is likely to look desperately for the underlying commonalities that must be present in a being of the same species, which as Buddhists we can agree are probably, in some sense and at the very least, identitylessness related to subconscious clinging (to the illusion of some kind of ego) alongside dukkha with its attendant desire for happiness.
"Removing the barrier between this and that is the only solution" {Chogyam Trungpa - "The Lion's Roar"}

Seishin
Former staff member
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Re:

Postby Seishin » Sat Feb 04, 2012 6:59 pm

undefineable wrote:.....
Sorry, I didn't explain that right (I'm dislexic). In the west we think of karma as the out come but it's not. The out come is the fruit of karma, therefore all action, thoughts and deeds bare karma, but not everything that happens to us is the result of karma. Does that make sense?

undefineable
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Re: Re:

Postby undefineable » Sun Feb 05, 2012 6:39 pm

Seishin wrote:
undefineable wrote:.....
Sorry, I didn't explain that right (I'm dislexic). In the west we think of karma as the out come but it's not. The out come is the fruit of karma, therefore all action, thoughts and deeds bare karma, but not everything that happens to us is the result of karma. Does that make sense?


Yes, but in this age of scientific knowledge we can atleast hazard a guess as to what is more likely to be determined by the karma of past lives and what is less likely. Accidents and so on are determined by external events later in life, but autism and other conditions of birth are proven to be present from soon after conception and to have strong genetic and epigenetic causes, so are more likely to be determined by the karma of past lives - almost as much as any other rebirth. Notice that we don't have to rewrite any major field of scientific knowledge to admit this, as we would if we were to assert that ALL events that affect beings are the result of their karma.

Likewise, if we agree with PadmaVonSamba that the effects of karma are so limited as to be carried solely within an immaterial decision-maker that wills emotional responses to experience independently of brain structure and function(chemistry), we contradict the findings of neuroscience and 'fall' (as some teachers might say) into Cartesian dualism. {I could provide references, but it's not hard to find research findings that show, for example, that emotional habits are correlated with physical processes as much as thought patterns etc..}

However, it could still be the case that karmas could be 'burned off' by events in later life_
"Removing the barrier between this and that is the only solution" {Chogyam Trungpa - "The Lion's Roar"}

undefineable
Posts: 500
Joined: Fri Feb 03, 2012 12:34 am

Re: Autism

Postby undefineable » Sun Feb 05, 2012 9:18 pm

Angelic Fruitcake wrote:I will bow out of this discussion now, as it stirs too much negativity in me. Thank you for your input. :namaste:


Sorry I didn't realise she'd left when I wrote my last-but-one post! I hope she returns and finds some relief or perspective, though I feel a bit freeer to speak my mind now that that her feelings aren't in danger, so to speak :thinking:

As far as your recent posts go, PadmaVonSamba, I think you (and me as well) were losing sight of the well-known and easily-referenced Buddhist maxim that there is no self apart from the skandhas (mental aggregates).

I supect that few in the days of the classical Buddhist philosophers imagined that a society would be as spiritually backward as to assert, as modern western cultures do, that the aggregates -alone- provide an 'ontologically' adequate account for our sense of self, as if a coin could have only one side. However, we are given "The Inside doesn't matter" (a quote from Brett Easton Ellis's American Psycho) as our motto, and as much as we may privately notice that what we feel to be our subjective perspective is something fundamentally different to -yet completely intertwined with and inseparable from- the day-to-day material of our consious and unconscious mind, this is perverse in a relative sense, as this is alomst taboo in our cultures: We are told, ironically often by scientists and 'scientism-ists' who are diagnosed or self-diagnosed as autistic, that since such things cannot be proven empirically and mathematically, that they simply 'are not', even when they are staring them in the face. Buddhism, on the other hand -like the "Occam's Razor" so beloved by scientists (which is ironic given the fact that Occam himself was a medieval Christian monk!)- offers, in the case of subjectivity, an explanation that asserts no more and no less than is needed to address the phenomenon - i.e. that conscious awareness does exist, but doesn't need any basis such as a soul to exist on the back of. {It doesn't have to be -as the joke goes- 'turtles all the way down', and the sense of fuzziness I glean from my (autistic) layman's impression of quantum mechanics suggests that the same holds true for Matter.}

