Commitment (End of Suffering PT 2)

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Rob X
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Commitment (End of Suffering PT 2)

Post by Rob X » Wed Apr 30, 2014 3:50 pm

In the End of Suffering topic we agreed that conditions like pain are inevitable yet conditions such as extreme forms of psychological suffering were unnecessary. It was also implied that to feel certain negative emotions requires a degree of identification. I knew this to be true yet something still seemed to be missing from the picture. It seems to me that even after realisation, instances of stress, disappointment, indignation etc. would still arise in certain circumstances.

Then I vaguely remembered something ET said about primary and secondary identification. Even though our true nature might be realised, secondary identification arises in the 'roles' we engage in. And it seems to me that the mechanism at play in these secondary identifications is something like commitment or engagement.

To be a teacher, a soldier, a carer, a parent (even something everyday like being a motorist negotiating red lights) involves commitment to certain ideals, convictions, requirements, protocols etc. For instance, if we are a carer, we commit to providing the best care we can - we are motivated by certain goals and preferred outcomes (the good health of the patient.) To take part in a football match there needs to be a commitment to the scoring of goals. The total engagement in this role is crucial. Ultimately, scoring goals is unimportant - but for those 90 minutes it's the preferred outcome.

By default, through our secondary identifications, we have a commitment to certain preferred outcomes - and if these outcomes are thwarted or delayed then (strictly within the structure of this secondary identification) some stress, tension or disappointment may arise. Bringing up three kids I was (still am) a very committed father. When they were little I got them to places on time and made sure I turned up for every sports day or school play. If I was late to pick up my (then) seven year old from the school gates, I would experience a little stress.

All this is secondary identification. Of course after the initial stress of being stuck in traffic has flared up there can be a resolve to the primary identification and the seeing clearly that this is all the impersonal movement of an inexplicable event accomplishing itself.

I'm pretty certain that this sense of secondary identification/commitment is applicable to our favourite buddhas too. Let's say (sorry for the imagery) ET comes home from a meeting to find his girlfriend beaten to death on the floor of their apartment. Is he shocked, appalled, saddened? Of course he is. But how, if he is beyond identification with form?

Well, he is committed to the wellbeing of fellow humans. He is committed to this particular relationship. He is committed to nonviolence… and so on. Again this is all the domain of secondary identification. I'm sure that after the fact he would take himself away to a darkened room, compose himself and resolve to his primary identification beyond form.

We can further think of ET's commitment to a New Earth. The Dalai Lama's commitment to peace. The charity of Mother Teresa. Ghandi's commitment to non-violence. The compassion of Buddhists and so on.

Can there be a life utterly free from occasional stress, sadness, tension etc., I would say only to the extent that it is free from secondary identification and its attendant commitment, engagement, participation and involvement. That is, if you live in a cave or an ivory tower ………or you are a neo advaitin. :D

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Re: Commitment (End of Suffering PT 2)

Post by rachMiel » Wed Apr 30, 2014 4:13 pm

It's a choice, right? (To the extent that we can, in fact, choose what we do/feel.) Do you choose to identify psychologically with a role? Do you simply bring up your children, love them ... or identify yourself as "their father" and all that this implies?

I was talking to a Zen guy about this topic a while back, and he said he chooses to let himself become emotionally attached to his dogs. And that, in making this choice, he realized he was opening himself to psychological suffering when the dogs died. But that it was worth it to him, the joy of the attachment and the consequential suffering at the loss.

So I guess what I'm saying is that one can choose (again, to a certain extent) which roles to "believe in" and which to play simply because the roles are needed for the flow of life = a child needs a parent. If you are going for zero personal suffering, you can't let yourself believe in any role, nary a single one, not even the role of "awakened being."
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Re: Commitment (End of Suffering PT 2)

Post by runstrails » Wed Apr 30, 2014 4:31 pm

Very nice OP, Rob. I enjoyed it.
Perhaps that is why the Buddha encouraged a monastic life--to essentially decrease the secondary commitments or roles.

