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InvisibleSwami
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The Nonsense of Morality
    #2885989 - 07/13/04 02:18 PM (12 years, 4 months ago)

Swami's Law of Morality (not based on my ideology, but on observation) states that morality is like light, it dissipates as the square of the distance from the source.

Restated, the further something is away from the observer genetically, culturally, and/or geographically, the more acceptable it is to harm.

I have to go run some errands - I know, I know - and will be back later to extrapolate.


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OfflineMixomatosis
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Re: The Nonsense of Morality [Re: Swami]
    #2886000 - 07/13/04 02:20 PM (12 years, 4 months ago)

I hope you don't go buy any milk or factory farmed meats


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InvisibleDoctorJ
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Re: The Nonsense of Morality [Re: Swami]
    #2886006 - 07/13/04 02:21 PM (12 years, 4 months ago)

morality is bullshit

there is no such thing as what a person should do.

there is only what a person can do.


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InvisibleMoonshoe
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Re: The Nonsense of Morality [Re: Swami]
    #2886016 - 07/13/04 02:23 PM (12 years, 4 months ago)

Um.. so first you define morality for everyone, than you call it nonsense.

I agree that your definition of morality is flawed and nonsensical. What a stimulating post.

:thumbup:

I know what you mean though, lots of people do base there morality on this idea. Hmm, a while ago i posted a thread about the different types of morality, i should have included this one.


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OfflineSeussA
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Re: The Nonsense of Morality [Re: Swami]
    #2886054 - 07/13/04 02:33 PM (12 years, 4 months ago)

Is this the same as a "do as I say, not as I do" sort of thing?


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OfflinePedM
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Re: The Nonsense of Morality [Re: Swami]
    #2886259 - 07/13/04 03:16 PM (12 years, 4 months ago)

>> The further something is away from the observer genetically, culturally, and/or geographically, the more acceptable it is to harm.

So, the "less connected" someone is to me, the more acceptable it is for me to bring them harm? Is this not a totally self-centered point of view? That one's self is of paramount importance, and that all others are organized in their importance relative to the supremely important self: is it rational to approach the world from such a disposition? After all, if everyone in the world conceives of themselves as most important, and if this view is seen as "natural", would not everyone in the world be both valueless and extremely valuable at the same time? Would such insanity not act is the foundation for enormous pain and suffering, such as that seen in wars, or on day time talk shows, or in fact all around us, all the time?

Is it not so that you've just identified as natural law the very root of all human and animal suffering? How depressing. I can't help but feel a tad bit condemned.

Now, this does not mean that I believe morality to be some kind of all-assuming set of laws imposed upon us from some external source, or that morality should be adopted for one's self in such a way. Instead, we should decide for ourselves -- in accordance with our wishes -- what our ethics should be.

Buddha said -- and I've yet to hear anyone disagree with this -- that our main wish is to be happy. It is probable, then, that as human beings we decide upon certain avenues to happiness and then build a morality structure which enables us to pursue those wishes.

Some people believe that the accumulation of material goods, wealth, success, fame, power, are avenues to happiness. In accordance with this belief, such people organize for themselves a moral structure -- and indeed a unique perspective on the world itself -- which enables them to accomplish these goals. For one to obtain such things as wealth, fame, and power, one must conceive of him or herself as priority one in the universe. Once such a view has been adopted, all others are then organized in their importance relative to their value to the self. It is decided who is valuable and who is expendable, and what degree it is acceptable for others to suffer so that we might fulfill our selfish wishes. Caring for others, giving freely to those less advantaged, or even devoting thought to the welfare of other living beings: these are not seen as an efficient means of procuring enormous wealth, and therefore according to this popular worldview are not avenues to happiness.

To reiterate, my personal opinion is that we should (and always do) decide upon our personal moral conduct in accordance with our personal wishes. Furthermore, it is quite clear that all living beings have the fundamental wish to be happy. So, it is fair to suggest that we should decide upon our morals in accordance with our wish to be happy. Before we can have success with this, however, we must properly understand what are reliable avenues to happiness.

