Biological Reality, Doctrine of Identify Formation & Engaged Buddhism

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Pseudobabble
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Biological Reality, Doctrine of Identify Formation & Engaged Buddhism

Post by Pseudobabble » Mon Jun 18, 2018 5:36 pm

This thread was split from
Buddhism and LGBTQ Issues

In this forum we are focused on engaged Buddhism - discussions of doctrine are more appropriate in one of our sister forums Dhamma Wheel or Dharma Wheel. However, This may be relevant since we are trying to balance Buddhist teaching on identity formation (sakkāya-diṭṭhi/satkāya dṛṣṭi) and the fact that there is something to engage with (we impermanent collections of aggregates). I believe the key is to not hold onto the view that the aggregates form a permanent self; however, I defer to our resident scholars. This topic may be beyond the scope of this forum, but for now we can see where it goes. If you think of a more appropriate title, please PM me. ~DS


As I see it, its completely beside the point. The Dhamma is independent of one's LGBT or Q status.

Central to LGBTQ issues are questions of identity. Self identity, and what follows from it. Self identity is sakkāya-diṭṭhi, which is to be abandoned. Mistaking form, feeling, perception, fabrications, or consciousness for one's self is Wrong View. One's identity as American, male, black, upper-middle-class, lesbian, pork-futures trader, good husband, etc, etc, etc, is all Wrong View.
DN22 wrote:And what is right view? Knowledge with regard to stress, knowledge with regard to the origination of stress, knowledge with regard to the cessation of stress, knowledge with regard to the way of practice leading to the cessation of stress: This is called right view.
Last edited by Dorje Shedrub on Wed Jun 20, 2018 12:30 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Added links to mention of sister forums

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VividAwareness
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Re: Buddhism and LGBTQ Issues

Post by VividAwareness » Mon Jun 18, 2018 9:17 pm

Pseudobabble wrote:
Mon Jun 18, 2018 5:36 pm
As I see it, its completely beside the point. The Dhamma is independent of one's LGBT or Q status.

Central to LGBTQ issues are questions of identity. Self identity, and what follows from it. Self identity is sakkāya-diṭṭhi, which is to be abandoned. Mistaking form, feeling, perception, fabrications, or consciousness for one's self is Wrong View. One's identity as American, male, black, upper-middle-class, lesbian, pork-futures trader, good husband, etc, etc, etc, is all Wrong View.
DN22 wrote:And what is right view? Knowledge with regard to stress, knowledge with regard to the origination of stress, knowledge with regard to the cessation of stress, knowledge with regard to the way of practice leading to the cessation of stress: This is called right view.
The biological reality that I am a gay man has absolutely nothing to do with 'identity' formation, in itself. Neither does how I am treated in society because of this biological reality. However, a conscious acknowledgment of this biological reality and how I am treated in society because of it serves to clarify the "just-what-is" nature of my personal existence and the quality of my embeddedness in society ... this awareness is just that ... awareness. Any identity-formation would be something entirely separate and would be wrong view IF a self-concretizing attachment to the identity is constructed ... but not if this identification is regarded only as a convenient tool used to adjust the quality of my embeddedness in society for the common good.
“The major problems in the world are the result of the difference between the way nature works and the way people think.”

- Gregory Bateson, anthropologist, social scientist, linguist, semiotician, and cyberneticist

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KathyLauren
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Re: Buddhism and LGBTQ Issues

Post by KathyLauren » Tue Jun 19, 2018 12:52 am

VividAwareness wrote:
Mon Jun 18, 2018 9:17 pm
The biological reality that I am a gay man has absolutely nothing to do with 'identity' formation, in itself. Neither does how I am treated in society because of this biological reality. However, a conscious acknowledgment of this biological reality and how I am treated in society because of it serves to clarify the "just-what-is" nature of my personal existence and the quality of my embeddedness in society ... this awareness is just that ... awareness. Any identity-formation would be something entirely separate and would be wrong view IF a self-concretizing attachment to the identity is constructed ... but not if this identification is regarded only as a convenient tool used to adjust the quality of my embeddedness in society for the common good.
:goodpost:
And as a transgender woman, my biological reality works the same way. Thank you for summing it up so well.

