Don't Let Dharma Reinforce Groupthink

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Re: Don't Let Dharma Reinforce Groupthink

Postby tobes » Thu Apr 05, 2012 11:43 am

catmoon wrote:Isn't defining things in terms of their opposites kind of anti-buddhist?


Does shunyata make sense without svabhava?

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Re: Don't Let Dharma Reinforce Groupthink

Postby shel » Sun Apr 15, 2012 5:08 am

tobes wrote:I agree that there is and should be room for the brave thinker. But my point is that even the bravest thinker never stands alone, and nor does his/her thought. Thoreau the iconoclast, by definition, stands in a dialectic with what he is rejecting: his position only makes sense with reference to what he is defining himself against. And I think, that better than the dialectical inconoclast - who in a contrarian spirit wants to stand alone - is the dialogical empathiser - who naturally resonates with the minds of others.

Hello Tobes,

The so called "brave" thinker who stands against the group is naturally in an opposing position to the group. It makes no sense to claim that the individual who stands against the status quo is a contrarian spirit who "wants to stand alone." This is merely a tactic used to discredit the opposing voice. Painting the picture that they are driven by personal desires rather than real issues important to society. Does slavery "resonate" with you, Tobes?
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Re: Don't Let Dharma Reinforce Groupthink

Postby tobes » Sun Apr 15, 2012 6:19 am

shel wrote:
tobes wrote:I agree that there is and should be room for the brave thinker. But my point is that even the bravest thinker never stands alone, and nor does his/her thought. Thoreau the iconoclast, by definition, stands in a dialectic with what he is rejecting: his position only makes sense with reference to what he is defining himself against. And I think, that better than the dialectical inconoclast - who in a contrarian spirit wants to stand alone - is the dialogical empathiser - who naturally resonates with the minds of others.

Hello Tobes,

The so called "brave" thinker who stands against the group is naturally in an opposing position to the group. It makes no sense to claim that the individual who stands against the status quo is a contrarian spirit who "wants to stand alone." This is merely a tactic used to discredit the opposing voice. Painting the picture that they are driven by personal desires rather than real issues important to society. Does slavery "resonate" with you, Tobes?


I would have thought that the American-romanticism at play in this thread is exactly that impulse: the celebration (and reification) of the individual ahead of society. That is precisely why I'm critical of it - I think that it stands against the very premise of society.

I have no problem at all with the contrarian spirit who stands in opposition to ethical or political injustice - which is why I mentioned Martin Luther King as a much more noble character than Hunter S Thompson.

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Re: Don't Let Dharma Reinforce Groupthink

Postby Adamantine » Sun Apr 15, 2012 8:05 am

deepbluehum wrote:
Definitely MLK is great. The civil disobedience movement started with Thoreau, an American iconoclast (who influenced Gandhi greatly, who influenced MLK). The greatest moments in America happened in the mind of someone who decided to buck Groupthink. It starts a wave. Standing together and all that is more Groupthink. Look at the guy standing next to you and do what he does. Look, you're standing together.



Aha, -but isn't that "wave" itself-- the influence one can trace from Thoreau's actions and writing to others, such as Ghandi, MLK and so many more- - isn't that something that could be called "groupthink"? I mean, it seems you are not rejecting influence, -relationship-, interdependence and all that. . so where exactly does the individualism start? I mean, you could say that Buddha was the original Thoreau, right? He abandoned the palace, took off to the jungle-- I mean, screw Walden Pond that place is so bourgeois- have you ever been to the Indian jungle? But what was Buddha's ultimate individualistic revelation? "Follow this path, to freedom. . . take these vows, dress like this. . ." --ha! the ultimate groupthink! (according to one school of thought, "the opium of the masses"). All these terms become so wishy-washy, relativist-- just, words!