As an example, right now I'm going through a difficult salary negotiation which is leading to some stress. And I was having thoughts similar to your OP. I realize in the big picture that a few percent increase here or there is not important. But in this role that I play as a career person, it does lead to some stress. What's interesting is that the primary and secondary identification are simultaneous! I realize that this is a secondary role that I am playing, I'm fully committed to it (hence the concern over the negotiations) and simultaneously I realize its not that important because I understand my true (primary) nature. So the primary identification does ultimately buffer all the secondary identifications. This was not there before and this is a major change that comes with self-realization. Outwardly, no one can tell the difference because the roles you play are the same as before, but inwardly the moments of the peace that come from understanding your true nature make all the difference, however few and fleeting they may be.

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Re: Commitment (End of Suffering PT 2)

Post by Rob X » Wed Apr 30, 2014 5:36 pm

runstrails wrote:Very nice OP, Rob. I enjoyed it.
Perhaps that is why the Buddha encouraged a monastic life--to essentially decrease the secondary commitments or roles.

As an example, right now I'm going through a difficult salary negotiation which is leading to some stress. And I was having thoughts similar to your OP. I realize in the big picture that a few percent increase here or there is not important. But in this role that I play as a career person, it does lead to some stress. What's interesting is that the primary and secondary identification are simultaneous! I realize that this is a secondary role that I am playing, I'm fully committed to it (hence the concern over the negotiations) and simultaneously I realize its not that important because I understand my true (primary) nature. So the primary identification does ultimately buffer all the secondary identifications. This was not there before and this is a major change that comes with self-realization. Outwardly, no one can tell the difference because the roles you play are the same as before, but inwardly the moments of the peace that come from understanding your true nature make all the difference, however few and fleeting they may be.
Runstrails, thank you. This is a perfect example of what I am trying to convey.

I love this:
runstrails wrote:So the primary identification does ultimately buffer all the secondary identifications.
rachMiel wrote:It's a choice, right? (To the extent that we can, in fact, choose what we do/feel.) Do you choose to identify psychologically with a role? Do you simply bring up your children, love them ... or identify yourself as "their father" and all that this implies?

I was talking to a Zen guy about this topic a while back, and he said he chooses to let himself become emotionally attached to his dogs. And that, in making this choice, he realized he was opening himself to psychological suffering when the dogs died. But that it was worth it to him, the joy of the attachment and the consequential suffering at the loss.

So I guess what I'm saying is that one can choose (again, to a certain extent) which roles to "believe in" and which to play simply because the roles are needed for the flow of life = a child needs a parent. If you are going for zero personal suffering, you can't let yourself believe in any role, nary a single one, not even the role of "awakened being."
Oh no, I wouldn't say it was a conscious identification with being a father - that would have been quite off-putting to me as I've always been uncomfortable with stereotypical expectations. It was totally organic - I simply fell into this deep involvement and commitment to bringing up my kids and doing my best. Nonetheless, at times this involvement and commitment entailed (entails) certain types of dedication, motivation and preferred outcomes. But as runstrails has stated so well, this is not at the expense of the primary identification. I think that the Zen guy story also rings true.

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Re: Commitment (End of Suffering PT 2)

Post by KathleenBrugger » Wed Apr 30, 2014 6:04 pm

This is a great topic Rob. When I first encountered spirituality many years ago the catchword was ego; it was demonized and the whole goal was to transcend it. But that confused me--how could I live in the world without a sense of self? I think what you're describing is the recognition that that view of ego was simplistic. It's interesting to call it primary and secondary identification.

My husband and I are working on a revised version of our 20-year-old book Game of God and this distinction between the layers of identity is something we've been talking about in the last few days. What if we see ego as a (secondary) sense of self that allows us to navigate the dualistic universe, while recognizing that our true (primary) identity is something else (insert whatever term works for you here--God, Oneness, etc.)? Before awakening we are completely identified with the secondary self, and we think that our traits define us. Using rt's example, if we get the raise we're a winner, if we don't get it we're a loser. We're convinced this winner/loser value judgment is self-evidently true and, if we don't get the raise, we suffer as a result: "I'm a loser" is a fact. But it's the identification with the secondary sense of self that causes the suffering. As rt so nicely put it, when we recognize our true nature, the things that happen to us don't affect our perception of who we are.

