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mokuan



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PostSubject: another question   Tue Dec 14, 2010 9:04 pm

The insights to the question of trust were excellent. Maybe you can help me with my question:

I recognise greed in myself, I recognise anger. How do I recognise delusion?


I've been asking this question for many years and to some pretty smart people, including RMJK, and I'm still not real clear on it. Any insights would be humbly appreciated.

Great Teachers, I thank you for your great compassion.
mokuan
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PostSubject: Re: another question   Tue Dec 14, 2010 9:52 pm

Great question Mokuan!

I would say that simply by asking the question you have confirmed your willingness to recognize delusion--which is by far (in my opinion) the most important requirement for being able to recognize it!

I also think that the use of the word delusion itself, ironically, tends to make it harder for us to recognize our own. Delusion, in the traditional formulation (greed, hate, and delusion) simply refers to misunderstanding. But because the word delusion is far more highly charged and judgemental than the word misunderstanding, it does not invite recognition!

I think that a misunderstanding becomes easier to recognize when we act on it, since it tends to result in less than fully successful outcomes. And this is good, since the experience of failure provides the opportunity to reassess the misunderstanding! It's how we learn.

Unfortunately, both our culture and educational system in the U.S. (and by all accounts, in the other industrialized nations as well) tend to undermine the true learning process by teaching us that failure is bad--and that we are inadequate if we fail! Such nonsense.

So, in short, to recognize misunderstanding--be willing to fail!!!
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PostSubject: Re: another question   Wed Dec 15, 2010 6:25 am

:-) Hi Mokuan

The word that gets translated as "delusion" is moha in Sanskrit. The Buddha’s words were not written down in his original dialect, and unfortunately I do not have a Pali dictionary, but I looked up moha and its root in my Monier-Williams Sanskrit dictionary.

According to this, moha comes from muh, the latter meaning to become stupefied or unconscious, be bewildered or perplexed, err, be mistaken, go astray, etc; to become confused, fail, miscarry, etc. Meanings for moha itself are given as loss of consciousness, bewilderment, perplexity, distraction, infatuation, delusion, error, folly, etc; fainting, stupefaction, a swoon, etc; darkness and delusion of mind; ignorance; a magical art employed to bewilder an enemy; wonder, amazement; infatuation personified as the offspring of Brahmā. (I do not know if the above sequence, by Monier-Williams, is significant; the etcs are his.)

As a physical condition, and so perhaps as figurative for a mental condition, the implication seems to be that one had consciousness then lost it.

Although translation as confusion or delusion has been perhaps the more common in English, it is not ubiquitous; for example, Paravahera Vajirañāña Mahāthera in Buddhist Meditation (first publ 1962) translated it as dullness. In lists of the kleśas, moha appears as separate from false views (dŗşti) that include the view of self.

On one hand, though greed or hate formations might arise involuntarily, continued indulgence implies a degree of conscious complicity; and one might deliberately engender them in oneself. On the other hand, for decades, I had assumed that moha was more like an unfortunate outcome, something from which one suffered, did not do deliberately to oneself, might not even know about, and (even if one did know) could not just decide to end, although one might undertake action to improve the situation. However, there were many contexts in which this understanding of moha seemed strained or unhelpful.

I first came across translation of moha as dulling down or dulling out several years ago in the writings of Shenpen Hookham (and I think that her husband Rigdzin Shikpo may also use this term or similar). This moha implied something one did quite actively, not something that had happened to one, and I thought back and recalled having done this quite self-indulgently, prior to taking up Buddhist training, as a method of unwise escape or hiding, like trying to hide something behind ones own back or not see it. It was very interesting to remember this and to realise that this had indeed been a very unskilful kind of conscious and deliberate action; not one that overtly hits the newspapers like scandals of greed and reports of violence, but one quite worthy of noting by the Buddha as a common root vice. This kind of moha is something one can desist from, which would be quite a liberating thing to hear. As aversion (or turning from), it would be flight not fight. Buddhist mindfulness and insight practice, where one looks into ones tendencies, opposes it.

To test the value of any of this, if you come upon a passage of Buddhist teaching where translation of moha as confusion/delusion does not seem quite to fit, you could try to see if substituting the implications of dulling out or stupefaction makes more sense or is more helpful. (-:
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jack



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PostSubject: Re: another question   Fri Dec 17, 2010 1:24 pm

A couple of my favorite quotes that seem related to the matter:

Quote :
From Daniel Gilbert, an
experimental Harvard psychologist, in his book, Stumbling on
Happiness.


"The three-and-a-half pound meat loaf between our ears is not
a simple recording device, but a remarkably smart computer
that gathers information, makes shrewd judgments and even
shrewder guesses, and offers us its best interpretation of the
way things are. Because those interpretations are usually so
good, because they usually bear such a striking resemblance to
the world as it is actually constituted, we do not realize we
are seeing an interpretation. Instead, we feel as though we
are sitting comfortably inside our heads, looking out through
the clear glass window of our eyes, watching the world as it
truly is. We tend to forget that our brains are talented
forgers, weaving a tapestry of memory and perception whose
detail is so compelling that its inauthencity is rarely
detected. In a sense, each of us is a counterfeiter who prints
phony dollar bills and then happily accepts them for payment,
unaware that he is both the perpetrator and victim of a
well-orchestrated fraud. As you are about to see, we sometimes
pay a steep price for allowing ourselves to lose sight of this
fundamental fact, because the mistake we make when we
momentarily ignore the filling-in trick and unthinkingly
accept the validity of our memories and our perceptions is
precisely the same mistake we make when we imagine our futures."

