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Buddhism and Empowerment

From: tyagI@houseofkaos.Abyss.coM (tyagi mordred nagasiva)
Subject: Buddhism and Empowerment (
Date: 49940827

Quoting: | (White Horse);
         |>|White Horse

|>[When looking at the Greed for the following:]
|>Wealth: root = impoverishment
|>Power:  root = powerlessness

|What are the root causes of impoverishment and powerlessness?

These are feelings which come about through attachment to:

Wealth/Substance/Resource/Possession (in the case of feeling impoverished)
Power/Influence/Ability/Control (in the case of powerless)

|>|Are those not misguided attempts at satisfying certain basic human 
|>|needs which are not being satisfied and because these needs are not 
|>|being fulfilled in proper ways, greed follows?  

|>They can never be 'fulfilled'.  Greed is a result of clinging to that 
|>which is impermanent.

|I think we may be interpreting "fulfilled" differently.  Needs can be
|fulfilled in the way the need for water is fulfilled when this need
|manifests itself as thirst.

When speaking of greed, it can't be 'fulfilled' because it is a
veritable 'black hole'.  No amount of wealth will satisfy, no amount
of power will satisfy.  This is because the problem does not proceed
from a lack of the things grasped (what is 'enough' is subjectively 
assessed to a great extent).

|>|If we could get to the root of it and satisfy these needs in healthier 
|>|ways, do you think that maybe we will be able to uproot greed?  

|>Addressing the root, the branches of the weed shall never been 
|>'satisfied', yet they shall dissolve.

|I don't understand what you are trying to convey here, Tyagi...

Hurt, the child cries.  Bandaging the wound, the child still cries.
Only by protecting the child for a moment, hugging hir, sheltering hir,
shall the inner wound be addressed.  Yet she may still cry, because she
is attached to having us hug hir.  She will not be 'satisfied' until
she releases control and begins to feel equilibrium in vulnerability.

|>|Would this not be the way to empowerment?

|>Empowerment can only come about by seeing oneself as powerless and
|>enjoying it.

|One sees oneself as powerless and does something about it.  

There is nothing which can be done about it.  Feeling powerless we shall
continue to try to 'fill up' on power.  The power will not fill the hole.
This is why yogis and sensei may be bereft of all social ability, bereft
of physical mobility, bereft of their very life, and still retain 
their equanimity.

This is why those who wield incredible social power, slashing their might
through countless victims, oppressing millions, are still not 'satisfied'.

|Being powerless is not enjoyable.  If it were enjoyable we would
|not be discussing co-ops here.

It is possible to enjoy powerlessness.  We are all powerless to a certain
extent.  Power is relative.  Can we enjoy our powerlessness, enjoy our
power?  If so, then we can reside within our peace, even while we work 
within a dynamic of social adjustment.

Thus, inside I am at peace, even while outside there is turmoil.  Inside
I have all the power I need, even while outside I may work for more social
power in order to effect righteous circumstance, yet I will not grasp
that power, hold onto that power, make it my fulcrum of tranquility.

|..The way to empowerment, I think, is to reconize one's needs that are 
|not being appropriately fulfilled and to learn how to allow these needs 
|to be met in healthy ways, which are often contrary to what this 
|society teaches us.  

I agree with this completely.  Attempting to fulfill our needs, however,
we shall come to see what our needs truly are if we are observant.  

|I think Robyn has said some very insightful things in this respect.  
|Have you read her postings to this thread, Tyagi?

I have read and enjoyed them greatly.  I feel that they are some of the
more profound articles to have passed my screen of late.

|>1. There is greed/suffering/dissatisfaction.
|>2. This arises in consequence of attachment to that which is impermanent.
|>3. The cessation of dissatisfaction is the solution.
|>4. This cessation may only be reached through the discovery of one's
|>	place in the cosmos.

|Nice little philosophy, sounds Buddhist to me.  Is this where you are
|coming from?  

These are my take on the 'Four Noble Truths of Buddhism'.  Traditional
teachings strewn through the warped mind of the tyagi.

|I agree to #3.  I feel #4 sounds good in theory but is not very practical.  
|I am looking towards more practical solutions.  

#4 is my approximation of the 4th Noble Truth of Buddhism, which traditionally
consists of the 8-fold Path to Nirvana.  I have reinterpreted it to avoid a
bit of the moralism which sometimes accompanies fundamentalist Buddhist

You say that it is not 'practical'.  I say that if one's intuition is
attuned to the cosmos, it is the most practical path available.  Absent 
this, it is probably best to follow one's own ethical system or a moral
system devised by some group of the faithful.

|If the end result is #4, cool.  

Caveat: I am only describing a theoretic (one which I have found to be quite
valuable), not a moralism.  I don't say it is 'Right' or 'True', just that
I've found it to work.  I.e. it is a description of a practical system,
according to which one may determine one's 'dharma' or 'life-path'.

#4 is traditionally the 'prescription' (as a doctor would prescribe a
remedy to the ailment - the ailment being suffering/dissatisfaction brought 
on by the root cause, craving).  The 'end result' is contained in #3, and
is usually termed 'Nirvana'.  Nirvana is best translated as having been
'blown out' (like a candle flame), and this is describing what has
happened to the craving (which is how I characterize the 'branches'
in my previous post - having 'dissolved').

|Right now, though I am concerned about ways and means to meet ones 
|needs (felt, perhaps as "dissatisfaction").  

Yes, as is the bulk of humanity, according to many systems of thought.
Whether these needs can truly be 'met' is the issue (as well, perhaps
more importantly, as if they are really 'needed').

|How to become satisfied?  