Arthur and I thought it good to have terms for the different layers. "Ego" is the sense of self, the point of view required to navigate the dualistic universe (ego is the Latin word for "I"). "Ego-identity" is the mistaken sense that who we are is our beliefs, assumptions, and actions. We suggest awakening is like peeling an onion, we peel off layers of identity as we awaken. We begin with the outer layer first; what is expendable; what is unnecessary; what is causing us the most suffering. This outer layer is the ego-identity.

When we peel off the layer of ego-identity we are left with ego, which is a point-of-view that enables us (a) to survive in this dualistic universe (b) to apprehend and accept the perfection of it, and (c) to utilize our clarity of vision in the most creative and beneficial manner imaginable. Of course this is just another layer of the onion and not our true nature, but this helps me understand how we can participate here and now--wherever we find ourselves.

How much are we hobbled by the conditioning that forms the basis of our ego-identity? How much do our beliefs hold us back from doing our best? I can say that in my life I can see how my beliefs have held me back by convincing me that I'm not good enough, or I might look stupid, or that's not what good girls do, or... I'm thinking that being freed from the identification with those beliefs means we are going to be more capable of doing our best in every moment, being the best father possible, for example.
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Re: Commitment (End of Suffering PT 2)

Post by Rob X » Wed Apr 30, 2014 9:18 pm

KathleenBrugger wrote:We suggest awakening is like peeling an onion, we peel off layers of identity as we awaken. We begin with the outer layer first; what is expendable; what is unnecessary; what is causing us the most suffering. This outer layer is the ego-identity.

When we peel off the layer of ego-identity we are left with ego, which is a point-of-view that enables us (a) to survive in this dualistic universe (b) to apprehend and accept the perfection of it, and (c) to utilize our clarity of vision in the most creative and beneficial manner imaginable. Of course this is just another layer of the onion and not our true nature, but this helps me understand how we can participate here and now--wherever we find ourselves.
Yes! From the earliest age we identify as the little me. With realisation we glimpse or apprehend that we are Life itself (or whatever works) giving rise to forms… But from here there is not a transcendence as in a caterpillar becoming a butterfly - it's closer to this idea of transcend and include. Runstrails gets the flavour of it here:
runstrails wrote:What's interesting is that the primary and secondary identification are simultaneous! I realize that this is a secondary role that I am playing, I'm fully committed to it (hence the concern over the negotiations) and simultaneously I realize its not that important because I understand my true (primary) nature.

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Re: Commitment (End of Suffering PT 2)

Post by peas » Wed Apr 30, 2014 11:44 pm

In the state of consciousness we call presence, roles are no longer created at all in the mind. Roles are non-existent.

Doing a task is stripped back to a simple function, which no longer adds to who you think you are and no longer operates as a means to an end. Any protocols you follow become fluid. They are followed without the fixation. There is freedom from the known. True creativity and insight is experienced.

Even if the world slaps a 'role' on you, there is no compulsion to internalise the function you perform as a role. Even really sticky ones like 'mother' and 'father' are just functions internally. No role, still.

Identity free. In one go. The peeling of layers is not necessary, but is probably the experience for most. It still leads to role-free, identity-free, in one go - after the final layer. You end up looking at the layers as the one disguise you are no longer wearing.

I have never heard or read Eckhart say "primary identification" or "secondary identification". Where did you read or hear those terms?

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Re: Commitment (End of Suffering PT 2)

Post by rachMiel » Thu May 01, 2014 12:16 am

peas wrote:In the state of consciousness we call presence, roles are no longer created at all in the mind. Roles are non-existent.
Yes. It is only when we slip out of full presence into psychological thought that roles take hold, or more accurately: that the self construct grabs onto them.
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Re: Commitment (End of Suffering PT 2)

Post by KathleenBrugger » Thu May 01, 2014 12:31 am

Rob X wrote:
KathleenBrugger wrote:We suggest awakening is like peeling an onion, we peel off layers of identity as we awaken. We begin with the outer layer first; what is expendable; what is unnecessary; what is causing us the most suffering. This outer layer is the ego-identity.

