Thursday, February 26, 2009

A contortion of views, a writhing of views

Tooling around the internet this morning, I fell into reading about the Buddhist concept of being fettered. I love this string of metaphors, from a translation by Thanissara Bhikku of the Sabbasava Sutta, understood to be the words of the Buddha:
a thicket of views,
a wilderness of views,
a contortion of views,
a writhing of views,
a fetter of views.
Bound by a fetter of views, the uninstructed ... is not freed, I tell you, from suffering & stress.
From here, I was led to a speech by Dr. Andrew Weil on addiction. I copied this passage into my journal:
What about addiction to thought? That's something hardly ever discussed in the Western world. It is discussed in Buddhism. In Buddhist psychology, addiction to thought is seen as a serious impediment to enlightenment. That's one of the reasons you meditate - to try and get some freedom from thought. So you could look at universities as monuments to thought addiction where you are rewarded for the beauty or complexity or novelty of the thoughts that you produce.
I am always pleased when some famous person says what I would have thought if I thought it through.

I am not alone in noticing that addiction to one's views is flourishing in these days of rampant internet publishing. A friend of mine writes a financial blog that sometimes gets hundreds of comments from people who don't really seem to have read what he wrote, but are grasping an opportunity to tell the rest of the world how stupid it is. I'm sure it's the capping stupidity that nobody really reads anyone else's comments.

As a grandmother, I noticed that certain young children dear to me (naming no names) just loved to perform, to be the center of attention. I know not all kids are like that, but it is accepted as inevitable in my family, which has plenty of Irish in it. Anyway, I've been pleased to see that now that these children are older, the desire to occupy center stage has toned down a little.

Of course, we are all stars these days. We can and do post videos of ourselves, and the photo albums we used to only inflict on our daughters. In fact, you feel more and more inadequate if you don't post albums. Even our phone machines are little podcasts,if you think about it, and then there's the Facebook page. We shall draw a veil over the subject of blogs.

But I digress, an activity to which I seem to be addicted - maybe fettered.

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