firecat: red panda looking happy (Default)
Interesting book review.">"Two Brains Running" by Jim Holt (a review of Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman)

Excerpt (emphasis mine:
What does it mean to be happy? When Kahneman first took up this question, in the mid 1990s, most happiness research relied on asking people how satisfied they were with their life on the whole. But such retrospective assessments depend on memory, which is notoriously unreliable. What if, instead, a person’s actual experience of pleasure or pain could be sampled from moment to moment, and then summed up over time? Kahneman calls this “experienced” well-being, as opposed to the “remembered” well-being that researchers had relied upon. And he found that these two measures of happiness diverge in surprising ways. What makes the “experiencing self” happy is not the same as what makes the “remembering self” happy. In particular, the remembering self does not care about duration—how long a pleasant or unpleasant experience lasts. Rather, it retrospectively rates an experience by the peak level of pain or pleasure in the course of the experience, and by the way the experience ends.
Kahneman’s conclusion, radical as it sounds, may not go far enough. There may be no experiencing self at all. Brain-scanning experiments by Rafael Malach and his colleagues at the Weizmann Institute in Israel, for instance, have shown that when subjects are absorbed in an experience, like watching the “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly,” the parts of the brain associated with self-consciousness are not merely quiet, they’re actually shut down (“inhibited”) by the rest of the brain. The self seems simply to disappear. Then who exactly is enjoying the film? And why should such egoless pleasures enter into the decision calculus of the remembering self?
This intersects in interesting ways with my studies and experiences in Buddhism, especially the notion that the mind constructs the self, and the self isn't some kind of unchanging core. (A metaphor I found useful is that the mind constructs the self the way a hand constructs a fist.)

Also I've known for much of my life that what I want to do in the moment and what I want to have done are different, and I frequently noodle about how to reconcile them or rebalance the amount of energy I spend on each. My behavior tends to mostly toward what I want to do in the moment, and toward habit.
firecat: cat in small sailboat (cat in boat)
[personal profile] trixtah discusses Buddhism, and I made a comment, reproduced here (edited slightly).
I consider myself a Buddhist in the same tradition as Sri Lankan Buddhism, although my studies are all with Western teachers, who probably have a different understanding of it than native Sri Lankans.

My studies lead me to believe that "desire causes suffering" is a simplistic view of the first tenet of Buddhism. The way my teachers describe it, it's not desire per se that causes suffering but clinging to expectations that things should be or will always be the way you want. There's nothing wrong with desire or fulfillment.

My take on "The world is illusion": It is less a statement about physical reality and more about the fact that we experience the world entirely through our senses and minds, so everything we end up perceiving is filtered through our beliefs, experience, emotions, biology, etc. The result is that some of what a person perceives is the same as what other people perceive (because we share certain sense organs and biological tendencies) and some of what a person perceives is very different from what other people perceive, because of their different vantage point, different past experience, different biology, etc.

My understanding of the Buddhist tenet that NooAge translates into "we create our own reality" is: our state of mind influences our experience and we can change our state of mind (not instantaneously, not by simply "deciding," but through practice), hence, we can influence our experience.

I've experienced the above in my own studies and practice. But nirvana, I haven't experienced. Nirvana is not a goal for me. I keep practicing and studying because I've had benefits from doing so, and I figure I might as well continue. (I don't know if this take on the whole thing "counts" as Buddhist or not. I like to think it does.)

What I find fascinating about "nirvana" is all the different ways people talk and write about it and about the various states of mind they experience between here and there.
firecat: poc holding water in hands (cupping water)
I went to a talk on Sunday by Toni Bernhard, the author of How to Be Sick: A Buddhist-Inspired Guide for the Chronically Ill and Their Caregivers. The book is available through Wisdom Publications.

Toni Bernhard is diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

When I typed "How to be sick" into Google, the second book result that popped up was something called Never Be Sick Again: Health Is a Choice, Learn How to Choose It. I felt angry, because I believe it's a lie that a person's choices can always bring them to full health, and I believe it's a lie that harms people.

Toni Bernhard said at one point that this culture "worships at the altar of wellness." I think that sums up an appropriate response to the "health is a choice" concept.

I'm writing up my notes from the talk here.
Read more... )
I went to this talk because I have chronic health conditions that affect my mobility and energy levels, and I am a caregiver for my mother, who has Alzheimers. I'm a Buddhist and my study of Buddhism has helped me work through grieving over these things and building a life around them, and I wanted to hear a talk that specifically addressed how Buddhism can help a person deal with chronic illness. I figured that I already knew a lot of what she was going to say, but I thought I'd learn a few things and find out that I'm already doing a lot of what there is to do, and that would help me feel more confident.

I especially liked the phrases "Am I sure?" and "don't know mind." I think I will find those useful.

There was some discussion of envy. I've experienced envy when the OH goes to social events such as cons without me. I want to enjoy cons but I mostly don't unless I plan very carefully. It's not because of mobility issues, it's because I get mentally/emotionally exhausted. (Introversion certainly, but also sensory stimulation.) I realized that the reason I experience envy around this is that I don't accept my social limitation. I think I should be able to fix it or get over it. If I can let go of that belief then I might not feel so conflicted around the issue.


firecat: red panda looking happy (Default)
firecat (attention machine in need of calibration)

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