Cultivating Inner Harmony: Nurturing Positive Qualities to Overcome Negativity
In the pursuit of personal growth and inner peace, one significant hurdle we often encounter is negativity. Whether it manifests as anger, frustration, or a general sense of dissatisfaction, negativity can hinder our well-being and hinder our relationships. Fortunately, the teachings of the Dhamma offer profound wisdom and practical guidance for addressing and transforming negativity into positive qualities. In this article, we will explore the principles of the Dhamma and how they can help us navigate the challenges of negativity in our lives.
Recognizing the Nature of Negativity: Negativity, in its various forms, stems from a fundamental resistance to accepting and embracing the present moment. It arises when we reject our experiences and harbor an unwillingness to be fully present with them. By understanding that negativity is rooted in this resistance, we can begin to explore ways to transform it.
Cultivating Wholesome Desire: A key aspect of the Dhamma is the exploration of desire and its effects on our well-being. While craving arises from a lack of understanding and leads to dissatisfaction, wholesome desire emerges from wisdom and insight. By nurturing wholesome desires, such as the aspiration for inner peace and the well-being of oneself and others, we align our intentions with the path of growth and harmony.
Transforming Negative Emotions: The Dhamma offers powerful tools for transforming negative emotions into positive qualities. Mindfulness plays a crucial role in this process, as it enables us to observe our emotions without judgment or attachment. Through mindfulness, we become aware of the physical and mental cues that precede negativity, allowing us to respond skillfully rather than react impulsively.
The Power of Compassion: Compassion is another essential aspect of the Dhamma that helps us overcome negativity. By cultivating compassion towards ourselves and others, we develop a profound understanding of the interconnectedness of all beings. Compassion allows us to let go of anger, judgment, and resentment, replacing them with empathy, forgiveness, and loving-kindness.
Wise Reflection and Self-Compassion: In our journey towards overcoming negativity, it is crucial to engage in wise reflection and self-compassion. Instead of being harsh and judgmental towards ourselves, we can cultivate a gentle and understanding attitude. By reflecting on our actions, thoughts, and emotions, we can identify patterns of negativity and consciously choose to respond with wisdom and kindness.
Dealing with negativity is a universal challenge, but the teachings of the Dhamma provide profound insights and practical tools for transformation. By recognizing the nature of negativity, cultivating wholesome desires, and embracing mindfulness and compassion, we can embark on a journey of inner growth and harmony.
As we develop these positive qualities, we not only uplift ourselves but also create a ripple effect of positivity that extends to our relationships, communities, and the world at large. Let us embrace the teachings of the Dhamma and strive to cultivate inner harmony in the face of negativity.
I Transcribed this teaching from an audio file recording of a Dhamma Teaching by Thanissaro Bhikkhu. Please click the player t0 listen as you scroll down to read. This is a supreme Dhamma teaching, and essential to finding the end of suffering and stress, and transmuting unhappiness into happiness in your mind and heart.
Start your meditation with thoughts of goodwill. Goodwill is a wish for happiness. And as we’ll see, the Buddha takes that wish really seriously. You want to be able to develop goodwill for all beings, starting with yourself and spreading out to others. Because you’re looking for happiness that lasts, happiness that’s solid. And that requires that your happiness not depend on harming anybody else.
Because other people want happiness too. And if your happiness harms them, they’re not going to stand for it. So we realize genuine happiness comes from within. Safe happiness comes from within. We take the qualities that we have inside and we develop them. And that way we’re not taking anything away from anyone else.
And we’re producing a happiness that really is genuine. A happiness that is harmless. And as the Buddha pointed out, true happiness is possible and happiness that doesn’t change on you. Which is why he has you take your desire for happiness seriously. Not that you should be grim about it, but simply realize that it’s something you have to think about and examine.
Sometimes we’re told that we have to accept the way reality is, that things in the world are inconstant, stressful, not self. That sets out the parameters for where we’re going to find happiness. So we have to content ourselves with what kind of happiness can be found within those parameters, within that framework. That means we have to lower our sights. They say that we have to be content with whatever pleasures we can find, knowing that they’ll leave us. And so squeezing a little bit of bittersweet pleasure out of them before they go.
