Transformative stages of reduction and elimination of destructive mental factors, cultivation of constructive, and understanding of reality:
1. Understanding derived from hearing
2. Reflection or contemplation
3. Meditative practice.
HHDL says something about As a result of hearing something that resonates with you, it eventually becomes part of your life. View of emptiness becomes your personal view, rather than just something you read about.
Cultivation of the view of impermanence has an immense impact on life.
Geshe Ngawang Samten on secular ethics. In the west, ethics primarily refers to behavior. But in Buddhism, there is ethics of body (behavior), ethics of speech (your communication of information with others), and ethics of mind, based on as I mentioned earlier, the consequences generated by the thoughts and beliefs one holds.
Seems like mind ethics is most important, next slide:
Buddhist approaches to the modes of encountering affliction emotions (Klesha)
-Avoiding the object (at an initial stage, not always)
-Application of regulation of emotions through training and practice (antidotes?)
-Subjugation through non-transcendental path: training of mental stability through concentration
-elimination by the transcendental path: by perception of ultimate reality, affliction emotions (kleshas) are eliminated.
HHDL suggests that secular ethics go up through the second level here. I think it could also include the third.
Seeking a secular ethics: “what we need today is an approach to ethics which makes no recourse to religion and can be equally acceptable to those with faith and those without” -HHDL. (It’s amusing when they show slides to HHDL that are just his own quotes.) But how can you expect to get everyone to agree on an ethics without taking into account the different reasons people might have for valuing various outcomes? Conversations with Michael Glasgow have made it clear to me that you can’t simply expect everyone to agree on a utilitarian foundation, or any kind of argument based on the expected outcomes of the ethics. Deontological ethics are alive and well. And for that matter, whatever foundation you try to build your “secular” ethics on, how can you say that the foundation itself does not require faith? I might be a utilitarian, and I might assert that the greatest good for the greatest number is a foundation that is objective and requires no faith, but what do I say to someone who simply doesn’t believe that?
Arthur’s topic is the value of contemplative pedagogy:
Supports and develops attention, emotional balance.
Can become a mode of inquiry leading to insight.
Cultivation of empathy, altruism and compassion. Right now that is not a part of education in our society, but it could be. I always get annoyed when the scientists in this community say things like that without acknowledging how we got here: namely, secularism and the separation of church and state is the thing that removed ethics and morality from education. Not that religion was doing a good job of it; but in general, if you’re saying “things should be more like this” and you want to actually change society, it’s counterproductive to ignore the societal factors that got us away from your goal in the first place. Oops my commentary made me miss the rest of the slide.
Consumption and the pursuit of happiness: economics, Amherst college. Prof. Daniel Barbeza. Students play economic games and then explore how different consumption decisions are based on different assumptions about how those will affect happiness, and how that changes with contemptible practice. I’ll have to look that up, it seems really interesting.
Arthur is now showing quotes from leaders at Harvard and Yale saying that we have lost sight of the soul of university education, which is to help students learn what they are. I wasn’t fast enough to transcribe the quotes, which were much more eloquent than my attempt.
It might seem like my posts read less like a student or scholar, and more like a sports commentator. I think I was influenced by watching the formal monastic debates on the first day. They really turn debate into a full-on sport. The intellectual, verbal AND physical energy level they bring to it, and the size and engagement of the audience, is like the best of sports. Later outside the hall I will try to find a link to a good video that shows the style, for those who haven’t seen it before.
I’ve had a few conversations here, particularly with Matthieu and John Durant, which brought up the issue of, for an individual, why does one choose to think or believe one thing or another? John said very clearly that he is not motivated by caring one way or another about suffering; he cares about Truth and his actions and choices of thoughts, studies, and beliefs are based on a desire to approach Truth. Matthieu said that from a Buddhist point of view, beliefs are mental actions that have consequences, for your own suffering or well-being, as well as that of other beings that you have some effect on. At best, like with Sona’s talk now, I enjoy the clinician’s talks because there’s less of a deontological, romantic, drive to uphold [some abstract principle] at the expense of any real cost to self or others. I started out myself in youth with the same attitude about Truth, and in particular, “scientific truth” colored with a material and reductive bias. For whatever reason (I like to think it was because of the strength and courage of my convictions) I experienced a very accelerated and amplified manifestation of the negative effects of that belief system, until eventually I started to learn about how thoughts and beliefs affect the quality of life and experience. First from a psychotherapeutic context, and then later, with much more depth, from my study and practice of Buddhism and meditation. (I readily believe that others could obtain as much or more of that depth from therapy, or Buddhism, or any of a number of other paths; that’s just how it played out for me.) So now I personally enjoy more listening and socializing with people motivated by benefit rather than Truth.
Current speaker is Sona Dimidjian, who is one of the first people I met in this community. In 2005 when I decided to go back to school I started my reentry into academics by volunteering in the lab of G. Alan Marlatt at the U of Washington, and Sona was there as a brand new postdoc. She has always been one of the sweetest people around. She is speaking today on clinical mindfulness-based interventions, particularly MBCT.
Early on in this meeting, HHDL said that Tibetans really like hats for all different purposes, so maybe now they should design a hat for the scientists to wear in these dialogs. It would be a really big hat but full of holes because the scientists’ logic is full of holes. HHDL has been way more feisty with the scientists at this meeting, probably because it is home turf and the audience is primarily 10,000 monks. But this suggests that his usual deference to the scientists may not be entirely how he really feels. — at Drepung Lachi.