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bsh1
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6/2/2015 12:46:57 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
So, I am--over the summer--enrolled in an Asian Philosophy course, and right now we are studying the Upanishads and early Buddhism. It's been interesting, if not wholly perplexing. I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on two different questions:

-----------------------------------------------------------------

Firstly, is it rational to desires the elimination of one's desires? On the one hand, it seems that rationality is defined as pursuing your desires (and I am using the term "desire" broadly, because it also includes things like hunger). It also seems like my desires make me who I am, and their elimination would destroy my individuality/personhood. On the other hand, if the Upanishadic sages are correct, all desires must be destroyed to leave the pure self (atman) unobscured. It is only by eliminating desires that we can achieve moksha.

Buddha argues something similar, except he argues that we need to obliterate our desires because our desires are ourselves, and it is only by eliminating the self (anatman) that we can attain nirvana. The idea behind moksha or nirvana is that they are states without suffering, and if one has no desires, one cannot suffer--one is necessarily serene or in a blissful condition.

So, there are perhaps three questions built into that: (1) is it rational to desire the elimination of one's desires, (2) are our desires synonymous with our self, and (3) is reaching moksha/nirvana/liberation actually something we should want to do. Interesting concepts, I think...

Secondly, is liberation/moksha/nirvana a permanent state, or can it be lost. It seems that once one has obtained the knowledge or state of moksha, one cannot suffer, so one cannot slide back into suffering. If one did slide back into suffering, one would have to conclude that one never had moksha in the first place, just something similar to it. But, it also seems like life changing events could still impact us whether we like it or not. Could not, for instance, alzheimer's wipe our memories of the knowledge of moksha?

So, again their are multiple questions here: (1) is liberation/moksha/nirvana necessarily a permanent state, (2) specifically excluding biological factors like alzheimers, is it necessarily permanent, and (3) is liberation/moksha/nirvana actually achievable, or no.

Thirdly and finally, can a case be made that Hinduism is monotheistic based on the notion of a universal brahman. Brahman for Hindus is like the force, it penetrates us and binds us together. It is the wellspring for everything, and it is everything. Yet, it has no will, no designs, it is merely a binding force. Plus, Hinduism is well known for it's many gods and godesses. To me, brahman seems remarkably similar to Spinoza's pantheist interpretation of god, but many argue that Spinoza's god wasn't really a god at all. So, can a case be made for Hinduism's monotheism, based on the idea of a universal brahman?

Please comment and leave your thoughts. I'd really appreciate it. Thanks, everyone!
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ShabShoral
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6/2/2015 1:27:57 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 6/2/2015 12:46:57 AM, bsh1 wrote:
So, I am--over the summer--enrolled in an Asian Philosophy course, and right now we are studying the Upanishads and early Buddhism. It's been interesting, if not wholly perplexing. I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on two different questions:

-----------------------------------------------------------------

Firstly, is it rational to desires the elimination of one's desires?

That always striked me as odd - the desire itself sounds self-defeating.
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InternetDuelist
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6/2/2015 6:21:58 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 6/2/2015 12:46:57 AM, bsh1 wrote:

Firstly, is it rational to desire the elimination of one's desires?

It is absolutely rational as desire itself is an irrational matter that rationality cannot be applied to. Thus to desire anything at all is acceptable to a rational person. Whether you desire to molest little children or you desire to aid impoverished people accumulating wealth and experiencing a decent quality of life, your desires are rational just as much as they are irrational. The question of morality of your desires are another matter altogether.

On the one hand, it seems that rationality is defined as pursuing your desires (and I am using the term "desire" broadly, because it also includes things like hunger). It also seems like my desires make me who I am, and their elimination would destroy my individuality/personhood. On the other hand, if the Upanishadic sages are correct, all desires must be destroyed to leave the pure self (atman) unobscured. It is only by eliminating desires that we can achieve moksha.

It is not your desires that make you who you are, bsh1, it is how you go about dealing with those desires that determines your morality and who you are as a person. the Buddhists seek to reign in any and all earthly desires whereas you may choose to be less strict about this. The less one indulges in a desire,t he less prominence that desire takes in their life.; this is what the sages refer to and what Buddhism seeks to profess as morally ideal.

Buddha argues something similar, except he argues that we need to obliterate our desires because our desires are ourselves, and it is only by eliminating the self (anatman) that we can attain nirvana. The idea behind moksha or nirvana is that they are states without suffering, and if one has no desires, one cannot suffer--one is necessarily serene or in a blissful condition.

So, there are perhaps three questions built into that: (1) is it rational to desire the elimination of one's desires, (2) are our desires synonymous with our self, and (3) is reaching moksha/nirvana/liberation actually something we should want to do. Interesting concepts, I think...

Secondly, is liberation/moksha/nirvana a permanent state, or can it be lost. It seems that once one has obtained the knowledge or state of moksha, one cannot suffer, so one cannot slide back into suffering. If one did slide back into suffering, one would have to conclude that one never had moksha in the first place, just something similar to it. But, it also seems like life changing events could still impact us whether we like it or not. Could not, for instance, alzheimer's wipe our memories of the knowledge of moksha?

So, again their are multiple questions here: (1) is liberation/moksha/nirvana necessarily a permanent state, (2) specifically excluding biological factors like alzheimers, is it necessarily permanent, and (3) is liberation/moksha/nirvana actually achievable, or no.

1) No, nothing is permanent.

2) I am not sure what Alzheimer's would have to do with it.

3) It is absolutely achievable but only as long as one seeks to become a mindful being that only lives in the present relatively absent of desires and resistant to urges.
Diqiucun_Cunmin
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6/2/2015 8:27:15 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 6/2/2015 12:46:57 AM, bsh1 wrote:
So, I am--over the summer--enrolled in an Asian Philosophy course, and right now we are studying the Upanishads and early Buddhism. It's been interesting, if not wholly perplexing. I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on two different questions:

-----------------------------------------------------------------

Firstly, is it rational to desires the elimination of one's desires? On the one hand, it seems that rationality is defined as pursuing your desires (and I am using the term "desire" broadly, because it also includes things like hunger). It also seems like my desires make me who I am, and their elimination would destroy my individuality/personhood. On the other hand, if the Upanishadic sages are correct, all desires must be destroyed to leave the pure self (atman) unobscured. It is only by eliminating desires that we can achieve moksha.

