dmattwads

Spiritual hubris

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My first exploration into the spiritual world was though the lens of fundamentalist Christianity. Needless to say Christianity in general and especially this type of it tends to have the view that they are right and everyone else is wrong, or even evil.

 

It came as a shock to me when I began to question and then doubt that fundamentalist Christianity was the one true religion after all. A few years later when I became interested in Buddhism one thing that I appreciated was that Buddhism was not exclusive and elitist like Christianity, or so I thought. As time went by and I began to read the suttas for myself I kept coming across passages where the Buddha supposedly said this is right view and if someone thinks differently it is wrong view and it will lead them to a bad rebirth or even hell. I had heard that line before and I wasn't amused. I would listen to Buddhist monks on YouTube speak about other spiritual traditions and generally why these other traditions were incorrect and why Buddhism was correct. Again after what I had been through with fundamentalist Christianity I wasn't very enthusiastic about this type of thinking.

 

Even on forums such as these it is often the case that a view differing from one's own view isn't seen as a different perspective, but rather as wrong. Granted I don't think every single thought, view, or utterance that is said is true, in fact sometimes I think things can be quite wrong, but that does not change the fact that very often things are not right or wrong, but merely a different way to explain the same idea.

 

The Buddha may not have spoken about channels or chakras, but that doe not mean that the practices the Buddha taught don't affect them. The Taoists might not have orinally spoken of karam, but they did speak of yin and yang transforming into each other and to me this symmetry of cause and effect sure sounds like karma if not in name, in action. 

 

Why is it that differing view are seen so often as wrong rather than simply an alternative perspective about basically the same thing?

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2 hours ago, dmattwads said:

Why is it that differing view are seen so often as wrong rather than simply an alternative perspective about basically the same thing?

This is because humans are specialized in exclusion. We exclude things that we are not familiar with because they are potential risks. This is how we survived before we were "civilized", and it is also what leads to the tribal mentality. It's simple to see this trait in pretty much every other animal out there as well; if it's not taught to be accepting of something, it will view it with suspicion. If you don't know what a plant is, would you eat it? What if your parents raised you with that plant in your diet? It's that sort of thing.

 

As said trait applies to spirituality and ideas, along with more physical aspects of life, even the most pure ideologies would eventually develop sections that believe it to be the only thing out there. Now, it can be taught that everyone has a valid opinion, but one person who believes that their opinion is the only valid opinion can easily ruin that. Such a development easily happens when the teachings are taught by those who do not understand them, such as many of the current and past church officials (Look at how it was taught during the middle ages, and compare it what the book actually says). In cases such as these, said people use the "My view is the only right view!" as a power move, to keep them at the top and others below them.

 

Nonetheless, I find it easiest to view this as part of a cycle. A "religion" is born when one "enlightened" individual (not exactly a buddha per se, but more like someone with some insight into what's beyond) decides to teach disciples, and those disciples decide to teach the message to others. Eventually, the teachings spread outside of what was originally taught, and those teaching no longer understand the teachings. Once this happens, corruption strikes, and the downfall of the religion begins. During the downfall of a religion, a new individual is born and starts a new religion, which continues the cycle. If we view the different bits of Christianity (Roman Catholic, Calvinist, Lutheran, Protestant, etc.), Judaism, Islam, and the Pagan religions of the Romans and Greeks, and look at the overall history, we begin to see something of a pattern. When a religion falls, it doesn't always disappear, but its ability to recruit and the peoples' trust in it lowers. 

 

That's my take on it, anyway. I'd love to hear other peoples' opinions as well, as this is something I've been concerned about as well!

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What both of you guys have said is definitely true. There does seem to be this cycle of exclusion. Even comparing the various hindu faiths we see this paradigm where certain faiths say this is the way to achieve enlightenment/spiritual advancement and other ways are mediocre at best. And it is most likely true that the way these preachers preach is a way, but the mistake is to believe that it is the only way.
 

It reminds me of a poem, written by Lu Zhishen ( fictional character from the water margin):

 

In my life I never cultivated goodness, 平生不修善果,
Relishing only murder and arson. 只愛殺人放火。
Suddenly my golden shackles have been opened; 忽地頓開金枷,
Here my jade locks have been pulled asunder. 這裡指斷玉鎖。
Alas! Hereby the river tide cometh, 咦!錢塘江上潮信來,
Now I finally realise that I am what I am! 今日方知我是我。

 

The poem itself speaks for the character. He was basically a bad monk, who even took to banditry at some point. Yet good and evil, does not change what one is.

