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Tabula Rasa Exploration

This thread is an experiment in group exploration.

Our mission: Leave our beliefs and authorities at the door, external and internal, all of it.

Rather than impose a path on the thread with a question or topic, let’s just let it go where it goes.

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Ok. Putting aside (if we genuinely can)

maybe we can start with the question you raised at the end of the last thread:

What matters?

What matters to you?

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Ok. I’ll go first.

Climate change. The threat of populism and authoritarianism around the world. Misinformation. War. The destruction of the natural world. The thoughtless killing of animals for pleasure, pastime or appetite. Poverty and inequality. The prevalence of hatred and violence everywhere. The division of humanity into nations, religious ideologies, racial groups.

Psychologically speaking what matters to me is my own suffering and the suffering of those near to me. The question of death itself, and the death of those near to me. Pleasure and the desire for physical and psychological security. The question: what is love? What is the universe all about? What is compassion? Is there something sacred in life, something immeasurable, infinite (apart from the purely physical dimensions of space)? What is the relationship (if it has any) of that immeasurable reality (if it exists) to all the chaos and suffering on our planet?

There are probably more, but that’s a good enough list for now.


Kindness, connection, pleasure, interestingness, feeling, emotion, thinking, imagining, and more.

These things all matter to me. But they rarely, if ever, MATTER. The closest anything comes to MATTERING for me is the spiritual search. But even that mostly matters, rarely MATTERS.

What about our unconscious “beliefs and authorities”? As I’ve said, I don’t really know what I believe until I react to something that reveals my bias, prejudice, authority, etc.

It’s naive to think one can leave all that at the door when most of it is hidden until one part of it pops up, revealing the existence of a trove of such content.

If we are really present, fully in flow, free from time (past, future, now), are beliefs/authorities nullified?

Theoretically, yes…and I suspect that anyone who is “really present, fully in flow, free from time (past, future, now)” would have better things to do than waste time in this forum because they’d be trying to reach the most people - not just a select few like ourselves.

I think it would be more fruitful to explore “beginners mind”.

What is the essence of beginner’s mind, that which is not dependent on the belief system that gave rise to the term?

According to the dictionary"Immeasurable "means it "is not measurable "
Infinity means there is no finite, there is no end.
Now is there any thing or any nothing that has no end? Is that your question or is it my question ?
And thought is measure .

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Are we trying to figure it all out? Trying to use thought to transcend or control or shut down thought? Are we so mesmerized with words and ideas that they feel real and what they point to feels unreal?

What are we doing?

Are we lost? In free-fall? Clueless?

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If we are in the state of doubt/questioning - for example, if we wonder sincerely : “what is it?” when faced with some phenomenon. Where is the suffering?
Is not the feeling of being lost - which seems to imply (?) I don’t want to be lost, being lost feels uncomfortable - something extra? (ie. a need for closure/conclusion)

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If I am lost psychologically, I’m most likely in pain and trying to get found.

But there’s another way of being lost, lost as in recognizing there is no real found.

Sometimes I’m more the first kind of lost, sometimes more the other, sometimes I’m neither i.e. the question, the division into lost and found isn’t present. But I rarely feel found.

I think we’re talking about the first kind - because the second kind isn’t a kind of being lost at all (“lost and found isn’t present”).
So the feeling of rarely being found (aka feeling lost) is what we’re talking about.

Our working definition being : “in pain trying to get found”
What’s this about? Obviously (?) its not just about not knowing, its not knowing plus pain. What is this? Why is the actual (sense or thought perception) not acceptable, why is the real not bearable? What is the movement away from what is? (nb. these are repetitions of the same question)

PS. oups! the 2nd kind was just “no real found” - can we say thats general angst? We can either say thats the same problem (as the more identified angst of feeling lost), or leave it aside as not being part of lost & found, or not a problem at all.

Maybe it is as simple as: We are afraid of feeling pain. Like really afraid! Even if we are reasonably sure the pain will be short-lived and feeling it will release us from some of our neurotic bondage.

For years I swam three days a week in our local YMCA pool. It was a great pool, big, clean, relatively uncrowded. But the water was a bit cold. I dreaded the first 20 seconds after entering the water, it was a nasty shock. Afterwards it was fine. But the dread of the first 20 seconds got worse and worse until I eventually stopped going to the pool. Fear of a few seconds of pain trumped my love of swimming.

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That is why we have the idea that the self is fear - the self’s function is non-acceptation, my being is to find all this unbearable. Fear is the creator of goals and meaning.

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Yes, but pain is subjective. One person’s pain is another’s pleasure. Also, pain can be managed, and even negated with drugs or hypnosis. So it may not be that simple, though it does seem to be what drives and directs us.

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Sir, maybe accepting that we are not completely unconditioned might create some sort detachment to our happening thoughts.

Good to see you in forum discussions.

Suffering - the expression of self in its constant, exigent movement away from the actual to the imagined “I want” - can be called fear, pain, dissatisfaction, desire etc… etc…
Intellectually, conceptually, we can move away from the simple fact - in this way we can make ourselves seem un-simple. Our idiosyncracies can be many and varied, the electro-chemical signals that form the process of “I” in the brain can be affected in so many ways - bur they remain who we are, what “drives us”.

The brain and the world that moves it, is not simple in that it never ends, we can keep studying the details of the network of life forever - but the habitual reaction of self is a simple, single, constant repeat.

Aisi the roots of the tree of suffering are quite simple, something like the gap between what-is and what-I-want, though the branches and leaves and fruit can be very complex indeed!

Each and every part of the tree has something to reveal about the nature of the tree. It’s yet another trap to reduce the tree to its ‘source’ (roots) and think Eureka, I’ve got it, I now grok the essence of the tree! The essence of the tree is … the tree, in all its complexity, in its interconnection with everything ‘else.’