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can religion help mental health
October 20, 2000
10:21 am
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Cici
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YAY Guest!!!! Hoorah, hooray! I'm rying to emanate good vibes toward your "aura". Hee hee.

Tez, have you ever seen "Strictly Ballroom"? Hilarious. I'm forcing my fiance to watch that movie, since I have to watch boxing tonight. Who is it....Mike Tyson and someone else. Ph, well. My mind is going, as Hal said.

I think religioin is mostly a voluntary attempt at occlusion. When you think about the vastness of space and time, about the nature of life and existence and the teeny tiny pin-point in the universe tha tis earth, you realize just how teeny-tiny you are. And how brief life is, like the flickering flame of a candle. We cling to the ideal that there is a soul, and attach our personality to that which animates us.

But when you think about it, personality is nothing. A collection of emotional reactions created through classical conditioning during the first years of life, nothing more. Personality can change in moments, due to brain trauma, disease, emotional trauma. It's foolish to think that your soul is you.

In the Hindu faith they liken the soul and personality to that of a chariot. Your body is the chariot, your mind is the driver. Your will are the horses, and your soul is merely a passenger. I tend toward this explanation.

October 20, 2000
2:41 pm
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One thing to be reminded of. God can heal us but that is what he wants us to do. Praying, reading the bible or it's equivalent, contemplating God are all good things. It is our love for each other that he wants to use as his means...that means pray, but take the medicine that someone worked so hard to discover so that others may be healed; Read your Holy book but seek help from others; Contemplate his love but see it in those around you that give you that love. Love yourself because he loves you. May God bless you all and may you all see that his wonders come to you from others and to them from you.

October 22, 2000
5:28 pm
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Guest_guest.
It sure sounds like you are already stepping into unknown territory, doesn't it. Good for you.

You said, "i just want this stupid low self-esteem and state of numbness and social anxiety and lackof energy, to go away."

What I see here is an adult man having the responsibilities for looking after a small boy. The small boy seems to be saying to the adult man, "I feel worthless, but I want you to notice me, to make me feel important to you. Please, stop making me take second place to everyone else. Please stop frightening me by always telling me that we are in the shit, that things aren't right with us."

The adult man seems to be responding to the small boy by saying, "You and your stupid low self-esteem. I want you to go away and leave me alone so I can live a good life. My life would be great without you! Crawl back to your cage where you belong."

October 22, 2000
5:54 pm
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Cici.
I have seen 'Strickly Ballroom' a couple of times. That is the competition scene. I'm strickly into the social ballroom dancing scene where the 'competition' is only between 'egos'. 🙂 We do many more dances than the competition guys and gals but there are no judges and the emphasis is on having fun not on perfecting style. I think that the movie 'Strictly Ballroom' highlighted the negative aspects of competition dancing in a humorous way. It is those negative aspects that put me off competition dancing.

About personality, you said,"...personality is nothing. A collection of emotional reactions created through classical conditioning during the first years of life, nothing more. Personality can change in moments, due to brain trauma, disease, emotional trauma. It's foolish to think that your soul is you." I agree. This is why I cannot wear the concept of the day of judgement by some Supreme Adjudicator in the sky. Such a judge would declare us all innocent if there were.

We are mostly slaves to this operant conditioning that resides in our emotional and contextual memory. We are no more or less capable of 'sinning' than a duck. We are in no more or less need of being 'saved' than a goose. The thug responds according to his prior learning; learning which was mostly unconsciously acquired as a child. Given his/her mindset, for the thug there is no other viable way to live.

As for religion, what is there to be saved from and saved what for? I've seen the Hindi concept of the soul before. I like the analogy of the horses, driver, chariot and passenger. The horses are our emotions, the driver our cognitions, the chariot our body with all its arousal systems and the passenger, that part of us that is able to transcend all yet experience same. In most of us dysfunctional people the horses are wild and untamed; our 'driver' confused and inexperienced at horsemanship, our chariot in need of proper maintenance and our passenger amused by it all.

If a religion doesn't teach the driver how to look after the chariot and to effectively break in and control the wild horses then what good is it?? Of course in any case the passenger will still be 'amused', unaffected and free to choose another chariot at any time. 🙂

October 22, 2000
10:28 pm
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tez so what should i do? b/w i didnt get completely what u said.