Buddha argues something similar, except he argues that we need to obliterate our desires because our desires are ourselves, and it is only by eliminating the self (anatman) that we can attain nirvana. The idea behind moksha or nirvana is that they are states without suffering, and if one has no desires, one cannot suffer--one is necessarily serene or in a blissful condition.

So, there are perhaps three questions built into that: (1) is it rational to desire the elimination of one's desires, (2) are our desires synonymous with our self, and (3) is reaching moksha/nirvana/liberation actually something we should want to do. Interesting concepts, I think...
Am I allowed to answer this from a Confucian perspective? I know that isn't useful to you, but I wanted to answer, lol.
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tejretics
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6/2/2015 8:42:36 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 6/2/2015 12:46:57 AM, bsh1 wrote:
So, I am--over the summer--enrolled in an Asian Philosophy course, and right now we are studying the Upanishads and early Buddhism. It's been interesting, if not wholly perplexing. I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on two different questions:

-----------------------------------------------------------------

Firstly, is it rational to desire the elimination of one's desires? On the one hand, it seems that rationality is defined as pursuing your desires (and I am using the term "desire" broadly, because it also includes things like hunger). It also seems like my desires make me who I am, and their elimination would destroy my individuality/personhood. On the other hand, if the Upanishadic sages are correct, all desires must be destroyed to leave the pure self (atman) unobscured. It is only by eliminating desires that we can achieve moksha.

Buddha argues something similar, except he argues that we need to obliterate our desires because our desires are ourselves, and it is only by eliminating the self (anatman) that we can attain nirvana. The idea behind moksha or nirvana is that they are states without suffering, and if one has no desires, one cannot suffer--one is necessarily serene or in a blissful condition.

So, there are perhaps three questions built into that: (1) is it rational to desire the elimination of one's desires, (2) are our desires synonymous with our self, and (3) is reaching moksha/nirvana/liberation actually something we should want to do. Interesting concepts, I think...

Secondly, is liberation/moksha/nirvana a permanent state, or can it be lost. It seems that once one has obtained the knowledge or state of moksha, one cannot suffer, so one cannot slide back into suffering. If one did slide back into suffering, one would have to conclude that one never had moksha in the first place, just something similar to it. But, it also seems like life changing events could still impact us whether we like it or not. Could not, for instance, alzheimer's wipe our memories of the knowledge of moksha?

Yes, Alzheimer's could very well.


So, again their are multiple questions here: (1) is liberation/moksha/nirvana necessarily a permanent state, (2) specifically excluding biological factors like alzheimers, is it necessarily permanent, and (3) is liberation/moksha/nirvana actually achievable, or no.

Thirdly and finally, can a case be made that Hinduism is monotheistic based on the notion of a universal brahman. Brahman for Hindus is like the force, it penetrates us and binds us together. It is the wellspring for everything, and it is everything. Yet, it has no will, no designs, it is merely a binding force. Plus, Hinduism is well known for it's many gods and godesses. To me, brahman seems remarkably similar to Spinoza's pantheist interpretation of god, but many argue that Spinoza's god wasn't really a god at all. So, can a case be made for Hinduism's monotheism, based on the idea of a universal brahman?

I'll just answer this one :P A case can theoretically be made for Hindu monotheism, but Brahman isn't God, or doesn't really have God-like properties. It's just an all-penetrating and all-pervading "force" that binds the universe in a ... superstring entanglement, of a sort. As Wikipedia describes it, Brahman is referred to as "Satcitananda", literally "truth-consciousness-bliss", and is based on the idea that there is a "truth" embedded in our DNA itself, that is realized through variants in rational conscience.

Hinduism, as a religion, encompasses a *variety* of cultural beliefs. There are variants that are pantheistic, monotheistic, polytheistic, deistic, panentheistic, and even atheistic. For example, the atheistic Carvaka philosophy has focus towards a rendering of epistemological empiricism, and so on.


Please comment and leave your thoughts. I'd really appreciate it. Thanks, everyone!
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bsh1
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6/2/2015 1:10:47 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 6/2/2015 1:27:57 AM, ShabShoral wrote:
At 6/2/2015 12:46:57 AM, bsh1 wrote:
Firstly, is it rational to desires the elimination of one's desires?

That always striked me as odd - the desire itself sounds self-defeating.

It sounds fairly paradoxical, I'd agree.
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bsh1
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6/2/2015 1:14:40 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 6/2/2015 8:42:36 AM, tejretics wrote:
At 6/2/2015 12:46:57 AM, bsh1 wrote:
Thirdly and finally, can a case be made that Hinduism is monotheistic based on the notion of a universal brahman. Brahman for Hindus is like the force, it penetrates us and binds us together. It is the wellspring for everything, and it is everything. Yet, it has no will, no designs, it is merely a binding force. Plus, Hinduism is well known for it's many gods and godesses. To me, brahman seems remarkably similar to Spinoza's pantheist interpretation of god, but many argue that Spinoza's god wasn't really a god at all. So, can a case be made for Hinduism's monotheism, based on the idea of a universal brahman?

I'll just answer this one :P A case can theoretically be made for Hindu monotheism, but Brahman isn't God, or doesn't really have God-like properties. It's just an all-penetrating and all-pervading "force" that binds the universe in a ... superstring entanglement, of a sort.

But that's just it--It depends on your definition of God. If god is defined as the wellspring of everything, the "Is" of the universe, the essential essence of all things, then brahman is god. Spinoza's idea of god is remarkable similar--though not identical--to brahman.

