Thursday, August 23, 2007

Die-Hard versus Normal Spirituality

I recently received the following link from a friend: An Essay about Arahants. It is an interesting article and deserves a response.

The following sentences from the article are quite remarkable:

"Said another way and speaking in generalities, realized beings are capable of doing, saying, feeling and thinking anything that non-realized beings are capable of."

"For this last point to be untrue, realization would have to be dependent on specific contitions and something created and rather than something discovered, both of which would not qualify as realization but mere transient states of things."

The following statement by unenlightened folks is considered a myth by the author of the article:

"Arahats cannot feel the following emotions: lust, hatred, irritation, restlessness, worry, fear, pride, conceit, desire for the formless realms, desire for the formed realms, or any other "bad" emotion."

I will respond to the above by a simple set of atomic statements which can be disputed or not disputed as the reader sees fit:

1. Humans are born with sorrow and malice, collectively known as suffering.

2. Sorrow and Malice is reflected in one's thoughts and acts.

3. Sorrow and Malice leads to all kinds of needless pain for oneself and for others.

4. One enquires if it is possible to live without suffering.

4. Spirituality promises such a way of life (life without suffering) as achievable through its practices, meditations etc.

5. The successful completion of one's spiritual pursuit results in a state called enlightenment.

Now, if what the author says in the link referred above is true, i.e., if enlightenment (or the successful completion of one's spiritual pursuits) indeed has no perceivable benefit on one's way of life, i.e. it does not lead to a way of life in which one's thoughts and acts are without malice and sorrow, then enlightenment fails to deliver what it promises. End of matter.

...

However, having had a long background of spirituality, I can understand where the author is coming from. For want of a better term, "die-hard spirituality" is primarily concerned with the freedom of consciousness from the world of the senses, and achieves only a spurious freedom from malice and sorrow by a delusional "transcendence of the soul" from the material world, and as such, any material criterion cited as essential for enlightenment is rejected by such arahats. The body and mind of an arahant continue to wallow in malice and sorrow, whereas the delusional Self inside is in a depersonalized state where it considers the suffering in the corporeal world as a dream.

In the second quote at the beginning of my article, the author claims that the behaviour of an enlightened being cannot be held to any standard because, ..., because, ..., (hold on), such a standard would make enlightenment "something created" and not "something discovered".

As I am quite conversant with spiritual jargon, let me try and explain what he means.

Enlightenment is considered by die-hard spiritualists to be nothing but a cessation of the identification of the soul with the body-mind, where it discovers its "true nature" of being "divine and one with the universe" (etc.). This cessation is a regression into a primal state of being where one "discovers" one's "true nature". If the enlightenment is complete, this regression is usually irreversible.

Hence, in die-hard spirituality, only this transfer is being pursued where instead of being seated in the sensate world (by being identified with the body-mind), the "soul" is now dis-identified with the body-mind and is in a sense-less, form-less, time-less world of its own. Die-hard spirituality is not at all concerned with bringing out about any favourable state of affairs in the sensate and physical world.

In comparison, in middle-class spirituality, what is being pursued is a morally superior way of living (e.g. pursuing compassion, humility, charity, chastity, truthfulness, celibacy etc.).

So, for a rational person pursuing a happy and harmless way of living in the physical world: Die-hard spirituality fails to deliver the goods. In the last hundred years (before 1900, little record is present of the actual lifestyle of the enlightened beings), there has been not one recorded instance of an enlightened being who has not shown malice and sorrow in his/her behaviour. Frequently the sorrow of an enlightened being is considered "divine sorrow" and his/her malice "divine anger".

And for a die-hard seeker, who is willing to suspend rationality, intelligence, common sense and consider sublimation, transcendence, dissociation and depersonalization (or such altered states of consciousness) as a happy and harmless way of living, enlightenment does deliver the goods. (It is another matter that enlightenment is an extremely rare phenomenon, and very few seekers reach the final stage).

For a detailed comparison between what an actual freedom from malice and sorrow looks like, versus the delusion that is spirituality, one may like to peruse the following web page: 180 Degrees Opposite.

6 comments:

Dave H said...

Dear Harman,
How can you be sure that what Richard is teaching is not delusional. All you have is his word to go by. Further he just couches his "teachings" in scientific language, explaining the human condition using amygdala and such, you must remember that such objective understanding of the mind is still at a nascent stage and subject to revision.

Why bother with gurus at all. Why not simply take it as a working hypothesis that you are not the mind and then uncover the working of the mind by observation (but not too much analysis as you need the mind to analyze and it is still in a corrupted state). If this working hypothesis was wrong you would uncover it eventually if your endeavor was serious, and not motivated by psychological cravings. In fact if you just use logic and common sense you cannot hold on to a delusion for long as it would show painful contradictions in a million ways and cannot be covered up.

It is a most intimate journey to know youself, do not burden yourself with ideas, observe and observe, use common sense and logic.

harmanjit said...

http://harmanjit.googlepages.com/conv-sridhar-daniel.html

Pimpjuice said...

Dave H, I post to remind you that common sense and logic work solely with ideas. Also, what uncorrupted state of mind would be necessary for you to be happy? By the logic of your own words, a delusion unravels with pure intentions. So it has for me. Why would I weave another one by taking on another guru? (which Richard is certainly not). Basically he is another human being with some experience on this matter. In fact, if I gauge him correctly, he has all the experience he'll ever need on this matter.

I read that you misunderstood the subject you glanced over, but you also may be able to learn what is/what is not without much trouble. That is, if your intent is PURE (not serious as you have put it.)

Pimpjuice said...

Dave H, I post to remind you that common sense and logic work solely with ideas. Also, what uncorrupted state of mind would be necessary for you to be happy? By the logic of your own words, a delusion unravels with pure intentions. So it has for me. Why would I weave another one by taking on another guru? (which Richard is certainly not). Basically he is another human being with some experience on this matter. In fact, if I gauge him correctly, he has all the experience he'll ever need on this matter.

I read that you misunderstood the subject you glanced over, but you also may be able to learn what is/what is not without much trouble. That is, if your intent is PURE (not serious as you have put it.)

Anonymous said...

What would you say about this article now that you don't consider Actual Freedom to have value either?

Harmanjit Singh said...

@anonymous: Spirituality is narcissistic dissociation, Actualism is narcissistic denial. Actualism does have some value, just as spirituality does too, in that it may make one more calm and peaceful etc.

There is no easy solution in a fundamental sense, perhaps no solution at all. Life is not a vale of tears, but neither can it be a bed of roses and nothing else.

Freedom from the human condition, from suffering, etc. is wishful thinking. Efforts must continue, at a collective level and sometimes even at an individual level (if the neuroses are too debilitating).

I am tongue-tied and unable to say anything more. I really have no answers as yet.