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Thread: The (meta)physics of indulgence

  1. #1
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    The (meta)physics of indulgence

    A half-baked idea this agitated morning,,,

    Sometimes I'm really good and follow the Path quite closely,
    but sometimes being good gets boring and I go for some indulgence of some kind or other,
    and then it occurred to me...

    When I over indulge in something (i.e., drink or eat too much)
    I pay for it later with an equal and opposite reaction (i.e., hangover or upset stomach and/or weight gain).
    Thus the (meta)physics of indulgence. Take that, Newton!

    Sound familiar?

    What's the lesson or point here?
    Hell, I dunno.
    Maybe it's the reaction that we need to recognize as a teacher about indulgences.
    Or not.

  2. #2

    The (meta)physics of indulgence

    The Middle Way?
    The string not too tight nor too loose.

    Gassho,
    Pontus

  3. #3

    Re: The (meta)physics of indulgence

    Quote Originally Posted by AlanLa
    Sound familiar?
    Yep. We get so bored with reality sometimes. Yet, there's no escape. No escape.

    gassho
    Greg

  4. #4

    Re: The (meta)physics of indulgence

    Yes, this can be a difficulty. But it's also a construction, a projection.

    Boredom is the discriminating mind judging, being dissatisfied.

    I once saw this flower that was super bored with life. Wait.

    Realizing this, what's there to be bored with?

  5. #5

    Re: The (meta)physics of indulgence

    Quote Originally Posted by AlanLa
    A
    Sometimes I'm really good and follow the Path quite closely,.
    Can you ever leave the Path? It's infinitely wide and long...

  6. #6

    Re: The (meta)physics of indulgence

    Quote Originally Posted by alan.r
    Yes, this can be a difficulty. But it's also a construction, a projection.

    Boredom is the discriminating mind judging, being dissatisfied.

    I once saw this flower that was super bored with life. Wait.

    Realizing this, what's there to be bored with?
    "The monkey is reaching for the moon in the water,
    until death overtakes him he will never give up.
    If he would only let go the branch and disappear into the deep pool,
    the whole world would shine with dazzling clearness."
    ---Hakuin

    gassho
    greg

  7. #7
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: The (meta)physics of indulgence

    As I said, it was a half-baked idea, and my examples were also a bit half-baked.

    Is there a difference between indulgence, which is what I proposed, and over indulgence, which were my examples? Where does that difference lie? In other words, when does eating well become overeating? Where are the boundaries? At what point does the equal and opposite reaction occur? And if it is not over indulgence, is there a reaction at all?

    Also, on the opposite side from above, I proposed a philosophical question with at least one not well thought out example, but what about the idea that after a week of working hard I (you) have earned some recreational beers or maybe a bottle of wine? Is this an indulgence, an over indulgence? I recognize the aspect of individual differences here; in fact, I guess that's what I'm going after. Again, where are the boundaries? At what point does the equal and opposite reaction occur? And if it's not over indulgence, is there a reaction at all?

    A little background: I am on Spring Break. I have been working on an article and setting up another research project all week. It has not been hard work, nor all day work, but it has also not been much of what would typically be called a vacation at all, but I felt I was following a middle path between work and relaxation. Then today I got up with the plan to do some more of the same when I realized I had hit the wall, so I've been sitting outside having a few beers and enjoying music on my iPod. It's beautiful outside and I have spent little time out this whole week due to working, so what I am actively exploring in my life today I propose here for discussion purposes.

    OK, this is a little more baked now, just a bit, and I have hints of my own answer to the above questions...

  8. #8

    Re: The (meta)physics of indulgence

    Greg, that's a beautiful poem. I've never read it, and I'm totally that monkey. Many thanks.

  9. #9

    Re: The (meta)physics of indulgence

    I've been eating for so long that I can do it really fast. At some point you have to choose between the sensual pleasure of the food and the signal of an expanding and almost painful stomach. I'm a grazer and mostly eat at mealtimes but have permission to eat whenever, except 3 hours before bedtime.

  10. #10
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: The (meta)physics of indulgence

    Ah, what difference a day makes. Sometimes it can be good to step back to where there is no Path, no wisdom, and no gain, for within that process you might gain the path to a little bit of wisdom. I was looking for borders yesterday, a fruitless exercise in zen that inevitably leads to dukka. When indulging, indulge, moderately and with awareness so as not to overindulge. When hitting the wall, hit the wall softly so as not to hurt yourself. When stepping back, step back with awareness, and then step forward again when you are ready. Let the results of all this fall where they may, it's all Zen.

    I am reminded of a trip to New Orleans I took way back in the late 70's. I went to see the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, a bunch of old men playing great Dixieland jazz. I mean these guys were living jazz fossils, but they were great. I was a youth in awe. During the breaks you could buy their records and get their autographs, which I eagerly did. I had only recently discovered jazz about then and was into discovering and distinguishing all the various types, Dixieland, fusion, be-bob, etc., and I was curious what these old fossils thought about the more modern forms, so I asked. "It's all jazz," Percy Humphrey told me. "But what about fusion," I insisted. "It's so completely different from what you do, how can it be the same?" "It's all jazz," he said with a finality that told me to stop asking the question. And today I keep thinking of Percy and Willie Humphrey and Sweet Emma and the rest while saying to myself, "It's all Zen."


    http://www.preservationhall.com/band...ory/index.aspx

  11. #11

    Re: The (meta)physics of indulgence

    Quote Originally Posted by AlanLa
    As I said, it was a half-baked idea, and my examples were also a bit half-baked.