I like the poem because it reminds me of how there is no way. So better to not worry about things like Jing, karma, yin-yang, and instead focus on your self :)

Edited by Mithras
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13 hours ago, dmattwads said:

Why is it that differing view are seen so often as wrong rather than simply an alternative perspective about basically the same thing?

 

In dzogchen, the view is very precise.

If you get it right you do not accumulate karma.

But if you miss by a mm you may as well miss by a km...

It does not say that there are no other valid perspectives.

What it does say is that all other paths, all perspectives, involve generating karma.

There are as many perspectives as there are individuals.

Alternate perspectives are not "basically the same thing" as the dzogchen view.

It may not be, and does not claim to be, unique but it is very precise and transcends all perspective.

It posits no perspective of its own.

Only simple instructions.

 

edit - dzogchen actually does claim its view to be unique, not in a possessive or exclusive way, but in the sense that it is very precise 

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Nicely put Steve. IMO any knowledge, whether dzogchen, materialist science, or some other ideology is not evil, harmful, or limiting at all. The person themselves is at the core of the experience(whether they know it or not) and gravitate towards what fits them. So I think that it’d be rare for worries of conflicting knowledge harming someone to actually be true.
 

Though it can be hurtful at times when others preach conflicting information at you when you’re starting. Like it’s already such a big jump and commitment for most when they start, and when others aren’t only not supporting you but instead are trying to even bring you down... eek it’s hard(speaking from personal experience). I guess that’s why a lot of these ideologies can be a bit defensive, because there’s a lot of preachers in this day and age who want to speak their nonsense to people who don’t want to listen.


Also probably why “good company” is seen as a major aspect of some practices.

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Correct and incorrect are a major part of these traditions.

 

Daoism for instance, much like Dzogchen it seems, is also very precise. It’s precise in a sort of mathematical way. There’s a correct way to solve a maths problem - and there are countless incorrect ways.

 

When there’s a value judgement added (this view is not only wrong - it’s bad) - this takes a wholly different and unhealthy political turn.

 

There’s a modern mentality that says everything is subjective so everything is right... Or that all paths are the same... 

 

But that’s obviously not true. A key either opens a lock or it doesn’t. 
 

Fundamentalist religions make this into a political thing. If you don’t operate according to our model then you’re bad/evil/must be punished... 

 

Funny enough - by taking spiritual truth and turning it into politics, they’ve already gone off the rails themselves...

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11 hours ago, dmattwads said:

this is right view and if someone thinks differently it is wrong view

If you go to a doctor presumably you want him to tell you what is wrong. I don't really see why your spiritual well being should be treated or expressed any differently. You can always go for a second or third opinion.

To be fair to Buddhism, at least as far my reading goes. When talking of right or wrong it is done in terms of skillfulness not moral outrage. Buddha did say go and try it for yourself, so I cannot consider this harsh.

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2 hours ago, rocala said:

If you go to a doctor presumably you want him to tell you what is wrong. I don't really see why your spiritual well being should be treated or expressed any differently. You can always go for a second or third opinion.

To be fair to Buddhism, at least as far my reading goes. When talking of right or wrong it is done in terms of skillfulness not moral outrage. Buddha did say go and try it for yourself, so I cannot consider this harsh.

 

I agree but this wasn't about Buddhism. The point of the post was to explore the aspect of human nature that tends to view somebody that disagrees with oneself as intrinsically wrong at best and evil at worst.

 

But if I was going to use Buddhism specifically, I can say the Buddhist say the goal is nirvana and the Buddha said nothing about the Tao.

 The Taoists say no loud to said the goal was to obtain the Tao and said nothing about the word Nirvana.

  Then when you ask each group to define what is their end goal and it is and it is basically more or less the same then it can be seen that this isn't a matter of right or wrong but of definitions and perspective.

Edited by dmattwads
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5 minutes ago, dmattwads said:

 

I agree but this wasn't about Buddhism. The point of the post was to explore the aspect of human nature that tends to view somebody that disagrees with oneself as intrinsically wrong at best and evil at worst.

 

I wonder if that tendency is truly an aspect of human nature?

I feel it is more a consequence of conditioning.

It certainly seems as if it is our nature because the depth and breadth of conditioning is so pervasive.

Unconditioned human nature can be totally open, embracing disagreement and alternative perspective.