We simply are relational beings. There is no true or pure individualism. There certainly is unconventionalism though. I am all for that. But sometimes, (often) the unconventional becomes conventional. Rock and roll, once the epitome of the unconventional, the spearhead of the counterculture, is now just the most generic background noise in every corporate cafe or boutique. . . It may be a full time job to keep dodging the conventional, in pursuit of the illusory other-- I mean, a bullet-dodging dance without end. Maybe this is why Trungpa-- not exactly a man of convention, - had his long-haired beatnik 'unconventional' disciples shave their heads and beards and don suits, and military uniforms... to their own hippy conventions this was the ultimate unconvention! And the dance continues. There is never any certainty in samsara. The biggest danger in this dance is the "self satisfaction demon" to use a Thinley Norbu term. As he says, smugglers are mysterious to customs officials, and customs officials are mysterious to smugglers. But each has the other inherent within them. "Samsara's mysteriousness created by dualistic mind always causes us to be fooled."
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Re: Don't Let Dharma Reinforce Groupthink

Postby shel » Sun Apr 15, 2012 10:06 am

The problem of groupthink is simply that it is prone to grievous errors because no one objects to ill-conceived or immoral plans, decisions, etc. It really has little to do with cultural individualism or being unconventional.
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Re: Don't Let Dharma Reinforce Groupthink

Postby Adamantine » Sun Apr 15, 2012 10:53 am

shel wrote:The problem of groupthink is simply that it is prone to grievous errors because no one objects to ill-conceived or immoral plans, decisions, etc. It really has little to do with cultural individualism or being unconventional.


That is the problem with samsara -- // samsara-mind: we are all prone to grievous errors being under the sway of the 5 poisons, the karmic winds. . . blaming it on so-called 'groupthink' is missing the essential point. That said, let's try to understand what CTR was saying in his poem:

Looking into the world
I see alone a chrysanthemum,
Lonely, loneliness,
And death approaches.
Abandoned by guru and friend,I stand like a lonely juniper
Which grows among the rocks,
Hardened and tough.
Loneliness is my habit
I grew up in loneliness
Like a rhinoceros.
Loneliness is my companion
I converse with myself.
Yet sometimes also,
Lonely moon,
Sad and happy come together.
Do not trust.
If you trust you are in others hands.
It is like the single yak [don't trust the other yaks]
That defeats the wolves.
Herds panic and in trying to flee
Are attacked.
Remaining in solitude
You can never be defeated.
So do not trust,
For trust is surrendering oneself [to delusion].
Never, never trust.
But be friendly.
By being friendly towards others
You increase your non-trusting.
The idea is to be independent,
Not involved,
Not glued, one might say, to others.
Thus one becomes ever more
Compassionate and friendly.
Whatever happens, stand on your own feet
And memorize this incantation:
Do not trust.

Poem by Chogyam Trungpa
Contentment is the ultimate wealth;
Detachment is the final happiness. ~Sri Saraha
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Re: Don't Let Dharma Reinforce Groupthink

Postby catmoon » Sun Apr 15, 2012 1:37 pm

Adamantine wrote:
shel wrote:The problem of groupthink is simply that it is prone to grievous errors because no one objects to ill-conceived or immoral plans, decisions, etc. It really has little to do with cultural individualism or being unconventional.


That is the problem with samsara -- // samsara-mind: we are all prone to grievous errors being under the sway of the 5 poisons, the karmic winds. . . blaming it on so-called 'groupthink' is missing the essential point.


Thing is, if we all agree with that, and nobody challenges it, we are once again subject to the grievous errors of groupthink.

Any group, Buddhism not excepted, is subject to this problem. Because we adhere to a common Dharma, we are constantly in danger of charging off a cliff en masse, simply because errors in the understanding of the group are shared, and hence can go unchallenged.
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Re: Don't Let Dharma Reinforce Groupthink

Postby shel » Sun Apr 15, 2012 5:19 pm

Adamantine wrote:
shel wrote:The problem of groupthink is simply that it is prone to grievous errors because no one objects to ill-conceived or immoral plans, decisions, etc. It really has little to do with cultural individualism or being unconventional.


That is the problem with samsara -- // samsara-mind: we are all prone to grievous errors being under the sway of the 5 poisons, the karmic winds. . . blaming it on so-called 'groupthink' is missing the essential point.


No one is blaming all mistakes on groupthink, just mistakes made by groups with a particular dynamic. And as Catmoon points out, any group, Buddhism not excepted, is subject to this problem.
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Re: Don't Let Dharma Reinforce Groupthink

Postby Adamantine » Sun Apr 15, 2012 6:05 pm

catmoon wrote:
Adamantine wrote:
shel wrote:The problem of groupthink is simply that it is prone to grievous errors because no one objects to ill-conceived or immoral plans, decisions, etc. It really has little to do with cultural individualism or being unconventional.


