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Nothing new under the sun

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  • CT Nothing new under the sun

    Nisagardatta, 1973. He had no formal education. His wisdom came from direct experience.

    M: Pain is physical; suffering is mental. Beyond the mind there is no suffering. Pain is merely a signal that the body is in danger and requires attention. Similarly, suffering warns us that the structure of memories and habits, which we call the person (vyakti), is threatened by loss or change. Pain is essential for the survival of the body, but none compels you to suffer. Suffering is due entirely to clinging or resisting; it is a sign of our unwillingness to move on, to flow with life.

    M: If you look at yourself in your moments of pleasure or pain, you will invariably find that it is not the thing in itself that is pleasant or painful, but the situation of which it is a part. Pleasure lies in the relationship between the enjoyer and the enjoyed. And the essence of it is acceptance. Whatever may be the situation, if it is acceptable, it is pleasant. If it is not acceptable, it is painful. What makes it acceptable is not important; the cause may be physical, or psychological, or untraceable; acceptance is the decisive factor. Obversely, suffering is due to non*acceptance.

    Q: Pain is not acceptable.

    M: Why not? Did you ever try? Do try and you will find in pain a joy which pleasure cannot yield, for the simple reason that acceptance of pain takes you much deeper than pleasure does. The personal self by its very nature is constantly pursuing pleasure and avoiding pain. The ending of this pattern is the ending of the self. The ending of the self with its desires and fears enables you to return to your real nature, the source of all happiness and peace. The perennial desire for pleasure is the reflection of the timeless harmony within. It is an observable fact that one becomes self-conscious only when caught in the conflict between pleasure and pain, which demands choice and decision. It is this clash between desire and fear that causes anger, which is the great destroyer of sanity in life. When pain is accepted for what it is, a lesson and a warning, and deeply looked into and heeded, the separation between pain and pleasure breaks down, both become experience -- painful when resisted, joyful when accepted.

    Q: How can I possibly enjoy pain? Physical pain calls for action.

    M: Of course. And so does Mental. The bliss is in the awareness of it, in not shrinking, or in any way turning away from it. All happiness comes from awareness. The more we are conscious, the deeper the joy. Acceptance of pain, non-resistance, courage and endurance -- these open deep and perennial sources of real happiness, true bliss.

    Q: Why should pain be more effective than pleasure?

    M: Pleasure is readily accepted, while all the powers of the self reject pain. As the acceptance of pain is the denial of the self, and the self stands in the way of true happiness, the wholehearted acceptance of pain releases the springs of happiness.

    Q: Does the acceptance of suffering act the same way?

    M: The fact of pain is easily brought within the focus of awareness. With suffering it is not that simple. To focus suffering is not enough, for mental life, as we know it, is one continuous stream of suffering. To reach the deeper layers of suffering you must go to its roots and uncover their vast underground network, where fear and desire are closely interwoven and the currents of life's energy oppose, obstruct and destroy each other.

  • #2
    I would recommend the book Peak Performance: Elevate Your game, Avoid Burnout, and Thrive with the New Science of Success by Steve Magness and Brad Stulberg.

    The authors take a research-based approach to some of the point noted above.

    The title of their book doesn't do the work justice. I know, it sounds a lot like many of the typical self-awareness/self-awakening books. Magness, a runner and coach, noted how elites react to pain and discomfort. He refers to runners choosing how they respond to the stress of a workout or race. He refers to is as not having their amygdalas hijacked.

    "This is starting to hurt now. It should. I'm running hard. But I am separate from this pain. It is going to be okay."

    His point: learn how to become comfortable with being uncomfortable.


    • #3
      Yep, similar sounding theme. Individual identity (self) and suffering are inextricably linked. The training is hard, and it can be done by clinicians to assist themselves and their patients.

      Here's Nisagardatta on the Predictive Processing nature of the mind. Remember these insights were realized through thousands of hours of direct experience in meditation. Q = student, M = Nisagardatta.

      Q: Which part of the future is real and which is not?

      M: The unexpected and unpredictable is real.

      Q: Even sensory and mental pleasures and the general sense of well-being which arises with physical and mental health, must have their roots in reality.