October 22, 2000
11:06 pm
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GRINS,
it appears to me, that much of what we know as mental illness or emotional illness is really a problem with confusion over false beliefs.

replace such false beliefs with truth, and you can get back into reality and to wholeness.

one must have a standard of truth to be able to know what is truth, since this world is filled with lies and deceptions, including therapy industry and psyche industries.

That is why I recommend to you the holy Bible as The standard of truth for all times.

best wishes,
http://www.angelfire.com/tx/re.....index.html

October 23, 2000
11:34 am
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Cici
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Tez.

It was Tyson and Golata who fought on Friday night. Golata lost after 23 rounds because he had an anxiety attack!!!

Anyway, religion. Can we really be saved? I think religion has a positive effect because by and large (Islamic Jihads aside) they all encourage positive, socialisic behavior. Share, don't kill, love, be loved, be at peace.

In this way the term "dhr" - to support - comes into play. Religion supports the smooth function of a working society. It is a community-oriented bolster to communities of isolated individuals in our modern times. Historically, I believe religion became more community-oriented after we settled in agrarian-based villages where it was essential to have conformists who worked together.

I don't think I can give myself over to God to be saved. This is where Buddhist ideology comes in. Tibettan and Mahayana schools of Buddhism could be termed "theistic" (though for the most part BUddhism is considered transtheistic because it doesn't even concern itself with questions about God or theorigin of our universe) in their devotional rituals toward Siddhartha Gautema. But a key element to Buddhism is that it is not up to God to save you. God provides a guide, an ideal for behavior, and through our own effort at peaceful contemplation and service toward others we achieve our own moksha (release from samsara, the endless and suffering-filled cycle of lives).

Currently I'm reading the autobiography of Mohandas Ghandi. Experiments with truth, and his own belief in ahimsa (nonviolence toward all living beings) are very moving. He is very theistically motivated, but in his ideology lies the essence of Buddhism as well, that "salvation" lies within the effort of the individual.

We feel badly when our thoughts do not align with our actions, when we are isolated form others through selfish or self-centered action (depression). We feel good when we contribute to the welfare of others. Volunteering has been shown to promote psychological well-being. BUt it's a chicken-egg issue. Do those who are mentally balanced feel the urge to volunteer, or does volunteering encourage emotional healing? I prefer the latter, because it is my personal belief that everyone has "issues" - dependencies, improper coping strategies, traumatic past experiences. It is how we each deal with these short-comings that separates the "balanced" from the "unbalanced."

Point of fact, "salvation" from suffering lies in selfless action. This is the premise in Buddhism, Hiduism, Christianity (at its root, though not practiced among the paritioners very often), Judaism, etc. The more motivated we are to think less of ourselves, the happier we feel.

I wonder though. Scientific exploration leads people to atheism. But is this simply a lack of faith? I see concrete evidence of the existence of some higher power in everything. The first guru in the Sikhism religion once challanged "Point my feet in the direction where God does not live."

October 23, 2000
6:27 pm
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I try at all costs to avoid telling anyone what they "should" do. I tried to express what I sense is going on within you. Of course, it is highly likely that I got it wrong.

In my own experience, I have come to see that my emotions are physiologically separated from that part of my brain with which I think. However both of these parts "talk" to each other through 'me'. The thinking part communicates with 'me' through thoughts and the emotional part communicates with me through feelings. What 'I' feel affects what 'I' think and what 'I' think affects what 'I' feel. What I call 'I' and 'me' is my conscious awareness that seems to be located in a third part of the brain called 'working memory'.

But, I cannot control my emotions DIRECTLY. But I can control what I think DIRECTLY. Therefore, if I want to feel good, I have to control my emotions INDIRECTLY by controlling what I think. The key here is to realise that what I think and feel is not reality itself but only my distorted perception of that reality. Questioning our thoughts involves, in part, "reality checking". When we 'reality check' we often find 'paper tigers' not real ones. 🙂 Thus we can replace negative thoughts with positive ones with some conviction of their veracity.

Thus the analogy of the adult/child in the last response to you. I would very respectfully suggest that you could ponder on these two responses and see what you can get from them. Take what you like and disregard the rest if you do not understand it.