On the other hand, autistics self-evidently are intrinsically different to other humans in this Buddhist analysis, and 'neurodiversity' (as an idea need) not assert that there is no actual neurodiversity between 'neurotypicals' (usually defined as non-autistics, presumeably including the childhood foundations though not the present experience of schizophrenics and other psychotics). My analogy of stars around the edge of the galaxy holds - there's just a lesser degree of similarity out there if you're autistic, and the only real commonality is the space you're in (samsara), though in my more grandiosely-depressed moments I even doubt this. {Maybe autistics are some of the beings Sogyal Rinpoche refers to as having got 'stuck in the bardo' in his 'Tibetan Book of Living and Dying'-?}

So, as far as whatever substance your son may have as a human being goes, you don't appear to love him, given your demonstrably false impression that there is an immaterial 'normal' person beneath and separate from his autism, if that is indeed something you meant or felt. There's no shame in this - Another easy piece of internet research is finding that buddhist teachings have listed 'being universally disliked' or some such as an effect of negative karma in future lifetimes, therefore there is probably nothing you can do about this that doesn't involve the fruits of dharma practice. I read elsewhere an account by the father of an autistic child who -being a professor of management (and therefore at the furthest possible psychological distance from a state of being that excludes the details of our world's social infrastructure)- couldn't help but admit to being unable to love his son until he managed to find such an outcome.

In other words, the more fortunate your rebirth within the human realm, the less you will be able to sympathise with human beings (assuming autistics are human beings, which is clearly debatable from the standpoint of a western cultural outlook at the very least) with a less fortunate rebirth. The severest possible autism (before cot death ensues -as with alzheimer's- as the consequence of being unable to remember or even to work out how to breathe) seems from all accounts to exclude almost everything of what we (who are not severly autistic) define as our world, leaving only a procession of altered states of consciousness inspred by, but functionally unrelated to, the minimal ouside stimuli that are presented to consciousness. The mind takes in only "tikles" of light (in the terms of the Bardo Thodol) from the eyes, and only "mantras" ("pure sounds") without associated meanings) from the ears, but with out a broad experience of samsara (i.e. the human realm) and the first three yanas behind such a being, there is no significance to these most basic of experiences beyond the sense of a buzzing nexus in the void that they imply. Thoughts, moreover, may all be (I've heard) as limited as the association of a particular colour with a particular emotion. There is no connection with the human world, and therefore no person in the modern westen sense; other people may or may not be deduced to exist on the basis of "if it looks like a duck_ _"; all in all, autism looks like Nature or God showing off, saying "look what a difference I can make just by making a minor tweak in the womb".

At the same time, I've noticed that even the most severly-affected autistics possess a personality, so they are people in that sense, albeit completely defenceless and lacking in the personal power that comes from a clear perception of the outside world (perception being, in this case, the instinctive interpretational processing which I've made clear is missing to some extent in all autistics); there's simply nothing 'to them' in a substantial sense - If human beings possess the illusion of self-hood, when they apprehend autistics, even the illusion has no basis and is flung aside to reveal the nothingness that is, according to Buddhism, the root of the fear that creates ego.
"Removing the barrier between this and that is the only solution" {Chogyam Trungpa - "The Lion's Roar"}

PadmaVonSamba
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Re: Autism

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Sun Feb 05, 2012 10:21 pm

undefineable wrote:So, as far as whatever substance your son may have as a human being goes, you don't appear to love him, given your demonstrably false impression that there is an immaterial 'normal' person beneath and separate from his autism, if that is indeed something you meant or felt. There's no shame in this


That is totally bizarre, and insulting assumption. wow! But you did use the word "appear", so perhaps we will agree that the mistake lies in your perceptions. My son has autism. He is disabled by it. There are reasons why his the neuropathways in his brain do not function properly and as a result he has a lot of problems and difficulties. If the neurological situations did not occur, he would not have these problems and difficulties. There are a lot of them. Do you want me to tell you about them in great detail?

So yes, he would be typical otherwise. This does not mean I am asserting an intrinsic 'self' or atma.

Where you come up with the 'don't love him" or 'shame" business is anybody's guess.

If you want to believe that a separate subspecies of humans, 'autistics' , roam among us, that is your zombie fantasy. But there is nothing in science or in dharma to support such an absurd proposition.
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Profile Picture: "The Foaming Monk"
The Chinese characters are Fo (buddha) and Ming (bright). The image is of a student of Buddhism, who, imagining himself to be a monk, and not understanding the true meaning of the words takes the sound of the words literally. Likewise, People on web forums sometime seem to be foaming at the mouth.
Original painting by P.Volker /used by permission.