      M: They have their roots in imagination. A man who is given a stone and assured that it is a priceless diamond will be mightily pleased until he realises his mistake; in the same way pleasures lose their tang and pains their barb when the self is known. Both are seen as they are -- conditional responses, mere reactions, plain attractions and repulsions, based on memories or preconceptions. Usually pleasure and pain are experienced when expected. It is all a matter of acquired habits and convictions.

      M: The world itself is contact -- the totality of all contacts actualized in consciousness. The spirit touches matter and consciousness results. Such consciousness. when tainted with memory and expectation, becomes bondage. Pure experience does not bind; experience caught between desire and fear is impure and creates karma.


      • #4
        Nisagardatta on 1. helping, and 2. the futility of trying to treat pain with pleasure, aka 'SIMs'. Pleasure does not equal safety.

        ... I am all for helping others.

        M: The only help worth giving is freeing from the need for further help. Repeated help is no help at all. Do not talk of helping another, unless you can put him beyond all need of help.

        Q: How does one go beyond the need of help? And can one help another to do so?

        M: When you have understood that all existence, in separation and limitation, is painful, and when you are willing and able to live integrally, in oneness with all life, as pure being, you have gone beyond all need of help. You can help another by precept and example and, above all, by your being. You cannot give what you do not have and you don't have what you are not. You can only give what you are -- and of that you can give limitlessly.

        Q: But, is it true that all existence is painful?

        M: What else can be the cause of this universal search for pleasure? Does a happy man seek happiness? How restless people are, how constantly on the move! It is because they are in pain that they seek relief in pleasure. All the happiness they can imagine is in the assurance of repeated pleasure.

        Q: If what I am, as I am, the person I take myself to be, cannot be happy, then what am I to do?

        M: You can only cease to be -- as you seem to be now. There is nothing cruel in what I say. To wake up a man from a nightmare is compassion. You came here because you are in pain, and all I say is: wake up, know yourself, be yourself. The end of pain lies not in pleasure. When you realise that you are beyond both pain and pleasure, aloof and unassailable, then the pursuit of happiness ceases and the resultant sorrow too. For pain aims at pleasure and pleasure ends in pain, relentlessly.

        Q: In the ultimate state there can be no happiness?

        M: Nor sorrow. Only freedom. Happiness depends on something or other and can be lost; freedom from everything depends on nothing and cannot be lost. Freedom from sorrow has no cause and, therefore, cannot be destroyed. realise that freedom.

        Q: Am I not born to suffer as a result of my past? Is freedom possible at all? Was I born of my own will? Am I not just a creature?

        M: What is birth and death but the beginning and the ending of a stream of events in
        consciousness? Because of the idea of separation and limitation they are painful. Momentary relief from pain we call pleasure -- and we build castles in the air hoping for endless pleasure which we call happiness. It is all misunderstanding and misuse. Wake up, go beyond, live really.


        Scientists and media report Predictive Processing as 'new'. Theory and experimentation is useful for motivation and clarification, but only in practice and direct experience will it do any real good in the world.
        Last edited by EG-Physio; 25-06-2017, 03:42 AM.


        • #5

          I'm amazed at your persistence.
          Barrett L. Dorko


          • #6

            Evoking Van Gogh into your posts doesn't help your point. He was a wonderful artist, but he was not a scientist. His words about reductionism are absent.
            Barrett L. Dorko


            • #7
              Yeh, I removed that post. Despite producing an abundance of such beautiful works, his life was one of failure, pain and tragedy. So many people have tried to analyze his life and there's ridiculously complex ideas posited. One only need read the letters to his brother Theo to know he felt unloved as a child. That's all there is to learn.

              There's more to learn from those who live successfully than those who are stuck in pain.


              • #8
                Thomas Carlyle had very painful stomach ulcers that he suffered from throughout his life, and apparently he didn't take anything for them (no laudanum I suppose). He had a reputation for being contentious and argumentative, and critics note his prose reflected his crotchety personality.

                Although he was never among my favorites, he did write some good lines. I like this one:

                The fractions of life can be increased in value not so much by increasing your numerator as by lessening your denominator.
                Last edited by Ken Jakalski; 26-06-2017, 04:25 AM.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Ken Jakalski View Post
                  The factions of life can be increased in value not so much by increasing your numerator as by lessening your denominator.
                  Yes. Reducing negatives rather than trying to force positives. Absolutely agree.