Quote :
From A.E. Housman.


"The average man, if he meddles with criticism at all, is a
conservative critic. His opinions are determined not by his
reason — ‘the bulk of mankind’ says Swift ‘is as well
qualified for flying as for thinking’ — but by his passions;
and the faintest of all human passions is the love of truth.
He believes that the text of ancient authors is generally
sound, not because he has acquainted himself with the elements
of the problem, but because he would feel uncomfortable if he
did not believe it; just as he believes, on the same cogent
evidence, that he is a fine fellow, and that he will rise
again from the dead."

The first underscores how our mind works in usefully creating an approximation of reality. There's nothing wrong with that. It's a useful function of the mind -- not some nasty attribute of the mind that must be discarded and deprecated to become enlightened. The limiting (and somewhat damaging) side of that function is that if its fabrication is unperceived, we not only believe fully what it offers up, but believe that it is exclusively the only valid view of reality. For me, a principle delusion (believed strongly in contradiction to facts sometimes) was believing the computer simulation of reality without even thinking about challenging or investigating it. That willingness to see directly -- to observe my own projections being added to what happens to me and what I think will happen to me -- has been key for me.

The second quote simply indicates that most minds seek comfort rather than Truth. This is true of Buddhist seekers also. There is a degree of helpful community in flocking with those who believe as you do -- particularly at the outset. But at some point, I found it much more useful to abandon the "group truth" -- even about Buddhism -- and look honestly at the world to see what was true and what was not -- even if it meant changing my mind about Buddhism. The end result is that the Buddhist truth I've found is something backed up by my own experience and insight. Some things like past lives and karma don't have any convincing foundation in experience at all for me, and I simply acknowledge that while they might be true, I just don't know.
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PostSubject: Re: another question   Fri Dec 17, 2010 3:53 pm

I love it. This forum is like a "plug in where ever you like" buddhism by correspondence course.

Hey Mokuan

I recognise greed in myself, I recognise anger. How do I recognise delusion?

Even though you address your question to great teachers, I thought I'd unload my work in progress.

Your question is the very nub of why I meditate. How am I able to see beyond my conditioning?
Can I see what went on just before any "ah Ha" moment where I discovered another questionable slice of my personal programing? There maybe as many answers for this as there are searchers for the truth.

After re reading my post I think it is probably too elemental for most but it is what keeps working for me.

Usually I subscribe to the shower approach for general physical & spiritual cleaning. What I mean by this is instead of looking around for what part of my body needs cleaning, I just attempt to clean it all. This means cleaning what I think may already be clean as well as everthing else.

This also applies to the spiritual realm where I would say "what can't I let go of". I attempt to drop everything that I might or might not be carrying, regardless of whether I like those things or not.

In the physical realm of general cleaning, my attempt to clean everything will uncover those areas that needed attention that I had no idea needed it..

In the spiritual arena, my attempt to let go of everything will uncover those things that remain stuck to my fingers. Actually it's usually my fingers that won't really let go of them. These have almost always been the things that needed to be looked at more closely.

This process all depends on how conditional my attempt is to let go of everything. So far, nothing I have been truly able to let go of, has really disappeared, just the hold it had over me. What I am not able to let go of then remains highlighted as a meditational question mark, waiting for my next bout of courage.

Cheers
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Henry

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PostSubject: Re: another question   Fri Dec 17, 2010 6:31 pm

I think that's a useless question. If we knew we were deluded we wouldn't be deluded so it's an endless loop. I think a better approach is to honest and aware of the wake you leave. If you can't see your wake, ask others for their perceptions of how your life and actions effects others. If you bring happiness, love, and peace to others (or knowledge that helps them attain this), and your effect on them helps them to bring happiness, love and peace to others they know (or the knowledge and means to help them attain it), perhaps that is the best we can hope for. There are so many enlightened people in the world reeking havoc. There are so many whose truth is better than others who cause pain and fear. Who can be the arbitor of what's delusion or not? I know I can't and I don't know anyone who can. I can, however, see if someone causes pain, fear and sadness, and if they bring happiness, joy, and peace. I don't know if I care about what's delusion. On a certain level, it seems that pretty much everything is if you examine it closely enough. These are my thoughts for the day. I'll have to let them percolate to see how they taste.
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mokuan



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PostSubject: Re: another question   Fri Dec 17, 2010 6:48 pm

Ah, Howard, you are great teachers, and I do thank everyone here on this forum.

Heck, with the cumulative years of training and study and understanding represented here, I'm thrilled at what I'm learning, and I'm getting a thing or two clear in my head.

Thank you all,
mokuan
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PostSubject: Re: another question   Fri Dec 17, 2010 10:16 pm

Kaizan wrote:
There are so many enlightened people in the world reeking havoc.

I find the statement to be puzzling. To me an enlightened or awake person no longer leaves a wake of harmful havoc in the world. That's one reason I have come to seriously doubt that Jiyu was enlightened at all, and certainly not at the level claimed by her disciples. I think it's somewhat fundamental. If you see, you don't harm. If you don't, you do.