If God requires the ability to form intentions, then perhaps brahman isn't god. But I don't see why god necessarily requires that ability. I could just as easily define god as the universe's binding force.
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bsh1
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6/2/2015 1:15:19 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 6/2/2015 8:27:15 AM, Diqiucun_Cunmin wrote:
Am I allowed to answer this from a Confucian perspective? I know that isn't useful to you, but I wanted to answer, lol.

Sure, lol.
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kasmic
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6/2/2015 1:17:42 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
So, there are perhaps three questions built into that: (1) is it rational to desire the elimination of one's desires, ..... (3) is reaching moksha/nirvana/liberation actually something we should want to do.

I"m not sure if its rational but semantically it is impossible. If my "desire" is to eliminate desire" This is the thought I had while reading your summary. If I desire nothing than I don"t care. I cant be sad or mad because I don"t care" but how can I be happy or glad if I don"t care. It seems to me a state of nirvana or destroying our desires may eliminate suffering, but also eliminates happiness. Thus I do not desire to eliminate my desire.
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bsh1
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6/2/2015 1:23:31 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 6/2/2015 1:17:42 PM, kasmic wrote:
So, there are perhaps three questions built into that: (1) is it rational to desire the elimination of one's desires, ..... (3) is reaching moksha/nirvana/liberation actually something we should want to do.

I"m not sure if its rational but semantically it is impossible. If my "desire" is to eliminate desire" This is the thought I had while reading your summary.

It is definitely paradoxical, but, as is often the case with paradoxes, they hit upon a kernel of intuitive truth. What makes paradoxes interesting is that we feel like they are intuitively true, though we recognize that they are logically impossible.

But, to be a bit more concrete, I could still desire to rid myself of desires, but I could just never succeed at my endeavor, because I still desire something, namely, the elimination of desires.

If I desire nothing than I don"t care. I cant be sad or mad because I don"t care" but how can I be happy or glad if I don"t care. It seems to me a state of nirvana or destroying our desires may eliminate suffering, but also eliminates happiness. Thus I do not desire to eliminate my desire.

The argument would be that happiness brought by desires is an ephemeral condition devoid of any sturdy foundation. Happiness of that kind is always transient, and quickly replaced by suffering. In fact, may Upanishadic sages argue the happiness wrought by desire is in fact an insidious form of suffering.

The purpose of moksha/nirvana is to get us to a state of contentment--we may not experience happiness as we think of it now, but we are also untroubled by suffering. We are at peace.

Personally, though, I think you're right. But, just to be devil's advocate here...
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kasmic
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6/2/2015 1:27:09 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
In fact, may Upanishadic sages argue the happiness wrought by desire is in fact an insidious form of suffering.

That is fascinating.

The purpose of moksha/nirvana is to get us to a state of contentment--we may not experience happiness as we think of it now, but we are also untroubled by suffering. We are at peace.

Not to hammer this again... but the purpose(appeal) of moksha/nirvana is to be content. That is a desire is it not.

It is very interesting though. I confess I have not studied Asian philosophy much. This was an interesting introduction to it. thanks.
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bsh1
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6/2/2015 1:31:53 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 6/2/2015 6:21:58 AM, InternetDuelist wrote:
At 6/2/2015 12:46:57 AM, bsh1 wrote:

Firstly, is it rational to desire the elimination of one's desires?

It is absolutely rational as desire itself is an irrational matter that rationality cannot be applied to.

Why? It seems that rationality is defined by our desires. If I desire to live, then it is rational to eat, for instance. If I desire to live, then it would be irrational to go cliff jumping without proper safety gear. Similarly, if I desired to die, then a rational course of action would be to take stupid risks. Isn't what is rational for us to do simply a matter of perspective?

On the one hand, it seems that rationality is defined as pursuing your desires (and I am using the term "desire" broadly, because it also includes things like hunger). It also seems like my desires make me who I am, and their elimination would destroy my individuality/personhood. On the other hand, if the Upanishadic sages are correct, all desires must be destroyed to leave the pure self (atman) unobscured. It is only by eliminating desires that we can achieve moksha.

It is not your desires that make you who you are, bsh1, it is how you go about dealing with those desires that determines your morality and who you are as a person.

Right, but that seems like a false dichotomy. Why is there any difference between the actions I take and the desires I have. Suppose I desire to eat, and I have two options open to me: to steal food or grow my own. Suppose also that I would feel bad if I stole the food, and that I feel more personally satisfied by producing my own food, so I decide to grow my own rather than steal.

In the example, I (1) desired to not steal the food, and (2) desired to grow the food. Therefore, the actions I took or didn't take were defined by my desires. There was no separation between desire and action. So, to say that action defines who I am is to also say that desires define who I am.

Many would just flat out say that it is impossible to act in a way one doesn't want/desire to act.

So, again their are multiple questions here: (1) is liberation/moksha/nirvana necessarily a permanent state, (2) specifically excluding biological factors like alzheimers, is it necessarily permanent, and (3) is liberation/moksha/nirvana actually achievable, or no.

1) No, nothing is permanent.

Right, but while nothing may be practically permanent, we can define things as being permanent. It's the difference between what is actual and what is conceptual.

2) I am not sure what Alzheimer's would have to do with it.

To get to moksha, you must have knowledge of how to live in a fashion consistent with your atman. If you have that knowledge, then you can never not be in a state of moksha. Alzheimer's can take away that knowledge, thus taking away your potential for atman.

3) It is absolutely achievable but only as long as one seeks to become a mindful being that only lives in the present relatively absent of desires and resistant to urges.

If you seek moksha, do you not desire moksha? If you desire moksha, than you cannot reach a state absent of desires. So, moksha would be impossible, no? Unless, of course, you just stumbled upon it without seeking it.
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6/2/2015 1:37:00 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 6/2/2015 1:27:09 PM, kasmic wrote:
In fact, may Upanishadic sages argue the happiness wrought by desire is in fact an insidious form of suffering.

That is fascinating.