PadmaVonSamba
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Re: Autism

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Sun Feb 05, 2012 11:55 pm

Perhaps it might be helpful if I clarify what I mean by 'disability' in the context of autism by providing some real-life examples:

1. Suppose it is almost lunch time, and you have had a busy morning and you are really hungry. The signal that goes from your stomach to your brain, telling you that you need food, gets derailed and instead of getting food, you get your favorite stack of magazines, the ones you read and re-read every day, and you walk around with them in a panic because you are hungry, and when somebody tries to help you calm down so you can eat something, you start hitting them and have an emotional meltdown, and you are now not just hungry, but miserable and crying and frustrated.

2. Your big dream as a child is to go to New York City and see The Lion King on Broadway. The problem is, you live far away from New York, and you can't go into any bathroom except the one in your house, even though you wish you could. When you do travel, you would rather "hold it" for 2 days, or longer, and be in total agony, until you finally can't hold it any longer and you soil your pants.

3. You go to the store with a friend, and while walking carefully through the parking lot, you see school bus far away in the distance. Being completely obsessed with school buses, you suddenly dart off in that direction, running directly in front of a moving car and almost getting hit.

4. When you were one and a half years old you could read full sentences. At age 15, you can still read sentences. You can read a whole story, but you have absolutely no idea what the story is about.

These are the types of things that are disabilities. They are all examples of suffering. They disable people. Parents of kids with these kinds of disabilities worry about how their kids will survive when they are no longer there to watch out for them. Will they end up in an an abusive institution? What parent who loves their son or daughter wouldn't want to see this disability cured?

Some of the same things, these atypical brain connections that cause severe disabilities in many children may also cause challenges for other people, but those other people are still cognitively independent. They can post a coherent argument on Dharma Wheel. They can tell you "I will bow out of this discussion now, as it stirs too much negativity in me. Thank you for your input" . People who are disabled by this condition cannot do that.

If my son is obsessed with The Lion King, or with school buses that's fine. That isn't the issue. More power to him. Everyone is attached to things that have made a strong, positive imprint on the mind. That is basic Dharma 101! So in that respect, the mind of a person without autism and a person with autism is the same. The idea then, that some people are specifically "autistics" , like saying that monks are "monastics" merely describes a variation of the same subject (person). A monk isn't intrinsically any different from a layperson, and a person with autism isn't intrinsically different from a person without autism. Without ordination and robes, a monk would be a layperson and without "autistic" brain development, a person with autism would not be "autistic".

I am very interested in how Dharma teachings about the nature of the mind can relate to the understanding and helping of people with autism. I would also love it if people who have a similar condition, who know "from the inside" ways to cut through the disability of autism could share that instead of denying that a disability even exists.
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Profile Picture: "The Foaming Monk"
The Chinese characters are Fo (buddha) and Ming (bright). The image is of a student of Buddhism, who, imagining himself to be a monk, and not understanding the true meaning of the words takes the sound of the words literally. Likewise, People on web forums sometime seem to be foaming at the mouth.
Original painting by P.Volker /used by permission.

undefineable
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Re: Autism

Postby undefineable » Mon Feb 06, 2012 12:47 am

PadmaVonSamba wrote:
undefineable wrote:So, as far as whatever substance your son may have as a human being goes, you don't appear to love him, given your demonstrably false impression that there is an immaterial 'normal' person beneath and separate from his autism, if that is indeed something you meant or felt. There's no shame in this


That is totally bizarre, and insulting assumption. wow! But you did use the word "appear", so perhaps we will agree that the mistake lies in your perceptions. My son has autism. He is disabled by it. There are reasons why his the neuropathways in his brain do not function properly and as a result he has a lot of problems and difficulties. If the neurological situations did not occur, he would not have these problems and difficulties. There are a lot of them. Do you want me to tell you about them in great detail?

So yes, he would be typical otherwise. This does not mean I am asserting an intrinsic 'self' or atma.

Where you come up with the 'don't love him" or 'shame" business is anybody's guess.

If you want to believe that a separate subspecies of humans, 'autistics' , roam among us, that is your zombie fantasy. But there is nothing in science or in dharma to support such an absurd proposition.