Thinking that enlightenment is separate from behavior is a trap. If you don't look at behavior first, then charisma inflated by desperate hope becomes enchantment in the power of another.
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PostSubject: Re: another question   Fri Dec 17, 2010 10:32 pm

Jack
T'was a bit of sarcasm. Couldn't resist.
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PostSubject: Re: another question   Fri Dec 17, 2010 10:42 pm

jack wrote:
Kaizan wrote:
There are so many enlightened people in the world reeking havoc.

To me an enlightened or awake person no longer leaves a wake of harmful havoc in the world.

Aah! The person who leaves no trace and enlightens everyone they meet - a powerful koan.
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PostSubject: Re: another question   Fri Dec 17, 2010 11:06 pm

I love this discussion--I think that various comments made by everyone touch on important aspects of delusion--and just how slippery it is!

Mokuan, my first response on this thread was to suggest that delusion is, ultimately, just a form of misunderstanding. And that as such, it can be recognized if there is a willingness to do so (as Howard discusses). If and when it is recognized (as Kaizan observes), it is no longer full-on delusion. Anne, Jack, Howard, and Kaizan all touch on various ways in which delusion can seem to permeate--extensively!

As we actually use the term in psychology today, and in traditional Buddhism (as Anne indicates), we are of course referring to something a little more tenacious than run of the mill misunderstanding. I tend to think of delusion as misunderstanding on steroids, hiding behind a cloak of invisibility.

Acting on a misunderstanding can create conditions of failure that may take many different forms. Often, the failure that results from misunderstanding can provide an opportunity to learn, leading to a reassessment of the belief, and a more accurate understanding.

If, however, a misunderstanding in some way anticipates the failure that it will create, then the resulting failure may actually seem to confirm the accuracy of the mis-understanding! Misunderstanding creates failure, which seems to validate the misunderstanding, and the two together become a self-reinforcing causal cycle. A significant characteristic of this causal cycle, I think, is that the misunderstanding becomes increasingly invisible. It is no longer recognizable even as a "belief"; it simply becomes the self-evident nature of reality. The original misunderstanding has become a form of delusion.

As the level of failure, in a self-reinforcing cycle of misunderstanding and failure, begins to escalate, the inevitable tendency is to seek solutions by acting ever more vigorously on the delusion that causes failure in the first place!

But, I think that the final step (apart from the purely individual-psychological forms), is that full-on delusion is largely a collective phenomena.

So, Kozan, can you give us an example already? Ahh, good question!

My favorite example of what I have come to believe is one of the most pervasive and destructive delusions on the planet today (I mentioned this briefly in a previous forum comment), is a causal cycle of misunderstanding and failure that can be traced back, worldwide, through at least 6,000 years of war, conquest, and empire. I think the underlying misunderstanding is the belief that survival and success require a competitive struggle to dominate and exploit, in order to win power, status, and wealth. And that winning this adversarial competition against others gives moral and ethical permission for the winners to dominate and exploit resources, other species, and even other people, for the sake of their survival and that of their family and community. Historically, all forms of empire, worldwide, have involved the domination and exploitation of the many by the few.

In reality, this collectively inherited misunderstanding--"it's a dog-eat-dog world", "might makes right", "to the victor goes the spoils"--is a profound delusion. I would propose that even a brief study reveals that ecosystems and existence itself actully function, to achieve success by accomplishing an optimum with a minimum, without waste, through synergetic cooperation at every level. Every facet of an organism, an ecosystem, our planet itself, inherently functions to support and be supported by every other.

Existence achieves an optimum with a minimum. At the atomic level, atoms are 99.9999% "empty" space (or more precisely, empty of matter). Matter is simply a form of energy. The universe does everything with Nothing.

Nevertheless, by acting on our "dog-eat-dog" worldview, we create the very conditions of adversity that seem to prove the belief true! Our 6,000 year misunderstanding has now escalated to the point at which resource depletion, habitat destruction, species extinction, climate change, and skyrocketing desperation, together with weapons of mass destruction, may well threaten the continued viability, if not existence, of our planetary ecosystem-communities.

Survival and genuine success will require acting in cooperation with ourselves, each other, and the way existence actually works, to similarly achieve an equitable optimum with a sustainable minimum, without waste. (This requires the design of a dwelling and economic process that is actually capable of ensuring access to the necessities of life for all, with only a small fraction of the energy and resources we now consume; but that's another topic!)

Nevertheless, our 6,000 year old misunderstanding is, for the most part, still not recognized as a misunderstanding, or even as a belief. Most people (I think) still regard it as the self-evident nature of reality. War and insatiable greed (1% of the U.S. population owns over 40% of its wealth) are regarded as the nearly inevitable consequences of human nature. And this asumption itself becomes part of the "cloak of invisibility" that prevents us from recognizing the root misunderstanding.

Buddhism emerged 2,500 years ago, within this cultural context of conquest and empire, and with a primary focus on the dynamics of individual spiritual practice. It is not surprising to me therefore, that Buddhism provides relatively little recognition of the impact that collective context and collective belief have on spiritual practice. A focus on the individual, without an equal understanding of collective context and belief, has inevitably (I think) left Buddhism largely silent on the issue of delusion (other than noting its existence).

I don't see this as a failure, as such, on the part of Buddhist teaching. I think that our ability to recognize collective unconscious belief is relatively recent. But it has left Buddhism highly vulnerable to the process by which unrecognized collective cultural belief can permeate and distort spiritual teaching--and religious institutions.