But that’s not the Buddha’s approach at all. You look at his life. He left home in search of a happiness that didn’t change. As far as he was concerned, the only thing that would really be worthwhile searching for would be something that didn’t age, didn’t grow ill, didn’t die. Something that was not inconstant, not stressful. And something that didn’t require control at all. And after many years he found it. So he wasn’t the sort of person to lower his sights. He raised his sights, like where happiness is true.
And as he taught that framework of accepting reality as it is and then trying to find happiness within the constraints of that reality, he switched those two frameworks around. So the framework became the quest for happiness. Is there a true happiness? And if you’re finding happiness among things that are inconstant, stressful, and not-self, you’re looking in the wrong place. You have to tell yourself there must be something better. Now as we practice, we are making use of things that are not very constant.
We start out with our intentions, like when we’re meditating, you set up the intention to stay with your breath. Follow the breath coming in, follow the breath going out. And try to make the breath comfortable, because if you’re going to stay here in the present moment, the mind will be willing to stay only if it feels comfortable here. So experiment for a while to see what kind of breathing feels good. Long breathing, short breathing, fast, slow, heavy, light, deep or shallow. See what breathing feels good for you right now. If the mind wanders off, realize that you’ve wandered away from your original intention, so you bring it right back. If it wanders off again, you bring it back again.
You don’t give up. Each time you come back, try to reward yourself with a breath that feels especially good. Make it continually good all the way in, all the way out. We’re trying to develop two qualities here. One is concentration, the other is your discernment. Concentration comes when you find an object that feels good to stay with, and you can settle in. You can think of that sense of well-being that comes from a breath spreading throughout the body.
Say for instance you’re focused on the middle of the chest, and you’re able to breathe in a way that makes that area of the body feel good all the way in, all the way out. You don’t make the breath too long, too short. You don’t squeeze that part of the body. You allow it to feel full. Even as you breathe out, there can be a sense of fullness in there.
And then you allow that sense of fullness to spread through the body, down the nerves, down the back, down the legs, down the shoulders, the arms, out to the feet, out to the hands, up around in the head. Allow that sense of well-being to stay. That’s how you get the mind to settle down, in a good state of being centered or concentrated. And then comes discernment. You find as you meditate that different feelings will come up in the body, different feelings will come up in the mind. Some of them can be very pleasant. Focus on the pleasant ones, but realize that they are part of the path and not the goal. As for the goal, the Buddha said that discernment begins when you ask questions.
And the primary question is, what when I do it will lead to my long-term welfare and happiness? Notice, the Buddha has you start with that desire for true happiness, long-term happiness. And the discernment there comes from one, realizing that it’s going to have to depend on your actions. The word action here covers bodily actions, verbal actions, mental actions. So something you’re going to be able to find through your own efforts. And then in terms of the happiness you’re looking for, one, you want it to be long-term. You realize that long-term is possible, then it’s better than short-term. And anyone can find happiness and pleasure, but it’s the wise person who looks for pleasure that’s long-term.
And sometimes that’s going to require giving us the short-term pleasures. But if you’re really wise in discerning, you’ll see that it’s worth it. So that’s the framework. Your desire for happiness, you take it seriously, you realize that it will depend on your actions. And you’re not going to settle for short-term, you want something that lasts. And then you take those three characteristics, what the Buddha calls three perceptions, and then you apply them to whatever comes up. If something is inconstant, then you realize, okay, it’s not long-term. You’re going to need to look for something else. If it’s inconstant and stressful, it’s certainly not happiness. You have to look somewhere else.
And if it’s inconstant and stressful, it’s not worth laying claim to as yours. So that’s the test. Real happiness will be something that is constant, free from stress, and actually lies beyond any thoughts of self or not-self. Because it has to lie beyond clinging. So that’s what we’re looking for. Now in the meantime, though, it’s not like you throw away everything that’s inconstant. Because after all, the path that we’re practicing has its ups and downs. And there will be things that you have to hold on to that are not permanent yet. It’s part of the Buddha’s insight that it is possible to take a path that’s based on your intentions, learn how to make your intentions more and more solid. And that path would lead you to something that doesn’t have to depend on intentions at all. It’s like the road to the Grand Canyon.
The road to the Grand Canyon doesn’t look like the Grand Canyon. In fact, if you’re approaching the Grand Canyon from the south, all you see is just pretty flat territory with some scrubby trees. And the road itself doesn’t cause the Grand Canyon. But if you follow the road, it can take you to the Grand Canyon. And you arrive there. And it’s an immense space. Not at all like the road. So there are some things that are inconstant and stressful. The stress may be subtle, but it’s there. That we have to take as the path. Anything that’s off the path, that’s not related to virtue, concentration and discernment, you learn to let go. Again, it’s like traveling on that road.
