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emjay
27 May 16, 00:24
Hi all

I don't know where to put this question - and apologies if it's in the wrong place - and I don't know the correct terminology to use either but I'm hoping that someone will recognise what I'm talking about.

Assuming the aim in certain types of meditation/mindfulness is to be able to see things as they are but not grasp at them... basically not add baggage to them... what I've heard described as the first arrow and the second arrow... you can't do much about the first arrow but you can prevent the second arrow... my question relates to the nature and definition of the first arrow.

In the case of say pain it is obvious that it is a raw sensation that is inherently unpleasant and doesn't need words or anything else to give it that quality, it just is. The second arrow... worrying about it, fearing it, exaggerating it etc can be avoided by mindfulness.

So for a raw sensation like that it's pretty clear what is the first arrow and what is the second. But where it gets less clear for me is where idealisation/devaluation - i.e. positive or negative exaggeration - has an effect on how something is perceived at the raw level. I'll try and give an example... someone used to bully me at school so when years later I saw a person who looked similar I had instantaneous, raw, stereotypical feelings of dislike for this person. But then coming to know the new person I idealised them and the default feeling changed from dislike to like meaning that if I saw someone similar looking in the future - which I did - the instantaneous, raw, stereotypical feelings were now like rather than dislike.

In other words all of that idealisation/devaluation... of focusing on only positive or only negative qualities of the person created positive or negative stereotypes with raw emotion which is perceived instantaneously without any apparent extra thought required. In my view, but which I accept could be wrong, all (or at least most) liking or disliking is emotionally conditioned like this... by associating emotions with everything we perceive.

So I have three questions about this.

1. Is that raw but emotionally conditioned stereotype the first arrow? It is not as clear cut a case as the case of raw sensations like pain. It seems like it's more in a grey area between arrows one and two because it can be changed basically by classical conditioning or idealisation/devaluation.

2. Given that one of the aims of Buddhism is to desist from 'exaggerating' behaviour - i.e. idealisation or devaluation - what is the long term effect on how things are perceived emotionally in raw stereotypical form? Does it stand to reason that with continued practice over a lifetime of desisting from idealisation/devaluation, stereotypes become more neutral and less emotionally charged? That there ceases to be an inherent feeling of like or dislike for perceptions?

3. Ultimately the question I'm asking is what's left? What is the beauty in the nature of things... is it a different type of beauty than this... not an emotionally conditioned one but a raw and unambiguous feeling at the same level as say the rawness of pain?

Thanks for reading ;D

Aloka
27 May 16, 06:18
what I've heard described as the first arrow and the second arrow....


Hi emjay,

Just for clarification, are you refering to sutta SN 36.6 ?

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn36/sn36.006.than.html

Alternate translation:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn36/sn36.006.nypo.html


:hands:

emjay
27 May 16, 15:35
Hi Aloka,

Thanks for the links ;D Yes, they are exactly what I'm referring to by the first and second arrows (or darts)... the separation between a physical, bodily pain and a mental pain.

It's easier to understand in the case of physical pain because it's just a raw sensation... it's easy to separate it from the mental gymnastics that follow to resist or escape it... what it calls resistance-obsessions and passion-obsessions. But in the case of stereotypes it's harder for me to separate the two into a first and second arrow... what counts as a raw, bodily sensation versus the mental gymnastics that exaggerate it... especially when, in my opinion, the second has a direct, almost summary effect on the first.

So for instance you take a neutral object and idealise it (i.e. notice all the positive things about it and ignore the negative... mental gymnastics... perhaps a passion-obsession) and then when you're faced with that object again, the feelings that you immediately feel as raw feelings... before any further mental exaggeration or gymnastics... have changed from neutral to positive.

So where in my view the raw stereotype is basically an emotional summary - concentrated into a single point of focus... i.e. seeing the object but not thinking anything further about it - of the various obsessions, it's not clear to me whether the raw stereotype would be considered the first arrow. It's the first point of contact... as far as I can tell... with the sensation and in that sense seems to be 'nature' or 'physical' like bodily pain but whereas bodily pain could be viewed as directly summarising data about the physical state of the body, emotional stereotypes about objects summarise a mental state, and those mental states, unlike physical states, are changeable mentally.

So there appears to me to be a sort of feedback loop involved where mental states are concerned but not where physical states are concerned.

I apologise if this doesn't make much sense. It's just the way I think. I'm pedantic, mechanistic, and reductionistic in my need to understand the mind. That's part of why the Buddha's teachings appeal to me so much... his writings are very repetitive, in a good way, to make sure all the bases are covered and nothing is left vague.

But from reading those links it does look like it possibly answers my questions but in a different way, in the sense that it differentiates between positive, neutral, and negative states as all being things that one should aim to not be attached to.

So in reference to what I'm talking about, where raw stereotypes can and do frequently change along those three dimensions - positive-neutral-negative - as a result of higher level thinking, the aim is still to be able to detach from them. So whether it's a raw bodily level positive-neutral-negative state like pain or a raw mental level positive-neutral-negative state like a stereotype about an object, it seems that the aim is still the same... to be able to detach from it. But nonetheless it's still confusing to me whether stereotypes are considered the first arrow.

woodscooter
27 May 16, 18:02
Hello emjay,


that raw but emotionally conditioned stereotype

one of the aims of Buddhism is to desist from 'exaggerating' behaviour

positive-neutral-negative state

I find your questions difficult to follow. Especially your use of the word 'stereotype', it's not a term often used in discussions I have heard.

Are you basing your post on something you have read somewhere? If so, can you give a reference or link to the source?

Unless there is another member of this forum who understands the question, it may have to remain unanswered.

Woodscooter

emjay
27 May 16, 18:47
Hello emjay,





I find your questions difficult to follow. Especially your use of the word 'stereotype', it's not a term often used in discussions I have heard.

Are you basing your post on something you have read somewhere? If so, can you give a reference or link to the source?

Unless there is another member of this forum who understands the question, it may have to remain unanswered.

Woodscooter

Hi Woodscooter

I'm sorry :( This is what I feared would happen... that my way of thinking/talking about the mind wouldn't go over well here and/or might be incompatible with Buddhism. It's nothing really that I can cite, just my own personal understanding of psychology that's accumulated over the years through introspectively analysing myself, theorising, and reading about psychology and neuroscience. So I accept that my question might not be understood by people without a similar interest and therefore that it might have to remain unanswered.