It seems to me that all of this points to the importance of continually reassessing our most basic assumptions and unconscious beliefs--by, as Kaizan points out, paying attention to the wake that our actions leave--individual, collective, and institutional.
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PostSubject: Re: another question   Sat Dec 18, 2010 12:30 am

You are not saying that zero wake is ideal, are you? Or are you?
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Howard

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PostSubject: Re: another question   Sat Dec 18, 2010 2:03 am


Hello kaizan

Your post
I think that's a useless question. If we knew we were deluded we wouldn't be deluded so it's an endless loop. I think a better approach is to honest and aware of the wake you leave. If you can't see your wake, ask others for their perceptions of how your life and actions effects others. If you bring happiness, love, and peace to others (or knowledge that helps them attain this), and your effect on them helps them to bring happiness, love and peace to others they know (or the knowledge and means to help them attain it), perhaps that is the best we can hope for. There are so many enlightened people in the world wreaking havoc. There are so many whose truth is better than others who cause pain and fear. Who can be the arbitor of what's delusion or not? I know I can't and I don't know anyone who can. I can, however, see if someone causes pain, fear and sadness, and if they bring happiness, joy, and peace. I don't know if I care about what's delusion. On a certain level, it seems that pretty much everything is if you examine it closely enough. These are my
thoughts for the day. I'll have to let them percolate to see how they taste.




Hello kaizan

I don't know if I need to get out more, am just nit picking or just don't understand a lot of what you are talking about but for starters....

Useless Question? If we knew we were deluded we wouldn't be deluded so it's an endless loop

Unless you suspected that you were deluded why would you even look at your wake? I think your endless loop explanation is dependent on a black & white view of holding onto to a single delusion or not. In reality we hold thousands of delusions of various strengths which are the constructs of our self image. You can rightfully argue whether we need to deal with them or not, according to the consequences of the wake we are trailing, but it's not so easy for those wishing freedom from delusion.

There are so many enlightened people in the world reeking havoc. There are so many whose truth is better than others who cause pain and fear.

Understanding that we are a compilation of thousands of delusions means being more circumspect in who we call enlightened or truth bearers and should thereby be wake free.

I don't know if I care about what's delusion.

I have not gotten to a point that allows me to think some delusions are OK because I only see a little wake occurring from them. Look at the delusions on this forum that prevent others from even seeing that there is a wake.

On a certain level, it seems that pretty much everything is (delusion) if you examine it closely enough.

Part of the reason that pretty much everything one examines closely enough shows some level of delusion is because the examination itself is not separate from the delusion. I support the examination but unless one moves further on to let go of the examination with the discovered delusion, it will just remain as an ego stimulation. The problem is not with the examination but the difficulty for many to let go of the mental stimulation involved with the examination process.
It's like getting caught in the rain and disliking it. Finding & using an umbrella sorts out the dislike. Not putting the umbrella down after the rain ends becomes a bit of a pain. Continuing to carry it everywhere becomes worse than the rain we were initially trying to avoid. Even the most detailed examination of the various aspects of what this umbrella is and can do will not help. The examination has some worth as does looking at the consequences of always carrying it (the wake) but only dropping the examination and the umbrella will solve the problem..

My most tenacious delusions sway me towards the "All is One" enough to over shadow the "All is Different". Most of the places where I show up on this forum with something smelly stuck to my shoe reflects this delusion. The wake of peoples reactions often point out what I still need to let go of so I agree with the importance of checking out one's wake but surely looking for delusion in the present is of equal importance. I understand what you were saying about not trying to be an arbitrator for anothers delusion but I thought Mokuan was asking how to spot it for herself. My final question is to ask if the examination of ones wake should be only limited to the emotional realm which I thought you might be advocating? My bad if I got that wrong.

Cheers
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PostSubject: Re: another question   Sat Dec 18, 2010 2:18 am

Polly, good question!

No. I think action that benefits others leaves a wake of its own--which is beneficial!

This is certainly recognized in Buddhism. So I tend to conclude that the concept of "leaving no wake" means leaving no wake that is harmful.

However, the concept of a karmic wake also ties back, historically, to a pre-Buddhist concept of rebirth (or reincarnation), and an often expressed desire to avoid rebirth. Within this context, no wake = no rebirth.

In one sense, as an experienced white-water canoeist, I always try to minimize my own wake!

But, overall, I believe in celebrating the wake that results from benefiting others!
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PostSubject: Re: another question   Sat Dec 18, 2010 8:58 am

In principle, even people who have fully uprooted illusoryself-grasping in respect of a “person” predicated upon the skandhas, and are released from the “fetters”*, could wreak havoc in their enthusiasm for others to enter, and enjoy the benefits of, liberation and enlightenment.

If one can misassess situations and mishandle “teaching” on a small scale among a few people, as a relatively uninfluential person of no high standing, one could probably manage the same on a larger scale among more people, as a dominant and influential person - without further special planning or effort (if only more things were like this... frown). (Another side of the latter is that one may also help more people.)

Self-awakening, in the sense referred to above, is not certain to march hand-in-hand with always-exemplary situation-assessment and teaching-skills. (Slight dose of “British understatement”.)