This is the idea of returning to childlike purity, to the source - deconditioning, that is prevalent in wisdom traditions.

Resting in the view I alluded to earlier encompasses all perspectives without adhering to any.

It is considered by its practitioners to be fundamental human nature.

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3 minutes ago, steve said:

I wonder if that tendency is truly an aspect of human nature?

I feel it is more a consequence of conditioning.

Considering that human nature, whatever that is, has embraced everything from cannibalism to veganism and pacifism to war crimes, I certainly go for the conditioning option.

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Main thing is to understand that as many views, that many paths exist. Part of the journey is an evolutionary process of acquiring knowledge, refining knowledge and also eliminating knowledge (if & when it’s purpose is served).
 

Just because we see others holding different views doesn’t mean we should dislike them or worse hate them/label them as evil. The world is facing exactly this very crisis today in the form of social bubbles and echo chambers.  

 

Diversity of view is a healthy thing, when backed by true insight and not blind faith. Main thing is to use our intelligence, intuition and eventually direct perception to know the “truth”, whatever that might be. 
 

The idea is to be open to understanding other perspectives, whether we accept it or not is a personal choice. And when it seems appropriate, not shy away from voicing our own view in a compassionate manner. 

 

P.S. I've been reading a very fascinating book that explores the Nondual traditions of Vedānta, Buddhism and Taoism, titled "Nonduality in Buddhism and beyond" by David Loy. *Okay, I confess, it might be fascinating only to me :D

 

This is a book after my own heart, I love the approach to find the underlying unity of these seemingly disparate traditions. It would be a worthwhile read for anyone interested in the different approaches of these three traditions...I'm only through chapter 2 and I'm loving it...Did I say that I *LOVE IT!* :D 

 

Edited by dwai
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13 hours ago, freeform said:

Daoism for instance, much like Dzogchen it seems, is also very precise. It’s precise in a sort of mathematical way. There’s a correct way to solve a maths problem - and there are countless incorrect ways.

 

I confess to being more than a little perplexed by this. For me spirituality is something that grows ‘self-so’.  It’s an intrinsic part of our human psyche.  It comes from the Dao and will always try to manifest itself.  However, we are certainly capable of holding attitudes that block Spirit from affecting us. 

 

That comparison of spiritual practice with the precision a solving a mathematical problem brought to my mind this analogy:  Left to nature and instinct babies are conceived, grow in the womb and are born, all without conscious interference. In fact, the more we can let the forces of nature flow without inference, the more smoothly the process goes.  However, when the natural processes fail then conscious human involvement comes into play.  For instance, we now have ‘test-tube’ babies and that certainly requires precision like solving a mathematical problem does. 

 

My thought is that spirituality in civilised society has lost its spontaneity and become like creating test-tube babies. We have depotentised the forces of yin and yang so that they are no longer capable of fruitful copulation. In this sense, the structured methods of systemised Neidan are an outstanding example of ‘test-tube’ spirituality. Hence the precision required in consciously working with such complexity.  To my mind, left to Nature the alchemical transmutations will happen in their own time and in their own way ‘self-so’, but only in rare instances will the ‘Immortal Embryo’ be conceived. 

 

Whether or not this ‘pregnancy’ happens within me, I for one am content to allow Spirit to take its own course because experience tells me that way I’ll gain an outcome appropriate for my place within the Dao.
 

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49 minutes ago, Yueya said:

 

I confess to being more than a little perplexed by this. For me spirituality is something that grows ‘self-so’.  It’s an intrinsic part of our human psyche.  It comes from the Dao and will always try to manifest itself.  However, we are certainly capable of holding attitudes that block Spirit from affecting us. 

 

That comparison of spiritual practice with the precision a solving a mathematical problem brought to my mind this analogy:  Left to nature and instinct babies are conceived, grow in the womb and are born, all without conscious interference. In fact, the more we can let the forces of nature flow without inference, the more smoothly the process goes.  However, when the natural processes fail then conscious human involvement comes into play.  For instance, we now have ‘test-tube’ babies and that certainly requires precision like solving a mathematical problem does. 

 

My thought is that spirituality in civilised society has lost its spontaneity and become like creating test-tube babies. We have depotentised the forces of yin and yang so that they are no longer capable of fruitful copulation. In this sense, the structured methods of systemised Neidan are an outstanding example of ‘test-tube’ spirituality. Hence the precision required in consciously working with such complexity.  To my mind, left to Nature the alchemical transmutations will happen in their own time and in their own way ‘self-so’, but only in rare instances will the ‘Immortal Embryo’ be conceived. 

