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Religious and social life

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  • Religious and social life

    I felt an urge to express some of my doubts and complexities regarding my study of Buddhism.
    I like to think that i study buddhism in order to understand myself and understand the universe. But one thing I know is that you have to be honest with yourself, so I am wondering if I really am studying buddhism because I feel that I lack social skills. Well, I do lack them, but then so many do, and perhaps my view on my own social skills are erroneous because i still haven't reached the state of no desire, perception or self.

    In any case, I read in the buddhist scriptures of this eternal emptiness. In order to achieve it, I have to rid myself of my ego and thereby, my personality. Personality is pretty much the foundation of being good in social skills.
    On occation, I see monks laughing, smiling, joking, putting forth an eminent and joyful PERSONALITY.

    I have heard, that in buddhism you seek the "golden middleway" while in this life. Does this mean that all the sutras are extremities which must be regarded with a certain distance and cognizance in order to find the way that lies between the nothingness and the entities created by dependant co-arising?

    Having reached nirvana certainly includes to have left personality and all things associated long behind.
    Does this mean that if you want to reach it, you must isolate yourself from all beings in order to prevent facing situations where personality is required?

    Or is there a way to sort of "make up" a personality when it is needed, a sort of personality that you only present and can rid yourself of at anytime?

    I assume that I am going through the painful time of the Great Doubt. I am still lured by the Buddhas many expedient means though.

  • #2
    well, in my very non-buddhist point of view, personality is made up anyway. what's real is how you carry yourself and the ways you respond to people. sometimes, there's a pattern that other people recognize in the way you do these things, and those people call that your "personality". but it's just a set of tendencies.

    for instance, i often put off-topic ramblings on these threads, because i'm at work and i'm bored. you notice a pattern, you call that my "personality". when i'm not at work, and i'm at home, with my friends, i'll often get very drunk and yell and play my drums until the neighbors complain. my friends call this my "personality". when i'm with my girlfriend, i have a lot of sex. she calls this my "personality". (she likes to keep things simple.)

    i guess my point is, the concept of personality is important if you're an actor looking to portray someone, or a friend trying to describe another friend to a potential blind date, but it's not something to be taken so seriously by the individual himself. do what you do, and let other people decide what you are to them.


    • #3
      In any case, I read in the buddhist scriptures of this eternal emptiness. In order to achieve it, I have to rid myself of my ego and thereby, my personality.
      You misinterpret ego and personality.

      You can give up your ego without giving up your personality. I suggest that you investigate the true definition and meaning of the term "ego". And while you're at it, look up "humility".

      That's what you're striving for.
      Experienced Community organizer. Yeah, let's choose him to run the free world. It will be historic. What could possibly go wrong...

      "You're just a jaded cynical mother****er...." Jeffpeg

      (more comments in my User Profile)


      • #4
        BE CAREFUL WHEN YOU READ THE SUTRAS (SUTTAS)!!! I could not stress this enough because we may read too much into a sutra that has a meaning that is very practical but we are not ready for it and see it as something mystical or way out there.

        One thing I find is that it is good to learn how to let go. You can be yourself, but you don't have to firmly grasp onto it, you just use and then when it changes you let it go.

        Desire and craving are very interesting things. At first I tried to supress it, I tried as much as possible, but it didn't work. Then one day, or a period of days, I realized that I should just accept desire and craving as very natural things within me. When I did this, I soon became less affected by it, when it would come up, I would do my best to see it as it is and let it be.

        Letting Go is a very interesting thing, because it doesn't involve throwing things away. Say if I have a clock that works well, do I need to throw away the clock? No, it's a good clock, why should get rid of it? However, I don't have to cling to it, it's not something that ALWAYS has to be with me. That is letting go.

        "For some reason I'm in a good mood today. I haven't left the house yet, though. "

        "fa hui, you make buddhism sexy." -Zachsan

        "Friends don't let friends do Taekwondo." -Nancy Reagan


        • #5
          Letting go. Works best when dealing with women.

          Accept your cravings and desire, don't suppress it. Never cling to women. Treat them as if you don't always have to have them. Throw the bad ones away and keep the good ones.

          Great concept FH. I just knew this Buddhism stuff had practicality.
          Experienced Community organizer. Yeah, let's choose him to run the free world. It will be historic. What could possibly go wrong...

          "You're just a jaded cynical mother****er...." Jeffpeg

          (more comments in my User Profile)


          • #6
            You are so right Doc. But it creates problems... because the more you ignore girls and their sexuality the more they want you... in most cases anyway i should think!

            It's kind of hard to resist the girls and their overtures. When that happens I like to picture myself wisely and joyfully laughing like a Buddha would


            • #7
              that's a bad thing, asger?


              • #8
                To speak the truth zach, I have no clue if it's a good or bad way to handle life.... No Idea


                • #9
                  But I know that giving in to desires is bad, and that it only leads to more suffering. So, let's just say that I enjoy the girls as they are, but never giving in to desires regarding them.

                  Anyway, that's just my way of handling life. All the people choosing or ending up with so many different ways of handling life, most seem to end up a fairly respectable place. No matter what way we choose as long as you're honest to yourself, I think it'll all work out... such is nature.


                  • #10
                    it might not work out. you might get hit by a speeding bus because the driver was high on crack. that's part of what makes life so much fun!


                    • #11
                      And if and when you get hit by that bus, and the last ounces of life drain from your body...what then???? I'd hate to have not asked enough questions and found enough answers to allow me to see my last seconds out peacefully!!! In fact, I'd also hate to look inside myself in those moments ( as you do when your eyes roll back into head ) and see the beliefs that held me together weren't at all what I'd practicing making it not the beliefs I held at all but a lie I perpetrated for how ever long that was.