* Samyojana (bonds, fetters, knots). Buddhism enumerates ten, from which liberation coincides with the process of fully uprooting illusoryself-grasping in respect of a “person” predicated upon the skandhas. Roughly-speaking, these fetters are:
1. Intellectually-formed illusoryself-view;

2. Doubt that has no desire for satisfaction;

3. Uncritical attachment to rules and vows;

4. Devotion-to-sense-pleasure;

5. Ill will, wishing harm on others or oneself;

6. & 7. Devotion to certain meditative states of existence as a result of misconceptions about them or “self”;

8. Conceit that grasps at a misconceived “I” as better, equal or worse;
9. Restlessness related to illusoryself-view;

10. Ignorance concerning illusoryself-view (including innate/subtle) and thus its relation to the Four Noble Truths.
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PostSubject: Re: another question   Sat Dec 18, 2010 10:43 am

Howard,

First, what I wrote is something that was a spontaneous reaction to Mokuan’s question. It is not a long held belief that I formulated and adhere to. Even so, it rings true to me. I’m happy to examine to see what truth or delusion there may be in it. I’ll try to answer your questions and see where it leads. I’ll answer them honestly--no devil’s advocate or trying to support the idea for the sake of supporting it.
(Howard's statements are in blue)

Unless you suspected that you were deluded why would you even look at your wake? I think your endless loop explanation is dependent on a black & white view of holding onto to a single delusion or not.

I look to the wake to see if I’m causing suffering or creating good. To do that I don’t need to know if my thought process leading up to the actions causing the wake were deluded. I had said, "If we knew we were deluded we wouldn't be deluded so it's an endless loop." I see that as being true whether it is one or many delusions.

In reality we hold thousands of delusions of various strengths which are the constructs of our self image. You can rightfully argue whether we need to deal with them or not, according to the consequences of the wake we are trailing, but it's not so easy for those wishing freedom from delusion.

I don’t know that I'm all that concerned to have freedom from delusion. I wish to have freedom from suffering and causing suffering, but I don’t find myself worrying if I’m deluded or not. The Buddha said even the Dharma is delusion and needs to be left behind, yet I’m happy to use the Dharma where it will help.

Understanding that we are a compilation of thousands of delusions means being more circumspect in who we call enlightened or truth bearers and should thereby be wake free.

I don’t feel competent to determine who is or isn’t enlightened. I do care about the suffering or benefits they cause. I’m reasonably competent to do that and I can always get help from others to get a clearer picture on that if I need to.

I have not gotten to a point that allows me to think some delusions are OK because I only see a little wake occurring from them. Look at the delusions on this forum that prevent others from even seeing that there is a wake.

If delusions help relieve suffering, I’m OK with them. I think once that level of relief from suffering is achieved, we will see that delusion is causing less than the original suffering, but still some. We can then examine the suffering, see how to alleviate it, then do so. If we find the delusion, misunderstanding, or mistake creating the suffering in the process we can chose to abandon it for the purpose of having/causing less suffering. To me the delusion is secondary in this process. By the time we get to abandoning it, it is already seen as a delusion, so, technically speaking, it no longer is one. If we sought the delusion directly, we'd never have found it.

Part of the reason that pretty much everything one examines closely enough shows some level of delusion is because the examination itself is not separate from the delusion. I support the examination but unless one moves further on to let go of the examination with the discovered delusion, it will just remain as an ego stimulation. The problem is not with the examination but the difficulty for many to let go of the mental stimulation involved with the examination process.

That is why the raft of Dharma must be abandoned also. I guess we use delusion to cure delusion, but in the end the whole thing needs to be dropped. This, for me, is an on again, off again affair. It seems there is a time and place for each. Examination, letting go--over and over. However, looking at this more carefully, it seems to me that using my faculties to determine suffering or benefit is more fruitful than worrying about delusion. I think perhaps the recognition of delusion arises as a by product. It’s a little like worrying about enlightenment. You grasp it it’s gone. You practice, it appears.
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PostSubject: Re: another question   Sun Dec 19, 2010 2:50 am

Quote :
(if only more things were like this... frown )
A thought has been bothering me of how the above might be taken...

It was intended as a joke about things one would like to accomplish more of "without further special planning or effort" (e.g salary) ~ which one also might like to be able to do without changing position in life.

My apologies if it appeared otherwise. Apologies also if you have visited this post especially hoping to find something interesting!...
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PostSubject: Re: another question   Sun Dec 19, 2010 11:50 am

Words excerpted from the Wallace Stevens; poem "The Man with the Blue Guitar,"

They said, "You have a blue guitar,
You do not play things as they are."

The man replied, "Things as they are
Are changed upon the blue guitar".
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PostSubject: Re: another question   Sun Dec 19, 2010 1:10 pm

If all is changed
And none’s the same
How can we tell the false from true?
We cannot ask the guitar blue,
From it the falseness did ensue.


Perhaps within the guitar’s song
We will find that for which we long.
Not precisely just the same
As the truth to be reclaimed
But need we say the truth’s been maimed?


