My Trouble with Buddhism...

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My Trouble with Buddhism...

Post by silverswhispers on Thu Mar 03, 2011 7:01 pm

I love Buddhism and its teachings a great deal and have learned a lot and know there is much more still to learn. There is still a great deal of cultural baggage and I'm very curious about its teachings regarding awakening and enlightening and am deeply fascinated with the concept. I've actually created a blog about this Enlightened Monkey

My trouble is that I don't know if I am not seeing it and it is in front of me but am not convinced that there are as many enlightened people as you would think there should be. I know there are many teachings about people 'choosing' to not become enlightened in favor of helping the others around them (bodhisattva) but this may be an excuse.

I could go on and on about this particular subject but wanted to see if I could start a discussion about it here and would love to hear your thoughts.

Peace,

Silver
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Re: My Trouble with Buddhism...

Post by Sakhaiva on Thu Mar 03, 2011 7:27 pm

silverswhispers wrote:I love Buddhism and its teachings a great deal and have learned a lot and know there is much more still to learn. There is still a great deal of cultural baggage and I'm very curious about its teachings regarding awakening and enlightening and am deeply fascinated with the concept. I've actually created a blog about this Enlightened Monkey

My trouble is that I don't know if I am not seeing it and it is in front of me but am not convinced that there are as many enlightened people as you would think there should be. I know there are many teachings about people 'choosing' to not become enlightened in favor of helping the others around them (bodhisattva) but this may be an excuse.

I could go on and on about this particular subject but wanted to see if I could start a discussion about it here and would love to hear your thoughts.

Peace,

Silver

Hi Silver.

My mind keeps hanging up on a portion of your post.....
I am not convinced that there are as many enlightened people as you would think there should be.

How are you defining enlightenment?
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Re: My Trouble with Buddhism...

Post by silverswhispers on Thu Mar 03, 2011 7:32 pm

You know I'm actually writing a blog about this exact question right now on my blog and will copy it here when I'm done but your question is a good and valid one.
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Re: My Trouble with Buddhism...

Post by DotNotInOz on Thu Mar 03, 2011 8:06 pm

Buddhism just wasn't for me, I determined after a year or so of investigating it.

So, I'll largely opt out of expressing any opinions as they'd arise from recalling what I thought about it twenty years ago.

I did like reading some of Merton's stuff on Buddhism as well as Alan Watts' books on Zen.

A few of the present Dalai Lama's books have had some cool ideas that I found useful.

Those are pretty much it for me even though my own spiritual practice was somewhat influenced in its early stages by Buddhistic teachings.
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Re: My Trouble with Buddhism...

Post by TigersEyeDowsing on Thu Mar 03, 2011 9:25 pm

Oh egads, another Buddhist from my area :p

I think it's always disappointing when you find out your spiritual leaders are human and imperfect. I had to go through that with Christianity and later with New Thought. Both of which pipe their ministers up to unreasonable expectations and something they are not.

What I like about Buddhism is that (well, real Buddhism anyway) allows the sangha to be as it is, without setting up false expectations. Lying about the spiritual path is part of the five precepts. No sangha member is allowed to lie about their progress. To do so can result in expelment.

Very few earnest monks will talk about their own path and how "enlightened" they are. In my path, Theravada, there are steps to enlightenment instead of having it just "happen" one day (like Zen). Very few reach the end. When they do, they don't wear a hat or a special T-shirt. I had the honors of taking vows under Bhante Gunaratana, who is known for being an arahant. When I went to spend time with him I had no idea he was. I learned through gossip, that we un-enlightened ones do so easily. I thought he was just a monk. He didn't introduce himself by "Hi, I'm Bhante G, I'm an arahant."

They are out there, but it's a very long hard road and few spend the 5+ hours a day in meditation for 70+ years to reach it.

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Re: My Trouble with Buddhism...

