"Shoulds" and enlightenment (was "Re: The uses of th")

Gregory Goode goode at DPW.COM
Fri Jul 18 10:12:07 CDT 1997

  At 02:10 AM 7/18/97 -0400, Jonathan Bricklin wrote:
  >Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian wrote:
  >>[ ...]  My question is simple:
  >>1. It is advisable to disregard the belief in freewill in order to
  >>attain advaita siddhi.
  >I am sorry to be so dense but I do not find your question simple, beginning
  >with your preamble.
  >While I believe that a disregard for the belief in free
  >will is a manifestation of advaita siddhi, the notion of disregarding this
  >belief--a belief  which is the basis of  the belief in an independent
  >"I"--in order to attain anything, even non-attainment, is like trying to
  >free yourself of the weight of an anvil by dropping it on your foot.

Agreed.  "Who" does the disregarding, "who" does the attaining?  If the
personal "I" doesn't exist, then if disregarding or attaining ever happen,
they happen without a personal doer.

  >>2. In this case the path of dharma, as dictated by shastra, should be
  >followed and the results ("good" or "bad") must be accepted with
  >"must be accepted with equanimity", is, to me, an oxymoron.  "Should" is a
  >useful word only in hypothetical (or suppressed) hypothetical statements.

A prescriptive "should" is also something that relies on the existence of a
personal I.  Who is it that "should" do or not do an action?  And who says?
Who accepts the results?  "Good" and "bad" for whom?  If there really is no
personal "I", then aren't these (disregard, should, attain, good, bad).

Perhaps it can be said that these terms are useful for those who now believe
in a personal "I".

  >My American heritage might be shining through here, but I don't see
  >evidence that any given set of shoulds leads anyone to
  >enlightenment as if it was some kind of Ph.D. program.

Interesting (to me) question.  Does anything at all lead anyone to
The scriptures and shastras are full of instances where the answer is Yes.
Or is enlightenment purely spontaneous, happening just when it happens?  An
appealing viewpoint is that all ideas, emotions, actions, perceptions and
conceptions are spontaneous appearances in consciousness.  A cinema show, with
no more inherent causal relation at work than between events the cinematic
bank robbery and the cinematic car chase.  According to this view (clearly
propounded by Nisargadatta and Balsekar), actions such as Vipassana occur and
perhaps enlightenment follows.  Or perhaps in the case of Susanne Segal
(COLLISION WITH THE INFINITE), sadhana-like actions do not occur, and
enlightenment follows.  With the cinema-view of manifestation, there are
no counterfactuals, no possible worlds.  Things just happen as they happen,
it's all appearances in consciousness.

   >>While there may be some examples of people being hedonistic and changing
   >>later, that's of no consequence. All such people _had to change_ after
   >>they _realized_ the folly of their ways. That involves effort. In any
   >>case this has little, if no relevance to my question.

With no personal "I" as the doer or focal point, effort is another appearance
in consciousness, no special meaning or causal efficacy.  Effort appears, and
certain things appear later...

   >> >The hedonists you mention sound like the ordinary kind, filled with the
   >>> separate sense of self that a belief in will engenders.  Do you
   >>> know, or have you ever heard of anyone acting *badly* and using a
   >>> in the non-reality of free will to justify it?  This is an earnest
   >>> Do you actually know anyone who repeats ad nauseum "there is no free
   >>> will"?
   >>Yes, I have (to both your questions).

Andrew Cohen accused Papaji (and others) of behaving badly, and confronted
them.  They are reported by Cohen (in his books) to say that these instances
of behavior aren't willed, they are merely "vasanas burning themselves out."
I agree with I think the spirit of what (I think) Ramakrishnan wrote, that
this kind of talk ("burning themselves out") sounds like an excuse, a cop out
by someone who knows better!

--Greg Goode

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