I’ll say no, it has evolved,
And though changed, it has resolved
The question of what truth is true
And from what falseness we’re absolved
And from the worry that’s undue
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PostSubject: Re: another question   Sun Dec 19, 2010 1:57 pm

How do you know what is delusion and what is not? If you really want to see how complex a question that is you need to look at neuroscience. They have started to takle questions of meaning and perception and what they have found is sometimes extremely odd. The 2003 BBC Reith Lectures give a quick, but authorative view of the recent findings. You can listen or read them at:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/reith2003/
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PostSubject: Re: another question   Sun Dec 19, 2010 2:04 pm

Howard,
Just curious if my response/clarifications to your post made sense to you.
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PostSubject: Re: another question   Sun Dec 19, 2010 10:38 pm

Hi Kaizan
My partner wondered if there was enough room on the head of that pin for you and I to keep dancing on. I'll mp you when I'm not entertaining. Some people get so touchy about the spouse ignoring the relatives.
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PostSubject: Re: another question   Mon Dec 20, 2010 7:46 am

To (mis)quote Blake:
To see a World on the head of a pin
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour
.
I think there is enough room there for us all together to spend a lifetime chasing our tails!
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PostSubject: Re: another question   Mon Dec 20, 2010 3:31 pm

Hello Kaizan
Howard,
Just curious if my response/clarifications to your post made sense to you.


What is delusion?
I still think it's a great question to ask. The fact that the answer may change every day doesn't diminish the worth of asking it everyday. What do I know about delusion?

I usually think of delusion as that which pushes me away from the experince of truth.
or
In the wider fluidity of life, delusion is experienced as that which appears to be static.

I don't know if this is buddhist but using Buddhist terminology as a familiar framework to examine it.....

If I look back at my suffering, and track it forward to a cause, it is always experienced through one of my sense gates that is hanging on to one of my skandhas. Eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, mind that is hanging on to some form, sensation, thought, activity or consciousness. Logic tells me that it may be multiples of both but being a minimalist by nature (a convenient cover for a small brain) my experience continues to only illuminate the singular of both. Not all of these potential combinations have been experienced by me, either.

Our posts were mostly about the worth or efficacy of examining the delusion over the resulting suffering or just attending to the suffering alone.

Whatever becomes the dominant focus in my meditation is usually a sign post for delusion ahead. This might be the advance warning, in front of the potential wake, that I was interested in examining with you in our previous posts.
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PostSubject: Re: another question   Tue Dec 21, 2010 6:11 pm

Greed and hatred are pretty easy to see. Delusion is not being aware how destructive they are, and in the worst case that they are somehow justifiable ... basic lack of awareness.
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PostSubject: Re: another question   Tue Dec 21, 2010 7:06 pm

Howard,

Mokuan’s original question was how do we recognize delusion, and what I keep coming back to is that we can’t recognize delusion, because once it is recognized it is no longer delusion. I know some think this is like how many OBC Connect members can fit on the head of pin, but I think the discussion might have value, since spinning one’s wheels attempting to the impossible is its own problem.

I think part of the discrepancies in the perspectives we each present might be that you are using one term to define two phenomena. What I am gleaning from your posts and private message is that perhaps you have subsumed negative habitual thought into your definition of delusion. Correct me if I’m wrong, but in a variety of ways you have alluded to the need to keep an eye out for ways that you delude yourself. When you speak in this way, this indicates to me that you’re already aware that the false thinking is just that: false thinking. At some point in the past you recognized the thinking as being a delusion/mistake/false. The original recognition of this, from my present understanding and observation of how such things work, does not come by recognizing the delusion as delusion directly. It comes from seeing the effect of that delusional/mistaken thought process on your actions and their consequences in the world.

To continue with my train of thought: once the thoughts are recognized as delusion, the habit energy of the what was once a delusion does not disappear. As soon as you look away, your mind will try to reestablish that pattern of thought, when circumstances are conducive, at a level below your conscious awareness. Because you are meditating and care about such things, your conscious mind is on the lookout for the reestablishment of negative habitual patterns, but that habitual pattern is no longer a delusion, it is a negative habitual pattern that sneaks up on you, which you recognize as being what it is. You are not really deluded regarding it, you’re just ambushed. That is why I made the assertions that I did in my original post responding to Mokuan’s question.

I’m curious if there is validity to my assumption that you are including negative habitual thought in your definition of delusion, and if that is so, if you separate them does that make our points of view not so different as they might appear?
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PostSubject: Re: another question   Tue Dec 21, 2010 7:45 pm

Excuse me for interrupting...

I'm loving this discussion and I come back to it over and over again to pick up nuances and things I've missed.

And one of the things that I've learned here with all this input is that I don't have a working definition of "delusion." Maybe that's why I've been puzzled all these years --duh! I mean, how does one recognize what's ill-defined. You just can't.

So when I get a definition configured, then I'll know what to look for. And when I see it, I will follow it all the way back to it's beginning and, then...well... I'll do what needs to be done. So as it stands now, I'm sure I've got some delusion, just a teeny tiny bit, but when it's defined then recognised and unraveled, well then maybe delusion will be nonexistent and the koan solved. Yay!

Many thanks for all the posts here on this thread. I know where to come with my next question!

And Mark, thanks for the link to the neuroscience of meditation. It's actually something that I've been interested in for quite some time and just recently I added to my nightstand The Mindful Brain, by Daniel J. Seigel. It goes quite nicely with my Stephen Batchelor books.

Well, I'm thinking I'd better start my Christmas shopping and Howard and Kaizan you need to resume your conversation.