When we peel off the layer of ego-identity we are left with ego, which is a point-of-view that enables us (a) to survive in this dualistic universe (b) to apprehend and accept the perfection of it, and (c) to utilize our clarity of vision in the most creative and beneficial manner imaginable. Of course this is just another layer of the onion and not our true nature, but this helps me understand how we can participate here and now--wherever we find ourselves.
Yes! From the earliest age we identify as the little me. With realisation we glimpse or apprehend that we are Life itself (or whatever works) giving rise to forms… But from here there is not a transcendence as in a caterpillar becoming a butterfly - it's closer to this idea of transcend and include. Runstrails gets the flavour of it here:
runstrails wrote:What's interesting is that the primary and secondary identification are simultaneous! I realize that this is a secondary role that I am playing, I'm fully committed to it (hence the concern over the negotiations) and simultaneously I realize its not that important because I understand my true (primary) nature.
Yes Rob I agree with you. Maybe I didn't make it clear; what I was trying to communicate was a cessation of identification. We act out the secondary role without believing it is really who we are. Ever since I read Ken Wilber's Up From Eden I have been a fan of the concept "transcend and integrate." When we were babies we identified with our bodies. As we developed our egos and started to identify with ego we transcended identification with our bodies but still had bodies to use! The body was integrated into our identity but was only a part, not the whole. Same way with ego-identity; we transcend identification with ego-identity but still have an ego to use. We play our roles but our true identity is something else.
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Re: Commitment (End of Suffering PT 2)

Post by smiileyjen101 » Thu May 01, 2014 2:00 am

Nice flow on from the other topic Rob.

Interestingly I had some time to 'kill' while I was out yesterday and had randomly taken The Road Less Travelled by M Scot Peck to read. Where I opened it was speaking about the same thing, particularly in relationships where you may not have found independence from 'programming' and child like responding, either in obedience or avoidance. (he does a great job on 'listening', bracketing self and other in a conversation giving the experience your full attention etc).

Again I would say that it very much depends on awareness, capacity, and willingness - willingness especially in the sense of knowing that a commitment may/will bring pain at the end, but that it is worth it for the experience of it. (eg in sharing experiences with a pet or any other)

Then it is the 'better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all' notion.

Only one of the parents whose children have died that I communicate with, has said that they would have rathered that their child never lived than face the grief of their relating and then the loss. And I have to say that came amid intense grief where the emotions were still quite reactionary and may not still be the case.

Azim Khamisa was a fairly aware and peaceful person when his son was randomly shot, his response very soon after his knees buckling was to be aware that there were two victims in this - one on either end of the gun. His response was to embrace the other 'victim' even in his grief. I can attest that is not only possible, to be both gutted experientially and aware psychologically about what is going to create more, or less suffering in a situation.

One doesn't turn life down in awareness, one more realistically and less reactively (as in not making enemy, obstacle, means to an end of a thing, person or situation) embraces what is.
Let's say (sorry for the imagery) ET comes home from a meeting to find his girlfriend beaten to death on the floor of their apartment. Is he shocked, appalled, saddened? Of course he is. But how, if he is beyond identification with form?

Well, he is committed to the wellbeing of fellow humans. He is committed to this particular relationship. He is committed to nonviolence… and so on. Again this is all the domain of secondary identification. I'm sure that after the fact he would take himself away to a darkened room, compose himself and resolve to his primary identification beyond form.

We can further think of ET's commitment to a New Earth. The Dalai Lama's commitment to peace. The charity of Mother Teresa. Ghandi's commitment to non-violence. The compassion of Buddhists and so on.
You have a perspective of these things from outside the experience of them. The Dalai Lama will tell you how he suffered when his guide, guru and friend died, fully experiencing the emotions of grief and in a clarity accepting that it would be 'better' that if his guide could see him, that he see him happy and living the life his guide had guided him towards. It does not take away the sadness, it embraces it into the equilibrium of 'what is'.

Therefore you cannot be 'sure that after the fact' ... of anything in another's experience, and even what we do in response ourself is a mystery until it happens.

