• ToothyMaw
    743
    Jocko Willink, a former navy seal and general badass, makes the good point that it is okay for things to suck, because that’s what makes us tougher, more disciplined, tighter in groups, etc. Keep his speech in mind while reading this OP.

    I got leg-kicked somewhat hard for the first time the other day in Muay Thai. It was painful and great.

    For those unfamiliar with the power of Muay Thai and the leg-kick, check out this fight from the 80’s. America’s top kickboxer (Rick Roufus) was defeated with mostly just leg-kicks by Changpuek, to Roufus’ brother’s chagrin. In fact, Roufus was hauled away on a stretcher after the fight.

    The philosophical value of being leg-kicked might not be apparent at first (who cares?) - but to me it was freeing: experiencing intense pain as inflicted by another without recourse, except to reciprocate.

    Given what Jocko has to say about things sucking, I think learning Muay Thai, which, as a form of martial arts, is really about putting major hurt on other people while trying to minimize the hurt incurred by oneself, prompts self-reflection in a way nothing else does.

    What does it say about you that you can’t do thirty body-kicks with each leg without a break? You’re kicking until you can’t kick any more. Is it the coach’s fault for having unrealistic expectations? Or is it your fault for being a smoker? Are you going to try to hone yourself or just give up?

    This, to me, is a form of enlightenment: either you submit to rigor and pain, or you go do something else.
  • Jack Cummins
    4.1k

    It is hard to know to what extent pain leads to 'enlightenment' or being crushed. Many mystics took the view that suffering was important to the point of ascetic practices. Many query this and think about pleasure, including those of the body do not need to be strived against.

    But, many people have difficult life experiences and trauma. It can be damaging and even lead to mental health problems, stress and PTSD among other difficulties. On the other hand, it may be that suffering does lead to some increased awareness, whether it is strictly called 'enlightenment' as such. Most of us try to avoid too much suffering, but may be it ushers in some kind of wisdom through the back door, it is possible not to be broken by it too greatly. But it may be more about psychological kicks rather than necessarily in the form of physical kicks.

    Physical pain is a fact of life for many and I am grateful that I do not face it daily. When I had a couple of fractures it affected my daily existence so much. Some people have ongoing regimes of painkillers and physical illness which make life so hard.

    The harsh experience of pain may affect human existence so much, and one aspect may be about the interpretation of it. Victor Frankl, speaking of his time in a concentration camp spoke of how people can find meaning in suffering in identifying and working with their own chosen goals.
  • T Clark
    9k


    I am and never have been anywhere near an athlete, but I did play football and wrestled in high school. If you play sports, there is a phrase you will hear all the time, at least you would have when I was a kid. I have always liked it a lot - Suck it up. Don't cry. Don't complain. Get off your ass. Get back to work. It's a very male thing to say, which is one of the reasons I like it. I think it highlights better than almost anything else the good and bad things about being a man. It makes me laugh.

    I remember football practice vividly. We'd run play after play for hours. In August. In southern Virginia. After a summer of sitting around and sleeping. Down in position. Snap the ball. Guys smashing into each other. Bleeding knuckles, pulled muscles, breath knocked out of you. Exhausted. Thirsty. I learned something about myself. I could take it. Just suck it up.

    Is that a good thing? On the positive side, it's what makes a man a man. On the negative side, it's what makes a man a man. I wouldn't necessarily trust a Navy seal to be able to understand the significance of that.
  • ToothyMaw
    743


    Great responses!

    I am and never have been anywhere near an athlete, but I did play football and wrestled in high school. If you play sports, there is a phrase you will hear all the time, at least you would have when I was a kid. I have always liked it a lot - Suck it up. Don't cry. Don't complain. Get off your ass. Get back to work. It's a very male thing to say, which is one of the reasons I like it. I think it highlights better than almost anything else the good and bad things about being a man. It makes me laugh.T Clark

    Couldn't agree more; I have also heard from one of my coaches that pain is illusory, which is equally funny - because it obviously isn't - but it can often times be compartmentalized, which is what I think he was trying to say. One time when I couldn't finish my body-kick reps at the end of the class I said I couldn't do it, which prompted one of the other students to say: "you shouldn't be able to breathe right now."

    I mean, what the fuck, I was trying my hardest, literally couldn't do another kick, and I get told that I should kick until I am so out of breath I can't talk. But that kind of mentality is what gets the job done, I guess, because I ended up finishing the reps and felt like I was going to pass out.

    Call it what you will - and maybe it's a little toxic, but I think it is not such a bad thing if tempered with the kind of thoughtfulness displayed by you and Jack.

