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Do you exist? I don’t.

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  • #414166
    Rob
    Participant

    I don’t exist.

    I’ve known it for a long time, that there are just experiences, the character that I identify with is written by life rather than by me.

    But life had me persist in trying to control things I had no control over and being overly attached to the outcome.

    I’ve recently come across Buddhism and now Sam Harris and I’m not alone in thinking this way.

    The Buddhists told me not to refer to the consciousness (or multiple consciousnesses, the nature of consciousness is a mystery) that experiences as a self due to fostering clinging.

    It’s actually quite liberating, the less I identify with the character, the better. He beat himself up a lot for things that he had no control over.

    Gratitude for the positive, acceptance of the negative and just be.

    Anybody else not exist?

    #414169
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Rob:

    My comment, although not a direct answer to your question (I don’t have an answer to the figurative quality of your question): for as long as I existed as nothing more than a Reactor to the people and circumstances I was born into, I did not exist as a Creator in my life. It took many years for me to start a life as the latter, and it is a different quality of life: a life I have just begun.

    anita

    #414170
    Rob
    Participant

    Pleasure to hear your understanding anita. I don’t get to be a Creator, I went the other way to you, I thought I got to make choices and design my life but that’s not my story. Much respect for those who can create though. Life is quite spectacular.

    #414171
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Rob:

    Thank you, Rob; t’s a pleasure to read from you! Maybe (and it’s just an idea, one that you are welcome to ignore), we can share with each other our individual stories of Reacting vs Creating. (I will be away from the computer soon for the rest of the day).

    anita

    #414173
    Helcat
    Participant

    Hi Rob

    I’m glad that you’ve found liberation in Buddhism. Gratitude for the positive, acceptance of the negative and being. It’s all we can ask for.

    I had a similar experience recently with meditation. I realised that thoughts are just stories we tell ourselves repeatedly and it was time for me to put some of those stories away.

    Do I exist? As much as anyone else.

    It’s unique because we are made up of our experiences and the people we have spent time with. We also have our own unique natures and gifts. At any point different people think of you in different ways with their own nature reflected in their ideas.

    I do think there are very limited choices though. Our actions. If we don’t like something we can change. We learn and we grow. Although I’ve seen enough of life to have experienced some ludicrous circumstances with ridiculous odds.

     

    #414177
    Rob
    Participant

    we can share with each other our individual stories of Reacting vs Creating. – anita

    Well, if I meditate and pay attention to where thoughts and such and even attention itself come from, they all just appear, as does the sense I am directing it. Just because it feels like I am creating, doesn’t mean I am. You of course, may be very different.

    Free Will Comic Strip

    This is somewhat illustrative of my perspective, even if there is a “self” (I don’t know that), it is getting totally played by life.

    I realised that thoughts are just stories we tell ourselves repeatedly and it was time for me to put some of those stories away. – Helcat

    For me they’re stories that just appear. I too put some away. Seems life wants me to keep some, that’s okay.

    As for being able to change, I think life dictates that too (for me). After this change of mind for almost a week I sunk into a depression as it shook me to the core but now I’m taking action and perceiving effort towards creating a life I believe would be better for me. I try not to be too attached to the idea of actually getting there and making the most of what comes. Life is something I’ve been gifted, that’s why it’s caused the present and at times there is a price for that gift.

    #414185
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Rob:

    I am glad you posted again. First, I will add my answers (in parentheses)  to the boldfaced questions asked in the comic strip you attached:

    Do you think the chemistry of the brain controls what people do? -Of course. (yes).

    Then how can we blame people for their actions? -Because people have free will to do as they choose (most people have some degree of free will, some or much of the time, yes)

    Are you saying that ‘free will’ is not part of the brain? – Of course it is. But it’s the part of the brain that’s out there just being kind of free. (no, the “free will” part of the brain is very much part of the brain).

    So, you’re saying the ‘free will’ part of the brain is exempt from the natural laws of physics – Obviously. Otherwise we couldn’t blame people for anything they do. (no, the “free will” part of the brain operates according to the natural laws of physics and chemistry).

    Do you think the ‘free will’ part of the brain is attached or does it just float nearby? (attached).

    I will elaborate: we are never free from the laws of physics and chemistry and we cannot change these laws. The concept of Free Will is most relevant in the context of the Law, Crime and Society: society has to put dangerous people away: in prisons,  or in mental institutions for as long as they are considered dangerous. Therefore, the Law divides people’s actions into Free (and send them to prison) or Not free (and send them to a mental institution for treatment). But in reality, there is no such division between these two groups (therefore there are many people in prison who are very mentally ill).

    In every discipline, every topic of study, the academic community divides things, living things and people into groups (for the purpose of organizing), but these divisions are often nothing more than an academic practice aimed at coming up with solutions to problems. These divisions do not exist in real life.

    Free Will in real life simply means the following: before you did X, did you or could you have thought about the consequences of doing X? If the answer is Yes, then you are considered to have had free will; if the answer is No, then you are considered to not having had free will. It is a very good idea for us to have free will: to think about the consequences of considered actions, a smart way to go about life.

    To consider the question what words and actions are likely to bring me and others well-being?, and to choose those words and actions, is what I refer to as Creating, while acting with no such consideration is what I consider Reacting. Does this make sense to you?

    anita

     

    #414187
    Rob
    Participant

    That’s a great question to ask yourself, thanks for sharing.