If you find yourself loaded down with all kinds of weights that are totally useless, or it turns out that your car that you’re driving has a motor that can pull you back, you have to learn how to turn off that motor that pulls you back. Use only the motor that will take you where you want to go. That way you’ll be able to get there. So even though the path changes, it can take you to something that doesn’t change. As you develop your concentration, as you develop your discernment. So give it your full attention, what you’re doing right now. Because a lot of the discernment comes from watching yourself as you try to get the mind to settle down. All too often we just let the mind wander where it wants. And as a result we don’t really understand it. It’s when you try to channel it in a particular direction that you begin to understand how intentions form in the mind.
And how other intentions can arise to cut off your first intentions. And how you have to learn how to say no. And how to say no skillfully. In other words, by convincing yourself that those other intentions are really not worth following right now. This is how you learn, by getting the mind to settle down. And you’re taking your desire for happiness and you’re putting it first. After all, that’s what the Buddha did. And he found that by taking his desire for happiness seriously, that desire could take him where he wanted to go. To a place where he didn’t have to need any more desires after that. He found the ultimate happiness.
Something that wasn’t inconstant, wasn’t stressful. It was so good that you didn’t even have to hold on to it. That’s the path that he followed. And the path that he pointed out to everybody else is that this works. So take your desire for happiness seriously. And see what you can learn from the Buddha. And also what you can learn from trying to get the mind to settle down. Stay with one object. And see what you learn about the quality of your mind’s intentions. Both in seeing how they arise and how you may switch intentions and how you can get back to your original intention. You can develop a lot of discernment and wisdom as you master just this skill.
A step in destroying Mijchaa Dhitti (False Views):- Considering having suffered the Abduction of My Own Son, and estrangement through parental Alienation and Child Brainwashing, and a lot Vainly Fighting for His Right to see his Father, and Mine as a Parent, and lost in ever battle, i became interested in Human Rights Activism a Campaigning for various ‘Things of Importance’. As a result of the Activism, not only have i Stirred My Own heart Up with causes of Dissatisfaction, I have also been persecuted for it as a Human Rights Activist by Corrupt Officials, including being Kidnapped in the doorway of an Airplane, and Framed by Corrupt Policemen. Due to my Distress and Anger, and Need for Retaliation, I felt that My Advancements in the Search for Illuminated Wisdom and Peace, was in Conflict with these Activities, which included blogging and Actively Engaging with the Authorities of Various Nations in the Attempt to Inititate Some Kind of Proceedings to Influence Human Rights, Especially those of Children, I have Decided to Let Go, and Join the rest of the Complacent Masses.
Take a Deep Breath and Let Go
And, as a Practitioner of Vipassana Kammathana Mindfulness, and accept Dependent Origination as a Reality, i have not only decided mentally to let go of fighting for the World of Humanity (Sentient Beings on this Planet), but to Seek The Unworldly Once More. In a sense, It is the fact that Nobody Cares about Changing the World Anyway (Nor Do They Understand the World), that has also helped to make the Decision to Let Go. Vipassana is the Only Truly Worthwile Goal of Any Person who has seen the true Nature of Existence within the processes of the 5 aggregates.
Tired of Self Created Suffering
But in my Heart of Hearts, it is the More Knowledge, that the Worldly has an Infinite Number of Agendas and Issues, with which one can waste one’s whole life, and perhaps one’s only chance at Enlightenment, that has Brought Me to Move Forward. No More Precious Time Wasted, by Fighting For Things which Do Not Lead to the Cessation of Suffering, and the End of Rebirth in Dissatisfactory Realms of Existence. As we say in Thai “Chang Man!” (To Heck with It All).