If a person wants to be happy and contented, they have to constantly take care of the needs of their emotional child within them. How they do that depends on the circumstances within which each finds themselves. Speaking generally it always involves physical and psychological self-nurture.

But firstly, one has of necessity to become vividly aware of the inner child and not disown it; Not only intellectually aware but also emotionally aware! This would seem to me to be the first step.

October 23, 2000
7:21 pm
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Cici.
If I was in the ring with Mike Tyson, I would have an anxiety attack too!!!!! 🙂

About religion:
You mentioned the swadarshan chakradari, the wheel of sharp knives and finding "salvation" from suffering. It would seem to me that this is all about "survival". Suffering comes from unfulfilled desires. But from whence do desires emanate? Drives to fulfill perceived needs, perhaps? Are these not "survival" needs in all sorts or physiological and psychological disguises? But this body will not survive; of that we can be sure. Is not religion about seeking psychological relief from the fear of the unknown that lies beyond the grave; fear of non-existence, or if there is life after death fear of suffering after death; or fear of a worse fate in a future rebirth. Fear, fear, fear....

You spoke of altruism, "The more motivated we are to think less of ourselves, the happier we feel..." Very true. Yet we first must come the point that we are able to let go of our preoccupations with 'self'. This entails the realisation that 'self' is OK and beyond real harm, no matter what happens. All religions seem to indicate that one has to "do something" to be "saved". In Buddhism it is the eightfold path and "compassion". Thus the anxiety starts. "Have I done it right? Have I done enough? Am I on the right path?" On and on...

I suspect that Prof John Wren-Lewis is right when he says that we are manifestations on an instant by instant basis of the "Dazzling Dark". From what has the "Dazzling Dark"(the void) to be saved? Nothing! It is, what is!

You said, "Scientific exploration leads people to atheism. But is this simply a lack of faith?" I'm not sure that I can agree with this statement on several accounts. Firstly, there are many renowned scientists who are very theistic. Secondly, faith is an absolute prerequisite of scientific endeavour; faith in the validity of the philosophy of science. I personally believe that science will lead to theism of a kind in the end; but I think that it will be a very different concept of God than religions have today.

I'm not sure that the Buddha was religious. Was he? What God do the Buddhists espouse? None in particular, I thought. That is why I am somewhat predisposed towards Buddhism. They talk of the Universal Mind. the Bright Light (that is ourselves) that we meet on dying. The Bardo Thodol exhorts us to recognise that light as a manifestation of our own mind . Have I got that right? Again this requires faith in this belief. However, Buddhism still espouses doctrines for "salvation" from suffering.

In the affluent West, I see suffering, in the main, as being the result of biologically derived survival drives being perverted by childhood conditioning. Thus, constant appearances of conditioned stimuli trigger a myriad of emotional responses that are felt as fear; fear of damage to our survival prospects in some disguised way. Control of cognitions can ensure that such emotions, once aroused, are placated and soothed into non-arousal. How can present day religions, especially Christianity, do that without stimulating thoughts that, in their own right, produce emotional arousal of fear?

October 24, 2000
10:47 am
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The Buddha's Four Noble Truths:

1. All existence is suffering (dukkha)

2. Suffering comes from desire/craving

3. Cessation of suffering comes in detachment.

4. The eightfold path leads to detachment.

Most religions of India (Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Hinudism) tell us that desire or craving leads to suffering and that these elements follow naturally from attachment to the material world and self-centered action or thought.

In the stirctest sense, Buddhism is transtheistic although the way in which Pure Land, Mahayana and Vajrayana sects are almost theistic in their devotion. Theravada Buddhism (path of the elders) deals not at all with the Buddha after death. He has attained moksha, release, and is nothing but pure energy at one with the universe. The other sects, Mahayana and Vajrayana specifically deal with the Buddha after death, saying that he can still help us attain moksha through his divine intervention. Pure Land Buddhism deals with the Amida vision of the BUddha, who was a monk taught by Siddhartha.

Mahayana also has celestial beings, bodhisattvas, living in the heavens and working to help and save all beings. One is Manjusri, who appears to humans in dreams. Hearing his name can subtract aeons from one's time in samsara, and those who worship him are protected by his power. Another is Avalokiteshvara, the first Dalai Lama was said to be an incarnation of this bodhisattva, and those who worship him will be saved from all dangers. He grants women their desire for a son. In China and Japan, the name used is "Guan-Yin" and "Kannon" (respectively) - goddess of mercy.