    Is there a difference between indulgence, which is what I proposed, and over indulgence, which were my examples? Where does that difference lie? In other words, when does eating well become overeating? Where are the boundaries? At what point does the equal and opposite reaction occur? And if it is not over indulgence, is there a reaction at all?[/i]

    OK, this is a little more baked now, just a bit, and I have hints of my own answer to the above questions...
    Hi Al,

    Frankly, Al, this seems like "over indulgence" in a bit of needless mental wheel-spinning.

    All things in moderation. Avoid excess and what is harmful. Keep life as simple as one can. Otherwise, one will tend to feel the effects (Karma).

    Frankly, I do not think much more analysis is needed than that as to where and when the tipping point is reached. It is case by case, situation by situation, person by person ... something you know in the heart more than one can measure. If you are looking for the exact point when renunciation becomes simple enjoyment become indulgence becomes over-indulgence ... you might as well debate when a rounded square becomes a circle, or when a mountain becomes a mole hill, or when is "one beer too many" (which is even 1 for an alcoholic).

    The Buddha proposed a certain strict lifestyle for his monks. He advised lay folks to keep moderation and free from attachments and did not go into so many details for them.

    Listen to Percy Humphrey.

    Gassho, J

  12. #12

    Re: The (meta)physics of indulgence

    Nice, right on, Alan. I often have to remind myself, too: It's all Jazz.

  13. #13
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: The (meta)physics of indulgence

    When looking at discrete events (indulgence/overindulgence, work/play, etc.) it's easy to get distracted by the delusion of borders. You being to wonder at what point does mole hill become mountain, as Jundo said, as if there were some magic of enlightenment there in that point. But when you can look at the totality of experience, see the Big picture -- which is beyond what we typically mean by the Big picture -- that's where the jazzy zen thing is.

    On the other hand, it's not that those discrete events are unimportant. The jazz tune is made up of discrete notes, and the more wrong notes the messier the tune. A good musician plays a tune, not individual notes, but us folks with little musical talent focus so hard on the notes that the tune can sometimes become barely recognizable. One more quick story:

    I was at a big party in college, a musicians party that naturally turned into a big jam session in the back yard. As I said, I have very little musical talent but I've always enjoyed hanging out with singers and musicians as a sort of wannabe. There were about a half dozen guitarists lined up at one point riffing on the blues and I was in the first line of the audience with my harmonica pretending as if I could actually play the thing and follow along with what they were doing, which I could most definitely not do. But one of the guitarists saw me and brought me into the guitar line, and he even gave me a microphone! I kept saying no, but he just kept telling me to play, so I played. Luckily, they were so loud I don't think anyone could hear that I was nowhere near the melody, or maybe no one cared (it was late in the party, if you know what I mean). After a few minutes of me trying like crazy to approximate what they were doing with what I was doing, and being terribly self-conscious of how I was failing miserably at it, I sort of gave up, and at that moment, for just a few bars, I was locked in. I was playing the blues with them! And as soon as I said to myself, "Holy crap, I'm really playing with them!" it was gone. I was back just honking all over my own silly self. But when the song was over all those musicians treated me like one of their own; their graciousness was as glorious as it felt unwarranted.

    The moral of the story? Let it go. Just play! You might suddenly find yourself in tune with the universe where it's all jazz all the time. As can be seen by my first posts here,
    I am still trying to find a way to just play,
    I am probably more in tune with the universe than I know,
    yet its graciousness to me is glorious,
    and whether it is warranted or not is no matter.

  14. #14

    The (meta)physics of indulgence

    Quote Originally Posted by AlanLa
    After a few minutes of me trying like crazy to approximate what they were doing with what I was doing, and being terribly self-conscious of how I was failing miserably at it, I sort of gave up, and at that moment, for just a few bars, I was locked in. I was playing the blues with them! And as soon as I said to myself, "Holy crap, I'm really playing with them!" it was gone. I was back just honking all over my own silly self.
    How I recognize this feeling!
    My first form of meditation was shooting practice. I did it for years, for hours, almost daily. Repetitive, almost ritualistic action. Single minded focus. Not trying, not voluntarily pulling the trigger, just letting the body-mind do the shooting, I would hear the shot go off. The self sometimes dropped away completely. During these moments of complete flow, it was all so easy. As if someone else was doing it, or the shooting doing itself, perfectly. So easy and effortless a kid could do it! Perfect stability, the sight aligning with the dot, the shot going off. Ten after ten after ten. Then that inner voice of your small self, "Holy crap! I'm shooting better than an olympian! I'm going to win! I'm going to be on the national team!" ops:
    And the next shot would be an eight...

    Same with martial arts. Sometimes, there are no more separate techniques, no planning the next move. Just body-mind flowing through space. A wonderful feeling when that happens. The little self feels so unskillful sometimes!

    Gassho,
    Pontus

  15. #15
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: The (meta)physics of indulgence

    Yes, to get back to my original post, instead of going with the flow of taking a day to do nothing, I parsed it into indulgence/over indulgence and then tried to parse it again into when one turned into another, when all I needed to do was let it all go and enjoy the day. I do like to over think things, but (I think :roll: ) I am getting better. Then again, I wonder at what point thinking becomes over thinking... :mrgreen:

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