Affectionately,
mokuan
Great Teachers, thank you.
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PostSubject: Re: another question   Tue Dec 21, 2010 8:20 pm






Hey Kaizan

OK -this is really interesting. Its not that I think your view is right or wrong but as I read your posting it feels like the chicken or the egg question.
Yes, I am not calling them two different phenomena. I'm not sure that labelling a part of what I call delusion as a negative habitual pattern makes the circumstances that give it life as anything other than delusion? Do you think that the thing that allows the "negative habitual pattern" to ambush me is not really delusion? As I ask this question I'm not sure of what you include in the description of delusion?

My dominant thought of our "different" views was not so much about them being different as wondering why you don't consider them as complementary.

OK .. Now my head is starting to hurt.

Do you have any personal examples that might make your view clearer?

This is probably one of those things that can best be sorted out by me getting out of it's way. Zafu time or happy hour. What to do, what to do?
Cheers
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PostSubject: Re: another question   Tue Dec 21, 2010 9:11 pm

mokuan wrote:


And one of the things that I've learned here with all this input is that I don't have a working definition of "delusion." Maybe that's why I've been puzzled all these years --duh! I mean, how does one recognize what's ill-defined. You just can't.

Well, I'm thinking I'd better start my Christmas shopping and Howard and Kaizan you need to resume your conversation.

Affectionately,
mokuan
Great Teachers, thank you.

I believe once you've understood that there's an (endless) journey to take to become awake the fundamental delusion has been dissolved. Then there are only the never ending cycles of greed and hate to deal with (oh, joy).

Now, regarding Christmas shopping, I don't remember you asking me what I wanted... santa
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PostSubject: Re: another question   Wed Dec 22, 2010 9:15 am

Howard,

As I said earlier, I have not really looked closely at this whole idea of what is delusion. I have recited the litany more of less as rote, it seems: greed, hate, delusion—not really looking into the nuts and bolts of what exactly is delusion. So I’m investigating this as we go along, not really certain where it will lead. This is what I’ve come up with in response to your last post.

I think that you might be including another phenomena under the umbrella of delusion that is more akin to desire than delusion. I think what gives life and impetus to delusions is desire. Prior to having delusions or even a thought process, desire will precede delusion in our moving away from the state of wholeness, where subject and object don’t exist. The thought process about why leaving that state of wholeness is preferable to the state of wholeness itself is something that is constructed afterwards, I believe. Desire is very basic to human nature and precedes thought, upon which delusion rests. I guess you could say that the basic impetus of desire is the delusion that there is something lacking, but for that to be true I think thought would have to be more primal than desire, which I don’t believe it is.

PS Mokuan, I've been wanting an iPhone 4. Not sure where that came from, but I thought I'd just put that out there.
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PostSubject: Re: another question   Wed Dec 22, 2010 10:42 am

I have always taken moha in translation as either ignorance and/or delusion. And understood that it was a mistaken belief in something (or the absence of something) but with a certain deliberate or wanton element. So, I believe that we will still have snow on the ground here tomorrow, the weather forecast and all the other indications are that that is true, so if it turns out not to be true that is a mistake not ignorance/delusion (moha). If on the other hand I think that I am sticking to my meditation/exercise/diet regime that is delusion (moha). I ignore or suppress the knowledge off the times when I've skipped it saying to myself and others that they don't count, were not important, or actually suppressing my recognition of them by distraction or deliberately not facing up to them then that is ignorance and I am deluding myself. In many ways Buddhist thought anticipated Freud here because habitual conscious suppression leads to subconscious suppression which is much harder to see. We have to dig it up, recognise it, and face it; confession.

Anyhow the traditional Theravada antidote for moha is mindfulness particularly of breath and body.

Anne please correct me if I have the technicalities wrong.
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PostSubject: Re: another question   Thu Dec 23, 2010 11:04 am

Mark,
Thanks for the info on the Theravadan concepts about delusion. I think it supports some of the conclusions I've been coming to. Once suppression of what is really so becomes subconscious, that is where delusion is truly delusion--we are not aware it is untrue.

Take your example of believing you are sticking to your diet/exercise, etc, and considering all veering from the program as insignificant and that you're really dedicated. Once that you fully believe that untruth, it is a delusion. The way you realize you are deluded is that you become fat and flabby--it is the wake that makes you start to question the delusion.

Similarly-- thinking that one's teacher is an arahant and seeing all the questioinable things she does as somehow not significant enough to disprove her sainthood or actually supporting it. I think that eventually the consequences of her actions become to large to ignore or her actions have direct extremely negative consequences to you personally that you start to question the delusion.

The thing is, I think that once a belief is fully delusional, it is the consequences of that delusion, its wake, that causes us to question it.

It is interesting that the same phenomenon occurs in science. You have certain unassailable truths: the earth is the center of the universe, Newton's laws of physics, etc. It is when these unassailable truths no longer account for new observations being made that they are questioned. The consequence of believing them is that some other truth has to be dismissed. When new observations and realizations mount up to a certain point, those unassailable truths can then be discarded or modified.

So now in my own little mind, I've created an unassailable truth. Are there any observations I can dismiss to maintain it?
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PostSubject: Re: another question   Thu Dec 23, 2010 2:23 pm

Hello Kaizan

I've found that asking various friends " What is delusion and how is recognized" has been an interesting experience. A little like asking the Inuit what their word for snow is.

Your last posting was very clear and helpful although my instinctive response to this question still involves holding up a wide range of possible answers to refer to.

Your last quote of...
So now in my own little mind, I've created an unassailable truth. Are there any observations I can dismiss to maintain it?