The vast majority of atheists,though, are educated people. There are few atheists who are just average, working class joes. So there is something interconnected in that area. I'm on an evolutionary psychology listserv and the members, professors and others involved in academia around the world, are by and large exclusively atheistic. Although I know many of the most eloquent defenses of theism were written by the most educated and celebrated thinkers of our time, you must agree that the majority of atheists are educated individuals involved in teh sciences!

The Buddha was born into the ksutriya class (warrior class) in India around 563 BCE (before common era, also BC). He lived a life of luxury, married and had a son. Upon the sight of four things: an old man, a diseased man, a dead man and a hermit monk, a sannyasin (renunciant). The Gods apparently intervened and made the sights known to him though his father attempted to disguise these things from him. He himself became a sannyasin, a wandering ascetic. He believed in gods as well, even taught a few of them, but said that we cannot look tothe gods to save ourselves, that this happense through our personal effort because gods are flawed as well, and it is merely good karma and chance that can allow anyone to be born into the sensual ecstasy of a heaven world (Tushita). Siddhartha Gautema was born as a God at one point in his samsara.

He followed a guru for a time, then went off by himself to practice the Mahavira (a contemporary of his who created the Jainist religious movement) and the Jain ascetic art of self-mortification, bringing himself to the edge of death through starvation (6 years). At that point he got a revelation that the body must have its basic needs met in relative comfort in order to attain enlightenment. Then he sat under a bodhi tree for 40 days. The god of death (Mara) came ot tempt him from his meditation with wordly desires. Mara was rendered nothign beneath the strength of the Buddha's meditation and according to the sacred story, he saw all his past lives stretching on to eternity adn asked the earth to attest to his right to achieve Buddhahood and the earth shook and trembled and the evil hosts of Mara's army sank into the earth.

Similar to the story of Jesus, yes? Buddhism is very close to Christianity because of the similarity in sacred stories and the values they espouse.

the idea behind cesation of desire is that no fear will be stimulated. Somewhat like the vulcan rejection of emotion from Star Trek. If you desire nothing, then nothing will frighten you. Nothing can be taken away, you can be threatened with nothing.

But there is a difference, certainly, between the monastic eightfold path and the layperson's eightfold path. As a layperson we attempt to be worthy, but it is only in themonastic life that enlightenment can be attained. No bodhisattvas were laypeople.

October 24, 2000
7:10 pm
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Cici.

You said,"you must agree that the majority of atheists are educated individuals involved in the sciences!" Yes, but this does not prove the validity of the corollary that all scientists are athiests and that practicing the philosophy of science leads necessarily to athiesm. It is like saying that a cat has four legs therefore all animals with four legs are cats. Equally I cannot argue from the particular to the general by saying that there have been great men of science who were religious therefore science leads to theism.

My basis for the proposition that science will lead to theism is largely the belief that as science progresses more and more into the realm of quantum physics, we will get to the nitty gritty of indefinable essence that constitutes the universe. That Essence we will probably define as God of a very different kind than we conceptualize now. Of course this is 'belief' not sound argument.

You said, "If you desire nothing, then nothing will frighten you. Nothing can be taken away, you can be threatened with nothing." Is desiring to be desireless not a desire? To be desireless is to be completely unmotivated to do or be anything. All action is driven by the desire to meet some need albeit one's perception of someone elses need. Even following the eightfold path requires the desire to do so. Being desireless is to be devoid of thought, of experience, of awareness. All these are relative to selfhood. Without desire there would be no self. Now the deep question has to be asked: Is complete loss of 'self', that is, non-existence desirable? And if so then is it not a desire? Within a human framework, this concept of being desireless is paradoxical. The 'middle road' between desirelessness and obsession would seem to me to be conducive to physical and mental health.

To be free from psychological pain, one needs to be able to effectively control the emotions. This entails effective direction and control of thought. I'm not at all convinced that the world's major religions have the answers in this regard. I suspect that science is progressing in this regard. The most notable front is that on which Dr Joseph LeDoux is advancing with his neuro-physiological research into the seat of the emotions. I see that when there is genuine cooperation across disciplines, great progress will result. The evolution of mankind hinges on this, not on religious institutions in their quest for power and control over human beings.