Agreed. And in a sense, I can see where they're coming from. For instance, if heroin makes me feel good (a kind of happiness), I could live a life of perfect happiness just by constantly being high. Yet, there is something existentially wrong about that kind of existence, and it would be fair, IMO, to describe it as suffering. For the sages, all happiness brought by desires is just as hollow, illusory, false, and spiritually debilitating as is the happiness brought by heroin.

It's a neat--if scary--thought.

The purpose of moksha/nirvana is to get us to a state of contentment--we may not experience happiness as we think of it now, but we are also untroubled by suffering. We are at peace.

Not to hammer this again... but the purpose(appeal) of moksha/nirvana is to be content. That is a desire is it not.

Correct. As I said, I could still desire to rid myself of desires, but I could just never succeed at my endeavor, because I still desire something, namely, the elimination of desires.

I think the only way one could truly gain moksha is just to stumble on the knowledge by accident, without actually seeking that knowledge in the first place. To have a kind of accidental epiphany.

But, many people disagree, which is, in itself, a springboard for a very interesting debate.

It is very interesting though. I confess I have not studied Asian philosophy much. This was an interesting introduction to it. thanks.

It is really cool, but I am only just dipping my toes into it as well. Hopefully, I will get some more questions to ask in the coming days...
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6/2/2015 1:41:53 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
On a side note, there is something to be said about tempering desire. There is something that I desire, but I intentionally don't buy. The reason being that It fills up my need(for lack of a better work) to desire other things, and I seem to be able to get along with out it.
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6/2/2015 1:45:32 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 6/2/2015 1:41:53 PM, kasmic wrote:
On a side note, there is something to be said about tempering desire. There is something that I desire, but I intentionally don't buy. The reason being that It fills up my need(for lack of a better work) to desire other things, and I seem to be able to get along with out it.

Well, Epicurus thought the key to happiness was the elimination of all frivolous desires. He recognized that there were a few desires so fundamental that they could not be expunged (food, water, breathing, etc), but he contended that if you could rid yourself of unnecessary desires, you would be as happy as possible.

It's an interesting kind of hedonism, because instead of arguing that happiness can be maximized by realizing your desires, Epicurus thought that it could be maximized by eliminating desires.

For instance, you may not be able to not desire food, but you can avoid desiring specific luxurious foods. That way, I can content myself with whatever is on hand, and not be upset when the particular kind of food I like isn't available. It minimizes opportunities for sadness...
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6/2/2015 1:48:36 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
Well, Epicurus thought the key to happiness was the elimination of all frivolous desires. He recognized that there were a few desires so fundamental that they could not be expunged (food, water, breathing, etc), but he contended that if you could rid yourself of unnecessary desires, you would be as happy as possible.

It's an interesting kind of hedonism, because instead of arguing that happiness can be maximized by realizing your desires, Epicurus thought that it could be maximized by eliminating desires.


I suppose I buy into this. At least at face value. To really discuss this it seems desire as a concept would have to be thoroughly defined.
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6/2/2015 1:53:11 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 6/2/2015 1:48:36 PM, kasmic wrote:
Well, Epicurus thought the key to happiness was the elimination of all frivolous desires. He recognized that there were a few desires so fundamental that they could not be expunged (food, water, breathing, etc), but he contended that if you could rid yourself of unnecessary desires, you would be as happy as possible.

It's an interesting kind of hedonism, because instead of arguing that happiness can be maximized by realizing your desires, Epicurus thought that it could be maximized by eliminating desires.


I suppose I buy into this.

I do too...Really, Epicurus is arguing that we should just go with the flow and not obsess about the little stuff. As long as we have food to eat, water to drink, air to breath, and adequate sleep, we should be content.

At least at face value. To really discuss this it seems desire as a concept would have to be thoroughly defined.

Sure, of course, but for a discussion like this, I think broad strokes of comprehension work.
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6/2/2015 1:55:53 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
Sure, of course, but for a discussion like this, I think broad strokes of comprehension work.

I just meant, the next thing I would need to really study to go deeper is more comprehensive. You're right, broad strokes where sufficient to this conversation.
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6/2/2015 1:59:22 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 6/2/2015 1:55:53 PM, kasmic wrote:
Sure, of course, but for a discussion like this, I think broad strokes of comprehension work.

I just meant, the next thing I would need to really study to go deeper is more comprehensive. You're right, broad strokes where sufficient to this conversation.

Oh, okie dokie.
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InternetDuelist
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6/2/2015 5:40:26 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 6/2/2015 1:31:53 PM, bsh1 wrote:

Why? It seems that rationality is defined by our desires. If I desire to live, then it is rational to eat, for instance. If I desire to live, then it would be irrational to go cliff jumping without proper safety gear. Similarly, if I desired to die, then a rational course of action would be to take stupid risks. Isn't what is rational for us to do simply a matter of perspective?

Your desire to live isn't rational neither is desiring to eat. It is all sensations that you give into because your subjective value system ranked living as more desirable than death or at the very least ranks hunger as a primary sensation to quelled.

Right, but that seems like a false dichotomy. Why is there any difference between the actions I take and the desires I have. Suppose I desire to eat, and I have two options open to me: to steal food or grow my own. Suppose also that I would feel bad if I stole the food, and that I feel more personally satisfied by producing my own food, so I decide to grow my own rather than steal.

The desire to eat is firstly not a purely emotional one, it is a physical desire. Eating is as essential to existing as breathing so even an unemotional robot absent of any feeling or desire that required nutrition to remain alive would eat if that was its only means of getting it. It is not a 'desire' when it is true hunger, gluttony is greed to consume food above and beyond what is needed to live and this is what Buddhism seeks to put a stop to. Your reason to not steal, according to Buddhism, should be because to steal would result in you feeling guilt and other extreme emotions such as anxiety of being caught and possible insomnia that result sin irritability. These feelings are anti-nirvana and bad karma for the mind so to avoid feeling such extreme emotions taking the simpler, safer route to getting your food is going to result in a calmer, less impulsive state of mind.

