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Knowledge versus nature

KeromeKerome Certainty is the enemy of wonderThe Continent Veteran

Dear friends,

Have you ever considered that the whole process of gathering knowledge of the dharma, training yourself in its ways, meditating by its methods, all those things are making it so that the impulses of your original nature become hard to feel? The buddhadharma contains many beautiful things, such as a deeper connection with compassion, generosity, wanting to release others from suffering. But within us is a certain wild, uncultivated nature which we have hardly come to know.

Do you ever go back to your own nature? That you let go of training and learning but instead think of your impulses for a while, and sorting out the things that you feel inside?

With warm regards,



  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    Going back to it isn't my problem.
    Leaving it in the first place, is.

  • adamcrossleyadamcrossley Veteran UK Veteran
    edited November 2019

    I think the Dharma is a way of returning to our true nature. But that doesn’t mean going back to our base impulses or following only sense desire. Tell me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think Buddhism considers these to be our true nature.

    For example, a person who is abused early in life may develop the impulse to abuse others. And we all get the impulse to satisfy sense desire, which in the long term doesn’t do us any good. Buddhism doesn’t see these as our true nature. They are actually laid on top of our true nature.

    I suppose in Dharma practice we try to discern between impulses based on karma or the three poisons, and impulses based on understanding, compassion, etc.

    What you described seems more like animal nature, which is actually a kind of conditioning. Through evolution, we’re conditioned to have certain impulses. In meditation, we try to strip them away. “Wild and uncultivated” is not accurate; a wild animal has still been cultivated, so to speak, by evolution.

    Those are my thoughts, anyway. Thanks for your letter, @Kerome; I like the format.

  • KeromeKerome Certainty is the enemy of wonder The Continent Veteran

    Thanks @adamcrossley, I adopted this new format for opening posts in order to greet people more. It seemed nice to start with more of a tone of thankfulness and warmth :)

    One thought I wanted to add to the discussion is that our nature often needs certain triggers to develop fully. Puberty brings thoughts and impulses that were always present but immature and buried. Parenthood also brings certain impulses and emotions.

    Another thing I thought might be useful to consider is that perhaps our minds are not much more than conditioning layered upon other conditioning. What you learn in childhood is superseded by what is learnt in teenage years, which is superseded again by some of the things you learn in adulthood. It is like a patchwork quilt.

    Certainly Buddhism can be seen as revolutionising some parts of our thinking later in life, when we might be more aware of these processes. And so I think some measure of wariness relating to what we take in is not unexpected.

    As long as we stay with the process of “realising the truth” rather than “training the mind”, it can only do you good. But once you start taking in knowledge for the sake of knowledge, or you start training yourself to feel more of this or that, then it’s a slippery slope.

  • @federica said:
    Going back to it isn't my problem.
    Leaving it in the first place, is.

    Tee Hee 🤗

    Exactly so.
    The True Nature/Buddha Nature/Rosicrucian Rose Bud/Alchemical Heiros Gamos/Psychological Self Actualization/Union with God/Enlightenment etc are all hinting at a transcendent being/persona/non-self.

    I recently watched a netflix on Bikram yoga. Wild abusive ego personified.

    If this immature child/wild boy/loony gal/crazed ego is not calmed/transformed as part of a continuous process we become ... [insert ignorant kleishas of choice)]

    Be careful out there BUT even more careful inside ... 🙏🏽💗🦞

  • pegembarapegembara Veteran
    edited November 2019

    ... training yourself in its ways, meditating by its methods, all those things are making it so that the impulses of your original nature become hard to feel?

    Are you sure that impulses are your original nature?
    Let me quote the late Sayadaw U Pandita.

    Let us imagine that there is a multimillionaire or millionairesse who has available to him or her all the imaginable sense pleasures. One day this person is having a nice, sound sleep. While he or she is sleeping, the chef has been at work, cooking an array of delicious food and arranging it on the table. Everything is quite in order in the full splendor of the millionaire’s mansion.

    When this millionaire is in a deep, sound sleep, he or she is blissfully oblivious to the surroundings. No matter how beautiful the bedroom, he or she does not see it. No matter how beautiful the music that is piped throughout the house, he or she is deaf to it. Fine fragrance may waft through the air, but he or she is oblivious to it. He or she is not eating, that is clear. And no matter how comfortable and luxurious the bed may be, he or she is completely unaware of the sensation of lying upon it.

    You can see that there is a certain happiness in sound sleep which is not connected with sensate objects. Anyone, rich or poor, may wake up from sound sleep and feel wonderful. One may gather, then, that some sort of happiness exists in that sleep. Though it is difficult to describe, it cannot be denied. In the same way, the noble ones who have touched fulfillment of Dhamma know of a kind of happiness that can neither be denied nor fully described, but which we know by deductive reasoning actually exists.

    Supposing it were possible to have deep, sound sleep forever. Would you want it? If one does not like the kind of happiness that comes with sound sleep, it may be difficult to have a preference for nibbāna. If one does not want the happiness of nonexperience, one is still attached to the pleasure of the senses. This attachment is due to craving. It is said that craving actually is the root cause of sense objects

    Sayadaw U Pandita In This Very Life

    “I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.”

    Mark Twain_

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