That is the problem with samsara -- // samsara-mind: we are all prone to grievous errors being under the sway of the 5 poisons, the karmic winds. . . blaming it on so-called 'groupthink' is missing the essential point.


Thing is, if we all agree with that, and nobody challenges it, we are once again subject to the grievous errors of groupthink.

Any group, Buddhism not excepted, is subject to this problem. Because we adhere to a common Dharma, we are constantly in danger of charging off a cliff en masse, simply because errors in the understanding of the group are shared, and hence can go unchallenged.


I would counter that the ultimate cliff we are in danger of charging off of, is the one of believing our basic subjective relative perceptions are revelations of some essential "truth", whatever we want to call it: individualism, scientific materialism, etc.

If, carefully researched, carefully examined, continuously tested-- we happen to agree with the conclusions of some others (in this case, 'Buddhas', if you happen to want to call that charging off of a cliff then sign me up.

Tilopa responded by saying, "If you were really desperate and determined to learn about the teachings, you would obey my order to jump off this cliff without any hesitation because you would be able to understand how important it is to follow the commands of your master." Naropa jumped off the high cliff and fell to the ground. All his bones and joints were broken into many, many pieces. Tilopa went down to Naropa and inquired, "Are you experiencing any pain?" Naropa replied, "The pain is killing me!" This is how Naropa got his name. ("Na" in Tibetan means "pain," "ro" means "killing" and "pa" makes the word a noun.) Tilopa gently touched Naropa's body and all his broken bones joined together and were healed.
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Detachment is the final happiness. ~Sri Saraha
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Re: Don't Let Dharma Reinforce Groupthink

Postby Adamantine » Sun Apr 15, 2012 9:30 pm

I'm not arguing for so called 'groupthink' if the group of you think this. . . just playing the devil's advocate. Because there are surely a few nasty traps in going overboard in the romantic-individualist department as practitioners. . . some of which end up as straight-up samaya-breakers. I can easily give you some url examples but I assume I don't even need to for most of you.
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Re: Don't Let Dharma Reinforce Groupthink

Postby catmoon » Mon Apr 16, 2012 2:37 pm

Adamantine wrote:

If, carefully researched, carefully examined, continuously tested-- we happen to agree with the conclusions of some others (in this case, 'Buddhas', if you happen to want to call that charging off of a cliff then sign me up.



It's not ALL running off cliffs, in fact the cliff scenario is relatively uncommon. If it was common, then the entire history of all religions would be one of unremitting disaster, misunderstanding, intolerance, corruption and .... oh, wait ...

The groupthink problem exists precisely because research, examination and tests are not done carefully. Groups almost never examine the beliefs they all hold in common, and do it half-heartedly if at all.

So in Buddhism we find the differences between sects are examined to death, but the common beliefs are not. If someone does start chipping away at, say, the Four Noble Truths, it is quite likely they will find themselves ejected from the group. So if there was some awful flaw in our understanding or application of the 4NT we would never find it.

Its not hopeless though. Some groups have a strong tradition of wide open debate, and some traditions are very open to outside criticism. These are not perfect safeguards, but they help.
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Re: Don't Let Dharma Reinforce Groupthink

Postby Sherab Dorje » Mon Apr 16, 2012 6:45 pm

"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: Don't Let Dharma Reinforce Groupthink

Postby kirtu » Tue Apr 17, 2012 4:50 pm

deepbluehum wrote:
kirtu wrote:I wasn't slamming anyone.


The society is a complete failure


Grouphate.

I sense much anger in you.

America has tremendous merit. Don't hate. Appreciate.


This is just nonsense. I don't hate the US at all. OTOH I have been the subject of grouphate from US people.

In my experience people born and raised in the US tend to process information using very constrained rules and are incapable of examining their impact on their own society or the rest of the world. An example of this is the tendency of Americans to interpret criticism in terms of anger. This can actually be seen as a form of groupthink.