In the example, I (1) desired to not steal the food, and (2) desired to grow the food. Therefore, the actions I took or didn't take were defined by my desires. There was no separation between desire and action. So, to say that action defines who I am is to also say that desires define who I am.

In buddhism, action alone doesn't define who you are; the action you took despite feeling the need to act otherwise defines who you are. In your scenario, you desired to steal and desired to grow, which one results in less extreme emotion and leaves you in a far-from-calm state of mind? If you are a stealing addict who would have their urges eased by getting your daily fix, your addiction is a mental trap from which no Nirvana can ever be achieved.

Many would just flat out say that it is impossible to act in a way one doesn't want/desire to act.

I agree, but Buddhism isn't too fond of logic. It's a religion after all.

Right, but while nothing may be practically permanent, we can define things as being permanent. It's the difference between what is actual and what is conceptual.

Conceptually a narcissist is god, does that make their self-infatuation a religion worth discussing? No, because it has no application in the real world. Buddhism arguably does, so it is discussed as such.

To get to moksha, you must have knowledge of how to live in a fashion consistent with your atman. If you have that knowledge, then you can never not be in a state of moksha. Alzheimer's can take away that knowledge, thus taking away your potential for atman.

So can having down's syndrome or a reasonably functioning brain that realizes that all religions are ultimately flawed structures made to control the masses while the intelligent and dumb alike live in ignorance of them; the intelligent by choice, the dumb by limitation to comprehend them.

If you seek moksha, do you not desire moksha? If you desire moksha, then you cannot reach a state absent of desires. So, moksha would be impossible, no? Unless, of course, you just stumbled upon it without seeking it.

So would getting into heaven as the fact that you did your actions only for the reward of heaven and selfish avoidance of hell make all your actions automatically immoral. Logic and religion should never be mixed, one explains things while the other keeps you distracted from the harshness of what is being explained.
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6/2/2015 6:23:41 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 6/2/2015 5:40:26 PM, InternetDuelist wrote:
At 6/2/2015 1:31:53 PM, bsh1 wrote:

Why? It seems that rationality is defined by our desires. If I desire to live, then it is rational to eat, for instance. If I desire to live, then it would be irrational to go cliff jumping without proper safety gear. Similarly, if I desired to die, then a rational course of action would be to take stupid risks. Isn't what is rational for us to do simply a matter of perspective?

Your desire to live isn't rational neither is desiring to eat. It is all sensations that you give into because your subjective value system ranked living as more desirable than death or at the very least ranks hunger as a primary sensation to quelled.

My point is that you're misunderstanding what rationality is. What is rationality, if it is not judged in relation to what we want?

Right, but that seems like a false dichotomy. Why is there any difference between the actions I take and the desires I have. Suppose I desire to eat, and I have two options open to me: to steal food or grow my own. Suppose also that I would feel bad if I stole the food, and that I feel more personally satisfied by producing my own food, so I decide to grow my own rather than steal.

The desire to eat is firstly not a purely emotional one, it is a physical desire. Eating is as essential to existing as breathing so even an unemotional robot absent of any feeling or desire that required nutrition to remain alive would eat if that was its only means of getting it.

But if we're programmed to do something, if I "want" food because I am hungry, I still desire it. Desires need not be emotional--any kind of want, whether it's emotional, physical, or spiritual are still desires.

Your reason to not steal, according to Buddhism, should be because to steal would result in you feeling guilt and other extreme emotions such as anxiety of being caught and possible insomnia that result sin irritability. These feelings are anti-nirvana and bad karma for the mind so to avoid feeling such extreme emotions taking the simpler, safer route to getting your food is going to result in a calmer, less impulsive state of mind.

This confirms the point I was making. You're not making a distinction between action and desire.

Many would just flat out say that it is impossible to act in a way one doesn't want/desire to act.

I agree, but Buddhism isn't too fond of logic. It's a religion after all.

Right, but the whole purpose of this thread is to look at it logically. And, I disagree that all variants of Buddhism are religions.

Right, but while nothing may be practically permanent, we can define things as being permanent. It's the difference between what is actual and what is conceptual.

Conceptually a narcissist is god, does that make their self-infatuation a religion worth discussing? No, because it has no application in the real world. Buddhism arguably does, so it is discussed as such.

I am not sure how this relates to how moksha is defined.

If you seek moksha, do you not desire moksha? If you desire moksha, then you cannot reach a state absent of desires. So, moksha would be impossible, no? Unless, of course, you just stumbled upon it without seeking it.

So would getting into heaven as the fact that you did your actions only for the reward of heaven and selfish avoidance of hell make all your actions automatically immoral. Logic and religion should never be mixed, one explains things while the other keeps you distracted from the harshness of what is being explained.

I agree that it makes it fundamentally selfish. That's the reason why Pascal's wager is ridiculous. However, it is unknown whether God (if he exists) would judge egoism harshly.
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6/2/2015 8:55:19 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 6/2/2015 6:23:41 PM, bsh1 wrote:
At 6/2/2015 5:40:26 PM, InternetDuelist wrote:
At 6/2/2015 1:31:53 PM, bsh1 wrote:

Why? It seems that rationality is defined by our desires. If I desire to live, then it is rational to eat, for instance. If I desire to live, then it would be irrational to go cliff jumping without proper safety gear. Similarly, if I desired to die, then a rational course of action would be to take stupid risks. Isn't what is rational for us to do simply a matter of perspective?

Your desire to live isn't rational neither is desiring to eat. It is all sensations that you give into because your subjective value system ranked living as more desirable than death or at the very least ranks hunger as a primary sensation to quelled.

My point is that you're misunderstanding what rationality is. What is rationality, if it is not judged in relation to what we want?

Something is "Rational" if it follows from or is supported by reason. I don't think it is inherently tied to or defined by our desires. In the case of deciding what action is rational, then yes the aim or goal of the action is needed to evaluate if the action is rational.

But the aims or goal of actions need not be to satisfy desires. They could be to uphold obligations or generally to act morally. You might want to say "but you desire to act morally, so desire still directs rationality." I'd make two responses.

