• Quote of the Day
    "The shoe that fits one person pinches another; there is no recipe for living that suits all cases."
    Carl Jung, posted by Daniel
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Daniel

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"You've been somebody long enough. You spent the first half of your life becoming somebody. Now you can work on becoming nobody, which is really somebody. For when you become nobody there is no tension, no pretense, no one trying to be anyone or anything. The natural state of the mind shines through unobstructed -- and the natural state of the mind is pure love."

"In most of our human relationships, we spend much of our time reassuring one another that our costumes of identity are on straight."

~ Ram Dass
 

Daniel

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reminds me of Buddhism (the "self" is a painful illusion), Zen Buddhism (live spontaneously--"If you are hungry eat, if you are tired sleep"), Schopenhauer (the intellect can't compete with desire), Dr. Dyer ("connecting to source"), and the late Joseph Campbell (we need "myths to live by").

Regarding Schopenhauer:


Schopenhauer conceived the will as the universe’s essence; purposeful human actions are a small part of it. We do not directly perceive the will, but only its phenomena through the ‘Veil of Maya’, which, in contemporary terms, refers to the cognitive and perceptual limits imposed by our own biological species. This is why Schopenhauer posits that we have a representation (idea) of the world. We have a direct access to the will by perceiving our body’s desires. The will is insatiable and selfish.

Because of these will’s features, there is no possibility of collective or global salvation. However, individual or existential salvation may occur by denying the will through a path that includes: 1) an aesthetic experience particularly with the aid of art, that allows contemplation of the ´Platonic Ideas´, lessening desire and promoting knowledge through contemplation,; 2) the ethical experience refers to the insight about the unity of the universe, particularly by realizing the ubiquity of suffering and neediness, and 3) the metaphysical step which promotes compassion and asceticism. These philosophical principles may add to specific psychotherapeutic techniques in expanding the individual’s awareness beyond herself/himself, and thus arise and improve the psychological outcome...

How asceticism by conceived in contemporary terms? For our average fellow with emotional suffering, asceticism does not refer to the extreme self-denial and privations of worldly pleasures as depicted in some religious traditions. A parsimonious, but meaningful, asceticism can logically arise from recognizing the insatiability of the will and the restless lifestyle that derives from such insatiability. Hence, asceticism can be reframed as a healthy state of mind that includes some degree of austerity and detachment...

Clinical vignettes
In this section I briefly describe how I used Schopenhauer’s thought with four patients in my own clinical practice. Permission was obtained from these patients, and their identity is here concealed.

  1. This is a 63 year-old college professor who, while preparing his retirement, sought therapy to address his defensive attitude and the need he felt for being the center of attention in social encounters. Both features strongly deprived him from enjoying otherwise pleasurable activities. Therapy focused on assessing his cognitive distortions and rehearsing copying strategies before social interactions. He was particularly impressed by Schopenhauer’s aesthetic step to salvation (see page 456 above) of knowing without desiring and felt that by practicing contemplation, he could control his excessive need for attention, and thus, enjoy the present moment. He constantly remembers Goethe‘s expression: “The stars we yearn not after delight us with their glory” (6).

  2. This refers to a 46 year-old prosperous physician with a severe anxiety disorder. In spite of significant symptom reduction obtained through cognitive therapy and medication, he had a pervasive feeling of emptiness. He did an insightful reflection about the selfish and insatiable features of the will that he compared to his self-centered disposition, itself aggravated by the anxiety disorder. As an additional coping strategy during his anxiety crisis, he now sympathetically reflects about his families and friends’ unmet needs and how he can help them. He is thus developing compassion.

  3. This is a 24-year old girl with mild attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, non-incapacitating phobias, moderate irritability and performing anxiety. She came to therapy asking for help to face a critical step in her university career and to treat vaginism and dyspareunia in a long-awaited romantic relationship. She was shocked to find out that, after having successfully passed her exams and overcoming her sexual dysfunctions, she became even more anxious and worried. When discussing the pervasive feature of the insatiability of the will, she thought Schopenhauer’ expression “yet for one wish that is satisfied there remain at least ten which are denied” was very compelling. She identified herself with that thought and adopted it as an emphatic inner voice that now assists her in counterbalancing her negative evaluation of her achievements.

  4. After a very difficult divorce, a 50 year-old lady became obsessed about why things in her life happened the way they did. I introduced her to Schopenhauer’s approach to the art of tragedy (see page 457). Tragedies may arise from: extraordinary wickedness…, blind fate… but more commonly by the mere position of the dramatis persona with regard to each other, through their relations… (5). She found it very relevant when assessing her externalizing-prone attribution style. This reflection opened a door for her personal growth in such an important time in her life.
 