 

Whether or not this ‘pregnancy’ happens within me, I for one am content to allow Spirit to take its own course because experience tells me that way I’ll gain an outcome appropriate for my place within the Dao.
 

I think that the gnosis experience is universal (albeit rare) among very different traditions speaks to this. My own path was haphazardly formed but devotedly followed and while I have suffered great misfortune and adversity I also feel I have made fantastic progress over the years. All I used to do was aimless shikantaza all day, day after day, practice austerities, bear with obstacles, and work on purifying my thoughts and attitudes while harmonizing my conduct with the guidance of the I Ching. I really had no method other than this and consulting the Oracle. However, I have no experience with an intentional internal alchemy path like neidan or Vajra practice so I don't doubt working with that you need a proper method and guidance. Liu Yiming seemed to agree with freeform's perspective and I would not doubt his wisdom. I just think there are many paths that lead to profound progress and only some of them require precise methodology

Edited by TranquilTurmoil
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1 hour ago, Yueya said:

Whether or not this ‘pregnancy’ happens within me, I for one am content to allow Spirit to take its own course because experience tells me that way I’ll gain an outcome appropriate for my place within the Dao.

 

 

 

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The Green Dragon and The White Tiger:
From “Heaven and Earth”
‘Taoist Cosmology’

 

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On 17/12/2020 at 7:53 PM, dmattwads said:

My first exploration into the spiritual world was though the lens of fundamentalist Christianity. Needless to say Christianity in general and especially this type of it tends to have the view that they are right and everyone else is wrong, or even evil.

 

It came as a shock to me when I began to question and then doubt that fundamentalist Christianity was the one true religion after all. A few years later when I became interested in Buddhism one thing that I appreciated was that Buddhism was not exclusive and elitist like Christianity, or so I thought. As time went by and I began to read the suttas for myself I kept coming across passages where the Buddha supposedly said this is right view and if someone thinks differently it is wrong view and it will lead them to a bad rebirth or even hell. I had heard that line before and I wasn't amused. I would listen to Buddhist monks on YouTube speak about other spiritual traditions and generally why these other traditions were incorrect and why Buddhism was correct. Again after what I had been through with fundamentalist Christianity I wasn't very enthusiastic about this type of thinking.

 

Even on forums such as these it is often the case that a view differing from one's own view isn't seen as a different perspective, but rather as wrong. Granted I don't think every single thought, view, or utterance that is said is true, in fact sometimes I think things can be quite wrong, but that does not change the fact that very often things are not right or wrong, but merely a different way to explain the same idea.

 

The Buddha may not have spoken about channels or chakras, but that doe not mean that the practices the Buddha taught don't affect them. The Taoists might not have orinally spoken of karam, but they did speak of yin and yang transforming into each other and to me this symmetry of cause and effect sure sounds like karma if not in name, in action. 

 

Why is it that differing view are seen so often as wrong rather than simply an alternative perspective about basically the same thing?

 

Because they are views.

 

Building a "view" of the world requires for things to be right or wrong. Taking an approach of "this is a different view and equaly valid" doesn't build a view of the world - it makes one float randomically on a mental space of indecision and refusal to commit to analisys and deductions about the world around them.

 

Even worldviews based on this kind of mental act of "let's relativize every kind of analysis of the world" can't stand their own trial and end up having to say that relativization is the correct path - for instance, you're annoyed that people don't do it themselves.

 

Any kind of "view" of the world will intrinsecaly mean you're judging the world and assigning values to things - be it "right" or "wrong", or "kinda right", "kinda wrong", etc.

 

To go beyond that you'll need to stop judging, and that means stoping to have a certain "view" of the world. You'll have to enter a state of not having any kind of opinion or taking any kind of deduction about things around you. So if you see an apple falling from a tree, on such a state you do not deduce that other apples on the same tree will also fall to the ground.

 

It is both a state of bliss and a state of ignorance and uselesness.

 

Bliss if you use it to expand and fluidify your own mind, being able to enter and exit this state and learning how to enter and exit worldviews.

 

Uselessness if you can't return once you've reached that, as you'll basically become a 2 months old toddler after forgetting things like "if I push certain muscles I can roll on my back".

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On 18/12/2020 at 8:53 AM, dmattwads said:

The Buddha may not have spoken about channels or chakras,

 
You are only limiting yourself by referring to a religious figure.