I want to ask if those observations can only be found in ones wake but I'm having a hard time seeing more than one thing that actually exists outside of ones wake, which kind of shoots a hole in most of my postings here.

ever questioning
Howard
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PostSubject: Re: another question   Thu Dec 23, 2010 11:40 pm

Kaizan
The concept of delusion was mine, the way I see it. It was the antidote that was Theravadin though I don't think the main Mahayana schools would disagree they would just tend to add to it.

Don't get me started on the idea of truth in science I could boor you for hours, there are two chapters on it in my PhD thesis, and I had to shorten them!. But just to give you a taste of what you could let yourself in for I would say that in the sciences there are two main types of truth. One of the standard positions in the hard sciences - physics, chemistry, etc. - is that truth is Popperian, after the philosopher of science Karl Popper. In these sciences where there is an assumption of an underlying unchanging absolute, i.e. that the laws of physics are unchanging, though the may not be known. Here Popper argued that you could never know whether science had found the truth only that the present position had not yet been falsified. Under this view scientific knowledge grows by a process of refinement and is only knowledge if it is capable of being falsified. Newton's laws are seen to 'true' until there are occasions found when they don't appear to hold, they have been falsified. Einstein then formulates a new set of truths that are a refinement of Newtons, as they reduce to Newton in the cases where Newton works but when Newton doesn't work they extend to cover that. Einstein's laws are falsifiable and have been tested and so far have not been falsified so they become the new truth. But some time in the future cases maybe found which they don't cover, and then they will have been falsified and a new refinement will need to be found.

A second type of truth in science is what might be called Schumperterian after the Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter who talked about waves of creative destruction. This kind of truth is found in evolving or changing systems where a new adaptation changes the 'truth' for the whole system, sweeping away the old truths, not refining them, and replacing them with a new set. This commonly happens evolutionary science and the social sciences.

Going back to the point where I said that Buddhist thought had anticipated Freud and the subconscious, this is not the only place where Buddhist thought anticipated more modern psychological thinking, look at the first few verses of the Dharmmapada:

1. All that we are is the result of what we have thought: it is
founded on our thoughts, it is made up of our thoughts. If a man
speaks or acts with an evil thought, pain follows him, as the wheel
follows the foot of the ox that draws the carriage.


2. All that we are is the result of what we have thought: it is
founded on our thoughts, it is made up of our thoughts. If a man
speaks or acts with a pure thought, happiness follows him, like a
shadow that never leaves him.


3. "He abused me, he beat me, he defeated me, he robbed me,"--in those
who harbour such thoughts hatred will never cease.


4. "He abused me, he beat me, he defeated me, he robbed me,"--in those
who do not harbour such thoughts hatred will cease.


5. For hatred does not cease by hatred at any time: hatred ceases by
love, this is an old rule.


Looks just like Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) to me!
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PostSubject: Re: another question   Fri Dec 24, 2010 10:41 am

mstrathern wrote:


Dhammapada ...

3. "He abused me, he beat me, he defeated me, he robbed me,"--in those
who harbour such thoughts hatred will never cease.


4. "He abused me, he beat me, he defeated me, he robbed me,"--in those
who do not harbour such thoughts hatred will cease.


5. For hatred does not cease by hatred at any time: hatred ceases by
love, this is an old rule.



Sounds like good advice.

Seasons greetings to everyone from sunny Japan.
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PostSubject: Re: another question   Fri Dec 24, 2010 1:50 pm

mstrathern wrote:

...
One of the standard positions in the hard sciences - physics, chemistry, etc. - is that truth is Popperian, after the philosopher of science Karl Popper. In these sciences where there is an assumption of an underlying unchanging absolute, i.e. that the laws of physics are unchanging, though the may not be known. ...
...
A second type of truth in science is what might be called Schumperterian after the Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter who talked about waves of creative destruction. ...

Interesting views of truth. Both are helpful perspectives. They seem to roughly correspond to Thomas Kuhn's "normal" science vs. the "paradigm shifts" that also sometimes occur. What is is interesting is that at the endpoint, science also admits it is relative truth -- intellectually structured models that seem to reliably predict things (at least statistically). Whether the electron actually exists or not isn't important to science. "Whatever is" can be usefully modeled as an electron.

Another useful distinction about truth is "structural" truth vs. "experiential" truth. There is an undeniable experiential "truth" to the taste of beer, the color of a sunset, or the smell of garlic. It is immediate and undefinable. You can't really describe it adequately and you can't be sure anyone else has the same experience. But you also know it is subjective truth.

Plato's truth is more ideal structural experience imposed on experience. The sensory truth of Lucretius is more experiential truth imposed on reality.

We Westerners are captivated by structural truth, and for some good reason. Science has been more effective in exploring and communicating structural truth than experiential truth ever was. We've reaped the benefits.

Buddhism also has structural truth. But it's more the truth of a roadmap for experiential truth than the truth of science. It is unconvincing as structural truth until one has experienced something that makes one believe the roadmap (model) is at least somewhat reliable.

The question becomes, then, how do you know what you experience is actual -- is true -- is reality?

Buddhism and even some Christian and Muslim mystics make a claim that there is ultimate truth, but not knowable truth -- truth not based on either experience or structure. Since I'm not enlightened, I don't get it. But at least I can see that structural truth isn't ultimate truth. That in itself has been helpful.
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