Nibbana is The Mind Stilled
The Perpetuation of Dependent Origination is Nothing Worth Seeking, and the Cessation of this Process, is The Goal
The goal is to penetrate and understand the subtle and elusive mysteries of the Paticcasammuphada (Pratītyasamutpāda in Pali). Dependent Origination is the Driving Force (Due to Avijja/Wrong Views, and Craving that Arises from them), and a Cosmic process, which hurls us through endless lifetimes, and it is the result of causes we make ourselves, which bury is forever in repeated return to Birth, Aging, Sickness and eventually, Death and Cessation
I have a Grand Disagreement with the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, and the Theory of the Arrow of Time, which compels me to post about this ‘Matter’ (being to do with the Material Universe and the Laws of Quantum Physics/Mechanics). There is no net increase in entropy, rather, a constant re-balancing and rearrangement of material forms, within the rules of cause and effect. This topic is also related to Evolutionary Sciences, and the algorithms of Natural Selection. I also disagree with the theory of ‘The Arrow of Time“.
To Begin with i would like to show a video of a clip from a documentary by a Great Modern British Scientist and TV Personality whom i admire and respect, and see as ‘The Next Sir Richard Attenborough”, for the way he has made science interesting to the younger generation again, and his wonderful way of explaining and describing things, as well as the fantastic production editing of his team.
The first false assumption Brian makes about the Law of Entropy, Chaos and Order, is that he is creating ‘Order’ when he builds the sandcastle. he is not creating ‘Order’, rather, is only under the impression that his disturbance of the natural fractal patterns of the dunes, is orderly, and that the fractal dunes, are chaotic. This is as false a view, as the view that the dunes are orderly, and the sandcastle is chaotic. All views are subjective, and hence, not objective (false, for they are contextual in nature).
Castles in the Sand – Palaces of Stardust
The Buddha did not have views, for he said that all views are false, and hence, paradoxically, the only view that the Buddha held to be true, is that all views are false views, except right view, which is the view that there is no self, and all things are impermanent, conditioned in nature, and dis-satisfactory because of that. We have Dualistic minds, and find it hard to open the curtains, lift the veils of Illusion so to speak, and see beyond our own perspective, which is subjective, not objective
Now i continue with this share of a Ted Talk which addresses some of the issues i have with the second law of thermodynamics; “The History of the World in 18 Minutes”
The video is from one of the team who made one of my favorite History Channel documentaries; ‘Big History’ which takes an alternative approach to viewing history and the interconnections between everything.
To quote this video which belongs to the staunch belief in the second law of thermodynamics (Entropy Theory) “David Christian narrates a complete history of the universe, from the Big Bang to the Internet, in a riveting 18 minutes. This is “Big History”: an enlightening, wide-angle look at complexity, life and humanity, set against our slim share of the cosmic timeline. “
“I keep reiterating that focusing on an iceberg dissolving, or a sandcastle disintegrating or a rock eroding, does not show entropy is the direction of things. The iceberg was first constructed, as was the mountain before it eroded, as was the sandcastle. And so, everything lies in a constant state of rearrangement, of construction and deconstruction (constant flux), but both creation and entropy go hand in hand, for no thing can exist without its own opposite! We see a sandcastle dissolve into the fractal-like orderly but never repeating patterns of the sand dunes of the desert, and think disorder is in effect, when in truth, the desert, is merely rearranging the disorderly sandcastle,, which despite human conditioned thought perceiving it as ‘the orderly part’. is in fact the disorderly chaotic part, and the desert is reclaiming it and rearranging it back into its Natural ORDER of things, which is namely dunes, and ripples on the dunes, which move like the ripples on the ocean, and have no permanence or un-changing-ness to them. If entropy were the only direction the material universe travels in, then an iceberg or a planet or an element, or a complex structure such as DNA would never have come into existence.”
We may see cancer as entropy of our own health, but for the cancer genome, it is in process of construction and adaptation (evolution through rearrangement). So both Entropy and Construction/Creation, are seeming processes (false and Dualistic conditioned views), where in truth, there is only rearrangement, but no construction and deconstruction (creation and entropy).
“Chaos and Order, much like Beauty, Only Exist, in the Eye of the Beholder”.
The first law of thermodynamics tells us that energy is conserved. However, the absence of the process, indicates that conservation of energy is not the whole story. If it were, movies run backwards would look perfectly normal to us! Have you ever observed this process, a broken cup spontaneously reassembling and rising up onto a table? This process could conserve energy and other laws of thermodynamics and enrgy mechanics.
Maybe movies don’t run backwards to us, but who is to say that the way we perceive things, and measure things, is the only way things are going? A person on 520 megahertz CB radio channel 9 won’t hear what some people on channel 7 were talking about, would they? At least not unless they changed frequency of perception.