 

He is only one aspect of the ultimate nature of the soul, which is mind-blowingly complex.

 

Eternal, boundless, self-contained, ever evolving...but also an aspect of an even greater entity which Taoists called "The Tao" (the source of ALL consciousness).

 

Nirvana? Don't limit yourself with another abstract concept. It's only a one man's experience!

 

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12 hours ago, Yueya said:

For me spirituality is something that grows ‘self-so’.  It’s an intrinsic part of our human psyche.


While everyone has an intrinsic spiritual nature - everyone also has an intrinsic animal nature.

 

Human nature is this funny dance between our spiritual and animal selves... however it’s been made clear by various unconnected teachers that it’s very much the animal part that drives much of humanity.

 

For Daoists in fact, one does not become a true human until they achieve a stage that’s akin to enlightenment. Zhenren means ‘true human’... anyone who hasn’t attained enlightenment is still tethered by their animal natures.

 

12 hours ago, Yueya said:

Left to nature and instinct babies are conceived, grow in the womb and are born, all without conscious interference. In fact, the more we can let the forces of nature flow without inference, the more smoothly the process goes.


Left to nature the baby grows up, has kids, raises those kids then eventually dies - and comes back as a baby for another round - over and over.

 

That is the natural course.

 

In my experience with Daoists in Asia - none of them think of the process of alchemy as a natural unfolding. It’s in fact counter natural - a kind of reversal.

 

12 hours ago, Yueya said:

To my mind, left to Nature the alchemical transmutations will happen in their own time and in their own way ‘self-so’


That’s not the view of any of the Daoist masters I’ve come across.

 

However I must say that mathematics gives the wrong connotation.

 

The Daoist cultivator is more akin to a gardener than a craftsman.

 

The craftsman controls and shapes her materials to follow her designs.

 

The gardener creates the right circumstances and conditions for her garden to bloom.

 

But gardening still has right and wrong. Let an invasive weed flower and spread its seeds and you’ll have to deal with the results over countless seasons.

 

Allow water to wash away your topsoil - and you’ll lose all fertility for generations to come.
 

Get enchanted with one plant to the exclusion of all the others and you’ll create the perfect conditions for disease to decimate the garden.

 

12 hours ago, Yueya said:

the structured methods of systemised Neidan are an outstanding example of ‘test-tube’ spirituality. Hence the precision required in consciously working with such complexity.

 

This may indeed be test tube spirituality - but way before test tubes were invented... so let’s call it cauldron spirituality instead :) 

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There’s another path to spiritual growth that requires no crafting or gardening - and is probably a closer match to the natural unfolding that you’re talking about @Yueya

 

Thats a life of pure service to others.

 

In many ways a more difficult life, but a much simpler one - just always follow the compass arrow pointing towards selfless service.

 

But prepare to give up everything of the self.

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22 hours ago, steve said:

I wonder if that tendency [to view somebody that disagrees with oneself as intrinsically wrong at best and evil at worst] is truly an aspect of human nature?

I feel it is more a consequence of conditioning.


I don’t think it’s conditioning. I think it’s a natural instinct to see ‘other’ as potentially dangerous... It’s the case in the whole of the animal world.

 

In fact it’s through conditioning that we force ourselves to trust a stranger (rather than the other way round)...

 

A wild dog will always be wary of a stranger... a ‘tamed’ dog is more likely to wag its tail at a stranger...

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2 hours ago, Gerard said:

 
You are only limiting yourself by referring to a religious figure.

 

He is only one aspect of the ultimate nature of the soul, which is mind-blowingly complex.

 

Eternal, boundless, self-contained, ever evolving...but also an aspect of an even greater entity which Taoists called "The Tao" (the source of ALL consciousness).

 

Nirvana? Don't limit yourself with another abstract concept. It's only a one man's experience!

 

 

That was exactly my point lol. 🙂

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On 12/18/2020 at 6:53 AM, dmattwads said:

As time went by and I began to read the suttas for myself I kept coming across passages where the Buddha supposedly said this is right view and if someone thinks differently it is wrong view and it will lead them to a bad rebirth or even hell.

 

Interesting. Where in the suttas is that alluded to, I wonder. 

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1 minute ago, C T said:

 

Interesting. Where in the suttas is that alluded to, I wonder. 

 

Oh it's not even alluded to it's said blatantly in several suttas of the middle length discourses, but I can't remember the exact suttas off the top of my head. I'll try to find them later.

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