Post by John T Mainer on Thu Mar 03, 2011 10:00 pm

Asatru does not really have the concept of enlightenment any more than we have salvation. I don't see enlightenment as possible. I think that a growing awareness of ourselves, our effect on the world and people around us, our ability and duty to effect change, is both possible and desireable. I do not see any human being as able to exhaust his or her ability to grow in that awareness in any one direction, let alone all possible directions.

Enlightenment is a compass bearing, not a point on the map. The wisest among us is simply farther down the trail they will still be discovering when death finds them.

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Re: My Trouble with Buddhism...

Post by silverswhispers on Thu Mar 03, 2011 11:04 pm

Alright... In all fairness I thought it was wise to explain in some detail exactly what I mean by enlightenment and just finished writing it on my new blog. I really hope no one will mind if I just give the link to it as it will just come across the way I would like to express it. If that is an issue I can post it here but please don't think I'm spamming as that is far from my intention.

If you care to please read and we can share thoughts about it here.

What is Enlightenment?
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Re: My Trouble with Buddhism...

Post by silverswhispers on Thu Mar 03, 2011 11:09 pm

TigersEyeDowsing wrote:Oh egads, another Buddhist from my area :p

I think it's always disappointing when you find out your spiritual leaders are human and imperfect. I had to go through that with Christianity and later with New Thought. Both of which pipe their ministers up to unreasonable expectations and something they are not.

What I like about Buddhism is that (well, real Buddhism anyway) allows the sangha to be as it is, without setting up false expectations. Lying about the spiritual path is part of the five precepts. No sangha member is allowed to lie about their progress. To do so can result in expelment.

Very few earnest monks will talk about their own path and how "enlightened" they are. In my path, Theravada, there are steps to enlightenment instead of having it just "happen" one day (like Zen). Very few reach the end. When they do, they don't wear a hat or a special T-shirt. I had the honors of taking vows under Bhante Gunaratana, who is known for being an arahant. When I went to spend time with him I had no idea he was. I learned through gossip, that we un-enlightened ones do so easily. I thought he was just a monk. He didn't introduce himself by "Hi, I'm Bhante G, I'm an arahant."

They are out there, but it's a very long hard road and few spend the 5+ hours a day in meditation for 70+ years to reach it.

I wouldn't be surprised if you live around here but do you live somewhere around me? I would love to connect with people, in person, to share thoughts of such nature.

To address your post... I totally agree that anyone who would become an arahant would not be a part of a special club I'm not sure I've met anyone like this. Some that are likely very close but I suspect close might as well be a million miles away. That being said I just have a thought that much of the cultural baggage with Buddhism actually holds people back in many cases. However, certainly many people are at very different points and need different types of support and that is all fine.

If there was a time we could use more awakened minds it would be now.
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Re: My Trouble with Buddhism...

Post by silverswhispers on Thu Mar 03, 2011 11:11 pm

John T Mainer wrote:Asatru does not really have the concept of enlightenment any more than we have salvation. I don't see enlightenment as possible. I think that a growing awareness of ourselves, our effect on the world and people around us, our ability and duty to effect change, is both possible and desireable. I do not see any human being as able to exhaust his or her ability to grow in that awareness in any one direction, let alone all possible directions.

Enlightenment is a compass bearing, not a point on the map. The wisest among us is simply farther down the trail they will still be discovering when death finds them.

As you may suspect I disagree with you about if enlightenment is possible. To note if you really don't believe it is possible then you will be correct by default and manifest destiny.
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Re: My Trouble with Buddhism...

Post by John T Mainer on Fri Mar 04, 2011 12:03 am

silverswhispers wrote:
John T Mainer wrote:Asatru does not really have the concept of enlightenment any more than we have salvation. I don't see enlightenment as possible. I think that a growing awareness of ourselves, our effect on the world and people around us, our ability and duty to effect change, is both possible and desireable. I do not see any human being as able to exhaust his or her ability to grow in that awareness in any one direction, let alone all possible directions.

Enlightenment is a compass bearing, not a point on the map. The wisest among us is simply farther down the trail they will still be discovering when death finds them.