First, maybe desire isn't what motivates you to act morally, maybe you are simply compelled to by neuroses or habit or conviction. This applies generally- an aim is not the same as a desire. I think there are a lot of psychological factors other than desire that set our aims.

Second, i think there is a priority issue at play. Most people wouldn't say moral action is rational because it is in line with their desire to act morally. Most people would say that moral action is rational by virtue of morality itself and they desire to act morally for this reasons. If morality itself is rationally justified, then any moral action is rational without reference to individual desire.

To your point, If rational courses of action are defined by our desires (this is your definition I think?), then desire is arational and prior to rationality. If this is the case then your first question ("is it rational to desire to eliminate desire?") is nonsensical, since all desire is arational.
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6/2/2015 9:28:16 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 6/2/2015 8:55:19 PM, Raisor wrote:
At 6/2/2015 6:23:41 PM, bsh1 wrote:
At 6/2/2015 5:40:26 PM, InternetDuelist wrote:
At 6/2/2015 1:31:53 PM, bsh1 wrote:

Why? It seems that rationality is defined by our desires. If I desire to live, then it is rational to eat, for instance. If I desire to live, then it would be irrational to go cliff jumping without proper safety gear. Similarly, if I desired to die, then a rational course of action would be to take stupid risks. Isn't what is rational for us to do simply a matter of perspective?

Your desire to live isn't rational neither is desiring to eat. It is all sensations that you give into because your subjective value system ranked living as more desirable than death or at the very least ranks hunger as a primary sensation to quelled.

My point is that you're misunderstanding what rationality is. What is rationality, if it is not judged in relation to what we want?

Something is "Rational" if it follows from or is supported by reason. I don't think it is inherently tied to or defined by our desires. In the case of deciding what action is rational, then yes the aim or goal of the action is needed to evaluate if the action is rational.

Right, sure. But, the point of the argument would be: what is reasonable? What does it mean to act in a way that is supported by reason? Our desires set the end objectives, and then we reason how to get there.

But the aims or goal of actions need not be to satisfy desires. They could be to uphold obligations or generally to act morally. You might want to say "but you desire to act morally, so desire still directs rationality." I'd make two responses.

First, maybe desire isn't what motivates you to act morally, maybe you are simply compelled to by neuroses or habit or conviction. This applies generally- an aim is not the same as a desire. I think there are a lot of psychological factors other than desire that set our aims.

Fine, in that case your not make a choice, so the point is moot. You don't fully have control over yourself.

Second, i think there is a priority issue at play. Most people wouldn't say moral action is rational because it is in line with their desire to act morally. Most people would say that moral action is rational by virtue of morality itself and they desire to act morally for this reasons. If morality itself is rationally justified, then any moral action is rational without reference to individual desire.

Right, but for morality to be rationally justified, must we not desire it first? If we didn't want to be moral--in fact, if no one wanted to be moral--then why would morality be rational?

To your point, If rational courses of action are defined by our desires (this is your definition I think?), then desire is arational and prior to rationality. If this is the case then your first question ("is it rational to desire to eliminate desire?") is nonsensical, since all desire is arational.

It's the definition I am defending. It's not what I actually believe. Lol, and that's a good point.
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6/2/2015 9:48:22 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 6/2/2015 9:28:16 PM, bsh1 wrote:
At 6/2/2015 8:55:19 PM, Raisor wrote:
At 6/2/2015 6:23:41 PM, bsh1 wrote:
At 6/2/2015 5:40:26 PM, InternetDuelist wrote:
At 6/2/2015 1:31:53 PM, bsh1 wrote:

Why? It seems that rationality is defined by our desires. If I desire to live, then it is rational to eat, for instance. If I desire to live, then it would be irrational to go cliff jumping without proper safety gear. Similarly, if I desired to die, then a rational course of action would be to take stupid risks. Isn't what is rational for us to do simply a matter of perspective?

Your desire to live isn't rational neither is desiring to eat. It is all sensations that you give into because your subjective value system ranked living as more desirable than death or at the very least ranks hunger as a primary sensation to quelled.

My point is that you're misunderstanding what rationality is. What is rationality, if it is not judged in relation to what we want?

Something is "Rational" if it follows from or is supported by reason. I don't think it is inherently tied to or defined by our desires. In the case of deciding what action is rational, then yes the aim or goal of the action is needed to evaluate if the action is rational.

Right, sure. But, the point of the argument would be: what is reasonable? What does it mean to act in a way that is supported by reason? Our desires set the end objectives, and then we reason how to get there.

Or reason sets the end objective, or our nature sets the end objective. I don't think desire is the exclusive arbiter of what our aims are.


But the aims or goal of actions need not be to satisfy desires. They could be to uphold obligations or generally to act morally. You might want to say "but you desire to act morally, so desire still directs rationality." I'd make two responses.

First, maybe desire isn't what motivates you to act morally, maybe you are simply compelled to by neuroses or habit or conviction. This applies generally- an aim is not the same as a desire. I think there are a lot of psychological factors other than desire that set our aims.

Fine, in that case your not make a choice, so the point is moot. You don't fully have control over yourself.

I'm not trying to describe cases where you don't have control over yourself. I'm saying everyday actions are motivated by a lot more than desire. I usually answer questions truthfully not because I desire to be truthful but because thats my habit of answering. I pay for things from the corner store because that's what I understand to be the right thing to do. I don't explicitly desire to be good in doing so, I just act according to my habitual aims. Or I walk my dog to a park nearby, not because I particularly desire going to the park but because thats where I happen to walk her often- I chose the destination from habit. The aims of my actions aren't always set by desire.

Also I might argue you have just as much control over many of your desires as you do over neuroses.


Second, i think there is a priority issue at play. Most people wouldn't say moral action is rational because it is in line with their desire to act morally. Most people would say that moral action is rational by virtue of morality itself and they desire to act morally for this reasons. If morality itself is rationally justified, then any moral action is rational without reference to individual desire.

