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Re: Wanting and Selecting

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  • don_r_morrison
    There isn t a goal of mediation. Enlightenment isn t a goal. ... denial ... eventually ... Basic ... the ... enlightened state, which is the *goal* of this
    Message 1 of 56 , Mar 1, 2006
      There isn't a "goal" of mediation. Enlightenment isn't a goal.

      --- In stoics@yahoogroups.com, "Arkadi Choufrine (achoufri@...)"
      <achoufri@...> wrote:
      > > Part of enlightment according to buddhism is *stopping* the
      > of the nature of the self which is manifested in emotions or
      > passions, isn't it?
      > > If so, how can one possibly reach enlightenment without
      > getting beyond emotions or passions?
      > > Arkadi
      > -------------
      > >>Not to get too far afield in Buddhism, but I would disagree with
      > this phraseology.
      > Never is the practitioner asked to stop emotions. Never is the
      > practitioner asked to "stand apart" from emotions or thoughts.
      > meditation technique is to keep the mind on some focal point in
      > present
      > ----------
      > I know about the mediation technque. I was talking about the
      enlightened state, which is the *goal* of this technique.
      > This goal is not reached *by* stopping the emotions, yet the
      emotions do go away when the goal is reached.
      > To practice meditation does not, of itself, mean to be already
      > Arkadi
    • Steve & Oxsana Marquis
      Michael wrote: __________ Enlightenment really isn t a goal. That there is a goal to reach is as much an illusion as there is a self to reach any goal.
      Message 56 of 56 , Mar 9, 2006

        Michael wrote:



        Enlightenment really isn't a goal. That there is a goal to
        reach is as much an "illusion" as there is a self to reach
        any goal.



        Interesting Michael.  I’ve always thought us ‘modern’ Stoics have focused overmuch on the ideal ‘Sage’; is this perfect virtuous state attainable, and, if so, is the ‘goal’ set too high, etc, etc.  It seems that we need some clear intellectual description of an end to generate enthusiasm for a beginning, but then as we make progress we realize it is the ongoing dynamic process itself that is important, not whether we reach the end or not.


        The ego attaches easily to an end, or goal.  If this intellectual ‘attachment’ or excessive ‘desire’ is a characteristic these two disciplines are attempting to reduce in the practitioner then it’s obvious that intellectual worry (ie, a subset of the passion of phobos) concerning the end is contrary to that purpose at some point.  This may be one reason why Epictetus chastises his students for feeling pride at their recitation of Chrysippean doctrine and the ability to argue well.  Those skills by themselves say nothing really about a person’s progress.


        Descriptions have the property of defining clearly an object to attach to.  Beyond a certain point goal motivation (intellectual desire to reach some described end) looses is power for further progress, and, in fact, becomes an impediment.  What we may be seeing is different motivational techniques, different ‘reasons’ to get the student going, depending on the level the person is currently at.  So, to say that goal motivation is right or wrong might be over simplistic.  Its one of those ‘it depends’ answers.


        The exotic attraction of ‘descriptionless’ nirvana can be yet another illusion for the ego driven mind to become infatuated with.  Its been my opinion (maybe oversimplifying again) that many western adherents of Eastern Wisdom Traditions are motivated by personal disillusionment with the west in one way or another, and that includes an aversion to ‘square’ Aristotelian reason (digital either / or logic, black and white definitions for everything).  I don’t see any of the EWTs labeling descriptive reason as bad or evil in itself.  This aversion, what the Stoics would also label a ‘passion’, is skewing our perception of what these EWTs are about.


        I heard a story once about the student who gets all excited the first time he levitates during meditation.  To the student (ie, the student’s ego) this seems like such a marvelous thing.  There is that rush of pleasure at accomplishment (in this case the Stoic passion of pleasure or hedone).  What does the master do?  Congratulate the student?  No way.  The student gets whacked and reminded to focus once again on the meditation.


        Why the trivializing of accomplishment?  I believe in both traditions progress is a matter of new neural pathways in the brain.  We are consciously choosing to literally rebuild our minds.  Repetition over time is the key to this progress.  Excitement at reaching certain stages distracts from the focus needed, the tenacity, for the continual steady climb.  If we begin to think that the goal is the purpose rather how we get to the goal then it no longer matters how we get to the goal.  Winning, not playing well becomes the object.  Ego doesn’t want to work, just win.  And once that happens the student has given up on the core mechanism to make progress, habit building.  I believe that both the meditation of the East and the focus on practice to build the virtuous disposition in Hellenistic philosophy is that habit building ongoing effort instantiated in these traditions.  That is why they work.


        I know Zen has ideas about ‘shortcuts’, such as the Koan, but that is another story.


        A common misperception of Stoicism goes something like this:  The cause of your suffering is emotion / feeling / all affect.  Remove all affect from your psyche and you will be fine (tranquil).


        A common misperception of Buddhism and other EWTs goes something like this:  The cause of your suffering is your reliance on reasoning / description / concepts.  Reject reason in favor of intuition and you will be fine.


        Different content, but same pattern.  I hope we can see in both cases these are not correct descriptions of these traditions.


        Live well,


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