As one 'thought' arises, according to our awareness and capacity and willingness, the falseness or clarity of that thought is absorbed, it registers either aligning with 'what is' or rejecting and resisting 'what is'.

Slumping on the kerb at the scene of my teenage daughter's death, twenty years after the death of my infant son, I screamed (I think, it was very loud in my head) I cannot do this again!!! So I at least know, whether it came out or not, it was there, and it was something I truly believed both in that moment and if I had ever feared for my two daughters in the time in between these events - I could not possibly endure that pain again. The thing was, with the increased awareness and capacity (willingness was kind of mute) gained in travelling and experiencing the loss of my son, immediately I knew that that was a lie. hmmm... yes it was immense suffering over something I would not prefer.
It was a lie that I could (but really couldn't) delude myself and create the fiction of with all the supporting evidences and reasoning etc and society would probably encourage me in their own fears of facing the experience.

It was so immediate and so clear, if I was screaming it halted immediately mid scream in my own surprise as the awareness kicked in - that's not true, you just don't want to.
And then silence.
Complete and utter silence and stillness.
Not unlike ET's meltdown when he ranted he couldn't live with himself.
In a way, I had to let go of the notion that I had, let go or live it.

Let go, or live it.
This choice is ours within our awareness, capacity and willingness.

M Scott Peck also does a pretty good discussion on how this letting go, or living it unfolds in The Road Less Travelled.
Azim Khamisa and Jillian Quinn wrote 'Secrets of a bulletproof spirit - 30 key strategies to bounce back from life's hardest hits' another good read.

People have said they wished they could learn to handle grief the way I do, the little girl in me would say, no you don't, not really, be careful what you ask for.
Our rights start deep within our humanity; they end where another's begin~~ SmileyJen
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Re: Commitment (End of Suffering PT 2)

Post by Fore » Thu May 01, 2014 3:04 am

Dwelling at Savatthi. There the Blessed One addressed the monks: "I will teach you the origination of the world & the ending of the world. Listen & pay close attention. I will speak."

"As you say, lord," the monks responded to the Blessed One.

The Blessed One said: "And what is the origination of the world? Dependent on the eye & forms there arises eye-consciousness. The meeting of the three is contact. From contact as a requisite condition comes feeling. From feeling as a requisite condition comes craving. From craving as a requisite condition comes clinging/sustenance. From clinging/sustenance as a requisite condition comes becoming. From becoming as a requisite condition comes birth. From birth as a requisite condition, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair come into play. This is the origination of the world.

"Dependent on the ear & sounds there arises ear-consciousness. The meeting of the three is contact... Dependent on the nose & aromas there arises nose-consciousness. The meeting of the three is contact... Dependent on the tongue & flavors there arises tongue-consciousness. The meeting of the three is contact... Dependent on the body & tactile sensations there arises body-consciousness. The meeting of the three is contact... Dependent on the intellect & mental qualities there arises intellect-consciousness. The meeting of the three is contact. From contact as a requisite condition comes feeling. From feeling as a requisite condition comes craving. From craving as a requisite condition comes clinging/sustenance. From clinging/sustenance as a requisite condition comes becoming. From becoming as a requisite condition comes birth. From birth as a requisite condition, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair come into play. This is the origination of the world.

"And what is the ending of the world? Dependent on the eye & forms there arises eye-consciousness. The meeting of the three is contact. From contact as a requisite condition comes feeling. From feeling as a requisite condition comes craving. Now, from the remainderless cessation & fading away of that very craving comes the cessation of clinging/sustenance. From the cessation of clinging/sustenance comes the cessation of becoming. From the cessation of becoming comes the cessation of birth. From the cessation of birth, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair all cease. Such is the cessation of this entire mass of stress & suffering. This is the ending of the world.