Om mani padme hum
Kathy

Pseudobabble
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Re: Buddhism and LGBTQ Issues

Post by Pseudobabble » Tue Jun 19, 2018 6:15 am

VividAwareness wrote:
Mon Jun 18, 2018 9:17 pm
The biological reality that I am a gay man has absolutely nothing to do with 'identity' formation, in itself. Neither does how I am treated in society because of this biological reality. However, a conscious acknowledgment of this biological reality and how I am treated in society because of it serves to clarify the "just-what-is" nature of my personal existence and the quality of my embeddedness in society ... this awareness is just that ... awareness. Any identity-formation would be something entirely separate and would be wrong view IF a self-concretizing attachment to the identity is constructed ... but not if this identification is regarded only as a convenient tool used to adjust the quality of my embeddedness in society for the common good.
I think this is where we must differ then. As I see it, 'gay man' and 'straight man' and the rest of it, is identity view. These are categories into which we attempt to classify people and ourselves, on the basis that certain types of actions define membership of the categories. But the reality is that only the people and the actions exist, the categories don't exist. 'Straight' doesn't exist - what exists are people who exclusively perform sexual actions with others of the opposite sex. This might seem like hair splitting, but think about it - at what point does a change in category membership occur? Is it after a person performs any sexual action which cannot be contained under the definition of their current category? Do I need to sleep with a woman to be straight? What if I only fantasise about it, but sleep exclusively with men? Does one time sleeping with a woman make me bisexual, if I normally sleep only with men? Two? Or is it a matter of my approach? If we have two people, one of whose male:female ratio is 10:1, and another person whose ratio is 1:1 - are they both bisexual? And so on.

Basically I cannot see any way in which attempting to force-fit human actions into these categories doesn't cause confusion, because the rules which define category membership are not real rules of reality, they're just definitions. The reality is that people do all different types of things, and our classification systems are inadequate to encompass them.
KathyLauren wrote:
Tue Jun 19, 2018 12:52 am
my biological reality
I don't understand this. In what sense it it your biological reality, as opposed to the biological reality. Unless you hold that biological reality differs between you and others.

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VividAwareness
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Re: Buddhism and LGBTQ Issues

Post by VividAwareness » Tue Jun 19, 2018 7:58 am

Pseudobabble wrote:
Tue Jun 19, 2018 6:15 am
VividAwareness wrote:
Mon Jun 18, 2018 9:17 pm
The biological reality that I am a gay man has absolutely nothing to do with 'identity' formation, in itself. Neither does how I am treated in society because of this biological reality. However, a conscious acknowledgment of this biological reality and how I am treated in society because of it serves to clarify the "just-what-is" nature of my personal existence and the quality of my embeddedness in society ... this awareness is just that ... awareness. Any identity-formation would be something entirely separate and would be wrong view IF a self-concretizing attachment to the identity is constructed ... but not if this identification is regarded only as a convenient tool used to adjust the quality of my embeddedness in society for the common good.
I think this is where we must differ then. As I see it, 'gay man' and 'straight man' and the rest of it, is identity view. These are categories into which we attempt to classify people and ourselves, on the basis that certain types of actions define membership of the categories. But the reality is that only the people and the actions exist, the categories don't exist. 'Straight' doesn't exist - what exists are people who exclusively perform sexual actions with others of the opposite sex. This might seem like hair splitting, but think about it - at what point does a change in category membership occur? Is it after a person performs any sexual action which cannot be contained under the definition of their current category? Do I need to sleep with a woman to be straight? What if I only fantasise about it, but sleep exclusively with men? Does one time sleeping with a woman make me bisexual, if I normally sleep only with men? Two? Or is it a matter of my approach? If we have two people, one of whose male:female ratio is 10:1, and another person whose ratio is 1:1 - are they both bisexual? And so on.