    I wouldn't necessarily trust a Navy seal to be able to understand the significance of that.T Clark

    Yeah, he probably doesn't, but I still like what the guy has to say with regards to how to conduct oneself.

    many people have difficult life experiences and trauma. It can be damaging and even lead to mental health problems, stress and PTSD among other difficulties. On the other hand, it may be that suffering does lead to some increased awareness, whether it is strictly called 'enlightenment' as such. Most of us try to avoid too much suffering, but may be it ushers in some kind of wisdom through the back door, it is possible not to be broken by it too greatly. But it may be more about psychological kicks rather than necessarily in the form of physical kicks.Jack Cummins

    Yeah, I'm not saying all, or even most, pain is good, but rather that pain that makes us tougher or better in some way is good. Sparring, although potentially painful, will make you a better fighter, whereas whipping yourself with a leather belt, which is also potentially painful, will not. So it is that it is worth incurring some pain to better oneself by sparring, and desirable to avoid the whipping.

    And yeah, pain that breaks someone or causes maladaptation is really not so good.
  • john27
    673


    I think it's the sort of new experience that reveals enlightenment. Like: "Oh, so this is what pain feels like..." and then you explore that sensation. Too much pain however, In my belief seldom reveals an enlightened force. Like you Illustrated, as long as you can put a sensation to use, it will contribute in some aspect to enlightenment. Pain without use is, pretty matter of factly, useless.
  • Miller
    159
    either you submit to rigor and pain, or you go do something else.ToothyMaw

    you can go through pain if you are predicting a greater pleasure on the other side

    therefore its still hedonism
  • Tom Storm
    4k
    This, to me, is a form of enlightenment: either you submit to rigor and pain, or you go do something else.ToothyMaw

    Consider also spiritual pain - we know the world is full of people who are wretched and miserable for, shall we say, psychological reasons? Perhaps this can be understood partly as people chasing after the things of this world and forsaking higher truths. Apologies for the whiff of Platonism here.

    As I understand it, there are robust Christian and Buddhist traditions situating suffering as a conduit to enlightenment. In Christianity enlightenment may be described as union with higher consciousness or Salvation. Rev. Dr. Cynthia Bourgeault, an Episcopal priest frequently talks about this tradition.
  • Bitter Crank
    10.8k
    I was trying my hardest, literally couldn't do another kick, and I get told that I should kick until I am so out of breath I can't talk. But that kind of mentality is what gets the job done, I guess, because I ended up finishing the reps and felt like I was going to pass out.ToothyMaw

    How do you define "enlightenment"? How would you know that you were "enlightened"? Would anyone else recognize your "enlightenment"?

    This kind of severe routine enables you to find the actual limits of your capacity. Any extreme exercise can do that. It's possible that one will die trying, but most often not.

    Question: Is knowing how many kicks, miles, pounds, laps, etc. one can perform. It's certainly useful information. The first 100 mile a day bike ride I did was tiring (I had worked up to it) but it wasn't enlightening. It was just nice to know I could do it. Would I have been enlightened if I had gone 200 miles in 1 day?

    There are probably numerous routes to enlightenment (whatever that is) and none of them are probably reliable. Many people have experienced severe pain and were not enlightened by it; they were just exhausted.

    It's probably useful to discover one's actual performance limits, provided one is healthy enough to test the limit. Most of the time we aren't asked to do anything like that in a situation where much is at stake. SEALS perform in situations where maximum effort might be required, and where extreme suctiveness (bad smells, heat, cold, deep water, hot sand, death on a stick, etc.) should not impair performance.

    Something similar likely exists in trauma surgery: the subject comes in as a stinking mess of blood, guts, feces, etc. and one has to focus on several diverse problems at the same moment. Anyone might be held up at knife or gun point, and keeping your cool in that really bad situation helps one avoid needing the services of a trauma surgeon (or a coroner).
  • Agent Smith
    4.4k
    Reminds me of Avalokiteśvara, the thousand-armed bodhisattva who, according to some Buddhist traditions, vowed to lend a helping hand to all sentient beings in attaining nirvana. Given that suffering/pain/angst is cleansing (paying off one's karmic debt), Avalokiteśvera could incarnate as pure evil and inflict unimaginable suffering on us all! No pain, no gain! Good & Evil, sometimes hard to tell them apart.
  • ToothyMaw
    743
    How do you define "enlightenment"? How would you know that you were "enlightened"? Would anyone else recognize your "enlightenment"?Bitter Crank

    I define it vaguely as a sort of heightened insight achieved through rigorous self-reflection.

    As for knowing when it has been reached: idk, I myself just started thinking about this whole enlightenment thing a day ago.

    Question: Is knowing how many kicks, miles, pounds, laps, etc. one can perform. It's certainly useful information. The first 100 mile a day bike ride I did was tiring (I had worked up to it) but it wasn't enlightening. It was just nice to know I could do it. Would I have been enlightened if I had gone 200 miles in 1 day?Bitter Crank

    I'm trying to say that the attitude fostered by the type of enlightenment I'm talking about is the type of attitude that gets things done - even if it's hard. Being ready to push the limits of one's own abilities regularly is not typical among most of the people I have met outside of martial arts. Not that they are unenlightened or anything, but rather they just don't have that kind of drive necessary for what I'm talking about. And I'm not just referring to the application involved in martial arts.