It is not for nothing that I have been openly stating that the US is a complete failure. We can walk through US history as well - a litany of failure in light of it's highest ideals.

Don't crush us. Hug us. Love.


Crush you? That's just irrational. I'm a person of no social value in the US. It's impossible that I could crush you. What's not impossible is that US culture might kill me (for real) because I have been designated as a valueless person (please read or reread Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery" - this is really how US society works over time).

If I didn't want the US to live up to it's ideals then I wouldn't bother saying anything.

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“All beings are Buddhas, but obscured by incidental stains. When those have been removed, there is Buddhahood.”
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Re: Don't Let Dharma Reinforce Groupthink

Postby deepbluehum » Tue Apr 17, 2012 5:48 pm

Honestly, society is dogshit. What a mountain of confused lost ghosts.
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Re: Don't Let Dharma Reinforce Groupthink

Postby Adamantine » Thu Apr 19, 2012 5:48 am

catmoon wrote:The groupthink problem exists precisely because research, examination and tests are not done carefully. Groups almost never examine the beliefs they all hold in common, and do it half-heartedly if at all.

So in Buddhism we find the differences between sects are examined to death, but the common beliefs are not. If someone does start chipping away at, say, the Four Noble Truths, it is quite likely they will find themselves ejected from the group. So if there was some awful flaw in our understanding or application of the 4NT we would never find it.

Its not hopeless though. Some groups have a strong tradition of wide open debate, and some traditions are very open to outside criticism. These are not perfect safeguards, but they help.


I believe, among us from the Western world who were not born into Buddhist families, -- most of us have done a thorough examination before we decided to take refuge. I would hope so. But once you've gone through that period of examination, and taken refuge, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to start doubting and chipping away at the Four Noble Truths. That would just be counter-productive. Did you happen to follow this thread Catmoon? http://dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?f=66&t=5834&start=0&hilit=kalama+sutra
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Re: Don't Let Dharma Reinforce Groupthink

Postby Dechen Norbu » Thu Apr 19, 2012 11:08 am

Adamantine wrote:I'm not arguing for so called 'groupthink' if the group of you think this. . . just playing the devil's advocate. Because there are surely a few nasty traps in going overboard in the romantic-individualist department as practitioners. . . some of which end up as straight-up samaya-breakers. I can easily give you some url examples but I assume I don't even need to for most of you.

You made a very good point, Adamantine.
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Re: Don't Let Dharma Reinforce Groupthink

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu Apr 19, 2012 12:05 pm

I give you the king of romantic-individualism:
"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: Don't Let Dharma Reinforce Groupthink

Postby catmoon » Fri Apr 20, 2012 2:31 pm

Adamantine wrote:
I believe, among us from the Western world who were not born into Buddhist families, -- most of us have done a thorough examination before we decided to take refuge. I would hope so. But once you've gone through that period of examination, and taken refuge, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to start doubting and chipping away at the Four Noble Truths. That would just be counter-productive. Did you happen to follow this thread Catmoon? http://dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?f=66&t=5834&start=0&hilit=kalama+sutra



I think it's true, Westerners go over the basics and don't take things for granted, simply because the ideas are novel to the western mind. A little chipping away won't hurt, the 4NT are remarkably robust. How we apply APPLY them, however, is wide open.

As for the thread you mention, I not only followed it, I wrote a good chunk of it.
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Re: Don't Let Dharma Reinforce Groupthink

Postby shel » Mon Apr 23, 2012 1:00 am

I'd like to point out that groupthink is not antonymous to individualism (of any variety). Groupthink is simply a phenomena of social dynamics, not some kind of ideology or social movement.
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Re: Don't Let Dharma Reinforce Groupthink

Postby catmoon » Mon Apr 23, 2012 4:57 am

It actually does take the form of ideology, sometimes overtly, although there is no fixed organization behind it. The individual may find himself under pressure to conform, to be a team player, perhaps to the extent of abandoning his ethics for the sake of group harmony. He may be told to focus on the work in front of him and let the boss handle the ethical issues. He may be forbidden to speak publicly.

So if there is no formal groupthink ideology, it's still common like borscht, especially in the workplace, in government, in the military, in religious organizations - everywhere really.
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