Basically I cannot see any way in which attempting to force-fit human actions into these categories doesn't cause confusion, because the rules which define category membership are not real rules of reality, they're just definitions. The reality is that people do all different types of things, and our classification systems are inadequate to encompass them.
KathyLauren wrote:
Tue Jun 19, 2018 12:52 am
my biological reality
I don't understand this. In what sense it it your biological reality, as opposed to the biological reality. Unless you hold that biological reality differs between you and others.
Hi Pseudobabble,

I wonder why you're talking to both KathyLauren and I in the same post but about necessarily very different subjects and experiences. Maybe a mod might want to pull them apart? It could get confusing and I want to make sure that what she has to say, if she responds, is heard and doesn't get blurred with or diminished by your question to me or my response to you. All too often transpeople are denied space in countless and often subtle ways ... your question to KathyLauren, whether intended as such or not, reminds too much of this common phenomenon for me to not ask.
“The major problems in the world are the result of the difference between the way nature works and the way people think.”

- Gregory Bateson, anthropologist, social scientist, linguist, semiotician, and cyberneticist

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Aloka
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Re: Buddhism and LGBTQ Issues

Post by Aloka » Tue Jun 19, 2018 8:20 am

VividAwareness wrote:
Tue Jun 19, 2018 7:58 am

I wonder why you're talking to both KathyLauren and I in the same post but about necessarily very different subjects and experiences. Maybe a mod might want to pull them apart? It could get confusing and I want to make sure that what she has to say, if she responds, is heard and doesn't get blurred with or diminished by your question to me or my response to you. All too often transpeople are denied space in countless and often subtle ways ... your question to KathyLauren, whether intended as such or not, reminds too much of this common phenomenon for me to not ask.

+1

Pseudobabble
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Re: Buddhism and LGBTQ Issues

Post by Pseudobabble » Tue Jun 19, 2018 9:06 am

VividAwareness wrote:
Tue Jun 19, 2018 7:58 am
Pseudobabble wrote:
Tue Jun 19, 2018 6:15 am
VividAwareness wrote:
Mon Jun 18, 2018 9:17 pm
The biological reality that I am a gay man has absolutely nothing to do with 'identity' formation, in itself. Neither does how I am treated in society because of this biological reality. However, a conscious acknowledgment of this biological reality and how I am treated in society because of it serves to clarify the "just-what-is" nature of my personal existence and the quality of my embeddedness in society ... this awareness is just that ... awareness. Any identity-formation would be something entirely separate and would be wrong view IF a self-concretizing attachment to the identity is constructed ... but not if this identification is regarded only as a convenient tool used to adjust the quality of my embeddedness in society for the common good.
I think this is where we must differ then. As I see it, 'gay man' and 'straight man' and the rest of it, is identity view. These are categories into which we attempt to classify people and ourselves, on the basis that certain types of actions define membership of the categories. But the reality is that only the people and the actions exist, the categories don't exist. 'Straight' doesn't exist - what exists are people who exclusively perform sexual actions with others of the opposite sex. This might seem like hair splitting, but think about it - at what point does a change in category membership occur? Is it after a person performs any sexual action which cannot be contained under the definition of their current category? Do I need to sleep with a woman to be straight? What if I only fantasise about it, but sleep exclusively with men? Does one time sleeping with a woman make me bisexual, if I normally sleep only with men? Two? Or is it a matter of my approach? If we have two people, one of whose male:female ratio is 10:1, and another person whose ratio is 1:1 - are they both bisexual? And so on.

Basically I cannot see any way in which attempting to force-fit human actions into these categories doesn't cause confusion, because the rules which define category membership are not real rules of reality, they're just definitions. The reality is that people do all different types of things, and our classification systems are inadequate to encompass them.
KathyLauren wrote:
Tue Jun 19, 2018 12:52 am
my biological reality


I don't understand this. In what sense it it your biological reality, as opposed to the biological reality. Unless you hold that biological reality differs between you and others.
Hi Pseudobabble,

I wonder why you're talking to both KathyLauren and I in the same post
but about necessarily very different subjects and experiences. Maybe a mod might want to pull them apart? It could get confusing and I want to make sure that what she has to say, if she responds, is heard and doesn't get blurred with or diminished by your question to me or my response to you. All too often transpeople are denied space in countless and often subtle ways ... your question to KathyLauren, whether intended as such or not, reminds too much of this common phenomenon for me to not ask.
If mods want to separate those two responses into two posts, I have no problem with that.

