Is it justified to apply reflexive criticism to sastra?

Discussion in 'Eastern Philosophy' started by wynn, Jul 23, 2010.

  1. lightgigantic Banned Banned

    a lot of it seems to be in line with what soluscado wrote - namely that we find a person to convince ourselves of a set of values we want to incorporate ... moreso than trying to engineer a state of being where we just mindlessly surrender to a given personality.

    IOW if one is so disqualified (or jaundiced) as to not comprehend the need for encompassing a set of values that spiritual life involve, the question never arises. Therefore it is commonly regarded that the first instance of god's mercy is to have the nous to see the inherent problems of material life ... and the apex of hellish existence is to be lodged in a sense of comfort with it (that's why taking birth as an animal is given a bad rap ... and why they turn up in analogies for gross materialists - ie a donkey that gets kicked in the face in the pursuit of sex life, a camel that regards cactus as a delicacy when they are actually relishing the taste of their own blood, a cow that chews on sugar cane that has gone through the juicer a dozen times already, the ass that carries a mammoth load for a mere handful of grass from the owner which can be acquired on the side of a road anywhere, etc etc)
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  3. SolusCado Registered Senior Member

    To which scripture are you referring? The quote in the first post of this thread merely said humans TEND to make mistakes, not that they ALWAYS make mistakes.
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  5. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    Leaving aside that there are statements to the effect of "conditioned humans can't do anything right and have no good qualities" -

    "Humans tend to make mistakes" - how do you know when to apply this, and how, and when not?

    How can you do anything, while keeping in mind that it could be a mistake?

    How can you live with yourself, while knowing that anything you think, feel, say or do could be wrong?
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  7. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    That is potentially the most fascinating statement I have heard, ever.

    So I need you to be very clear on this:
    Are you saying that finding a guru is about finding a person to convince ourselves of a set of values we want to incorporate?

    I have always thought that being religious/spiritual/making any kind of advancement was all about giving up old, wrong, values (which we like) and take up new ones (which we don't like).
    That a guru/teacher is someone who basically keeps telling you "You're wrong, you're a fool" and you accept it.

    When can you stop considering yourself so disqualified?

    Please also see my post above to SolusCado.
  8. SolusCado Registered Senior Member

    @Signal... I must confess that my response will be rooted in Christian theology, but it wouldn't surprise me if lightgigantic will say the same thing based on Buddhist scriptures. Here goes:

    Again, you ALWAYS apply the statement "Humans tend to make mistakes". In Christianity, you are taught that "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God." Same thing. That doesn't mean that everything you ever do is wrong - but yeah, it does mean that to some degree you are always taking a leap of faith in your thoughts, actions, and feelings. Christianity further addresses this when Christ says to God "Forgive them father, they know not what they do." The key elements to be learned from all of this (IMO) is humility and faith. Faith is recognition that you DON'T know, but you act because you believe. There are some sects of Christianity that recognize the faith itself as the import element, more so than what you have faith in. Psychologically, it wouldn't surprise me if there were some distinct evolutionarily advantageous traits that make up what we now recognize as "Faith." To lightgigantic's point, everyone at some point decides to place their faith in something or someone. We do so based on the message that resonates with us. For some, they feel as though they must be beaten down, and they place their faith in a religion or person that does that to them. For others, they feel as though they must be raised up. For me, I believe that "The Truth" is a balance and unity with everything in the Universe, so I place my faith in that which brings unity to the discord around us.

    Anyway, Christianity teaches that it is a relationship with God, familiarity with the Scriptures, righteousness (a will to learn, follow, and try - not a list of correct actions), and more that helps an individual to not be "so disqualified." Interestingly, one of the core ideas behind Christianity is that we could not make that call on our own UNTIL Christ - before then the priests of Judaism were necessary to provide that conduit to righteousness and the greater sense of God.

