Buddhist looking dis-identifies


Chris: Late night lecture in the lobby.

CSH: Chris was saying that the main Buddhist meditation practice is one where you take a close look at urges, desires, and feelings that drive intentional behavior, behavior with a (posited) goal or a purpose. It is not one where you look at ordinary physiological maintenance behavior (making proteins, pumping blood). The empowerment of Buddhist meditation comes from investigating those contents of awareness where the “I” is allegedly at work. What you discover is that all the “free action choices” that you make every nanosecond are actually driven by chemical feeling. And that is all driven by survival.

So you have all this complex automation set up. You act a certain way, you dress a certain way, you speak a certain way, you’re doing all this compulsory shit because your DNA doesn’t want to die out. Your phenotype will be eliminated from the Lego bin if it doesn’t find more atoms to colonize. (You are not the atoms but only the particular shape of their organization. You’re a pattern and not the atoms themselves. The pattern is the “ghost” that “puts on” the atoms. The real you is just this very dynamic pattern-ghost.)

Because you only survive if you survive, and because you only propagate in the Lego bin if you propagate in the Lego bin, your very existence ensures that you will be constantly driven by pro-survival behavior. Your organs and cells are pro-survival non-stop. And your intentionality, even though it seems detached from determinism, supervenes on neural activity that is dictated entirely by its physical constituents. So basically all of your being is driven by pro-survival behavior.

So: what sense does it make to practice Buddhism? Which teaches us to resist all the urges and compulsions of our machinery. When the desire to do X arises (to run away, for example), it does so as part of a learned automation system that supervenes on a pro-survival infrastructure. That infrastructure and its compulsive urges are the puppetmaster of everything you do.

In Buddhist meditation you learn how to feel the pull of the strings as objective feeling, watch it pull as an objective force, and then don’t become in response to it. You become transparent to the pullings of the puppetmaster.

Chris: I don’t think I said any of that.

CSH: It’s an interesting problem. Because on one hand, we get relief from suffering if we laugh at the puppet strings. But on the other hand, we really want to survive, and maybe survival is a good value. Maybe we really should be strong, healthy, well-defended, and have lots of babies. But wherever you increase life you also increase suffering as well.

So should we strive to be the biggest alpha ass-kickers that we can be inside the matrix? Or, seeing that it is the matrix, should we stop striving and caring about intra-matrix victory?

Biggest badass in the matrix? Or biggest wakeup out of the matrix?

Chris: Really don’t care if I have kids or not, so … you know.

CSH: What about this lifetime? Do you care about the quality of your life while you’re alive? Do you want to be happy?

Chris: Yeah, that’s pretty much it. I’m forgetting everything you’re saying.

CSH: Emotions are survival reactions. The goal of Buddhist training is to stop being pushed by your emotions. Is that a good thing? Or would be be better off going to the gym and training up towards alpha-hood?