Your response on the tenets etc of Buddhism was as I understood them. I see any similarity to Christianity to be superficial. I understand that a lot of the ritual to which you refer is an inheritance from the ancient 'Bon' religion into Tibbetan Buddhism. There are other sects of Buddhism, as I understand it, that are devoid of such ritual. I am not a Buddhist nor am I a supporter of same. I have very interesting discussions with a gung-ho Buddhist friend on mine who is living in a monastry most of the time. I agree with much of the philosophy but I also differ on major fundamental issues. I am sympathetic but not 'converted'. 🙂

Keep up you interesting and challenging postings.

October 24, 2000
7:11 pm
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Cici.

You said,"you must agree that the majority of atheists are educated individuals involved in the sciences!" Yes, but this does not prove the validity of the corollary that all scientists are athiests and that practicing the philosophy of science leads necessarily to athiesm. It is like saying that a cat has four legs therefore all animals with four legs are cats. Equally I cannot argue from the particular to the general by saying that there have been great men of science who were religious therefore science leads to theism.

My basis for the proposition that science will lead to theism is largely the belief that as science progresses more and more into the realm of quantum physics, we will get to the nitty gritty of indefinable essence that constitutes the universe. That Essence we will probably define as God of a very different kind than we conceptualize now. Of course this is 'belief' not sound argument.

You said, "If you desire nothing, then nothing will frighten you. Nothing can be taken away, you can be threatened with nothing." Is desiring to be desireless not a desire? To be desireless is to be completely unmotivated to do or be anything. All action is driven by the desire to meet some need albeit one's perception of someone elses need. Even following the eightfold path requires the desire to do so. Being desireless is to be devoid of thought, of experience, of awareness. All these are relative to selfhood. Without desire there would be no self. Now the deep question has to be asked: Is complete loss of 'self', that is, non-existence desirable? And if so then is it not a desire? Within a human framework, this concept of being desireless is paradoxical. The 'middle road' between desirelessness and obsession would seem to me to be conducive to physical and mental health.

To be free from psychological pain, one needs to be able to effectively control the emotions. This entails effective direction and control of thought. I'm not at all convinced that the world's major religions have the answers in this regard. I suspect that science is progressing in this regard. The most notable front is that on which Dr Joseph LeDoux is advancing with his neuro-physiological research into the seat of the emotions. I see that when there is genuine cooperation across disciplines, great progress will result. The evolution of mankind hinges on this, not on religious institutions in their quest for power and control over human beings.

Your response on the tenets etc of Buddhism was as I understood them. I see any similarity to Christianity to be superficial. I understand that a lot of the ritual to which you refer is an inheritance from the ancient 'Bon' religion into Tibbetan Buddhism. There are other sects of Buddhism, as I understand it, that are devoid of such ritual. I am not a Buddhist nor am I a supporter of same. I have very interesting discussions with a gung-ho Buddhist friend of mine who is living in a monastry most of the time. I agree with much of the philosophy but I also differ on major fundamental issues. I am sympathetic but not 'converted'. 🙂

Keep up you interesting and challenging postings.

October 25, 2000
11:09 am
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Perhaps the translation was what threw me. I said "if you desire nothing". Waht I meant to intimate is that suffering comes from "attachment" (which has been translated into "craving" and "desire" - vatly different connotations, but that's waht you get for using a translation)

The Buddhist ideal is to be free from attachment. Since this world is simply Maya (~ illusion), and we die each second as time passes and what you are becomes what you were, there is no reason to becoe attached to anything. This doesn't mean that you sever all connections from the world. The idea is to help others to attain their own freedom.

Here is a direct quotation of a translation from the Tripitaka (Mahayana scriptures):

"The Noble Truth of the origin of suffering is this: It is this thirst (craving) which produces re-existence and re-becoming, bound up with passionate greed. It finds fresh delight now here and now there, namely, thirst for sense-pleasures; thirst for existence and becoming; and thirst for non-existence (self-annihilation).
The Noble truth of the Cessation fo Suffering is this: It is the complete cessation of that very thirst, giving it up, renouncing it, emancipating oneself from it, detaching oneself from it."

