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Tolle for rodents ?

PostPosted: Tue Apr 18, 2017 6:30 am
by painBody
Some of you might have heard about an experiment in Psychology that deals with the subject of "learned helplessness".

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4416012/

It involves rats in a cage. The following two steps are then performed:

1 - With the cage door locked, an electric current is passed through the cage, thus shocking the rats. The rats run around frantically, in an attempt to escape, but are unable to do so.

2 - With the cage door open, an electric current is passed through the cage, shocking the (same) rats. This time, the rats just sit in place, having "learned" the futility of trying to escape, even though an obvious escape is at hand.

I find this experiment to be a great metaphor (while I'm not fond of the torture of innocent animals), because it describes, quite simply and accurately, most of my life ... till I realized the power of surrender. And, I imagine it describes the lives of some others, too.

Yeah, the psychologists have their theory. I, on the other hand, like to think that the rats learn to surrender to the present moment. Tolle in a box ? Or would you say that a Tolle-inspired rodent would calmly and gracefully walk out of the cage in step 2 ?

:mrgreen:

Re: Tolle for rodents ?

PostPosted: Tue Apr 18, 2017 2:28 pm
by rachMiel
Interesting thought experiment.

I can see it being spun both ways:

Positive: The rats are surrendering to their present actuality.

Negative: The rats are surrendering to their having been conditioned to live in pain, rather than to free themselves from it.

I could imagine a Tolle-inspired rat accepting the pain of the electric shock, seeing a way out, and acting on this seeing ... by walking through the door to shock-less freedom. Celebrating for a moment, then letting the experience fade away and getting on with the (new) present moment.

Re: Tolle for rodents ?

PostPosted: Tue Apr 18, 2017 6:17 pm
by Sighclone
pb -

Clearly in your personal life, surrender (or whatever Tolle's pointers provided for you) enabled you to walk out the open door. I guess I would like to think that the "Tolle-enabled" rats would see the open door and say, "hey, remember open doors? That means freedom, let's go!!" That is to say that increased awareness, and even increased normal mental function was re-established, over-riding whatever conditioning caused the dysfunctional inertia, keeping the rats in the cage. Tolle is all about overcoming conditioning, including all forms of egoic presumptions like accepting the shock, ignoring the open door (and whatever early conditioning allowed you to abandon natural self-care.) I am somewhat surprised at your use of the word "surrender." It sounds like you actually took some action to change your life, and that the rats "surrendered" to their false fate.

Andy

Re: Tolle for rodents ?

PostPosted: Tue Apr 18, 2017 8:12 pm
by painBody
rachMiel - Yup, it is open to a bit of interpretation - surrender to the reality, or perhaps to a "story" (conditioning) created around the reality. Good point.

Andy - " I am somewhat surprised at your use of the word "surrender." It sounds like you actually took some action to change your life, and that the rats "surrendered" to their false fate."

Hmm. I guess you're saying the rats surrendered to the story (conditioning) around their reality, not the reality itself.

But, perhaps, that could also indicate the limited cognitive abilities of a rat ? A limitation of the form of a rat ? So, in other words, maybe that's the best they can do (sitting in surrender, not escaping), given their limitations ?

Maybe, their awakening is an incomplete one ? They learn to accept the present moment (the pain of the shock), but are not yet empowered to take action to change it ?

Of course, this is all speculation. We'll never know what's going on in the rats' minds :)

Re: Tolle for rodents ?

PostPosted: Thu Apr 20, 2017 2:22 am
by runstrails
This is why I love this forum. Where else on the internet would you find a brilliant discussion on Tolle-inspired rats! :D. Thanks, pB.

I see the first situation as the default (ignorance)---the human condition. Being battered around by the vagaries of life.

I see a Tolle-inspired rat as being informed (likely by Tolle or some other spiritual philosophy) that the door is in fact open and all he has to do is walk to freedom. It will take courage for the rat to cut through the conditioning, but after being inspired by Tolle how could he not walk right through that door. He realizes that the choice is to continue to suffer or attain freedom from suffering (moksha).

As an aside, in Vedantic mythology, rats symbolize our endless desires----that is, like rats who are constantly on the move, so are our desires (one after another after another). So the thought of freedom for, and from, desires is a good analogy indeed!

Re: Tolle for rodents ?

PostPosted: Thu Apr 20, 2017 11:38 pm
by painBody
runstrails - Thank you ! Glad you liked the post :D

"He realizes that the choice is to continue to suffer or attain freedom from suffering (moksha). "

But, I would say that once the rats have learned to surrender, there is no more (psychological) suffering, correct ? The electric current represents the vagaries of life, which have the power to inflict (physical) pain, but once the rats have surrendered to their reality, they will no longer suffer psychologically, correct ? I make the distinction here between "pain" (physical) and "suffering" (psychological), a distinction often made by Tolle in his talks. So, the bottom line is, once the rats have surrendered, they may continue to experience physical pain, but will no longer be stuck in psychological suffering, right ?

Thank you for sharing that bit about rats in Vedanta. It's interesting and a good analogy indeed. Made me think of forum member dijmart, who will surely have more to say about it if she sees this post !

Thanks, also, for teaching me a new word - "vagary" (singular) :mrgreen:

Re: Tolle for rodents ?

PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 12:53 am
by runstrails
Hi pB,

My take is that I don't believe that surrender is enough for liberation. Many people surrender for different reasons (e.g., their belief in traditional religion tells them 'it's God's will', they accept 'what is' and other reasons). But I don't know that surrender will lead to liberation. You can surrender and still be suffering emotionally.

However, when you understand that your true nature (consciousness, awareness, being, source) is eternal, limitless, whole, non-dual and unaffected by anything that happens in the world, then you have true freedom. Then you taste the bliss/freedom that you are.

Vagary is a favorite word along with vicissitude (they mean the same thing too!) :D

Re: Tolle for rodents ?

PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 11:53 pm
by painBody
^ Yup, true. I think I am somewhere in between those two states you described.

Re: Tolle for rodents ?

PostPosted: Sat Apr 22, 2017 8:35 am
by Mystic
We cannot see beyond our own mental blocks.