• unenlightened
    2.3k
    I'll watch 'What about Bob?' if you watch Tarkovsky's 'Solaris'Question

    I watched it. I already read the story, heard a radio adaptation, and saw at least one other film version. A real classic, and that was a suitably atmospheric version, though the alien planet was strangely absent visually in this version.

    The relation of humanity to the alien is one of total incomprehension and horror, and this is the mirror of the individual's relation to himself, and particularly for Kelvin, to his love. I can see why you like it. The inescapable self - beloved horror.
  • Posty McPostface
    3.4k


    Yes, sleep for me is holy. I am infinitely entertained by my dreams. I have a suspicion that dreams are a sort of glimpse into the future, just in very small pieces. I've had countless deja-vu moments in waking life as if I experienced the situation already foretold in my dreams.
  • Posty McPostface
    3.4k
    The relation of humanity to the alien is one of total incomprehension and horror, and this is the mirror of the individual's relation to himself, and particularly for Kelvin, to his love. I can see why you like it. The inescapable self - beloved horror.unenlightened

    Yes, a very Conradian tale. The ending is superb with Kelvin deciding to live on the alien world. Redemption is also a strong theme in the story as Kelvin performs a form of banishment from society with that final decision. I suppose he could not come to terms with himself over the loss of his loved one. I should read the book also sometime, as I've heard many great things about the book also.
  • CasKev
    383
    @Bitter Crank

    In an earlier post, you were helpful in getting me past the existential angst I was having with regard to the lack of objective meaning and purpose in life.

    Lately, I seem to be caught up and affected by the absurdity of how things work, especially in the subatomic and universal realms. It has led me to researching a lot about possible explanations, but I've come up (of course) feeling like I am no closer to the truth of how and why things really exist.

    Any thoughts or advice on this?
  • Cabbage Farmer
    157
    Is this a common philosophical approach to life? In your experience, have people achieved long-term contentment or freedom from despair looking at life in this way? Are there any readings you would recommend on the subject of cultivating a relatively stable peace of mind?CasKev

    Many ancient philosophical tendencies sought to promote something like stable peace of mind in their practitioners, including at least some sects of Buddhists, Stoics, and Skeptics.

    For contemporary variations on such themes, you might try the work of Tarthang Tulku, such as Openness Mind, or the work of Massimo Pigliucci, for instance. For an example of a contemporary science-based approach inspired in part by such traditions, try the Center for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts.


    I'm not sure any of these approaches to peace of mind is expressly aligned with the broader philosophical view you've characterized. So far as I'm concerned, there's nothing especially absurd about life, and there is arguably something absurd about the thought that life in general has or must have some intrinsic "greater purpose" of the sort that's often meant by such phrases. The thought that life is "meaningless" or "less meaningful" for those who don't believe in something like such an intrinsic purpose is a conceptual error and bias. How would one quantify "meaningfulness" that way? The fact is, we have similar experiences (of beauty, compassion, awe, transcendence, for example), though we conceptualize these experiences in diverse ways.

    So far as our emotional tendencies and "peace of mind" are concerned, I'm not sure it matters exactly how we conceptualize experience, so long as the conceptualization is associated with healthy practice. Along these lines I recommend a practice aimed at cultivating a habit of right diet, exercise, meditation, sleep, work, and company, and at the cultivation of right views rooted primarily in a plain and unembellished understanding of such essential practices. In the context of that practice, it may prove beneficial to cultivate the power of introspection, developing the capacity to recognize and "release" (or "detach from") the more or less subtle thoughts and images, memories and intentions, desires and aversions, emotions and feelings, that naturally tend to occupy and distract attention and lurk in the periphery of awareness in cooperation with perception, movement, posture, and breath.