Clearly, wealth, fame, and power are not reliable avenues to happiness. There appears to be a direct correlation between an individual's wealth, fame, or power, and the degree to which their lives are difficult and unmanagable. The more wealthy somebody is, the more susceptible they are to fluctuations in the economy, to economic disaster, or disaster in their business or industry. Even though they have many expensive objects, they have the endless task of maintaining and defending that wealth from the constant threat of ruin. The more famous somebody is, the more they have to hide from the media, are exposed to constant criticism, are the target of lawsuits and sometimes even physical attacks. Even though they are adored and beloved by many, they must encounter tremendous hardship every day. The more powerful somebody is, the more they are the focus of rival powers. They might come under legal fire, or in the case of political power they may come under gunfire. While they have enormous control over corporations, entire populations, they must deal with a constant fear for their security. It would seem that the degree of someone's wealth, fame, or power is indeed directly proportionate to the degree of anxiety they have to endure. Clearly, neither wealth, fame, nor power are sources of happiness: they are sources of suffering.

And so we should examine the root of these false approaches to happiness, and then choose an alternative. We are able to pursue wealth, fame, and power only because we maintain the belief that we ourselves are most important. Since neither wealth, fame, nor power have the ability to bring us reliable happiness and actual freedom from suffering, would it not make sense to adopt a moral structure which conceives of others as most important? How would we behave if our belief was that the wellbeing of others was of greater importance than our own? Would be interested in the above described selfish pursuits? Would we be volnurable to the sufferings they produce?

Moreover, if it's true that self-centred morality structures generate enormous suffering and only temporary, fleeting happiness, would it not be logical to conclude that other-centred morality structures might generate enormous happiness and only temporary, transistory suffering? It might be very helpful to contemplate this question in the context of our own lives.


"All living beings wish for happiness, but out of ignorance they destroy it like a foe." -- Je Tsongkhapa


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OfflineSource
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Re: The Nonsense of Morality [Re: Ped]
    #2886457 - 07/13/04 04:25 PM (12 years, 4 months ago)

Ped, I completely agree with you. Lasting happiness can only be found in selfless service to others.

However, I think Swami's point was that through his own observations of human nature, he believes that people tend to care more about what is nearest to them. I don't think he was defending that point of view, only pointing out the hypocracy of the 'moralists' who, for example, put cans in the church food drive then support the United Sates' policy of destroying the infrastructure of a foreign land resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of children (i.e. pre-war Iraq sanctions).


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InvisibleSwami
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Re: The Nonsense of Morality [Re: Ped]
    #2886477 - 07/13/04 04:28 PM (12 years, 4 months ago)

So, the "less connected" someone is to me, the more acceptable it is for me to bring them harm?

Yes, this is true for everyone; even students of Buddha. I would wager that in an emergency situation where one could save one life over another; that one would choose a loved one over a stranger every single time. While this hypothetical may be pushing the limits it clearly illustrates how we think.

The Iraqi invasion was a relatively easy sell because:

a. America is predominantly Christian whereas Iraq is predominently Muslim.

b. America is predominently European (for only a short while longer) while Iraq is mostly Arab.

c. Geographically they are on the other side of the planet.

Some might counter this by pointing out the American Civil War. This conflict was not an overnight happening. First people's minds had to shift to paint their future enemy as "the other".

Northerners became "robber barons", "damn Yankees" and "nigger lovers".

Sountherners became villainous slave traders, "traitors", "hillbillies", etc.

Only once the us / them transition was nearly complete did war become possible.

Why are we more shocked by the Simpson and Peterson murders than a random drive-by shooting? Because the victim and perpertrator were intimate, thus violating a deeper "moral" code than the equally heinous drive-by.


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InvisibleSwami
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Re: The Nonsense of Morality [Re: Moonshoe]
    #2886480 - 07/13/04 04:31 PM (12 years, 4 months ago)

Um.. so first you define morality for everyone, than you call it nonsense.

If I look outside the window and note that it is raining, I am observing, not defining.