The idea which I am presenting (again I do not say it is the only answer)
is that 'dissatisfaction' is the result of craving.  Due to this craving 
we grasp at things which are impermanent - they do not last.

By 'grasping' here I also indicate an emotional attachment to the object
of our desire.  In attaching ourselves to the impermanent we are cast
out-of-center when the object changes, as all objects tend to do.

One description of how to end the *craving* which leads to dissatisfaction
is said to have been taught by Siddhartha Gautama.  As you ask for more
'practicality', I shall endeavor to become more specific as to the
traditional teaching (though I warn you that it will not become much
more specific because each person has their own unique 'solution' to
life-circumstances; their own 'place in the cosmos', or dharma).

|#4 only describes a possible end result; it is not helpful towards 
|finding ways and means towards ending this sense of "dissatisfaction" 
|or void that so many people feel.

Yes, and I say that there is no one, specific panacea which may be described
in concrete terms.  This is because every person is unique, arises in hir
own unique way, and requires a unique 'combination', if you will, of acts
and rests.  The way that my #4 is usually stated in traditional Buddhism, 
as I see it, is the following:

The 8-fold Path to Nirvana is the means by which this cessation may take 

(Of course the teachers then go into more and more specificity regarding
this '8-fold Path to Nirvana'.  I shall only describe to you the very
vague necessities.  If you wish concrete, 'practical' advice I can also
prescribe a few of the traditional remedies, though I'm not convinced that
they will address your particular circumstance.)

The 8-folds or 'right factors' (the term 'right' is usually a pragmatic 
	descriptor, not a moral invective) are:

1) right understanding
2) right thought
3) right speech
4) right action
5) right livelihood
6) right effort
7) right mindfulness
8) right concentration

I hope you now see why I described it as the 'discovery of one's place in 
the cosmos'.  This could also be said to be one's 'dharma' or 'lifepath'.

|You say the cause of this "dissatisfaction" is attachment to that which
|is impermanent.  Consider: I am thirsty.  A need is expressing itself; 
|if it is not met appropriately, I feel dissatisfied.  

Your thirst and your equanimity are different things to a Buddhist.
Without equanimity, then no amount of water shall suffice to truly and
lastingly satisfy us.  With it, even dying of thirst is the experience 
of the Thousand Heavens.

|What attachment is expressing itself here?  

Attachment to not being thirsty leads to dissatisfaction in thirst.

|Is water impermanent?  Shall I cease my "attachment" to water? 
|Or is thirst impermanent?  Shall I cease my attachment to thirst 
|by stilling it appropriately with water?  

These are very wonderful questions.  My understanding (as an ignorant
monk of little training) is that ACCESS to water is impermanent and
that the STATE of being watered is impermanent.  In order to retain 
satisfaction we must refrain from attachment to being either thirsty 
or not thirsty.

|What is #2 *really* saying??

#2 Dissatisfaction (dukkha) arises as a consequence of attachment to, linking
our satisfaction in a one-to-one relation with, that which is impermanent.

|I am not so interested in getting into any deeply philosophical type 
|of discussion, especially if it is just theoretical.  

It is en eminently practicable theoretic which may be applied in order to
understand one's self and retain equilibrium in any circumstance, with
practice.  Also, contrary to many theists, it need not conflict with one's
religious sentiments.

|Right now my attachment to water is an essential part of survival here.  

Your ACCESS to water (in order to surfeit a biological need) is an
essential part of the survival of your body.  Your attachment to water,
to access it, or to control over it, is not an essential part of your
experiential satisfaction (at least this is the idea).

|By way of analogy...empowerment is a basic need as is water.  

One problem with this statement as I see it is that 'basic need' does
not describe your minimum requirements.  Thus it may justify your attempt
to control all water in excess of your strict biological need, just as
your confusion of social power or power-over with personal empowerment
might lead to oppressive behaviors in an attempt to 'satisfy your basic
need for empowerment'.

I agree with you that these things are needed for healthy living, in
moderation, yet that place of moderation is not always an easy place
to locate, and it need not be linked to our overall satisfaction.

|When this is not met in healthy ways, we encounter the kind of problems 
|we see in this world today and which has already been pointed to in 
|this thread so I won't repeat it here.

My perception is that most people who struggle over resources have more
than they need to live 'healthily', though they do not understand their
actual minimal necessities.  The reason the struggle ensues is that people
are acting out of their dissatisfaction *rather* than their true health-

|The question is how to recognize, validate, verbalize and meet these
|basic needs in healthy ways, especially empowerment which should enable
|us to meet many of the other needs to?

Recognition - this depends upon awareness of ourselves and I think it is
one of the most important aspects of the individual path.  It is through
'recognizing' our place in the world that we may come to satisfaction and 
thereafter express and address our biological needs without harm (ahimsa).

Validation - once we have found our place, then we can support others in
finding theirs.  Recognizing our place (dharma), we begin to see more
clearly when another is recognizing theirs, though we need not judge them
in their activities.

Verbalization - this is only of partial value, since while the medium of
our expression dictates the communication that will carry it to fruition,
the verbalizing does not actually produce the satisfaction which we may
have regardless of whether our physical and mental needs are met.

Air, food and water are only of biological importance.  The mind may find 
equanimity, *empowerment*, in the *experiential* realization that all 
things pass, that we are as ephemeral as the clouds, and that attachment 
to impermanent 'objects' leads to our suffering; that is, in recognizing
what we truly are and how our attitudes and approaches affect our state
of being.

tyagi nagasiva

			PS, I will be RE-posting this to a couple of
			buddhist newsgroups for fun.  My intent is to
			avoid drawing controversial buddhist discussion
			into, however. ;>

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