I'd be interested in your and Kathy's responses though.

binocular
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Re: Buddhism and LGBTQ Issues

Post by binocular » Tue Jun 19, 2018 9:59 am

Pseudobabble wrote:
Tue Jun 19, 2018 6:15 am
I think this is where we must differ then. As I see it, 'gay man' and 'straight man' and the rest of it, is identity view. These are categories into which we attempt to classify people and ourselves, on the basis that certain types of actions define membership of the categories. But the reality is that only the people and the actions exist, the categories don't exist. 'Straight' doesn't exist - what exists are people who exclusively perform sexual actions with others of the opposite sex. This might seem like hair splitting, but think about it - at what point does a change in category membership occur? Is it after a person performs any sexual action which cannot be contained under the definition of their current category? Do I need to sleep with a woman to be straight? What if I only fantasise about it, but sleep exclusively with men? Does one time sleeping with a woman make me bisexual, if I normally sleep only with men? Two? Or is it a matter of my approach? If we have two people, one of whose male:female ratio is 10:1, and another person whose ratio is 1:1 - are they both bisexual? And so on.

Basically I cannot see any way in which attempting to force-fit human actions into these categories doesn't cause confusion, because the rules which define category membership are not real rules of reality, they're just definitions. The reality is that people do all different types of things, and our classification systems are inadequate to encompass them.
Agreed. It seems that issues related to one's sex status are by many people processed on the level of stereotyping or generalizing.
Pseudobabble wrote:
Mon Jun 18, 2018 5:36 pm
As I see it, its completely beside the point. The Dhamma is independent of one's LGBT or Q status.
I think that one's sex status does specify or inform some of the particulars of one's Dhamma practice. The same happens with other circumstances anyway -- whether one is poor or rich, for example, one's socioeconomic status does inform some of the particulars of one's Dhamma practice (rich Dhamma pracitioners have some other particulars to deal with than poor ones, for example).

In a general, holistic, overarching sense, I agree with your analysis, but I think the details, the particulars do matter and cannot be set aside as secondary.

Pseudobabble
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Re: Buddhism and LGBTQ Issues

Post by Pseudobabble » Tue Jun 19, 2018 11:14 am

binocular wrote:
Tue Jun 19, 2018 9:59 am
In a general, holistic, overarching sense, I agree with your analysis, but I think the details, the particulars do matter and cannot be set aside as secondary.
Ok that does make sense to me. Particular cases with particular configurations require particular responses. I would contend though, that in order to qualify as 'Dhammic', different particular responses must be related to one another in a systematic way - ie, there must be higher order principles (The Dhamma) governing the expression of behaviour in particular circumstances, for that behaviour to qualify as Dhammic.

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KathyLauren
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Re: Buddhism and LGBTQ Issues

Post by KathyLauren » Tue Jun 19, 2018 11:49 am

Pseudobabble wrote:
Tue Jun 19, 2018 6:15 am
KathyLauren wrote:
Tue Jun 19, 2018 12:52 am
my biological reality
I don't understand this. In what sense it it your biological reality, as opposed to the biological reality. Unless you hold that biological reality differs between you and others.
You are reading the sentence too literally. I did qualify my subject by saying "as a transgender woman", meaning that I was speaking not as KathyLauren, but using "my" to represent all transgender women.

And yes, I know that "transgender women" is just a category and categories don't exist, yadda, yadda, but that quibble, however true, is not relevant in the context of Engaged Buddhism.

Om mani padme hum
Kathy

chownah
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Re: Buddhism and LGBTQ Issues

Post by chownah » Tue Jun 19, 2018 2:39 pm

KathyLauren wrote:
Tue Jun 19, 2018 11:49 am

And yes, I know that "transgender women" is just a category and categories don't exist, yadda, yadda, but that quibble, however true, is not relevant in the context of Engaged Buddhism.