I call morality "nonsense" as it is all-too-often portrayed as some deep set of spiritual laws rather than as a set of malleable self-serving rules.


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InvisibleSwami
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Re: The Nonsense of Morality [Re: Seuss]
    #2886486 - 07/13/04 04:33 PM (12 years, 4 months ago)

Is this the same as a "do as I say, not as I do" sort of thing?

No, it is much deeper than that. It is about not pretending about our motivations. Seeing things as they are instead of how we would like them to be is the first step towards wisdom.


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InvisibleDoctorJ
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Re: The Nonsense of Morality [Re: Swami]
    #2886491 - 07/13/04 04:36 PM (12 years, 4 months ago)

your thoughts in this matter seem to run parallell to my idea that there are no such thing as rights,there are only such things as capabilities.

I suppose the difference between moralists and scientists is that moralists are always trying to figure out how things should be whereas scientists are trying to figure out how things are


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InvisibleSwami
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Re: The Nonsense of Morality [Re: Mixomatosis]
    #2886503 - 07/13/04 04:40 PM (12 years, 4 months ago)

I hope you don't go buy any milk or factory farmed meats

My doctor told me my cholesterol was too low and besides my immune system is impervious to any... *gak* *cough* *arrgghhhhhh!*

*Thunk*


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The proof is in the pudding.


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OfflinePedM
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Brahmavihara Maitri Karuna Mudita Upeksha [Re: Swami]
    #2886730 - 07/13/04 05:56 PM (12 years, 4 months ago)

>> Yes, this is true for everyone;

I don't disagree that it's true for everyone. That's the problem with the world. Human beings conceive of themselves as being of paramount importance not only as individuals, but also as a race. Individual human beings prioritize themselves above all other human beings. The entire population of human beings conceives of itself as more important than all other living beings. This is precisely the reason why there is so much imbalance in the world. As human beings we have traded our sense of equanamity for personal gain. It is the root of all suffering.


>> even students of Buddha.

I don't disagree with this either. Students of Buddha, however, recognize their self-cherishing as a fault and train in cherishing others. There is a meditation called "exchanging self with others", where the focus is on making others the object of our cherishing, instead of ourselves. The entire Buddhist path is centred upon elminating self-cherising and the mistaken views which arise from it, and perfecting wisdom and proper awareness through the cherishing of others. Through the cultivation of immeasurable love, immesurable compassion, immeasurable joy, and immesurable equanimity, Buddhists intend to depart from cycles of suffering and enter inpreturbable bliss. Equanimity is a mind which conceives of all living beings with equality and worthiness of the fulfillment of their most basic wish: happiness. Equanimity is a central component to true spiritual freedom.

>> Seeing things as they are instead of how we would like them to be is the first step towards wisdom.

Greater than this is the willingness to patiently accept things as they are, and not expect them to be any different. That is called faith. To me, Swami, it sounds like you're identifying "how things are", and then suggesting that they are proper, that they need not change. While I agree with your assessment of things, I do not agree that we should simply remain this way, believing ourselves to be wise in doing so.


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InvisibleMoonshoe
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Re: Brahmavihara Maitri Karuna Mudita Upeksha [Re: Ped]
    #2887847 - 07/14/04 12:38 AM (12 years, 4 months ago)

gotcha gotcha, i see what your saying
i would agree that this is definetly the predominant form of 'morality' in the world, simply because it is the easiest one to follow.

However, it is not the only possible form of morality, and i think alot of people do go beyond it, such as vegans who feel so much compassion for not only another race but another species , and the ecolovers whose personal morality leads them to endure great hardships to save trees and plants.

Many others still have seen through racist/nationalist/sexist (etc) boundaries and feel compassion to all of humanity, or even all living things.

These people are statistically very rare, no doubt, but they do exist, showing that morality can indeed be a higher calling rather than a simple self-serving reaction.

The reason, i think, that so many people base their moralities on how closely something is connected to you is that the more the person your helping reminds you of yourself, the more you feel like your helping yourself. However, awareness of the fallacies inherent in this thinking allow us to go beyond.