As you may suspect I disagree with you about if enlightenment is possible. To note if you really don't believe it is possible then you will be correct by default and manifest destiny.

If you believe it is possible to attain, then there will be a point in your path where you will simply stop walking and progress, grow, and learn no more. Respectfully; you are not a god. Were either one of us to live ten thousand years, we would still have far to go upon our path before we could even think it was time to stop. If the stories of the mythic past tell us anything about the nature of the gods themselves, it is that the greatest among them are continuing to grow, transform and learn. If they are not done, they define the bearing upon which we walk, and proove that even they have not reached the journey's end.

Perhaps your masters are utterly perfect and have achieved infinite distance and growth in a single step. Myself, I will still be walking upon my path with bold strides and open eyes when death meets me upon it.

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Re: My Trouble with Buddhism...

Post by DotNotInOz on Fri Mar 04, 2011 12:05 am

John T Mainer wrote:Asatru does not really have the concept of enlightenment any more than we have salvation. I don't see enlightenment as possible. I think that a growing awareness of ourselves, our effect on the world and people around us, our ability and duty to effect change, is both possible and desireable. I do not see any human being as able to exhaust his or her ability to grow in that awareness in any one direction, let alone all possible directions.

Well said, John, and very much akin to my philosophy as a Thelemite.

With this statement, " I think that a growing awareness of ourselves, our effect on the world and people around us, our ability and duty to effect change, is both possible and desireable," you've elaborated a bit upon but really captured quite well as I perceive them, the two essential laws of Thelema: "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law" and "Love is the law, love under Will."

(And to any tempted to toss at me that ancient garbage about "Do what thou wilt" signifying that Thels simply do whatever they want, that is a grotesque misunderstanding of what Will means within the Thelemic context. It's as preposterous as non-Catholics insisting that Catholics are idol worshippers because they pray to statues. If I must, I'll explain why it simply isn't true in the slightest despite the fact that Aleister Crowley seemed pretty much to behave however he wished and was often regarded by even his most loyal associates as a despicable, egotistical pig.)
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Re: My Trouble with Buddhism...

Post by silverswhispers on Fri Mar 04, 2011 12:10 am

I never have seen a state of being such as enlightenment as an end but rather a very interesting new beginning. To see the world through unfiltered eyes would not mean that instantly all knowledge or realization would be yours but perhaps it would mean that the capacity.

I'm not sure exactly what you mean by my masters as I've noted that I'm not sure I've ever met one but I do believe that this state of being is possible. Even if someone does experience this it also doesn't mean that they will always be but it is compelling nonetheless.

Oh... yes I know very well I'm not god... perhaps though we all are a facet of some sort of creative force.
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Re: My Trouble with Buddhism...

Post by Gorm_Sionnach on Fri Mar 04, 2011 12:19 am

I can understand the perspective of enlightenment and removing oneself from all attachments resulting in some blessed state, but I disagree with it on a very fundamental level. That one needs to deny a central aspect of their humanity to achieve some "greater goal", has always struck me as problematic.

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Re: My Trouble with Buddhism...

Post by silverswhispers on Fri Mar 04, 2011 12:39 am

Are you denying an aspect of humanity if it is an illusion in the first place? I suggest that much of the paradigm we currently live in is an aberration.

It is not about seeking a blessed state of being as much as it is about being in the natural state of being.
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Re: My Trouble with Buddhism...

Post by DotNotInOz on Fri Mar 04, 2011 12:42 am

I've read a bit of your Enlightened Monkey blog, SW, and found it interestingly written. I'll dip back into it when I can tear myself away from this forum and a newly published book by a favorite author which I just received.

Would you say more here about what aspects of Buddhism you find most meaningful or compelling?

For a while, I thought maybe I could be a very Westernized Buddhist but then concluded that concepts such as suffering being an inescapable part of life and that enlightenment was an eventual attainment were things I simply didn't fit with how I viewed myself and The Meaning of Life, lapsing into Pythonism for a moment.
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Re: My Trouble with Buddhism...