Om mani padme hum
Kathy
This yadda yadda quibble is pretty much a/the central tenet of theravada buddhism. It is the core of my practice. My going steady with engaged buddhism is an expression of my understanding of this yadda yadda quibble. I guess I am not relevant here.
chownah

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Re: Buddhism and LGBTQ Issues

Post by KathyLauren » Tue Jun 19, 2018 2:43 pm

chownah wrote:
Tue Jun 19, 2018 2:39 pm
KathyLauren wrote:
Tue Jun 19, 2018 11:49 am

And yes, I know that "transgender women" is just a category and categories don't exist, yadda, yadda, but that quibble, however true, is not relevant in the context of Engaged Buddhism.

Om mani padme hum
Kathy
This yadda yadda quibble is pretty much a/the central tenet of theravada buddhism. It is the core of my practice. My going steady with engaged buddhism is an expression of my understanding of this yadda yadda quibble. I guess I am not relevant here.
chownah
No one is saying that. I am sorry if my comment came across that way.

But, since you bring it up, how does the fact that categories do not exist help you in the practice of engaged Buddhism? It is typically raised as a reason for not engaging.

Om mani padme hum
Kathy

chownah
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Re: Buddhism and LGBTQ Issues

Post by chownah » Tue Jun 19, 2018 4:10 pm

KathyLauren wrote:
Tue Jun 19, 2018 2:43 pm
chownah wrote:
Tue Jun 19, 2018 2:39 pm
KathyLauren wrote:
Tue Jun 19, 2018 11:49 am

And yes, I know that "transgender women" is just a category and categories don't exist, yadda, yadda, but that quibble, however true, is not relevant in the context of Engaged Buddhism.

Om mani padme hum
Kathy
This yadda yadda quibble is pretty much a/the central tenet of theravada buddhism. It is the core of my practice. My going steady with engaged buddhism is an expression of my understanding of this yadda yadda quibble. I guess I am not relevant here.
chownah
No one is saying that. I am sorry if my comment came across that way.

But, since you bring it up, how does the fact that categories do not exist help you in the practice of engaged Buddhism? It is typically raised as a reason for not engaging.

Om mani padme hum
Kathy
Thanks for the reply. Don't be too sorry, I am not crest fallen or even pouting. In re-reading my post I find it a bit over melodramatic. :oops: sorry 'bout that.

Explaining my views on this is not a simple thing:

I guess that anything you identify as being I, me, or mine (physical or mental) is just a delusion of having a self. It is called the anatta doctrine. In this doctrine this delusional sense of self is more or less the root of all the dukkha (unsatisfactoriness) which pervades our experience. Engaging in the world while keeping an eye out for the arising of that delusional sense of self both in ones self and in others can help in understanding how it arises both in yourself and in others and so help in recognizing its delusional quality when it arises or even eliminating its arising altogether which would be awakening.

Seeing this delusional sense of self as being just that; delusional, does not usually happen easily. Usually people think it is just plain crazy to say the you don't really have a self. Anyway, how to approach and understand the anatta doctrine is a big topic and really to understand it well one might spend some time studying the pali canon.

Inspite of the anatta doctrine, in the pali canon the buddha taught that there is suffering in the world and that compassion is of great importance on the path....so that seems to indicate that being engaged in worldly matters can be made a potent part of ones path.
chownah

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KathyLauren
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Re: Buddhism and LGBTQ Issues

Post by KathyLauren » Tue Jun 19, 2018 6:37 pm

chownah wrote:
Tue Jun 19, 2018 4:10 pm
I guess that anything you identify as being I, me, or mine (physical or mental) is just a delusion of having a self. It is called the anatta doctrine. In this doctrine this delusional sense of self is more or less the root of all the dukkha (unsatisfactoriness) which pervades our experience. Engaging in the world while keeping an eye out for the arising of that delusional sense of self both in ones self and in others can help in understanding how it arises both in yourself and in others and so help in recognizing its delusional quality when it arises or even eliminating its arising altogether which would be awakening.
Thank you for that perspective. I am familiar with the doctrine of anatta, and fully believe it. Yet I tend to set it aside when engaging in the conventional world, because I find trying to keep both perspectives in mind at the same time to be difficult. Perhaps I need to try harder. :)

Om mani padme hum
Kathy

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Dorje Shedrub
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Re: Biological Reality, Doctrine of Identify Formation & Engaged Buddhism