The idea is that with cessation of personal desire, all your action that follows is not focused on the self, but on helping others. it is self-centered thought and action that is the soure of suffering. Life is transitory, but we cloud our minds with suffering and self-centered thought and do not see this. Once you stop grasping and holding on to every past moment and trauma, the emotional reactions conditioned into your behavior and consequences disappears. Then, all you have is action, without the connotations.

You logic is reminiscent of the reductionist Nagarjuna. Check this out, what do you think, Tez?

1. Everything arises from an interaction of previous conditions. I couldn't type on this computer if the company had not been developed, if the worker had not come in that day, if I had been sick this morning. Therefore, nothing has its own, independent nature.

2. Therefore, there is no "own nature" (no owner or controller of circumstances, since they are all interdependent).

3. Therefore, there can be no other nature, since everything arises from previous interconnected phenomena and there is no "own nature".

4. Therefore, there is no essence or personality whatsoever.

5. Therefore, there can be no non-essence (interaction of opposites)

6. Therefore, dharmas (truth, beliefs) transcends categories of existence/non-existence.

This is the doctrine of shunyata (emptiness). This is supposed to prove that the human conception of the world is not really real because it is based on contradictory relations.

October 25, 2000
11:58 am
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tez, have u read charlie and the choclate factory, by rohald dahl. well its about a poor boy who loves choclates (but cant afford them). once he got a bar of choclate and he took many days to finish it. its like that with ur advice. i save it so that i can eat it little by little. even other good posts like cici's. i just dont want to exert my brain that much. oh well.

October 25, 2000
5:13 pm
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Guest_guest.
You made a very profound point. What you are saying is that you prefer to enjoy the experience of eating the chocolate rather than hypothecating about how, when, where and why it was made. You sly dog. You are a great philosopher in disguise just waiting to put us - who are lost in our redundant analyses - on the right path with one of your enlightening gems. 🙂
You always give me something to smile about. Thanks buddy.

October 25, 2000
5:32 pm
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Guest_guest.
Knowingly or unknowingly, you make a very valid point. Maybe the experience of savouring the taste of the bar of chocolate far out weighs the value of the experience of spending hours hypothecating over who made the sweet, and when, where and why it was made.

Maybe we would all be much happier if we could just appreciate life's little 'chocolate bars' without worrying too much about when the next one will come along. As Forrest Gump says "Life is like a box of chocolates... " Forrest Gump was very wise.

October 25, 2000
5:36 pm
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Cici.

Thanks for giving me that beautiful, big, bar of chocolate. 🙂

I will churn it over and over and savour it over the next day and get back to you with, no doubt, one of my irritating responses.:-)

October 25, 2000
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no tez, no. actually i'm just dumb thats why i cant understand deep things. or maybe i'm too lazy to exert my mind? ya, i think thats the reason. and i procastinate too. hmmm.

October 26, 2000
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i feel i've become numb. i only feel. i've stopped thinking. either that or my thoughts are hidden from me and all i can see is their effects, like u said, the emotions, numbness, state of awefulness and isolation. i tried to understand what u said about emotions and thoughts. u had said them earlier too somewhere.
how do i find what my thoughts are. if i ask msyelf 'what am i thinking right now?', the answer comes to me as an exhausted 'i dont know'. maybe i'm having a worse mood right now than i usually hve but.. well.. whaetver.

so i dont know how to find what my thoughts are. i should know what they are before i can try to change them into positive ones.

October 26, 2000
10:07 am
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guest, I have had difficulty concentrating a lot in the past. I still do (if you can believe that). I used to be able to sit and read and study for hours on end, now I'm lucky if I can force myself ot plough through a few pages of text!

I've been seeing a holistic medicine doctor who said that it's the high level sof toxicity in my system from eating too much protein and taking antibiotics. Who knows?

October 27, 2000
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cici, it just cant only be from food.
did he measure ur level of toxicity? what do the regular doctors say about eating too much protein? did u change ur diet? if so, have u seen any changes?

October 27, 2000
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Cici.
You said, "Once you stop grasping and holding on to every past moment and trauma, the emotional reactions conditioned into your behavior and consequences disappears. Then, all you have is action, without the connotations." Yes, I agree. To 100% agree, I would like to re-word what you said as such: "Once you stop grasping and holding on to every past moment and trauma, the emotional reactions - that are triggered by this remembering and interpreting of past events in terms of present and future self survival enhancement value - disappear. Then, all you have is action, minus the self-preservation motivations."