I'm glad you don't think we're zombies and I want to believe what you're saying, but the fact that we autistics are self-evidently 'not all there' -the fact that there's not so much to a severely autistic person that anyone can put their finger on- raises the question of what there is to love about an autistic person in an overarching culture within which people describe active, expressed qualities in others -even blood relations- as the reasons why they love them. Come to that, I hope you've read enough between my lines to realise I don't believe there's much to hate in an autistic person either, given that we normally act without realising the full implications and consequences of what we're doing. {To my mind, hating autism would be a bit like hating the missing arm of an amputee!} as far as insults go, one could well say 'pot and kettle' given what AngelicFruitcake ended up saying and doing, which I supsect have been based on a mistaken impression on her part that you hate your own son and are in denial about that.

However, I do feel where you're coming from, and realised when I wrote what I wrote that you almost certainly do love your son. Severly autistic people, as I hinted, do seem to have human personalities, normal ones at that, as I've been working with them for the last 2 and a half years - It's as if their personalities had been translated from their region's native language into an unrelated foreign one_

I believe, as most people of all stripes may well intuit, that parental love is unconditional when it functions normally, being based on what Buddha called the Unconditioned - the 'non-self' capacity all minds have to take on any shape, and the potenial mental energy that reaches the same (human) level in autistics as in non-autistics. {One teacher whose words I recently read also made an analogy between a varying quantity of water -poured from containers of various sizes into one another- and Mind, because water is always simply water.} A severly autistic man would not, ofcourse, be loveable as a partner, because romantic/sexual love is based on the appearance and substance -basically the 'mechanics'- of what one is in the world, atleast at the stage of choosing a partner.

I can't remember what I said about 'shame', but you ought to reflect on the shame autistic people feel when we realise what a burden we've been on our parents, albeit without meaning to be, and also the shame -in another sense- that we feel when we realise that a person, in the usual European Enlightenment/Romantic sense of personhood that I've pointed out, simply hasn't developed (as themselves), and all because of an accident of conception. I've observed that non-autistic people define themselves -reflexively- according to how they react to other people's definitions of themselves, in an endlessly spiralling circle that lacks foundation, but which has been built up so much as to dwarf the physical world in the minds of modern people, including me. {It's even more complex and so much more interesting!} Autistics can't even claim that definition for ourselves; we are left, in Freudian (rather than Buddhist) terms, with only id and maybe super-ego, but no means of developing ego.

What you said about 'neurological situations' holds, given what we know. If this could be proven, I wonder if it would also prove much about the nature of shunyata -atleast in the sense of the equivalence of beings- rather than proving the existence of atman, since a minor chemical alteration in the womb -it is currently believed- makes all the difference between ending up with one self to be (an autistic one in this case) and a completely different, normal one. Again, there is no Self apart from the skandhas, which in this case means the meantal consequences of brain structure and function.

I want to learn here; if you can demonstrate how autistics are fully part of humanity, I'll be happy to shout about it - Metaphorically ofcourse!

P.s. Anther misunderstanding AngelicFruitcake may have had about your words: In the fields of Social Work and social care, 'Self-Advocacy' refers to service users explaining for themselves the kind of care they feel they need or don't need. You may realise that, but AngelicFruitcake may not have realised that you were actually playing on words wryly, acknowledging that Self-Advocates are likely to be Self-Advocates in the ultimate, as well as the relative, sense!
"Removing the barrier between this and that is the only solution" {Chogyam Trungpa - "The Lion's Roar"}

undefineable
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Re: Autism

Postby undefineable » Mon Feb 06, 2012 1:17 am

PadmaVonSamba wrote:Perhaps it might be helpful if I clarify what I mean by 'disability' in the context of autism by providing some real-life examples: _ _


You're preaching to the choir here ofcourse; never underestimate the tendency of sentient beings to deny their own suffering. Also, bear in mind that those autistics who assert thgat they have nothing in common with 'normals' are really just regurgitating what has been rammed down their throats throughout their formative years and re-presenting it as a positive.

PadmaVonSamba wrote:These are the types of things that are disabilities. They are all examples of suffering. They disable people. Parents of kids with these kinds of disabilities worry about how their kids will survive when they are no longer there to watch out for them. Will they end up in an an abusive institution? What parent who loves their son or daughter wouldn't want to see this disability cured?

Some of the same things, these atypical brain connections that cause severe disabilities in many children may also cause challenges for other people, but those other people are still cognitively independent. They can post a coherent argument on Dharma Wheel. They can tell you "I will bow out of this discussion now, as it stirs too much negativity in me. Thank you for your input" . People who are disabled by this condition cannot do that.