Post by Dorje Shedrub » Tue Jun 19, 2018 6:49 pm

Let's remember the doctrine of not-self teaches that these aggregates, feelings, perceptions, etc. are not a permanent self. It does not teach nihilism. When the Buddha spoke, he still spoke of identity by addressing people as monks, householders, male, female, transgender, stream-enterers, once-returners, etc. This does not contradict anatta/anātman. :namaste:

DS
Last edited by Dorje Shedrub on Tue Jun 19, 2018 7:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Typo
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binocular
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Re: Buddhism and LGBTQ Issues

Post by binocular » Tue Jun 19, 2018 6:53 pm

KathyLauren wrote:
Tue Jun 19, 2018 6:37 pm
Thank you for that perspective. I am familiar with the doctrine of anatta, and fully believe it. Yet I tend to set it aside when engaging in the conventional world, because I find trying to keep both perspectives in mind at the same time to be difficult.
Perhaps I need to try harder.
Or do things in a more meaningful, actionable order.

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VividAwareness
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Re: Biological Reality, Doctrine of Identify Formation & Engaged Buddhism

Post by VividAwareness » Tue Jun 19, 2018 7:02 pm

Dorje Shedrub wrote:
Tue Jun 19, 2018 6:49 pm
Let's remember the doctrine of not-self teaches that these aggregates, feelings, percetions, etc. are not a permanent self. It does not teach nihilism. When the Buddha spoke, he still spoke of identity by addressing people as monks, householders, male, female, transgender, stream-enterers, once-returners, etc. This does not contradict anatta/anātman. :namaste:

DS
+
“The major problems in the world are the result of the difference between the way nature works and the way people think.”

- Gregory Bateson, anthropologist, social scientist, linguist, semiotician, and cyberneticist

Bundokji
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Re: Biological Reality, Doctrine of Identify Formation & Engaged Buddhism

Post by Bundokji » Tue Jun 19, 2018 8:23 pm

Dorje Shedrub wrote:
Tue Jun 19, 2018 6:49 pm
Let's remember the doctrine of not-self teaches that these aggregates, feelings, perceptions, etc. are not a permanent self. It does not teach nihilism. When the Buddha spoke, he still spoke of identity by addressing people as monks, householders, male, female, transgender, stream-enterers, once-returners, etc. This does not contradict anatta/anātman. :namaste:

DS
From my understanding, to use conventions (identities) is one thing, to identify with them is another. I think the later is what causes suffering.
'Too much knowledge leads to scepticism. Early devotees are the likeliest apostates, as early sinners are senile saints.' – Will Durant.

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Re: Biological Reality, Doctrine of Identify Formation & Engaged Buddhism

Post by VividAwareness » Tue Jun 19, 2018 8:26 pm

Bundokji wrote:
Tue Jun 19, 2018 8:23 pm
Dorje Shedrub wrote:
Tue Jun 19, 2018 6:49 pm
Let's remember the doctrine of not-self teaches that these aggregates, feelings, perceptions, etc. are not a permanent self. It does not teach nihilism. When the Buddha spoke, he still spoke of identity by addressing people as monks, householders, male, female, transgender, stream-enterers, once-returners, etc. This does not contradict anatta/anātman. :namaste:

DS
From my understanding, to use conventions (identities) is one thing, to identify with them is another. I think the later is what causes suffering.
Agree, as I mentioned above:

"Any identity-formation would be --- wrong view IF a self-concretizing attachment to the identity is constructed ... but not if this identification is regarded only as a convenient tool used to adjust the quality of my embeddedness in society for the common good."
“The major problems in the world are the result of the difference between the way nature works and the way people think.”

- Gregory Bateson, anthropologist, social scientist, linguist, semiotician, and cyberneticist

chownah
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Re: Biological Reality, Doctrine of Identify Formation & Engaged Buddhism

Post by chownah » Wed Jun 20, 2018 3:38 am

Could it be that the actions of engaged buddhists are organized to relieve immediate suffering so that a clarity of mind can arise and with discernment this clarity of mind might penetrate the causes of the arising of the delusional self which could lead to the non-arising of suffering altogether?
chownah

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