Right, but for morality to be rationally justified, must we not desire it first? If we didn't want to be moral--in fact, if no one wanted to be moral--then why would morality be rational?


I don't want to get into different justification of ethical systems. I would just say that most major ethical systems (consequentialism, deont, virtue ethics, discourse ethics) aren't justified by he fact that people want to be moral. Aristotle would say virtue isn't virtuous because people desire it (in fact he explicitly says that good justified by people desiring it can't be the ultimate good).

So in short, I don't thing we have to desire morality for it to be rationally justified.

To your point, If rational courses of action are defined by our desires (this is your definition I think?), then desire is arational and prior to rationality. If this is the case then your first question ("is it rational to desire to eliminate desire?") is nonsensical, since all desire is arational.

It's the definition I am defending. It's not what I actually believe. Lol, and that's a good point.

I actually think buddhism agrees with most of this.

The desire to end our desire (I think thats a bit of a bad way to put it, I think it crets a contradiction where there might not be) is rationally justified by the nature of suffering.
tejretics
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6/3/2015 12:51:50 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 6/2/2015 1:14:40 PM, bsh1 wrote:
At 6/2/2015 8:42:36 AM, tejretics wrote:
At 6/2/2015 12:46:57 AM, bsh1 wrote:
Thirdly and finally, can a case be made that Hinduism is monotheistic based on the notion of a universal brahman. Brahman for Hindus is like the force, it penetrates us and binds us together. It is the wellspring for everything, and it is everything. Yet, it has no will, no designs, it is merely a binding force. Plus, Hinduism is well known for it's many gods and godesses. To me, brahman seems remarkably similar to Spinoza's pantheist interpretation of god, but many argue that Spinoza's god wasn't really a god at all. So, can a case be made for Hinduism's monotheism, based on the idea of a universal brahman?

I'll just answer this one :P A case can theoretically be made for Hindu monotheism, but Brahman isn't God, or doesn't really have God-like properties. It's just an all-penetrating and all-pervading "force" that binds the universe in a ... superstring entanglement, of a sort.

But that's just it--It depends on your definition of God. If god is defined as the wellspring of everything, the "Is" of the universe, the essential essence of all things, then brahman is god. Spinoza's idea of god is remarkable similar--though not identical--to brahman.

If God requires the ability to form intentions, then perhaps brahman isn't god. But I don't see why god necessarily requires that ability. I could just as easily define god as the universe's binding force.

Then you could define God as a rock, say a rock exists, therefore you're a theist. Then every word means something else, so the Mona Lisa and "dustbin" interchange their names, English becomes a language of gibberish, the gibberish virus spreads and humans lose their ability to speak.
"Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe." - Frederick Douglass
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6/3/2015 12:53:03 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 6/2/2015 12:46:57 AM, bsh1 wrote:
So, I am--over the summer--enrolled in an Asian Philosophy course, and right now we are studying the Upanishads and early Buddhism. It's been interesting, if not wholly perplexing. I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on two different questions:

-----------------------------------------------------------------

Firstly, is it rational to desires the elimination of one's desires? On the one hand, it seems that rationality is defined as pursuing your desires (and I am using the term "desire" broadly, because it also includes things like hunger). It also seems like my desires make me who I am, and their elimination would destroy my individuality/personhood. On the other hand, if the Upanishadic sages are correct, all desires must be destroyed to leave the pure self (atman) unobscured. It is only by eliminating desires that we can achieve moksha.

Buddha argues something similar, except he argues that we need to obliterate our desires because our desires are ourselves, and it is only by eliminating the self (anatman) that we can attain nirvana. The idea behind moksha or nirvana is that they are states without suffering, and if one has no desires, one cannot suffer--one is necessarily serene or in a blissful condition.

So, there are perhaps three questions built into that: (1) is it rational to desire the elimination of one's desires, (2) are our desires synonymous with our self, and (3) is reaching moksha/nirvana/liberation actually something we should want to do. Interesting concepts, I think...

Secondly, is liberation/moksha/nirvana a permanent state, or can it be lost. It seems that once one has obtained the knowledge or state of moksha, one cannot suffer, so one cannot slide back into suffering. If one did slide back into suffering, one would have to conclude that one never had moksha in the first place, just something similar to it. But, it also seems like life changing events could still impact us whether we like it or not. Could not, for instance, alzheimer's wipe our memories of the knowledge of moksha?

So, again their are multiple questions here: (1) is liberation/moksha/nirvana necessarily a permanent state, (2) specifically excluding biological factors like alzheimers, is it necessarily permanent, and (3) is liberation/moksha/nirvana actually achievable, or no.

Thirdly and finally, can a case be made that Hinduism is monotheistic based on the notion of a universal brahman. Brahman for Hindus is like the force, it penetrates us and binds us together. It is the wellspring for everything, and it is everything. Yet, it has no will, no designs, it is merely a binding force. Plus, Hinduism is well known for it's many gods and godesses. To me, brahman seems remarkably similar to Spinoza's pantheist interpretation of god, but many argue that Spinoza's god wasn't really a god at all. So, can a case be made for Hinduism's monotheism, based on the idea of a universal brahman?

Please comment and leave your thoughts. I'd really appreciate it. Thanks, everyone!

I think the Buddha meant elimination of material desires .... but I noticed this contradiction long ago, like everyone else :P
"Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe." - Frederick Douglass
Diqiucun_Cunmin
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6/3/2015 9:49:33 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 6/2/2015 1:15:19 PM, bsh1 wrote:
At 6/2/2015 8:27:15 AM, Diqiucun_Cunmin wrote:
Am I allowed to answer this from a Confucian perspective? I know that isn't useful to you, but I wanted to answer, lol.

Sure, lol.

Much of what I say here, I've already said in the past. (In fact, I'm Googling with site:debate.org to look for my old stuff for C/Ping, lol.)

In Confucianism, we do not seek to eliminate all desires - we aren't trying to become deities. In fact, we are to be honest to ourselves about them.