    If one remains inclined to couch his conception of his own life and practice in grander terms without straying into unreasonable cosmology, there are ways to do this while adhering to skeptical principles. There is an attitude and experience of natural piety, characterized for instance by Dewey in the first section of A Common Faith. There is identification of oneself as a member of the community of human beings, the community of living beings, the community of sentient beings -- with the capacity to characterize his own action as action on behalf of and for the sake of all sentient beings in all times and places, and to take this as his purpose.
  • TimeLine
    2.7k
    In the context of that practice, it may prove beneficial to cultivate the power of introspection, developing the capacity to recognize and "release" (or "detach from") the more or less subtle thoughts and images, memories and intentions, desires and aversions, emotions and feelings, that naturally tend to occupy and distract attention and lurk in the periphery of awareness in cooperation with perception, movement, posture, and breath.Cabbage Farmer

    I think you may underestimate the grievance that our emotional language and anxiety or depression can evoke in a person who is unable to articulate or explain that experience.Self-reflective practice requires the courage to make that choice to search for an honest answer. "Peace" of mind is not found in approaches that momentarily alleviate the tensions, help you swallow it or ignore it or move on, but to ascertain the root causes that eliminates it and the best way this can be done is through cognisance. This detaches us from the subjective to the objective and it no longer controls our emotional responses.

    I have met people who display all the characteristics of a happy disposition and positive attitude as their new age practice teaches them, but underlying this remains an anxiety that can easily be provoked; the chalice is clean only on the outside. People often assume a 'danger' to the root causes of such anxiety, as though it is a life and death scenario, that one must simply avoid it at all costs. I think it is the courage to overcome this self-defence mechanism and face reality that is the greatest challenge but ultimately the only way to finding this 'peace' - and such a practice is individual.
  • Agustino
    11k
    Not meaning to be disparaging, but I really do think this is psycho-babble. This sort of "talk therapy" kind of approach, let's investigate your past, let's find the "root cause", etc. doesn't have much scientific backing as successful in dealing with depression and/or anxiety.

    Whereas practices such as CBT and mindfulness (check out MBSR) do have scientific backing, and have proven their effectiveness. Mindfulness is quite probably the most effective way to combat depression and anxiety, both on a mental and on a biological level. As for more "subtle" forms of anxiety/depression - that's what mindfulness does. Slowly you peel back on the layers, and dissolve deeper & more subtle problems.
  • CanadianEden
    2
    If it's worth anything still... read this
    infinity can make our lives seem short to compare against, but with infinity, there are no limits. no large, no small, no long, no short; only points of perspective. life grants us the perception of limitation and a perspective view point, gives us minds to engage with, among an infinite number of component parts, and a time to wonder at the wonders of it all. every mind a functional part of an eternal process that knows no boundaries of time or space; infinitely interacting with itself as "each other", and returning to itself to rejoice, and renew. nothing is ever lost in a universe without beginning, end or limit, out-side of what is only imagined to be reality, as reality imagines itself. death marks only the boundaries of the perspective imaginations of ourselves, not out infinite living universe. in part, we belong to the universe and the universe belongs to us... in reality, we are the universe and will continue to become more of what we already are, in an infinite number of ways. Remember with love, the light without limit, at every point along the way!
  • TimeLine
    2.7k
    Taking a holistic approach to psychotherapy through an affirmation of the inherent uniqueness of each individual by integrating talk therapy with CBT - the latter of which I too am a proponent - is fundamental to genuinely tackle the root causes of the anxiety as we each experience and identify from a cognitive, biological and genetic, environmental angle the world around us differently. We are individual and our techniques and approaches must counsel this difference. We know our experiences and with support it is about coming to terms with them and moving forward. The ABC Technique of Irrational Beliefs, for instance. The reason why mindfulness is successful is because it calms the individual enough to be able to communicate.
  • Agustino
    11k
    Taking a holistic approachTimeLine
    I agree about taking a holistic approach.

    The reason why mindfulness is successful is because it calms the individual enough to be able to communicate.TimeLine
    I disagree on this. This isn't why mindfulness is successful. Being calm is merely a side effect. It's successful because it is perhaps the only process that puts the body and the mind in a process of self-regulation - there are biological and neurological changes that happen while someone is meditating. This is in addition to aiding someone develop spiritually - spiritual strength itself being one of the key components of mental well-being.

    Among the main biological indicators, mindfulness has been shown to reduce oxidative stress, and also help the body repair existent cellular damage. I've spoken with several therapists, some of whom have worked with elite athletes - mindfulness is, according to most of them, the absolute key to self-improvement & performance.