If my son is obsessed with The Lion King, or with school buses that's fine. That isn't the issue. More power to him. Everyone is attached to things that have made a strong, positive imprint on the mind. That is basic Dharma 101! So in that respect, the mind of a person without autism and a person with autism is the same. The idea then, that some people are specifically "autistics" , like saying that monks are "monastics" merely describes a variation of the same subject (person). A monk isn't intrinsically any different from a layperson, and a person with autism isn't intrinsically different from a person without autism. Without ordination and robes, a monk would be a layperson and without "autistic" brain development, a person with autism would not be "autistic".

I am very interested in how Dharma teachings about the nature of the mind can relate to the understanding and helping of people with autism. I would also love it if people who have a similar condition, who know "from the inside" ways to cut through the disability of autism could share that instead of denying that a disability even exists.


:bow: I hope I'm such a person, but please realise that cutting through one's own autism in this day and age tends to involve a lot of aggression against your current state of being, which in the teachings is presented as THE cause for re-birth in Hell. If I can use my severe negative karma to help beings, though, I will try to.

I'm cautious, though, about the idea of curing an entire sub-class of being without recourse to the dharma - Your comparison of 'autistics and 'monastics' can be stretched to apply to the Six Realms, i.e. if the same subject (sentient being) is in the bardo and almost gets re-born in a human womb, but then doesn't (because the zygote doesn't survive for whatever reason), is it then the same being if it is then re-born successfully as a chimpanzee because of the similar karmic patterning involved? At the mahayana level, surely the answer is 'no'.

I had ruled out kids for obvious reasons of preventing unnecessary suffering, but -given my long-term relationship with a girl who'se decided on kids but who is clearly asperger's as well as dyspraxic (but who denies the undiagnosed autism)- I've wrestled with the possibility that if we prevent autism, those bardo beings with the relevant karma will merely be re-born as autistics in poorer regions and on poorer planets.
"Removing the barrier between this and that is the only solution" {Chogyam Trungpa - "The Lion's Roar"}

PadmaVonSamba
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Re: Autism

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Mon Feb 06, 2012 1:41 am

undefineable wrote: if you can demonstrate how autistics are fully part of humanity, I'll be happy to shout about it - Metaphorically ofcourse!


Well, autism is often referred to as a "spectrum disorder" meaning that out of a random group of people who have been clinically diagnosed as having autism (and I don't like the terms "high functioning"/"low functioning") there is a wide range of difference both in terms of disability and in the types of behaviors or traits.

At the same time, you never hear people refer to a "normal" spectrum. My son likes Harry Potter, french fries, Super Mario Brothers, basketball, so he is also all over the "normal" spectrum---except of course, for the fact that a "normal spectrum" doesn't exist!

People with autism have the same desire to have happiness and the causes of happiness, and to be free from suffering and the causes of suffering, to have peace of mind, the same as people without autism. From a buddhist standpoint, these are pretty much the only qualifications one needs to be fully part of humanity. These are all aspects of the "normal" spectrum.
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Profile Picture: "The Foaming Monk"
The Chinese characters are Fo (buddha) and Ming (bright). The image is of a student of Buddhism, who, imagining himself to be a monk, and not understanding the true meaning of the words takes the sound of the words literally. Likewise, People on web forums sometime seem to be foaming at the mouth.
Original painting by P.Volker /used by permission.

Seishin
Former staff member
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Re: Re:

Postby Seishin » Mon Feb 06, 2012 9:05 am

undefineable wrote:Yes, but in this age of scientific knowledge we can atleast hazard a guess as to what is more likely to be determined by the karma of past lives and what is less likely.....


In that case, we are going off topic. I'm not interested in trying to juggle science and karma and try to relate/justify one with the other. I've been down that route and it just gave me a short temper... so I too shall bow out. :namaste:

undefineable
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Re: Autism

Postby undefineable » Mon Feb 06, 2012 4:35 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote:
undefineable wrote: if you can demonstrate how autistics are fully part of humanity, I'll be happy to shout about it - Metaphorically ofcourse!


Well, autism is often referred to as a "spectrum disorder" meaning that out of a random group of people who have been clinically diagnosed as having autism (and I don't like the terms "high functioning"/"low functioning") there is a wide range of difference both in terms of disability and in the types of behaviors or traits.