"Dependent on the ear & sounds there arises ear-consciousness. The meeting of the three is contact... Dependent on the nose & aromas there arises nose-consciousness. The meeting of the three is contact... Dependent on the tongue & flavors there arises tongue-consciousness. The meeting of the three is contact... Dependent on the body & tactile sensations there arises body-consciousness. The meeting of the three is contact... Dependent on the intellect & mental qualities there arises intellect-consciousness. The meeting of the three is contact. From contact as a requisite condition comes feeling. From feeling as a requisite condition comes craving. Now, from the remainderless cessation & fading away of that very craving comes the cessation of clinging/sustenance. From the cessation of clinging/sustenance comes the cessation of becoming. From the cessation of becoming comes the cessation of birth. From the cessation of birth, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair all cease. Such is the cessation of this entire mass of stress & suffering. This is the ending of the world."

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Re: Commitment (End of Suffering PT 2)

Post by Rob X » Thu May 01, 2014 2:52 pm

Lovely post Jen.
smiileyjen101 wrote:You have a perspective of these things from outside the experience of them. The Dalai Lama will tell you how he suffered when his guide, guru and friend died, fully experiencing the emotions of grief and in a clarity accepting that it would be 'better' that if his guide could see him, that he see him happy and living the life his guide had guided him towards. It does not take away the sadness, it embraces it into the equilibrium of 'what is'.

Therefore you cannot be 'sure that after the fact' ... of anything in another's experience, and even what we do in response ourself is a mystery until it happens.
This is, of course, true - and I think that I knew that as I wrote it. I certainly can't begin to comprehend the magnitude of your suffering - and I apologise for my imagery if it sparked a memory.
smiileyjen101 wrote:People have said they wished they could learn to handle grief the way I do, the little girl in me would say, no you don't, not really, be careful what you ask for.
So wise, and so sad.

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Re: Commitment (End of Suffering PT 2)

Post by Phil2 » Thu May 01, 2014 3:04 pm

runstrails wrote: As an example, right now I'm going through a difficult salary negotiation which is leading to some stress. And I was having thoughts similar to your OP. I realize in the big picture that a few percent increase here or there is not important. But in this role that I play as a career person, it does lead to some stress. What's interesting is that the primary and secondary identification are simultaneous! I realize that this is a secondary role that I am playing, I'm fully committed to it (hence the concern over the negotiations) and simultaneously I realize its not that important because I understand my true (primary) nature. So the primary identification does ultimately buffer all the secondary identifications. This was not there before and this is a major change that comes with self-realization. Outwardly, no one can tell the difference because the roles you play are the same as before, but inwardly the moments of the peace that come from understanding your true nature make all the difference, however few and fleeting they may be.
Yes, this is an interesting comment you make here. You can 'play' your role, like a theatre actor, you play your role perfectly ... but you don't identify with this role ... just like the theatre actor does not really suffer when he desperately cries for the loss of his loved one, or when he plays his own death ...

This is probably why theatre has been considered as a sacred art in the ancient times ...
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Re: Commitment (End of Suffering PT 2)

Post by Phil2 » Thu May 01, 2014 3:08 pm

Rob X wrote: We can further think of ET's commitment to a New Earth. The Dalai Lama's commitment to peace. The charity of Mother Teresa. Ghandi's commitment to non-violence. The compassion of Buddhists and so on.
Well I think there is a big difference between the commitment of a football player for his score, and the commitment of Dalai Lama or Buddha for peace and compassion.

The football player commits himself to a 'result' and he must act for it, 'do' something with many efforts ...

While committing yourself to peace and compassion requires no action and no effort ... just quietness ...
"What irritates us about others is an opportunity to learn on ourselves"
(Carl Jung)

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Re: Commitment (End of Suffering PT 2)

Post by Rob X » Thu May 01, 2014 3:27 pm

Phil2 wrote:
Rob X wrote: We can further think of ET's commitment to a New Earth. The Dalai Lama's commitment to peace. The charity of Mother Teresa. Ghandi's commitment to non-violence. The compassion of Buddhists and so on.
Well I think there is a big difference between the commitment of a football player for his score, and the commitment of Dalai Lama or Buddha for peace and compassion.

The football player commits himself to a 'result' and he must act for it, 'do' something with many efforts ...

While committing yourself to peace and compassion requires no action and no effort ... just quietness ...
Yes, good point Phil, there is a difference. The commonality is that they are both committed to a preferred outcome.

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