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OfflineDivided_Sky
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Re: Brahmavihara Maitri Karuna Mudita Upeksha [Re: Swami]
    #2887947 - 07/14/04 01:09 AM (12 years, 4 months ago)

Ped, you are absolutely right. In reality there is no true happiness that comes from self-cherishing and serving, all happiness comes from virtuos and altruistic living. People caught in Samsara fall for the same trick over and over again, that serving themselves through luxury or material pleasure will give them real happiness. It never does. Most people don't realize how unhappy they are because they derive a sort of contentment from future hopes. In the present they are discontent but they keep thinking "Just as soon as I get THAT, then everything will be great" It is a perpetual cycle that leads nowhere. There is no contment from selfish actions, only illusion. Even more ridiculous is that the self we try to serve is only in our minds anyway.

The only real source of happiness is through valuing and having compassion for others. This means that morality is the only source of true joy. Virtue is essential to a satisfying existence. I think alot of people on these boards (myself included) have mistakenly believed that awareness and knowledge in themselves bring hapiness. I don't think this is the case, wisdom and experience must go hand in hand with virtue, compassion and discipline. Morality is more important than knowledge.


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OfflineWorldbridger
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Re: Brahmavihara Maitri Karuna Mudita Upeksha [Re: Divided_Sky]
    #2887957 - 07/14/04 01:14 AM (12 years, 4 months ago)

beleive system = b.s.

I find it good to change it around every once in a while so it doesn't become too embedded and boring.


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OfflineNomad
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Re: The Nonsense of Morality [Re: Ped]
    #2888746 - 07/14/04 08:48 AM (12 years, 4 months ago)

Buddha said -- and I've yet to hear anyone disagree with this -- that our main wish is to be happy.

No problem, dude. I will disagree twice: First I will disagree that our main wish is to be happy, and then I'll disagree that the Buddha actually said this.

Someone who's life purpose is to be happy has to be congratulated, since this is to be achieved remarkably easy in these times. You merely have to make as much money as possible, and then inject yourself pure heroine as often as possible. No higher happiness around than this one, I guess.

Happiness appears prominently in the buddhist path, but only as a means to an end, not as an end in itself. The main wish of everybody, if such a thing exists, would be the ending of suffering - not the same as happiness. Suffering arises from happiness, our clinging to and craving for it. That's why the buddha did not teach happiness:

"Like the whole of the ocean has only one taste, that of salt, so my entire teaching has only one taste: That of freedom."

He would go to painful lengths to explain that freedom is what lies beyond our craving for happiness and our aversion for unhappiness. Check out the Dighanakha Sutta.

This is not really a criticism of your post, which is a great one. But, well, to make a point: Fuck hedonism. There's an australian monk who "repackages" the four noble truths as the truth of happiness, the truth of the cause of happiness, the truth of the arising of happiness, and the truth of the path to happiness. This is based on the Buddha saying that "Nibbana is the highest happiness", but again, it seems to me that happiness is only a side effect of nibbana, or freedom. It's not the goal.


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OfflineFliquid
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Re: The Nonsense of Morality [Re: DoctorJ]
    #2888880 - 07/14/04 10:33 AM (12 years, 4 months ago)

Quote:

DoctorJ said:
morality is bullshit

there is no such thing as what a person should do.

there is only what a person can do.




Fully agree, I try to change my should's into could's when I notice the old habbit of telling someone something.


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OfflineSource
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Re: Brahmavihara Maitri Karuna Mudita Upeksha [Re: Ped]
    #2889042 - 07/14/04 11:58 AM (12 years, 4 months ago)

"The reason people are unhappy is because 99.9% of everything they do is for thier self...and there isn't one"

I don't remember who said that, but it's a good one!


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Invisiblesilversoul7
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Re: Brahmavihara Maitri Karuna Mudita Upeksha [Re: Swami]
    #2889141 - 07/14/04 12:36 PM (12 years, 4 months ago)

Unfortunately, it is just a fact of life that people will end up treating people differently based on how well they know them. You're bound to have special relationships to certain people, which will mean treating them better than you would your average stranger on the street.


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