    There are probably numerous routes to enlightenment (whatever that is) and none of them are probably reliable.Bitter Crank

    I agree. One's person's path to enlightenment will almost certainly be different from another's.

    It's probably useful to discover one's actual performance limits, provided one is healthy enough to test the limit. Most of the time we aren't asked to do anything like that in a situation where much is at stake.Bitter Crank

    Another good point. I haven't had to actually defend myself against anything with my limited martial arts abilities, whereas someone like Jocko has actually been shot before (I think).
  • ToothyMaw
    743
    you can go through pain if you are predicting a greater pleasure on the other side

    therefore its still hedonism
    Miller

    I'm not saying you achieve a greater pleasure out the other side of self-reflection, but rather that you gain a heightened insight into existence and, more specifically, the application of pain as involved in achieving said insight. But even if one did look at it so cynically, trading pain for greater pleasures necessitates a certain self-discipline that could only be achieved through accepting pain and rigor, like I said in the OP. Either way, it seems to be enlightenment to me.
  • Miller
    159
    you gain a heightened insight into existenceToothyMaw

    useless and impossible. you are simply expanding your mind

    trading pain for greater pleasures necessitates a certain self-disciplineToothyMaw

    no it doesnt. it requires you predict a greater pleasure on the other side. you go to work all week then you get a paycheck. if you dont predict the paycheck you wont do the work

    ----------

    free will is an illusion. the mind is deterministic and moves towards its predictions of pleasure
  • ToothyMaw
    743


    Damn dude, did you even think about your response?

    useless and impossible. you are simply expanding your mindMiller

    What do you mean "impossible"? I'm not saying something about merging with some higher supernatural power or something, but rather just realizing that sometimes you need to accept the bad and the even worse, and that pain and application can make you better.

    no it doesnt. it requires you predict a greater pleasure on the other side. you go to work all week then you get a paycheck. if you dont know about the paycheck you wont do the workMiller

    The paycheck, to me, is the heightened insight, which can only be achieved through acceptance of pain and hard work. Predicting the reward does not circumvent the difficulties in achieving said insight.

    What if you worked for a vet school and had to kill fifty chickens for dissection. You will be rewarded with one thousand dollars for completing the job. Being an intelligent person such as yourself, Miller, you decide to stuff them into bags and gas them. You dump them out and they appear to be dead.

    They aren't.

    Soon they all wake up and start clucking and strutting around. Do you proceed to break the necks of all fifty chickens, or do you give up? I would hazard to guess that you would give up, despite the sizeable reward. Mostly because to those who aren't starving, in serious debt, etc. it wouldn't be worth it.
  • ToothyMaw
    743
    free will is an illusion. the mind is deterministic and moves towards its predictions of pleasureMiller

    You can't just lay that on someone. What is your reasoning? Do you believe that the mind is housed in the brain?
  • ToothyMaw
    743


    Is the mind deterministic because it moves towards its predictions of pleasure or does it move towards its predictions of pleasure because it is deterministic? Those two things sound different to me.
  • T Clark
    9k
    useless and impossible. you are simply expanding your mindMiller

    @ToothyMaw

    If you're interested, you should take a look at @Tom Storm's recent discussion - What is it to be Enlightened?

    https://thephilosophyforum.com/discussion/12206/what-is-it-to-be-enlightened/p1
  • ToothyMaw
    743


    Even if the mind is indeed deterministic, there is no reason to think that our decisions are solely governed by the pursuit of predicted pleasures, unless every decision we make fits into a calculus - the outcome of which is to designate which pleasures to pursue. That sounds ridiculous to me; people consciously trade greater pleasures for smaller, and also make decisions impulsively; no single calculus governs every decision.

    If the mind is deterministic because we are programmed to seek predicted pleasures exclusively, then how is it that people can make erroneous decisions that cause things to end horribly even when enough factors are known to make a decision that will result in a predicted pleasure? If the calculus is wrong even with enough information, then the deterministic nature of said calculus can be disputed. In fact, I would say that it cannot be deterministic - or maybe just not all of the time.
  • Miller
    159
    accept the bad and the even worse, and that pain and application can make you better.ToothyMaw

    the mind intrinsically cannot accept pain.

    Do you believe that the mind is housed in the brain?ToothyMaw

    its irrelevant. the mind has no free will either way

    Is the mind deterministic because it moves towards its predictions of pleasure or does it move towards its predictions of pleasure because it is deterministic?ToothyMaw

    neither and both. the mind is bound by cause and effect. and the minds nature is to move away from pain and towards pleasure.

    there is no reason to think that our decisions are solely governed by the pursuit of predicted pleasuresToothyMaw

    a rock rolls down a hill. a human walks and eats and farts. no difference.

    nature moves people according to laws of physics
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