    The problem with talk therapy is that it engages the person with their past, and the past is all nonsense. All that matters is the present moment, not silly games of the mind. Mindfulness helps you detach from the silly games of the mind - it doesn't matter anymore that such and such thoughts cross your mind. Your conditioning, from your past, becomes irrelevant. Psychotherapy is all BS, precisely because it is playing games - it is the mind playing games with you. Uhhh this person is obsessed about smoking, because their father didn't let them smoke, or this other man is obsessed about his wife who cheated on him, etc. It doesn't matter - they are all games of the mind, and even if you solve one game, the mind will find another one - because it is just the nature of the mind. That is why people who experience anxiety find that everyday, there is a new problem, a new cause of the anxiety.

    You have to stop playing the games of the mind - you have to jump out of the vicious circle. That is not possible, except by meditation. You cannot escape from the mind by the mind - that is the absurdity of talk therapy.

    Some researchers, most notably the founders of ACT, have argued that verbal disputation techniques may interfere with psychological distance (which they call “cognitive defusion”). The best way to illustrate this is perhaps by considering the example of Buddhist-style mindfulness meditation. While meditating, if a distracting thought crosses the mind, mindfulness practitioners are taught to view it with detachment and resist the urge to respond to it by analysing its meaning or engaging in an internal dialogue about it. They might view it as if it were like a cloud passing across the sky and “let it go”. Engaging with the thought can simply make it more prominent, even if someone is attempting to challenge or dispute it. One can easily be swept along with the thought this way and lose psychological distance from it.
    https://donaldrobertson.name/2013/01/18/cognitive-distancing-in-stoicism/
  • TimeLine
    2.7k
    The problem with talk therapy is that it engages the person with their past, and the past is all nonsense. All that matters is the present moment, not silly games of the mind. Mindfulness helps you detach from the silly games of the mind - it doesn't matter anymore that such and such thoughts cross your mind. Your conditioning, from your past, becomes irrelevant. Psychotherapy is all BS, precisely because it is playing games - it is the mind playing games with you.Agustino

    Your past is not nonsense and forms the fabric of who you are, of your perceptions and how you identify with the world. If you experience anxiety, there could be a plethora of possible factors that are causally rooted in your past that talk therapy enables you to articulate and indeed you may very well realise that you are being emotional about something for reasons that are irrational, such as inculturation or some childhood experience. The subconscious mind will continuously influence your emotional behaviour if you do not coherently articulate why it is prompting you to have such emotional responses and detaching yourself without actually understanding is only a solution but not a resolution.

    Mindfulness assists in the promotion of good mental health and the practice helps reduce the disabling effects of bad mental health - depression or anxiety - and therefore the stress that it has on your physical health. Hence it is calming. This detachment is a way to teach a person to be objective rather than rely on their emotions - to not skip the B in the ABC technique - and it calms a person who would otherwise experience an anxiousness that disturbs their capacity to reason adequately. If a person is not ready to talk, if they continue to present difficulties in finding that inner centre, I would not recommend it either until they can establish such self-regulation, but it is a natural evolution from that that a person should find the courage to reach further still - as the OP is experiencing - to link the network of possible causes.
  • Agustino
    11k
    Your past is not nonsense and forms the fabric of who you are, of your perceptions and how you identify with the world.TimeLine
    No, I am not my past. My past is my ego, and the conditioning of my mind. My true self is beyond all conditioning and all events in time, and cannot be touched by them. Seeing beyond the ego - that is already to be free of the problems of the ego.

    If you experience anxiety, there could be a plethora of possible factors that are causally rooted in your past that talk therapy enables you to articulate and indeed you may very well realise that you are being emotional about something for reasons that are irrational, such as inculturation or some childhood experience.TimeLine
    Yes, there probably are. But why would I bother with that, when I can extinguish the problem from its very roots by detaching myself from my conditioning, whatever that conditioning happens to be?