    And finally - to your point regarding the thought that being religious/spiritual was all about giving up old, wrong values in favor of new ones - from where did you get this notion? Depending on the environment in which you were raised, you might see religion/spirituality as the complete opposite. I find it to be an interesting statement though because within Christianity, as I said before "All have come short of the glory of God," and there is a lot said about "human nature." Much like Nietzsche's philosophy, Christianity describes man as a broken vessel, led by our own biological failings. Advancement and growth REQUIRES being more than our "default settings." In Christianity, this is done through Christ; according to Nietzsche this is done by force of will; and I am sure that in Buddhism it is done through gurus and meditation (or something else lightgigantic can enlighten us on).
  9. lightgigantic Banned Banned


    its the nature of conditioned life that one cannot give up inferior values ... this doesn't mean that what constitutes superior values is not on the radar

    the jaundice is more about rasa or the pleasure drawn from certain activities. IOW its the nature of jaundiced state that one constantly gravitates towards sense gratification, despite knowing of its inferior nature.
    Arguably there is a missing aspect from our knowledge that enables us to act in such a fashion, and when that is rectified one has surpassed one's conditioned nature
  10. Doreen Valued Senior Member

    I would have said that a guru - here thinking specifically of someone in a specific tradition - is someone who helps you experience 'things' that will change your sense of what is really going on, which will have effects on your values. My experiences of gurus is that while they did advocate certain values, the overwhelming majority of what they did was toward practical training and on occasion directly inciting an experience in someone. So much was about how to approach work so one was closer to God, how to approach meditation, how to approach chanting, and so on. They are a flexible manual/guide to move you through states and stages - by suggesting what things to do and not do - that they themselves have gone through.
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2010
  11. Doreen Valued Senior Member

    The issue, I think, for Signal is
    when to apply this idea
    the idea that we are sinners/fallible.

    A person without a religion stands facing a religion and is told he or she is fallible. The next step is to make a choice, a choice to enter this or that religion.

    Once we have this fact that we are all does the person know that becoming Christian or Hindu is the right one?

    Wouldn't humility - which you mention above - make one even more uncertain when faced with this choice?

    Who am I to know that Christianity is the right path - as opposed to Hinduism?

    If a core message is that one is fallible and should be humble
    and one is making a
    miraculous choice based on extreme intuition
    is there not a contradiction?

    I have my own approach to answering this, but I wanted to be clear what I think the issue is for Signal.

    1) You are fallible and should be humble.
    2) Now choose based on a radical trust in your own intution the right path.

    Aren't 1 and 2 placing someone in an odd bind?
  12. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    This is a good way of phrasing it, thank you.
  13. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    You haven't answered my questions:

    "Humans tend to make mistakes" - how do you know when to apply this, and how, and when not?

    How can you do anything, while keeping in mind that it could be a mistake?

    How can you live with yourself, while knowing that anything you think, feel, say or do could be wrong?

    How do you know that is not precisely that one thing that must be done in order to act in line with what God really wants for you?

    Where do you get the certainty that doing the above will not land you in hell for all eternity?

    This is how I have been preached to, mostly, by people of different traditions/convictions.
    "Everything you think, feel, say and do is wrong. What we think, feel, say and do is right. You now need to see to it that you align yourself with us."

    What is that opposite?


    But for all practical intents and purposes, what is that "more" and how can a person know which/whose "more" is the right one?

    The Christian one? The Hindu one? Which/whose?
  14. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    Here is a sequence of statements:

    1. The conditioned person may have an idea that there is a hierarchy of values.

    2. But the conditioned person (due to being conditioned) cannot know which values actually are superior and which inferior.

    3. It could be that something they absolutely abhor could be the right thing.

    4. It could be that something they value above everything else could be the wrong thing.

    5. So for all practical intents and purposes, in order to make spiritual progress, they do have to be willing to accept a stance of total depravity and total absurdity: "Whatever I think, feel, say or do, could be wrong."

    6. This is a complete deadlock.

    2, 3 and 4 is what people of religion usually expect us to believe.
    But believing those leads to a deadlock.

    How do you propose to resolve it?

    How can a person move out of it, but without presuming something unjustified?

    The way I see it, the only - temporary - way out of that deadlock is to presume myself "not fully conditioned", "not fully in maya", "not fully deluded", "possessing some good qualities and abilities", "I am good and sane enough to discern that this decision I have made is not the wrong one".
    But this is all this is - a presumption, an act of pride, and as such, due to fail.
  15. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    So one should do what - ignore all concerns over pleasure and displeasure? And instead direct oneself by what - dry mental speculation?
  16. Doreen Valued Senior Member

    A presumption? I suppose. But then some assumptions are OK.
    an act of pride? the negative connotations of pride seem to come in when the focus is on placing oneself in some kind of moral or extra deserving hierarchy. If I have the sense that I'm a pretty good carpenter, this does not mean I necessarily have pride in any negative sense. And some people can sense this before they begin to work with wood.

    I think also the way you set up the issue is digital.