     

    #414188
    anita
    Participant

    You are welcome, Rob.

    anita

    #414192
    Helcat
    Participant

    Hi Rob

    What a great attitude!

    I understand what you mean about directing as opposed to creating.

    I had a unique experience the other night when I had a stomach ache. Recently, I have been noticing that whenever my stomach is uncomfortable anxiety develops. After eating something that didn’t agree with me, anger developed and I began thinking about issues with my mother completely out of the blue. It’s interesting the mind body connection.

    It can be challenging managing attachment. I hope that you will be patient. There is a lot that is out of our hands. All we can do is our best and that is enough. Good luck on your journey!

    On a side note, related to the cartoon. I don’t believe that chemicals entirely control our actions. To a certain extent, yes. But it’s a rather complex process involving many factors; internal, external, psychological and spiritual.

    It has been lovely communicating with you. I hope to read more.

    #414211
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Rob:

    I wanted to respond further to your thread: it helps me to do so. I hope it’s okay with you:

    I don’t exist… Anybody else not exist?“- I tend to think literally and have problems with figurative language, but this figurative imagery is making the principle of existence in Buddhism/ in  life as clear as can be for me: life is like the ocean, huge and as permanent as can be, made of many material water molecules, salt molecules, etc., and each living thing (ex., a unicellular organism, a plant, an animal) is a single, unique wave in this ocean, an energy-in-motion,  rising and then falling within a unit of time.

    I am not the ocean (huge, permanent, powerful); I am a single wave in the ocean, existing temporarily as energy, but permanently as part of the material ocean. Never separated, never apart.

    In Western thinking we tend to think of ourselves as The Ocean, a God (and god was made in the image of man, not the other way around). Many believe in a literal permanence, a-forever-living as the individuals that we are (souls/ spirituality; ghosts/ sci-fi) in a heaven or hell or a paradise earth. It calms the fear of death somewhat, sometimes, to believe that the individual person that we are will never die.

    The imagery of the ocean and the wave calms me because it is a relief to not think of myself as a god, as bigger or more powerful than I really am (I was told by western thinking that I am can make my dreams come true,  if only I believe it, and if I work hard enough, or smart enough, then I will become anything I want to be). It makes me feel content in my powerlessness… I am only a wave, it’s okay. And you are a wave that happens to exist.. as a wave, in the same unit of time.

    I don’t get to be a Creator, I went the other way to you, I thought I got to make choices and design my life but that’s not my story. Much respect for those who can create though. Life is quite spectacular“- the real ocean wave is subject to the wind, isn’t it, to turbulence in the water: no choosing or creating on the part of the wave. This is where the imagery is partly lacking: a person too is subject to life-circumstances. And at first, a person automatically/ instinctively/ impulsively reacts to people and circumstances..  like a wave reacting to the wind, but then, unlike an ocean wave, a person can choose to react differently to the same life circumstance.

    About regrets and what you referred to (on another thread) as Perfet Pete- the wave in the ocean imagery comforts me in regard to regrets: the wave rises and falls no  matter the choices, if any are made, regardless of the successes and failures, so these italicized here are not that important, no big deal, or no deal at all in the bigger picture of reality.

    anita

    #414223
    Rob
    Participant

    It can be challenging managing attachment. I hope that you will be patient. There is a lot that is out of our hands. All we can do is our best and that is enough. Good luck on your journey! – Helcat

    On a side note, related to the cartoon. I don’t believe that chemicals entirely control our actions. To a certain extent, yes. But it’s a rather complex process involving many factors; internal, external, psychological and spiritual. – Helcat

    I don’t believe it works that way either it was simply illustrative. I have no idea how it works, it’s a mystery.

    It has been lovely communicating with you. I hope to read more. – Helcat

    You too.

    made of many material water molecules, salt molecules, etc. – anita

    Some people think life is actually a shared consciousness rather than what it appears to be. I don’t know how it works, it’s a mystery.

    It makes me feel content in my powerlessness – anita

    My belief does this for me too.

    the wave rises and falls no  matter the choices, if any are made, regardless of the successes and failures, so these italicized here are not that important, no big deal, or no deal at all in the bigger picture of reality. – anita

    I choose not to take a view on the importance of these. Objectively it’s meaningless since it requires an opinion. To the designer of life (I believe in a designer, which may be life itself, you are welcome not to, but I do) I have no idea how important we are. I think of myself a bit like an ant crawling around in an ant colony, would that that ant have any idea there were astronauts on the International Space Station or even that such existed? Not unless a higher order being gave it a way to perceive that, and even then it would understand it as an ant understands things. Could an advanced genetic engineer one day grant ants a greater awareness of what the International Space Station is all about? Perhaps, but would they?

    #414224
    Rob
    Participant

    I wished to thank you for your well wishes after the first quote Helcat, apologies for missing that out.

    #414240
    anita
    Participant

    I am glad to read that what you believe makes you feel content with your powerlessness, Rob, and thank you for your interesting thread!

    anita

    #414321
    Helcat
    Participant

    Hi Rob

    The Buddhist perspective is interesting. I’m not sure if you’ve come across it in your studies.

    During the process of death and rebirth there is an opportunity to choose which realm you are born into. There are 6 realms, yet only the human realm provides the opportunity for enlightenment and to end the cycle of rebirth. I remember a story about a Buddha that was able to predict how many rebirths it would take individuals to attain this.

    I like the idea that we are all here to learn.

    Wishing you all the best 🙏

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