    Articulating problems does not solve them. It is awareness into the problems - choiceless awareness as Krishnamurti would say, that discards the so-called problems.

    but it is a natural evolution from that that a person should find the courage to reach further still - as the OP is experiencing - to link the network of possible causes.TimeLine
    That is a waste of time, because it is playing the games of the mind. The mind likes to nurture this self-importance and narcissism, and investigate its history, look for causes, say "oh, this is why", etc. as if finding a why will solve the problem. It likes to feel that it has solved problems, only to later find out it has created 10 others. To articulate stuff - to go in the labyrinth of the mind - is already to lose the game. The mind is cunning - it can play with you for your entire life. Escaping the traps of the mind, and going beyond the mind - then you escape whatsoever problems the mind has - they do not concern you anymore.
  • Kitty
    34
    Is this a common philosophical approach to life? In your experience, have people achieved long-term contentment or freedom from despair looking at life in this way? Are there any readings you would recommend on the subject of cultivating a relatively stable peace of mind?CasKev

    Try Christianity. The only cure for nihilistic emo's.
  • Kitty
    34
    You, me, and a billion other people. Welcome to this club too.Bitter Crank

    Rubbish, 1 in 7 people do not suffer from major depression. It is only a very few.
  • TimeLine
    2.7k
    No, I am not my past. My past is my ego, and the conditioning of my mind. My true self is beyond all conditioning and all events in time, and cannot be touched by them.Agustino

    This is psychobabble. You have an ego whether you like it or not. The ego is merely a word that defines 'I' or the you and it is our will and reason that directs this 'I' toward the right or wrong by choice. It is your reason that you ought to ensure is free from this conditioning, which takes time and a continuous desire to improve. To say you have no ego is ridiculous.

    But why would I bother with that, when I can extinguish the problem from its very roots by detaching myself from my conditioning, whatever that conditioning happens to be?Agustino

    You're not extinguishing anything. A person can see a crime and delude themselves into believing that they saw nothing. We are very good at repressing, misrepresenting, ignoring actual, real experience. Anxiety is this unconscious, deeper awareness of that truth, of that reality, this emotional response that is prompting us with feelings that we cannot articulate because we have repressed it from consciousness. Deep down, though, we know. This is the whole point about why our rational faculties are paramount and why we ought not to leave it to disorder. It is finding the courage to accept the actuality.

    That is a waste of time, because it is playing the games of the mind.Agustino

    This is just silly. You are playing with your mind by choosing not to understand it. And you have the audacity to reward yourself as egoless? You are never a waste of time.
  • Agustino
    11k
    You have an ego whether you like it or not.TimeLine
    Sure.

    To say you have no ego is ridiculous.TimeLine
    But where did I say that I have no ego?

    It is your reason that you ought to ensure is free from this conditioning, which takes time and a continuous desire to improve.TimeLine
    Yes - and that has nothing to do with psychological analysis, communication, or something similar. It has to do with insight and awareness.

    Anxiety is this unconscious, deeper awareness of that truth, of that reality, this emotional response that is prompting us with feelings that we cannot articulate because we have repressed it from consciousness.TimeLine
    Well yes, to a certain extent. What does this have to do with communication though? Communication can itself be the problem - indeed, it is almost the characteristic par excellence of the neurotic to go to someone else to be told what they have to do. The neurotic always seeks reassurance - from the doctor, from the psychologist, from the psychiatrist, from the teacher - etc. This is the disease itself. I am reminded of this clip of Krishnamurti:



    You are playing with your mind by choosing not to understand it.TimeLine
    The mind cannot be understood from within the mind - by transcending the mind, the discursive faculties, you also thereby understand them. The identification with the mind and with the ego is the problem.
  • CasKev
    383
    @TimeLine @Agustino

    Both approaches have yielded some benefit for me. The success of each likely depends on your personality type. Being a very logically-minded person, I found CBT provided the greater benefit. Having an understanding of the why behind my thought and feelings helped me get a grip on the negative self-talk. For me, meditation on its own was a way to relax and forget about life for a while, but didn't help me address my core beliefs. That being said, the mindfulness you develop during meditation is quite helpful when it comes to CBT. Awareness of thought becomes much keener; identifying/stopping/refuting the irrational thought processes becomes a lot easier.
  • Cabbage Farmer
    157
    I think you may underestimate the grievance that our emotional language and anxiety or depression can evoke in a person who is unable to articulate or explain that experience.Self-reflective practice requires the courage to make that choice to search for an honest answer. "Peace" of mind is not found in approaches that momentarily alleviate the tensions, help you swallow it or ignore it or move on, but to ascertain the root causes that eliminates it and the best way this can be done is through cognisance. This detaches us from the subjective to the objective and it no longer controls our emotional responses. This detaches us from the subjective to the objective and it no longer controls our emotional responses.TimeLine
    What is it in my remarks that lead you to suspect I underestimate the severity of the problem? Surely our conceptual and linguistic habits may contribute to the burden of psychic suffering. But I doubt a cure may be rooted principally in improved habits of speech. A practice aimed at well-being must involve much more than speeches; and it seems to me the speeches most worth emphasizing in this connection are speeches that inform and motivate right action more thoroughly. Moreover, I see no reason to suppose there is only one right way, or only one best way, to conceptualize a relevant range of action, nature, or experience.