'What is meant by "making the thoughts sincere." is the allowing no self-deception, as when we hate a bad smell, and as when we love what is beautiful. This is called self-enjoyment.' (Great Learning 3) (I don't know why Legge translated it as 'enjoyment'... might be some nuance of the English language I don't understand, but I think 'humility' is closer.)

We need to be honest about our desires to limit and rein in them...

'Therefore, the superior man must be watchful over himself when he is alone. There is no evil to which the mean man, dwelling retired, will not proceed, but when he sees a superior man, he instantly tries to disguise himself, concealing his evil, and displaying what is good. The other beholds him, as if he saw his heart and reins;-of what use is his disguise? This is an instance of the saying -"What truly is within will be manifested without." Therefore, the superior man must be watchful over himself when he is alone.' (Great Learning 3, continued)

... and this will keep us on the path of good (i.e. self-cultivation)...

'To nourish the mind there is nothing better than to make the desires few. Here is a man whose desires are few - in some things he may not be able to keep his heart*, but they will be few. Here is a man whose desires are many - in some things he may be able to keep his heart, but they will be few.' (Mencius 14.35)
*'Heart' refers to Mencius' view of the innate good nature of humans - benevolence, righteousness, propriety, wisdom.

...and prevent us from transgressing.

'To subdue one's self and return to propriety, is perfect virtue.' (Analects 12.1) [Zhu Xi's annotations said 'self' refers to our selfish desires.]

Now, to answer your question, we are obviously different from the Buddhists, but there is no contradiction between limiting desires and desiring to limit desires. This is because, when it comes to 'desires', the desires we wish to limit are caused by the lesser parts of the body (animalistic desires). Desires for food, sex, money, power, etc. The 'good' ones are the greater part of the body, which aims at self-cultivation, etc. Limiting desires is a way to enhance self-cultivation, and it's a desire of the greater part of the body.

The disciple Gong Du said, 'All are equally men, but some are great men, and some are little men - how is this?'

Mencius replied, 'Those who follow that part of themselves which is great are great men; those who follow that part which is little are little men.'

Gong Du pursued, 'All are equally men, but some follow that part of themselves which is great, and some follow that part which is little - how is this?'

Mencius answered, 'The senses of hearing and seeing [NB: represent desires; 'seeing' beauty, 'hearing' good music] do not think, and are obscured by external things. When one thing comes into contact with another, as a matter of course it leads it away. To the mind [NB: it actually says 'heart' but Legge translated it as 'mind' - which is more scientific when you come to think of it] belongs the office of thinking. By thinking, it gets the right view of things; by neglecting to think, it fails to do this. These - the senses and the mind - are what Heaven has given to us. Let a man first stand fast in the supremacy of the nobler part [ie heart/mind] of his constitution, and the inferior part [ie desires] will not be able to take it from him. It is simply this which makes the great man.' (Mencius 11.15)

So no, in Confucianism, there is no contradiction between limiting desires and desiring this. Mencius believed that we need to develop our senses of benevolence, righteousness, propriety and wisdom, which in turn requires education, and therefore get rid of those pesky desires.

Xunzi had a different way of viewing this. He believed that men are born evil because of these lesser-part-of-the-body desires. He did not believe in the greater part of the body (the mind/soul). He believed in enforcing the rules of propriety to keep people artificially good so that they will not act on their animalistic desires. He also believed in satisfying these desires to keep people from doing harm.

'Therefore we must hit large bells, bang on drums, play sheng and yu (wind instruments), play qin and se (plucked-string instruments) to block their ears; we must make fines sculptures and colourful clothing to block their eyes; we must make meat and grains aromatic and tasty to block their mouths.' (Xunzi 10.11, translation is my own, which is obvious judging by its quality)
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bsh1
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6/3/2015 1:38:36 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 6/3/2015 12:53:03 AM, tejretics wrote:
At 6/2/2015 12:46:57 AM, bsh1 wrote:
Please comment and leave your thoughts. I'd really appreciate it. Thanks, everyone!

I think the Buddha meant elimination of material desires .... but I noticed this contradiction long ago, like everyone else :P

Sure, the Buddha meant elimination of material or ephemeral pleasures. Like, sex is not a material, but it is still a pleasure Buddha would seek to eliminate.

But, the Upanishads have a different take. They are more about eliminating all desires except the atman.
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dylancatlow
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6/3/2015 8:20:41 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 6/2/2015 12:46:57 AM, bsh1 wrote:
Buddha argues something similar, except he argues that we need to obliterate our desires because our desires are ourselves, and it is only by eliminating the self (anatman) that we can attain nirvana. The idea behind moksha or nirvana is that they are states without suffering, and if one has no desires, one cannot suffer--one is necessarily serene or in a blissful condition.

I think life without desires would be enormously depressing. In fact, one of major symptoms of clinical depression is lack of motivation and desire. Also, the elimination of suffering is not a worthwhile goal in and of itself, as it could be accomplished by simply committing suicide.

The idea that we should desire undesire seems a bit contradictory to me as well.
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6/3/2015 8:24:20 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 6/3/2015 8:20:41 PM, dylancatlow wrote:
At 6/2/2015 12:46:57 AM, bsh1 wrote:
Buddha argues something similar, except he argues that we need to obliterate our desires because our desires are ourselves, and it is only by eliminating the self (anatman) that we can attain nirvana. The idea behind moksha or nirvana is that they are states without suffering, and if one has no desires, one cannot suffer--one is necessarily serene or in a blissful condition.

I think life without desires would be enormously depressing. In fact, one of major symptoms of clinical depression is lack of motivation and desire. Also, the elimination of suffering is not a worthwhile goal in and of itself, as it could be accomplished by simply committing suicide.

What the Upanishadic sages would suggest is that while desires lead to happiness, they are also the root of suffering. To eliminate desires is to be perfectly at peace. So, you may be giving up happiness, but you will be content.

The idea that we should desire undesire seems a bit contradictory to me as well.

Agreed, though the sages would argue that the desire to not desire is the only trues desire because it is the only one that leads to atman.
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