Post by DotNotInOz on Fri Mar 04, 2011 12:45 am

Another question occasioned by your response to Gorm S.--what constitutes a "natural state of being"?
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Re: My Trouble with Buddhism...

Post by silverswhispers on Fri Mar 04, 2011 1:03 am

DotNotInOz wrote:I've read a bit of your Enlightened Monkey blog, SW, and found it interestingly written. I'll dip back into it when I can tear myself away from this forum and a newly published book by a favorite author which I just received.

Would you say more here about what aspects of Buddhism you find most meaningful or compelling?

For a while, I thought maybe I could be a very Westernized Buddhist but then concluded that concepts such as suffering being an inescapable part of life and that enlightenment was an eventual attainment were things I simply didn't fit with how I viewed myself and The Meaning of Life, lapsing into Pythonism for a moment.

I currently see myself as a Buddhist for lack of a better term as anything else I've come up with often confuses people even more. For many years I was resistant to Buddhism since it seem like such a dogmatic religion but remained very drawn to the imagery. One thing led to another and in some ways I feel like I entered Buddhism via a back door when I was exposed to the core concepts and was able to see it without the heavy cultural baggage. I found that it harmonized rather well with how I currently felt on many key issues and I connected with it. I remain compelled by its 'core' teachings now but am put off by the religion that wraps around it. In time that may change if I come across the right teacher but with many of my experiences in my spiritual history am very weary of people who act as if they have answers they cannot have. I'm very open minded but have, I feel, a very high degree of discernment of what I will and will not accept.

I would love to hear on your thoughts on whatever your drawn to and am patient.

Peace
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Re: My Trouble with Buddhism...

Post by silverswhispers on Fri Mar 04, 2011 1:06 am

DotNotInOz wrote:Another question occasioned by your response to Gorm S.--what constitutes a "natural state of being"?

You ask a very good and reasonable question and my answer is I don't know. However, whatever enlightenment may be I suspect may have much to do with it. However, I would suggest that what we consider as 'normal' now is far from a natural state of being. Somewhere along our path, as a society, it seems that we've forgotten who we are and where we've come from.
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Re: My Trouble with Buddhism...

Post by DotNotInOz on Fri Mar 04, 2011 1:29 am

Hmmm...guess I've no idea really what might constitute a natural state of being. The phrase smacks to me of prehistoric people running around clubbing each other and potential food over the head with clubs, wearing not much for clothes (although I'm not at all opposed myself to dispensing with decorative unnecessary layers, heh heh), and running to cower in their caves when there were thunderstorms or solar eclipses.

I think I found the Buddhistic meditation techniques most useful and appealing and still do some in what passes for meditation for me these days. I've lapsed far too much from what used to be a regular schedule when I was single and didn't have hubby and housekeeping demanding my attention so consistently.

Actually, that's a facile excuse for simply having fallen out of the habit. It's not as if I'm not alone all day while hubby's at work.

In fact, you tweaked something I've been thinking for a good long while--that at age 61, I probably haven't a lot more time to fritter away promising myself that I'll quit lapsing and will get back into regular magick Work soon. Uh-huh. It's about damn time I quit deluding myself and simply do it.

I really miss meditating on Crowley's Thoth Deck cards. Incredibly powerful images that stimulated different insights and inspirations even if I pulled the same Major Arcana card twice in a row. I once did the same card on three or four consecutive days and got something different and quite valuable each time.

Well, my musings on Buddhism as it figures in Thelema are scarcely relevant here, but if you're curious, I can start a thread on all that and endeavor to explain. Crowley got heavily into Buddhism at one point and adapted and integrated some of its concepts into Thelema. Not very accurately or well from what some Buddhists who were fairly familiar with Crowley's level of comprehension of Buddhism told me but good enough for my interpretation of Thelema which is somewhat a dog's breakfast anyway. < sly smile >
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Re: My Trouble with Buddhism...