    Likewise I'm not sure how your comments about "momentary alleviation of tension" pertain to my remarks. What I have in mind is a lifelong practice and discipline, not occasional escape through fleeting distractions.

    What sort of "root causes" do you have in mind? To what extent, on your view, should we expect our "tensions" to be "eliminated" in the span of a lifetime? At this point your remarks become grammatically unclear:

    Do you mean to say something called "cognizance" is the best way to identify root causes of psychic tension, anxiety, depression? And this same thing, cognizance, is the best way to eliminate those root causes and their effects? And this same thing, cognizance, "detaches us from the subjective" and orients us to the objective, until the root causes of psychic tension no longer control our emotional responses?

    If that's more or less what you meant to say, then I must ask, what is the activity or phenomenon you call "cognizance", and what is it cognizance of, and what sort of practice of cognizance do you recommend? What sort of things are the "root causes" of suffering on your view? How does the practice of "cognizance" identify and distinguish them, and what sorts of actions or habits or dispositions does it produce in the one who cultivates his power of cognizance and learns to recognize "root causes" of suffering?

    I have met people who display all the characteristics of a happy disposition and positive attitude as their new age practice teaches them, but underlying this remains an anxiety that can easily be provoked; the chalice is clean only on the outside.TimeLine
    I suppose I've met people like those you describe. Only I don't think their display of happiness is as convincing as you portray it here.

    People often assume a 'danger' to the root causes of such anxiety, as though it is a life and death scenario, that one must simply avoid it at all costs. I think it is the courage to overcome this self-defence mechanism and face reality that is the greatest challenge but ultimately the only way to finding this 'peace'TimeLine
    I'm inclined to agree.

    and such a practice is individualTimeLine
    I suppose all practice is individual. But there are features of anyone's practice that are shared or shareable with others. And no one's practice is unique in every respect.
  • Ciceronianus the White
    553
    Are there any readings you would recommend on the subject of cultivating a relatively stable peace of mind?CasKev
    For my part, the Roman Stoics. Epictetus, Seneca, Marcus Aurelius. Musonius Rufus if you can find his work. CBT has its basis in Stoicism.

    "Happiness and freedom begin with a clear understanding of one principle: Some things are within our control, and some things are not. It is only after you have faced up to this fundamental rule and learned to distinguish between what you can and can't control that inner tranquility and outer effectiveness become possible."--Epictetus
  • Marcus de Brun
    136
    CasKev

    Fair play to ya for sharing something personal and honest. You are a philosopher of the soul! One of the few advantages of being depressed is that one cannot be arsed living the lie.. to the same extent as others do.

    I think you are quite right to seek solace in Philosophy. Recall Neitzsche's last act of sanity before he fled from the world. To be honest, I think you will find more consolation in Philosophy than you might in CBT which might help somewhat, but at the end of the day, is perhaps little more than a set of distraction techniques.

    You should be careful with your depression.. you have a kid... and depression kills people. Therefore before I continue with my own 10 cents, I would ask that you let us know if you are getting real help in the sense that your family Dr and therapist is aware of your depression. (I must confess at the outset that I am a physician) and I would be apprehensive of such a conversation with you, unless it has been clearly established that you are in a 'safe place' and you are not in danger of doing any harm to yourself.

    If you wish to contact me off-forum my email is . Once you confirm that you are not in a real bad place, or at least that you are not there 'alone' I would be happy to offer some potential guidance.

    Mind yourself! Life sucks and humans are gross, but there is much beauty in the world.

    M
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