    Life before decision as unified being with belief set ¤ value set A and insight set 4
    Life after decision. New unified self with belief set Q.

    That is not how I experience life, myself or decisions. I am a multitude with contradictions. I feel drawn - perhaps partially for intellectual reasons, partially because of intution, partially because of unconscious emotional factors - the devotee who approached me on the street was very attractive but I don't want to notice how much this affected me - to begin participation in a specific religion. Contradictory feelings, doubts, questions, confusions, fears, etc., are also present, but still I take the first steps. They are outweighed by what draws me. All of these may be in varying degrees conscious and not conscious.

    There may never be a discrete moment where I can say - now the Self that I am as a whole believes. Just a wading in deeper and deeper, perhaps running out at times and shaking it off on the beach, afraid of what's swimming around in there.

    Obviously it is a less charged issue...but how does one choose what one has for dinner. Sure there are intellectual factors, but one could argue for a wide variety of foods given all the contradictory information out there. Then different bodies seem to do better with different dinners. And never eating what one really loves because it is supposed to be bad for you can also cause problems, at least for some.

    Nevertheless a specific dinner is chosen. One enters a certain approach to eating and finding good and better food.

    Or making a friend.

    After a while one may notice that something simply feels right. Sometimes some people never feel at home, in this life anyway.

    A fallible person can over time become convinced that he or she has made the right choice for themselves, since they are experiencing all the time. One need not be perfect to feel some confidence in a choice that keeps on working for one.
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2010
  17. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    Doreen -

    This is all fine and well and makes sense in everyday terms. But my point is that such an approach could cost you your spiritual advancement.
    How do you deal with this possibility?
  18. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    That said -

    I am becoming more and more convinced that asking questions like "Which religion is the right one?" is pointless.

    Whomever I ask will have their own perspective on this question, and it will necessarily be biased by their own particular religion/philosophy.

    The only instance fit to truly answer such a question would be someone who is either omniscient, or someone whom I already have full trust in.
    Since I know no such instance, I can't ask the question meaningfully.
  19. Doreen Valued Senior Member

    Yes! We simply become another text, if you will. You still are left with the decision about whether to go along with our 'logic' and conclusions.

    Maybe an approach to shifting - since the issue is shifting from where you are now, it seems - would be to look at exactly what your beliefs and practices are now. Which is what you did above.

    You are not coming from no position. You are coming from an epistemological set of beliefs, beliefs about what one does to make choices and then all the daily practices you engage in to 'improve' or 'feel better' or however it is couched.

    Perhaps this is the important reflexive criticism right now.

    I say this and it sounds rather bleak and it is not my intention to suggest some very solipsistic analysis.

    But I do want to stress that the way it comes across sometimes is AS IF you do not have beliefs and a religion and from this neutral ground you cannot determine a good way to join one. But you are already in one.

    By the way, I doubt you would assert you have no beliefs. It is more that the problem solving approach here gives that impression. And perhaps that is a real issue rather than simply something that seems in this context.
  20. Doreen Valued Senior Member

    I think this question boils down to

    what if you lack the skills/will to heal yourself?

    But it ends up functioning as a suggestion not to choose. I think something else is going on other then your epistemological issue here.

    If I am running over a bridge being chased by murderers I may decide to jump off the bridge into the water and hope it is deep enough or keep running straight ahead even though they are catching up to me. I can stop and think - perhaps I do not have the intuition to make the right choice or even notice my choices - perhaps there is a third choice I am missing. But this issue is really moot. Here I am in the world. Not choosing is a choice. Choosing at regular moment not to trust myself is a choice - and what are the roots of that lack of self-distrust? Can I challenge the roots of this in my mind and heart? Is this perhaps the area of critical reflection and practice?
  21. lightgigantic Banned Banned

    I don't think it is so cut and dry. For instance if you you look at the qualities of the mode of goodness I think there is a unanimous agreement that these stand as superior to the mode of ignorance or passion (given that there may be a few persons who such as Machiavelli who advocate the lesser modes)

    If one's constitutional position is marginal, how is it that one cannot but fail to be a complete mode of nature

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    Suppose we look at the 4 regulative principles. In what way do they totally under-ride or confound one's sense of ideal value or reason?
  22. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    In that keeping them, one can become so vulnerable and stressed out that in order to medicate the stress, one has to resort to breaking them.
  23. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    Yes. An issue that is often overlooked.

    Except for college professors and the like, I doubt anybody is seriously interested in epistemology and such unless they have a real, big problem.

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