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Daniel

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“The feelings that hurt most, the emotions that sting most, are those that are absurd: the longing for impossible things, precisely because they are impossible; nostalgia for what never was; the desire for what could have been; regret over not being someone else; dissatisfaction with the world’s existence. All these half-tones of the soul’s consciousness create in us a painful landscape, an eternal sunset of what we are.”

- Fernando Pessoa

from The Book of Disquiet, ch. 196 (translated by Richard Zenith)
 

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“The self is a mystery. In our efforts to pin it down or make it safe, we dissociate ourselves from our complete experience of whatever it is or is not.”

"Far from eliminating the ego, as I naively believed I should when I first began to practice meditation, the Buddha encouraged a strengthening of the ego so that it could learn to hold primitive agonies without collapse.”

― Mark Epstein, The Trauma of Everyday Life

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"He proposes that we are born with a genetically determined neural network that generates the perception of the body, the sense of self, and can also generate chronic pain, even when no limbs are present."

----------------


"The future is research on how the brain creates our world: the world we see, hear, touch and feel. Pain is the doorway into that. I mean, right now, I am just a little upside-down person on the back of your retinas. You don’t see me upside down, or jumping around as your eye jerks around. Your brain creates me. Most people don’t want to hear such a thing. They want to think that what you see is what’s out there."

"Everything is subjective. Everything. But people don’t want to hear that."
 

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The saying "no self, no problem" probably comes from Zen. In their cultures, where Buddhism is kind of taken for granted, as well as karma, causality, former and future life, and the possibility for becoming enlightened, then it's safe to skirt the danger of nihilism, which would be, I don't exist because Buddha said I have no self, and therefore I have no problem because I don't exist. That would be a bad misunderstanding. But in those cultures, it would not be as easy to have that understanding as it would be here in the west, where we really are nihilistic.

~ Robert Thurman
 

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Screen Shot 2022-08-04 at 11.31.36 PM.jpg
 
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“Resist the temptation to be someone once again. Allow yourself to be no one; allow your mind to be empty of thought, unfurnished, until the identities gradually filter back in. Notice the space between your identities and the awareness of them. Notice if a similar gap appears at other times during the day, an empty space that you may have ignored before but can now lean into and prolong. Continue to open to the openness.”

― Stephan Bodian, Beyond Mindfulness
 

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For me, the joy of skiing is watching my body execute turn after turn, without me consciously doing much about it, other than letting it happen. When rock climbing, sometimes I will be frozen before a hard move, trying to sequence it. Then I let go and my body just does it, unconsciously, naturally...

It is foolish to think that we can change our consciousness without changing the rest of our mind. The mind is just one thing. It has to work together. We may be annoyed by crazy thoughts and feelings that arise from our unconscious, but they are part of ourselves. We need to embrace them, accept them, and understand them. Our consciousness cannot be a dictator inside our mind who decides what belongs there and what doesn’t. We need to love the entirety of our mind, with all its quirks. Because that is what we are, and what we will ever be.
 
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Daniel

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Researchers do not yet know how or when, exactly, unconscious drives may suddenly become conscious; or under which circumstances people are able to override hidden urges by force of will. Millions have quit smoking, for instance, and uncounted numbers have resisted darker urges to misbehave that they don't even fully understand.

Yet the new research on priming makes it clear that we are not alone in our own consciousness. We have company, an invisible partner who has strong reactions about the world that don't always agree with our own, but whose instincts, these studies clearly show, are at least as likely to be helpful, and attentive to others, as they are to be disruptive.
 

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“Other people can be annoying, as Sartre famously suggested, but true hell is perpetual imprisonment in the self.”

― Barbara Ehrenreich, Natural Causes
 

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The subjective world of phenomenal consciousness is a fiction written by our brains in order to help us track the impact that the world makes on us. To call it a fiction is not to disparage it. Fictions can be wonderful, life-enhancing things that reveal deep truths about the world and can be more compelling than reality. Unlike Neo in The Matrix, you shouldn’t want to escape this fictional world; it’s a benign one, designed by evolutionary processes to help you thrive. But you shouldn’t mistake it for reality either.
 

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From the author of Seeing Myself:


Memes group together into co-adapted meme complexes, one of which is the self. This memeplex is constructed by the memes for their own propagation, not for our benefit. Indeed it is arguably the root of all human suffering. I conclude that both scientifically, and for living our lives, the illusion is malign.
 
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Brain regions, anatomically distinct as they are, are highly interconnected, a web of humming neural networks. And with the advent of new techniques, we can start to better understand how brains evolved...

Most regions of the brain, the analysis revealed, have a mix of ancestral and newer types of neurons within them, challenging the notion that some brain regions are more ancient than others.

In fact, the researchers found that neurons in the thalamus can be separated into two groups based on their connectivity to other regions of the brain.
 
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