Sunday, August 06, 2006

Flaws, Suffering, and Buddhism (Part 2)

Review of the previous part: In order to deal with our flaws, which cause us suffering, we have to realize that we cannot just continue doing what we always do. That is karma, our habitual response. Instead, in order to effect change, we have to try something different. But we have to do so objectively, because otherwise we will fall right back into our habitual actions when our emotions reach a critical mass.

Now, on to Part 2.

There are two more problems here. First, what I've described is H.A.R.D. This is why karma (habitual response) has such a strong hold on us. Second, our example problem has a unique difficulty—it involves another person. We have no control whatsoever over the person with whom we're interacting. And by all means our fictitious person should expect that his parents will NOT easily change their responses; they are trapped in the same snare of habitual responses that we all are. Therefore, this adds a level of difficulty in analyzing the results of our changes. Our changes might be good, but there will be a “propagation delay” between the time we effect our change and the time at which a new result can be observed. If we deal with a problem that involves only our own response to the world (i.e. jealousy over another's success), the propagation delay will be negligible—we can see the results of changes in our approach very quickly.

The NLP tenets we've invoked above are like a “black box.” Our problem is the input into the black box, and within the black box, the problem is funneled into the following structure: regardless of the incoming problem's specifics, we endeavor to act objectively in the situation, objectively observe the results, and then change our actions if the results are not what we want (after accounting for propagation delay). However, our black box provides little help in telling us WHAT changes to make. We're not looking for a band-aid, we want a long-term solution. Many approaches exist to ensure that our solutions are at a deep enough level to be long-term. I'm going to approach this issue using the frame given to us by the Buddha.

In my post here, I compared the Buddha to a doctor. If we use that analogy, we want to ensure that we make our changes at the level of cause, not at the level of symptom. As I noted in that previous post, putting a band-aid on the symptom is fine for immediate results, but for a change to last, we must remove the cause of the problem. To accomplish that, let's use the Four Noble Truths, which tell us that (1) Suffering exists; (2) Suffering has a cause; (3) Suffering can be ended by removing the cause; and (4) There is a path that leads to the end of suffering—the Eightfold Path.

Tomorrow, I'll post part 3, where we'll apply the Four Noble Truths to our problem solving method.

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