Monday, October 23, 2017

On the Path towards Wisdom

     Tejaniya encourages us to “keep practicing continuously ... Eventually wisdom will outweigh the defilements***, and you will begin to gather momentum. The practice will then become interesting; new avenues will open to you. Then you will begin to see and be part of a simpler and less complicated reality …”

*** Defilements: ‘unwholesome qualities that can defile or taint the mind’ – negative qualities of mind that have the potential to make us suffer and cause trouble in our lives. Defilements in meditation practice (refer to) greed, hatred or aversion, and delusion. There are many subcategories of these three defilements …”

     We're "hard-wired" for our minds to slip into defilements: we have a fully functional brain stem that reacts automatically to even the mildest dislikes; the mildest preferences; and the many, many in-between "neutrals"; with immediate visceral feelings of, respectively: hatred, aversion, anger; or  greed, clinging, attachment; or boredom, delusion or confusion. In cave-dwelling times, this crude survival-mating focused level of consciousness helped us survive. But now, in our closely-interconnected, interdependent, collaborative world, this primitive level of consciousness causes a great deal of harm, and little if any benefit. See:
     It's also very helpful to understand how trauma ramps up the power & persistence of this fear-based level of consciousness. “If you feel safe and loved, your brain (is) specialized in exploration, play, and cooperation; if you are frightened and unwanted, it (is) specialized in managing feelings of fear and abandonment.” Bessel Van Der Kolk. “The Body Keeps the Score. Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma.” Penguin Books, 2015. Fortunately, we have neuroplasticity & the ability to learn healthier ways of thinking and behaving.

     Secular philosophical & psychological wisdom studies, and all of the world's wisdom traditions advise us to intentionally mature from primitive egocentricity, towards the much more appropriate & evolved allo- & ecocentricity

     "Four central features of wisdom (are recognized) in both European & Asian philosophy: self-knowledge, detachment, integration, and self-transcendence. …
     (These) four features can be conceptualized as developmental stages:

     Self-knowledge is awareness of what constitutes one’s sense of self in the context of roles, relationships, and beliefs.
     Detachment refers to awareness of the transience of external aspects of one’s sense of self.
     Integration means overcoming the separation among different ‘inner selves,’ that is, accepting and integrating all facets of one’s self.
     Finally, self-transcendence refers to independence of the
self of external definitions and dissolution of mental boundaries between self and others. … ‘self-transcendence is equivalent to wisdom and implies the dissolution of (self-based) obstacles to empathy, understanding, and integrity’.”
       Staudinger UM, Gluck J. "Psychological wisdom research: commonalities and differences in a growing field." Annu Rev Psychol 2011; 62: 215-41. 

Courtesy of Buddha Doodles

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