                      Can we do this buddhist sangha and dharma chat again??
                      In the past year I've come exrtemely full -circle in my beliefs and have met some extremely interesting interperations of the way people see and live their prajna insights and interperate the doctrine.

                      No offence to anyone here, but take disciples for example. How do you "half believe " or practice something ??? And where are the scriptures for lay practioners??? How much comprimise is okay?? It makes me sad to see dishonesty to self in such a beautiful system of belief, that I think I'm possibly either redefing my interperation of a lay buddhist or perhaps just my beliefs in all.
                      For example, I came across this disciple and was in close contact for a reasonable amount of time and spoke about many many things. I thought this guy was great and I sincerely love to see a person live by their beliefs and even more when I share it myself, but after a time, and a few key incidents, I saw some really non-buddhist things being said and done by this person. Is everyone comprimising when no-one's looking???? Is there a point to a part - time belief??? You do or don't right??? Really dissappointing to find that behaviour at such high commitment level......dissppointing and just straight out sad, more so and over and above loosing the friendship in any capacity. I want him to redeem himself and restore my faith.............. but unfortunately, I just don't think that's going to happen. Sometimes you just see something a person and your reality changes.

                      Does anyone have a belief system they actually acknowledge and remain true to all the time??? Buddhism has alot of standards and many ways to interperate them and still lead a normal secular life........ but it's a choice. Just like you and your one or thousand beliefs of your own. Is this not the system for that guy do you think, or is he just running away from himself??? It's killing my motivation and I'd love to let it go ( being we practice detatchment as part of the belief that raised the question on "how exactly to do like the "committed" " ........ there's a paradox to meditate on!!) I'm sure this worth a good laugh, but I've vented and that's my soul.

                      thx for the rant space

                      Blooming Lotus
                      Last edited by blooming tianshi lotus; 11-30-2004, 10:58 AM.


                      • #12
                        I don't think anyone remains true to their beliefs 100% of the time. I don't mean that everyone is wishy-washy and strays from whatever their path might be half the time; I mean that even the Pope has, at some point in his life, told a lie, had an impure thought, beat up a hooker, whatever (Okay, I hope he never actually beat up a hooker.) No one can be perfect. There seem to be so many different ways to look at and practice Buddhism (or any other religion) that it would be hard to judge whether someone else is being true to their beliefs, becuase who else but that person knows exactly what their real beliefs are? (And they're not necessarily what they say they are; they might just pay lip service to ideas they don't actually agree with.) It's hard enough to figure out what's going on within yourself, let alone anyone else!


                        • #13
                          why bother coming up with some complicated system of ethics and then beating yourself up because you can't act in accordance with it all of the time?

                          ethics don't fit into a system. to me, ethics have nothing at all to do with what you believe. ethics have to do with what you choose in a situation. they don't exist before or after you make a choice in that situation, it's just about the situation itself and what you're going to do about it.

                          of course, you make those choices based on what you believe, but if i have a point (which is questionable), it's that you shouldn't go through life dreaming up theoretical ethical problems and guessing as to what your response to them would be. just live life and let your beliefs and ethics grow out of that, because in reality, they will anyway. and relax. life is short and all that jazz.


                          • #14
                            [QUOTE=zachsan]why bother coming up with some complicated system of ethics and then beating yourself up because you can't act in accordance with it all of the time? QUOTE]

                            Because some people just love to suffer. And to overcomplicate things.

                            If you're the kind of person who will spend twenty minutes discussing exactly how to split the bill after the meal in a restaurant, then boy oh boy are you gonna love Catholicism! (or Buddhism, etc....any major religion works in this situation.)


                            • #15
                              I think about things like these practically all the time.
                              Studying philosophy is very interesting. There are so many views and so much advice as to how to handle life that you just never would have thought of by yourself. Forexample Sartre, Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, Holbach and many other existentialists. They all have different, sometimes very different, advice and angles. Most of them seem very reasonable yet very different.

                              I think there are many seemingly heterogeneous ways to handle life that are all correct.

                              About what you said, BTL... Sartre and Nietzsche both have very interesting views which is that you make your own ethics. God is dead. There is no set of rules for any specific situation that will guide you to ultimate serenity. Man is condemned to live in freedom. There is no greater power than the choices we make, the ethics we put forth for ourselves.
                              In the beginning, before we are forced to take decisions, we have no essens, we are virtually non-existing, we have not yet begun. But as soon as we are confronted with a situation DEMANDING us to make a CHOICE, only then will we begin. There are plenty oppotunities to make a choise during our lives, but most fear the moment of choosing, and just keep on going with the tide... doing what others do.

                              "You gave him an opportunity of showing greatness of character and he did not seize it. He will never forgive you for that." - Nietzsche

                              So, there ARE NO ETHICS. What will you have to do then? MAKE THEM UP YOURSELF.
                              As soon as you start living by your ethics, you will be God. With your actions putting forth your side of justice and correct conduct. Nothing is higher than a man that has begun.

                              According to Kierkegaard, it is not about pointing out what is right what is not. It is simply about MAKING A CHOISE at all.. You have to keep in mind that whenever confronted with a situation demanding a decision, there mostly often 3 options, the one, the other, or abstaining. The last one is the only bad one.

                              How can he put all the responsability onto the person in question, and be sure that he doesn't, out of revenge or hate, choose something that will cause a lot of destruction?
                              He simply says that all fairly normal humans are basically good in nature, and that you will have bad feelings about choosing something that will give you pleasure at the expense of others.

                              Of course, this all presupposes that the person in question is in touch with himself and not tangled up in some deep hate or scizophrenia stuff, and is by no means able to feel anything bad when brutally slaughtering 10+ humans.

                              ... well, I hope I made some sense... i didn't study it for too long...
                              Last edited by Asger; 11-30-2004, 07:04 PM.


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