At the same time, you never hear people refer to a "normal" spectrum. My son likes Harry Potter, french fries, Super Mario Brothers, basketball, so he is also all over the "normal" spectrum---except of course, for the fact that a "normal spectrum" doesn't exist!

People with autism have the same desire to have happiness and the causes of happiness, and to be free from suffering and the causes of suffering, to have peace of mind, the same as people without autism. From a buddhist standpoint, these are pretty much the only qualifications one needs to be fully part of humanity. These are all aspects of the "normal" spectrum.


Well you've shown that autistics are sentient beings (not enlightened ones ofcourse!); it's your 1'st paragraph that shows we're human in as much as no other animal likes those things in the way that human children -autistic and normal alike- do.

However, many people only use a 'top-down' definition of human personhood that begins with skills rather than likes, and would accuse Buddhism of negativity because of its focus on the 'weak' aspects of being that centre on our underlying attitude. So it's all a matter of perspective_
Last edited by undefineable on Mon Feb 06, 2012 4:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"Removing the barrier between this and that is the only solution" {Chogyam Trungpa - "The Lion's Roar"}

undefineable
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Re: Re:

Postby undefineable » Mon Feb 06, 2012 4:39 pm

Seishin wrote:
undefineable wrote:Yes, but in this age of scientific knowledge we can atleast hazard a guess as to what is more likely to be determined by the karma of past lives and what is less likely.....


In that case, we are going off topic. I'm not interested in trying to juggle science and karma and try to relate/justify one with the other. I've been down that route and it just gave me a short temper... so I too shall bow out. :namaste:


Well I've been trying atleast to avoid addressing the question of what karma causes what conditions, given what the Buddha said about it leading to insanity!
"Removing the barrier between this and that is the only solution" {Chogyam Trungpa - "The Lion's Roar"}

PadmaVonSamba
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Re: Autism

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Mon Feb 06, 2012 5:48 pm

undefineable wrote:
Well you've shown that autistics are sentient beings


Please give me your definition of what makes a person "an autistic" rather than being a person with autism.
Profile Picture: "The Foaming Monk"
The Chinese characters are Fo (buddha) and Ming (bright). The image is of a student of Buddhism, who, imagining himself to be a monk, and not understanding the true meaning of the words takes the sound of the words literally. Likewise, People on web forums sometime seem to be foaming at the mouth.
Original painting by P.Volker /used by permission.

undefineable
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Joined: Fri Feb 03, 2012 12:34 am

Re: Autism

Postby undefineable » Mon Feb 06, 2012 9:56 pm

Using the western definition of selfhood that I've clarified, as developed in the Euro-American Enlightenment and Romantic eras, autism is something that goes towards defining all of a person, unlike, say eye or skin colour, which only affects a small part of a person's nethermost appendage (the body). That's why autism is still referred to as a 'pervasive development disorder'.

Using the Buddhist definition of selfhood, the best term would be 'sentient being in the human realm' or (for greater precision) 'sentient being near the edge of the human realm'.

Many autistics feel offended by the term 'person with autism', as they feel it expresses denial of what they are in the mechanical sense.
"Removing the barrier between this and that is the only solution" {Chogyam Trungpa - "The Lion's Roar"}

PadmaVonSamba
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Re: Autism

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Tue Feb 07, 2012 1:02 am

undefineable wrote:
Many autistics feel offended by the term 'person with autism', as they feel it expresses denial of what they are in the mechanical sense.


That's interesting, because autism is simply a word that somebody just made up lump together a wide range of atypical brain activity into a single category. It isn't a "thing".

So, I understand what "person with autism" means, because this suggests a condition resulting from a malfunction in brain chemistry. What I wanted to know was, if somebody says "I am an autistic" what does that actually mean?