Post by silverswhispers on Fri Mar 04, 2011 1:42 am

DotNotInOz wrote:Hmmm...guess I've no idea really what might constitute a natural state of being. The phrase smacks to me of prehistoric people running around clubbing each other and potential food over the head with clubs, wearing not much for clothes (although I'm not at all opposed myself to dispensing with decorative unnecessary layers, heh heh), and running to cower in their caves when there were thunderstorms or solar eclipses.

I think I found the Buddhistic meditation techniques most useful and appealing and still do some in what passes for meditation for me these days. I've lapsed far too much from what used to be a regular schedule when I was single and didn't have hubby and housekeeping demanding my attention so consistently.

Actually, that's a facile excuse for simply having fallen out of the habit. It's not as if I'm not alone all day while hubby's at work.

In fact, you tweaked something I've been thinking for a good long while--that at age 61, I probably haven't a lot more time to fritter away promising myself that I'll quit lapsing and will get back into regular magick Work soon. Uh-huh. It's about damn time I quit deluding myself and simply do it.

I really miss meditating on Crowley's Thoth Deck cards. Incredibly powerful images that stimulated different insights and inspirations even if I pulled the same Major Arcana card twice in a row. I once did the same card on three or four consecutive days and got something different and quite valuable each time.

Well, my musings on Buddhism as it figures in Thelema are scarcely relevant here, but if you're curious, I can start a thread on all that and endeavor to explain. Crowley got heavily into Buddhism at one point and adapted and integrated some of its concepts into Thelema. Not very accurately or well from what some Buddhists who were fairly familiar with Crowley's level of comprehension of Buddhism told me but good enough for my interpretation of Thelema which is somewhat a dog's breakfast anyway. < sly smile >

Aleister Crowley is someone I've always found to be rather interesting but certainly question his mental stability in various ways. I'm not sure that he would be a great resource to understanding Buddhist thoughts vs some of the other more well known teachers but would have to think his perspective would be rather insightful. In many ways he was a very passionate seeker of truth and with this I do harmonize rather well with him. Upon reflection I suppose if anyone took a summary of my life story and related it to my spiritual aspirations they would also be weary of my views of Buddhism. I should look more into this...

One person that I really enjoy reading is anything from Alan Watts as he was no doubt a well articulated seeker and the questions he had when he was alive are just as relevant now as they were then. If you are not familiar with him I cannot recommend him enough to help inspire many thoughts.

My knowledge of Thelema is limited and while I would find some parts of it interesting I doubt it would compel me as much as some other things but welcome the perspective. For personal reasons I prefer to leave my experiences with magick alone for now but there is without any doubt much to learn and is for sure a powerful spiritual path. However, one that can easily grow out of control rather quickly.
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Re: My Trouble with Buddhism...

Post by DotNotInOz on Fri Mar 04, 2011 2:12 am

Oh, Crowley was a liar and a thoroughly despicable human in a number of ways.

I certainly question his claim to have reached the highest level of Freemasonry as I've read denunciations by high ranking Masons who listed their qualifications and who said that the man never came anywhere close to that rank and indeed never truly was a legitimate Freemason.

The odd thing is that for me much of the system that is Thelema transcends the fact that Crowley was a tiresome pedant in a good many ways who thought he was simplifying concepts for the general reader when he not only wasn't doing that but succeeded in further obscuring some things that could have been simplified rather easily. He really had no clue how to convey complex spiritual ideas clearly in easily understood language to those unfamiliar with them. Actually, that was true of him up until his latter years when he'd mellowed out and was no longer capable of pursuing and bedding numerous women as well as some men and indulging in all sorts of experiments with narcotics.

Magick Without Tears, a collection of his letters explaining Thelemic concepts to a beginning student and his last work or nearly so, is quite coherent and lucid. In fact, my copy of that is well-thumbed because it breaks things down into easily assimilated nuggets.