Whilst this is true, is it attainable by the average person who has to confront fundamental emotions daily? One is up against eons of evolutional development of emotions that have ensured the survival of each of our lineages. Cognitions have not yet evolved to the extent that, on will, they can stifle emotions, that can be directly triggered into arousal by our sense organs without initial cognitive involvement. These primitive emotional triggers, located in the emotional centers in the mid brain, fire before our cortex even receives the sensory signals or the alarm that our emotions are aroused. What our cognitions do, to either reinforce or to placate the already aroused emotions, is largely dependent on how cognisant we are of this cognition-emotion interaction and how objective we can be about the external triggering event.

Using a religious belief, a philosophical cognitive script regarding the nature of reality, to try to control powerful emotions, is like trying to stop a bulldozer by sitting down in front of it and chanting some mantra. However, if you understand the mechanics of the bulldozer, you can stop it with a litre of water or a well placed rock. I believe that emotions can be controlled by developing a personal skill involving self-nurture that each individual can learn. Only then is the individual free of concern with self and free to be compassionate, cherishing and nurturing of others.

Charity begins at home! If we want to be happy and loving people, we have to start by first nurturing our own ‘emotional selves’. Other-centredness has as its very prerequisite, care of and responsibility for the state of our own emotional well being. Neglect and abuse of our ‘emotional selves’ by both our parents and our own cognitions, is at the core of emotional illness. Thus I do not see self-nurture as being self-grasping, in fact the opposite. Self grasping is a response to a lack of emotional health. Self-denial, seemingly a prerequisite for religiosity, without strong self-nurture is bound to make us very unhappy.

After the ‘cure’, certain religious beliefs certainly can be very helpful as a secondary support. Buddhism is perhaps one. Others are downright destructive, not supportive of the emotional self. But most, if not all I feel, are far too devoid of direct focus on emotional processes to facilitate mental health. Otherwise, all psychotherapists would be ministers of one religion or another. This is not to imply that I think that therapists have all the answers either. But their approach is more rational.

As for Najarjuna’s logic in arriving at the conclusion of the validity of ‘the void’, on a shallow level I would concur, on a deeper level, I would beg to differ. But to take issue with some of the premises, that you listed, would be to digress to far from the theme of this thread.

October 27, 2000
10:06 pm
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You said that you don't know what you are thinking.

Lets say, I am in an argument with someone. I might think,"That bastard is out to get me," Next, I become aware that I had that negative thought. My next thought, of which I am conscious, might be. "Why do I think that he is out to get me? Am I over-reacting? Is there any hard evidence for thinking this is his motive?" In other words, I am monitoring my thoughts and questioning them - 'reality checking' them. I presumed that everyone is aware of their consious thoughts. Am I in the minority?

I developed the habit of becoming the observer of my thoughts some time ago. It is highly enlightening to see how self-deceptive and biased by my emotions that I am.

October 30, 2000
3:14 am
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how do i learn to track my thinking? often i'm just feeing. i try to know what i am thinking but all i get is "i'm not good enough. it isnt working". when i say to myself "what am i thingking?" the answer is "i dont know ..."

nothing in my life works!!! :((

October 30, 2000
3:48 pm
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In your response you have written down your thoughts about not knowing what you are thinking. So you must know what you are thinking in order to write it down.

Perhaps, when you get these feelings, you could write down what you are 'feeling' and why you 'think' that you feel that way. Then you will be writing down your 'thoughts' about your 'feelings'.

Your thoughts come from one part of your brain called your cognitive self(Cognitions). On the other hand, your feelings come from your emotional self(emotions), the seat of which is located in your amygdala.

The value of the above info is the realisation that there are physically two of 'you' in your head; your 'emotional' self and your 'thinking' self. They both talk to each other. Each has a strong affect on the other.

Thus... if you can 'think' better, you will 'feel' better. So if you want to 'feel' better then you need to find a better way of 'thinking' about yourself in relation to your outer world.
Comprende, amigo?

Can you list what thoughts make you feel bad and what thoughts make you feel good? This is the start of a long journey of self-discovery.

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