Do you suppose "many autistics" are offended because the label 'autistic" provides a sense of identity?
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The Chinese characters are Fo (buddha) and Ming (bright). The image is of a student of Buddhism, who, imagining himself to be a monk, and not understanding the true meaning of the words takes the sound of the words literally. Likewise, People on web forums sometime seem to be foaming at the mouth.
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PadmaVonSamba
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Re: Autism

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Tue Feb 07, 2012 1:34 am

So, according to your viewpoint, do "autistics" have a type of brain which should be functioning properly,
but instead is malfunctioning,
or do "autistics" actually have a different type of brain which is in fact functioning properly?
Profile Picture: "The Foaming Monk"
The Chinese characters are Fo (buddha) and Ming (bright). The image is of a student of Buddhism, who, imagining himself to be a monk, and not understanding the true meaning of the words takes the sound of the words literally. Likewise, People on web forums sometime seem to be foaming at the mouth.
Original painting by P.Volker /used by permission.

undefineable
Posts: 500
Joined: Fri Feb 03, 2012 12:34 am

Re: Autism

Postby undefineable » Tue Feb 07, 2012 2:16 am

PadmaVonSamba wrote:
undefineable wrote:
Many autistics feel offended by the term 'person with autism', as they feel it expresses denial of what they are in the mechanical sense.


That's interesting, because autism is simply a word that somebody just made up lump together a wide range of atypical brain activity into a single category. It isn't a "thing".

So, I understand what "person with autism" means, because this suggests a condition resulting from a malfunction in brain chemistry. What I wanted to know was, if somebody says "I am an autistic" what does that actually mean?

Do you suppose "many autistics" are offended because the label 'autistic" provides a sense of identity?


Autism seems to me to be the absence of a thing (or the absence of a 'module' of human functioning), not the thing in itself. An autistic is the being that results from that absence, which means something like having to get off at the 2'nd floor when you'd expected the elevator to go all the way to the penthouse - The 'view' and the environment is different, therefore the experience is different, and -given anatta- this alone is needed to make the resulting being different.

"I am an autistic" means "I am a being forced by my brain to 'be' a creature that can't adequately process social-type information" {Other animals can probably develop autism too!?}. Social-type information forms such a big part of lives and selves that this really does make a difference.

All I know is that some high-functioning autistic people find the lack of labelling irksome, as they'd rather be accepted as themselves and not as someone else's projection of denial. Other identities - "Homosexual"; "cat"; "naga" (another type of being within the human realm according to some Buddhist scriptures) - don't include the word "person" - Why should autism be any different?
Last edited by undefineable on Tue Feb 07, 2012 2:37 am, edited 1 time in total.
"Removing the barrier between this and that is the only solution" {Chogyam Trungpa - "The Lion's Roar"}

undefineable
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Joined: Fri Feb 03, 2012 12:34 am

Re: Autism

Postby undefineable » Tue Feb 07, 2012 2:44 am

PadmaVonSamba wrote:So, according to your viewpoint, do "autistics" have a type of brain which should be functioning properly,
but instead is malfunctioning,
or do "autistics" actually have a different type of brain which is in fact functioning properly?


"Malfunctioning" and "Proper functioning" are terms that can have no meaning in the context of either science or (given the teachings about the ineffability of the effects of negative karma) Buddhadharma. Scientists use such terms purely in order to be understood; Buddhists prefer the terms "skilful" and "unskilful", but from an ultimate point of view, things are as they must be right now - Any alternative to how things are is meaningless until and unless the situation has been steered into it, which can only happen in accordance with all the other situations around it. Given that the brain is by far the most complex object in the known universe, and given that its structure and function can (surely) only be fully shaped by experiences and actions built up before full maturity, the chances of your son being returned to "proper (brain) functioning" really are zero; sorry :consoling:

So "brain which should be functioning properly" and "different type of brain which is _ _ functioning properly" mean the same thing; I can't think of any rational arguments to the contrary :thinking:

{P.s. I know too much about the effects of false hope when the chances of success are unknown or near-zero, so please don't take my comment about your son personally as being either arrogant or insensitive :anjali: }
Last edited by undefineable on Tue Feb 07, 2012 2:55 am, edited 1 time in total.
"Removing the barrier between this and that is the only solution" {Chogyam Trungpa - "The Lion's Roar"}

Qian Zheng Yi
Posts: 116
Joined: Sun Mar 04, 2012 3:57 pm

Re: Autism

Postby Qian Zheng Yi » Fri Mar 23, 2012 9:13 pm

So, I am dating a woman with 2 teenage girls with Aspergers Syndrome. And their mother wants to know how Buddhism would explain this.


I have a son with severe autism and a daughter with aspergers syndrome.

We are all blessed to have each other.

Life is both beautiful and hard no matter what qualities one has.

Why are people born nearsighted? I have no answer as to the 'whys' of what qualities one is born with.

I've never seen autism as a problem - people are all just very different - in different ways - one from another. :namaste:
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