                  But, you don't reduce negatives by trying to escape or by struggling against them. This is what I was getting at with my Van Gogh post. Negatives are reduced in a two step process.

                  1- activate the circuitry
                  2- change the channel

                  To activate the negative circuitry, acceptance is key. Acceptance allows the negativity full expression. Therapists fail to the degree that they skip this step. With acceptance, the whole negative neurotag is lit up, and this makes its synapses plastic, loose and amenable to change. (See memory reconsolidation theory).

                  'Changing the channel' is about choosing what you want - the desired outcome - whilst the neurotag synapses are open.

                  Therapists think they know what acceptance is, and what it means to practice it, but that's rarely true. Acceptance is an active, moment-to-moment process and it is hard, hard work. It is about controlling one's mind in a correct attitude and focus. It is meditation in action. If you can do it, a whole new level of therapeutic power opens up.
                  Last edited by EG-Physio; 26-06-2017, 04:20 AM.


                  • #10
                    Van Gogh's life was "one of failure"?

                    Isn't that judgmental?
                    Barrett L. Dorko


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Barrett Dorko View Post
                      Van Gogh's life was "one of failure"?

                      Isn't that judgmental?
                      Depends on your perspective. From his perspective, I think it was a failure in the sense that he didn't get to the feel the peace and comfort that love brings. You know he shot himself, right?

                      Now as a therapist, say he comes into my rooms with a horribly sore back and a lifetime of suppressed negative emotions. Is he a failure? No, I stop all thinking. Is pain bad? No, pain just 'is'. Do I need to rush in and help him? No, I just adopt a minimalist approach and control that unhelpful impulse. The mind never allows pain - it's not designed to. Therapy is about stopping one's mind and allowing pain. The ultimate paradox.


                      • #12
                        Depends on your perspective. From his perspective, I think it was a failure in the sense that he didn't get to the feel the peace and comfort that love brings. You know he shot himself, right?
                        Different eras will continue to present opposing theories on what exactly happened to Van Gogh. The latest suggests he may have been shot accidentally by one of a group of boys, noting that a forensic analysis from the description of his wound would not be consistent with a self-inflicted gunshot.

                        Historically, most still agree he shot himself, the wound perhaps being another form of self-mutilation.


                        • #13
                          Maybe it was suicide. Maybe not.
                          What does it have to do with his LIFE being a failure?
                          The end-act of a life is not representative of the whole.
                          We don't see things as they are, we see things as WE are - Anais Nin

                          I suppose it's easier to believe something than it is to understand it.
                          Cmdr. Chris Hadfield on rise of poor / pseudo science

                          Pain is a conscious correlate of the implicit perception of threat to body tissue - Lorimer Moseley

                          We don't need a body to feel a body. Ronald Melzack


                          • #14
                            Regarding accepting pain...

                            One time I ate at a Chinese restaurant and had a particularly spicy dish. My first inclination was to react "ow, damn this is hot", but this instance in particular I decided to just ride it out. As I accepted that, yes, this food will be painful to my mouth to eat and that's ok, I suddenly tasted a whole new kind of flavor like I'd never had before. Almost like fruit without the sweetness.


                            • #15
                              Speaking of nothing new under the sun, memory reconsolidation theory isn't new either, despite being heralded as a breakthrough. Well, I guess the experiments were a breakthrough, but not the idea.

                              Carlos Castaneda recounts the Toltec practice of 'recapitulation', which is a way of reviewing and releasing painful memories in order to gain power. Neville Goddard also talked about this. Here's a nice quote of his:

                              - As you review your day, it is important to revise each negative reaction so that you can remember it as what you wished had happened rather than storing that memory as it did occur.

                              - What you think of with feeling or emotion is an actual fact. That which you experience in the physical world is merely a shadow, reflecting the reality of your imaginal activity.

                              That second point is a ripper. Truth always contains an element of the paradoxical.

                              If researchers would read more widely and expose themselves to some of the great philosophical, cultural and religious writers of history, they'd see how much time they can save. Freud said "everywhere I go, I found a poet has been there before me". What a statement, considering his status!
                              Last edited by EG-Physio; 29-06-2017, 04:08 AM.