Conflicts in Identity



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introspective effort. According to Buddhism, through introspection and non-attachment, compassion for others is produced.

0 For example, thoughts of harmful attachment, dependence, misidentification, and any number of neurotic psychological phenomena, such as self-deprecating thoughts, excessive preoccupation, etc.

0 Note that this interpretation may not correspond to the original intent of Buddhist philosophy (or its fundamental views on the world). For example, in “Crossing the Threshold of Hope” (2004), his holiness Pope John Paul II has explained Buddhism as holding a negative view of the world: the world is the cause of evil and our suffering. As such we are to break ties with external reality. If this is indeed the original intent or foundation of Buddhism, then I certainly do not adopt such a view of the world and the place of humanity within it. To detach oneself (in this sense) from reality is obviously irrational and can lead one into indifference.

0 ‘Beyond’ means both external to and not identical with.

0 The false belief that what you are attaching your identity to is permanent and real (sometimes the entity may be mind-externally real, and sometimes it may be a thought or fear, or hope, etc.) we can call the presumption of permanence.

0 Namely, the psychological layer.

0 What is later called a psychological dependence relation.

0 Note that I have not assumed, as Buddhism does, that there is no self. If I did assume this, then an apparent contradiction in the metaphysics of the account may be avoided (that of a permanent self in a world with only impermanent entities-P1), but I am not convinced that there is no human nature or self. That which does the observing of our thoughts (Such as when we introspect, or perform the very meditative techniques found in Buddhism.), as opposed to the thoughts themselves, for example, persists throughout our self-conscious life. Furthermore, a contradiction may only arise within the confines of a Buddhist metaphysical system without any further concepts involved. Other notions are likely needed to expand on the nature of the self, and thus avoid any apparent contradiction, but this cannot be thoroughly addressed within the limits of this paper. Moreover, the intent of this communication is not a metaphysical account of the self (or human identity), but of demonstrating the psychological benefit of these ideas. Finally, I do not suggest that these ideas and strategies will succeed in every case, nor that they are applicable to every situation.

0 Alternatively: our self/human nature/human identity.

0 I understand “impermanence of reality” not as that reality, itself as a whole, is impermanent, but that reality involves change.

0 This is not to say that regularity, pattern, structure, or order is not found in reality. It certainly is. Nor is it to say that the universe is a chaotic system, but quite the contrary: it is anti-entropic.

0 These considerations are independent of Buddhist philosophy, but consider the development of the embryo. It is a complex process of change that appears to be both directed and intentional (in some sense). That is, embryological development seems to be a process that has goal (or telos) in mind, and the combination of the processes necessary to realize the goal, and the goal itself, can be understood as a unity.

0 Such as repression of traumatic experiences, denial, projection, etc.

0 That is, a disposition towards engaging in acts of misidentification.

0 Clearly, there are many things that make us happy (personal relationships, hobbies, a sunset, etc.). It is the irrational act of clinging to these things because we falsely believe they determine our happiness or our being that is being considered. Further, I have in mind those cases where the feeling of happiness (or other emotions) is, in reality, not a genuine one, but one caused by irrationality or neuroses.

0 As in situations of addiction, where cyclical patterns of thinking and behavior are formed.

0 It is the neurotic structure that produces the illusion of sincere belief in this falsity. The neurosis “takes over” at that point.

0 At least not to the degree we would if that psychological dependence relation were present.

0 Rather, it is not us—our true selves—that does the attaching but the psychological entity (the neurotic structure in our minds) that does it. We mistakenly conflate our identity with something else, making it appear as though we genuinely want the OOA.

0 That is, the moral life is excellent, but if you become irrationally judgmental, dogmatic, or uncompassionate person, then in doing so you are not behaving or thinking morally.

0 Indeed, the (rational) striving and desire to progress is part of the nature of the human being, and will come naturally.

0 As I have expressed, one aspect of reality is that the human being is not that which it harmfully and irrationally attaches to.

0 For example, that your spouse is cheating, or, in some cases of OCD, that your child has been injured at school.

0 There is, however, reason to endeavor to solve the conflicts. Buddhism advocates using our positive rational thoughts and patterns of thinking to solve problems.

0 While there may not actually be a conflict outside the mind, there is always at least one conflict when misidentification takes place, namely the act of misidentification, itself. We need to understand the processes and the relevant history by which we engage in these psychological acts to prevent them.

0 We should understand ‘fantasies’ not as referring to healthy aspirations or imagination, but irrational, harmful, and dependence-forming fantasies, thoughts, etc.

0 Certainly, the thoughts and emotions are real (they exist), but that they are identical to you is not.

0 That your happiness depends on external entities. Here, I also mean the more general: ‘entities not identical to your self’, which encompass both external and internal entities.

0 But not every thought must be treated in this way. We are capable of creating and manipulating our thoughts, which means we must not let go of positive and creative thoughts that help us and others.

0 If you physically or emotionally harm another, or break a law, for example, you may feel horrible guilt, questioning (the existence or degree of) your morality or worth as a human being. You may contemplate ending your life. Feelings of remorse and guilt are normal. However, a persistent and irrational attachment to the emotions, or to the immoral act, such that you remain in a state of depression, self-deprecation, or continuous harmful behavior is irrational, unnecessary and prevents you from positively improving, from realizing your potential. This way of thinking, however easy it comes, limits human reason and our ability to develop. It also blinds us from understanding the truth that we are fallible.

0 We likely can replace OCD for another similar psychological condition. Also, this approach may only work for manageable cases of OCD.

0 Or not doing something that your irrationally believe will cause them harm.

0 Note that violent thoughts in non-OCD sufferers may be a normal reaction (as in a heated argument), and at other times they may be produced by neuroses. AgaIn psychological awareness and understanding is key.

0 Document as in writing, blogging, authoritative records, employee records, etc.

0 This can also be understood in terms of self-worth. Indeed, one’s sense of self-esteem may influence one’s sense of self-worth.

0 One can argue that these feelings are a natural mechanism to provide the impetus to excel (similarly for guilt or regret). This may very well be the case, but we often do not pursue excellence when we feel these emotions, as I have demonstrated. Moreover, that does not negate the reality that any of the previously mentioned OOA do not determine what it is to be human. When rationality governs, certain OOA may contribute to the cultural identity of an individual, but that is another sense or level of identity considered.

0 AgaIn often times it is a subconscious process, and we may need the help of professional psychologists, or close family or friends to understand our internal experiences so that we do not permit such a loss.

0 “What about love, morality or Divine origins?” you may ask. Without exploring further, these are all sides of the same coIn morality being, roughly, the manifestation of reason (or our divinity).

0 Contribution can be achieved from the bricklayer to the housewife to the scientist in their own way. Indeed, when this process is a collaborative enterprise we accomplish great deeds, and produce magnificent works (ex: NASA).

0 Understand that it is not actually you (in these moments) who believes this, for a human being, fully self-aware of their nature, their relation to the universe and to God; and in control of their minds, understands the opposite to be untrue.


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