Lon Milo DuQuette's books on various aspects of Thelema are brilliant, I think, and very easily comprehended. His Chicken Qabalah is a hoot and also the most lucid book on Qabalah I've encountered to date.

Crowley had a tendency when explaining what gestures were to accompany specific portions of rituals to say, "Do the <whatever gesture> as you say...." when he'd never said previously how to perform that gesture and sometimes never did explain it subsequently. The man was brilliant in some ways and a total dunce as well as a despicable person in a good many others.

Most of his poetry which he regarded as the greatest literature he produced is wordy and overblown, simply awful in short. Some of his near-porn erotic poems are quite the best things he wrote, IMO.

Well, anyway, enough of this blather...
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Re: My Trouble with Buddhism...

Post by silverswhispers on Fri Mar 04, 2011 2:23 am

No doubt he was a freak on many levels but as you've noted does have some interesting tidbits of knowledge that are very thought provoking.

With Masons, Rosicrucian's and others of such nature I can't help but wonder if they really have anything truly esoteric or just want everyone to believe they do. I've known a 10th degree (Start of the Illuminati Levels) of Rosicrucian's who really didn't have any more depth of understanding of anything beyond what I do without ten years of paying dues. I could go on and on about this subject but it would be easy for the Mason's to claim to disown him but personally I would find them more interesting if they did claim him.
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Re: My Trouble with Buddhism...

Post by Gorm_Sionnach on Fri Mar 04, 2011 7:19 am

silverswhispers wrote:Are you denying an aspect of humanity if it is an illusion in the first place? I suggest that much of the paradigm we currently live in is an aberration.

It is not about seeking a blessed state of being as much as it is about being in the natural state of being.

Then there is something else you and I will disagree on, that Humans are somehow fallen or in some lesser state than an ideal. Humans are social animals, we are to a very large extent interdependent on others, and society makes no sense without their being groups of humans. As such, seeking separation and detachment from that society, or those connections, is the inverse of what I would consider a core aspect of human nature.

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Re: My Trouble with Buddhism...

Post by silverswhispers on Fri Mar 04, 2011 11:34 am

Gorm_Sionnach wrote:
silverswhispers wrote:Are you denying an aspect of humanity if it is an illusion in the first place? I suggest that much of the paradigm we currently live in is an aberration.

It is not about seeking a blessed state of being as much as it is about being in the natural state of being.

Then there is something else you and I will disagree on, that Humans are somehow fallen or in some lesser state than an ideal. Humans are social animals, we are to a very large extent interdependent on others, and society makes no sense without their being groups of humans. As such, seeking separation and detachment from that society, or those connections, is the inverse of what I would consider a core aspect of human nature.

It is not so much that we disagree as, with all do respect, that you have no idea what I'm talking about. We are talking about very different things.
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Re: My Trouble with Buddhism...

Post by Gorm_Sionnach on Fri Mar 04, 2011 12:06 pm

silverswhispers wrote:
Gorm_Sionnach wrote:
silverswhispers wrote:Are you denying an aspect of humanity if it is an illusion in the first place? I suggest that much of the paradigm we currently live in is an aberration.

It is not about seeking a blessed state of being as much as it is about being in the natural state of being.

Then there is something else you and I will disagree on, that Humans are somehow fallen or in some lesser state than an ideal. Humans are social animals, we are to a very large extent interdependent on others, and society makes no sense without their being groups of humans. As such, seeking separation and detachment from that society, or those connections, is the inverse of what I would consider a core aspect of human nature.

It is not so much that we disagree as, with all do respect, that you have no idea what I'm talking about. We are talking about very different things.

You made the claim that "much of the paradigm we currently live in is an aberration", and that we need to return to the "natural state of being", this certainly implies that, you think, humans are currently in an "unnatural" state, does it not? Your earlier reply spoke about believing an illusion (in the context of my statement, that attachment is part of human nature), so I continued that train of thought, the idea of detachment. So I am not following how I am not understanding what it is you are saying...

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