Considering myself an auto-didact, I always taught myself everything that I know apart from the first basics which I learned in school, such As the alphabet and how to read and write, and my first basic math lessons. I do remember enjoying history as they taught it, and i believe some of the things i learned at St. Olave’s Boarding School York were the basis of my ability to apply self learning to educate myself, long after i had left school without a single qualification.
In recent years, my self education based in web programming and etymology and lateral thinking, i became very obsessed with educating myself about how Artificial Intelligence may be developed and applied in the present and future, both near and far
The story of Google Deep Mind’s Alpha Go beating an 18 times world champion at the world’s most complex and difficult boardgame GO, rose my interest as to thinking both how the A.I. learns from its own mistakes, how it predicts, and how in game 4 of 5 rounds, the Korean master managed to cause a memory overload by making the A.I. need to look further ahead in the number of moves as it was programmed to do, and tax its own computing power to the point where it became confused.
In my early years when the rest of the kids were playing Basketball or Rugby or Cricket or whatever, i would go to the Library and read Asronomy Books. Computing was not a topic one could find in school libraries in the mid seventies, otherwise i may have interested myself for that as much as i interest myself for algorithms, computing and Artificial Intellligence, in relation with Nature’s Natural Algorithm of Self Learning which we call ‘Darwinian Evolutionary Theory’
I refused to go to school at the age of 13, and didn’t go back until the final term of my 15th year of life. As the exams came up after 2 years of absence, and being in a Cambridge based educational comprehensive state school after having left an Oxford based Jesuit Boarding school in Malta, I walked in with a new tattoo on my arm, and my sleeves rolled up, signed the exam sheets and left them empty, and walked out.
Walked Out of the Exams Without Fillling in a Single Question and Signed my Name
So what does all of this have to do with algorithms? I hear you asking; All I can say to you in answer is “absolutely everything”
Let’s start with the classic scientific definition and current public understanding of the world algorithm in the IT Computing world;
An algorithm is Math based set of instructions which depend on sets of functions, variables, and priorities. An Artificial Intelligence algorithm however, no longer needs the Human to continue teaching it (although Humans will interfere and add code to improve the algorithm when a runtime error or inacccuracy or inefficiency is detected).
Below is an old GCE level computing algorithm tutorial, which even if you dont understand code and computing, will begin to give you an idea about how an algorithm can be built upon.
Perhaps you can then imagine how a point can be reached in the programming, where the machine itself can be set to learn from its own set of varied experiments and attempts to solve or execute programs.
For example, an analytics algorithm could be built in with a runtime error log which would then be combined as machine learning database information after reboot, and the machine would use its ‘memory of the experience’ to avoid making the same mistake twice. But algorithms are not merely computer based, for if Mathematicians are right, it is the process of Evolution itself which uses self learning algorithms in the same way an A.I. program does.
A further calculation program to analyse alternative possible fails and runtime errors which may occur through similar scenarios would then also be run, and with a series of ifs, and whens, buts and thens, the machine would learn to make the most effective decisions,
The next problem in Artificial Intelligence Algorithm Programming is to decide and understand how to program a set of ethics into the system (see Arthur C. Clarke‘s Science Fiction series of books which are of Visionary Excellence, just like those of Isaac Asimov, with his ‘I Robot‘ series, which deals with the 3 laws of robotics, and is a major foundation of the philosophy of most modern Artificial Intelligence Programmers up to the present day, despite being a science fiction novel.
Arthur C. Clarke was also one of the world’s greatest Astronomical Scientists, but also wrote science fiction novels, which have shown great predictive foresight into how the future (our present day) may turn out. Isaac Asimov wrote hard science fiction. Along with Robert A. Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke, Asimov was considered one of the “Big Three” science fiction writers during his lifetime
So what do mathematical and A.I. Algorithms have to do with Nature and Evolution?
A.I. Interfacing with Humans Controlling the Decisions over all Important Protocols. This is how we eventually circumvent the problem of how A.I. can remain under Human Control
Will the Biological Entity (Humans) merge with Artificial Intelligence?
The answer to this question is very Easy; We already are doing. Many of us speakj to Siri or Cortana or Google Assistant or similar every day for menial questions, calling up data or commanding basic actions, be it on the device within apps, or with smart home hardware technology in the home.
I can remember seeing various Science Fiction Movies where the Protagonists spoke to the ship they were traveling in or the building they were residing in, and the computer with a background listener would perform its duties.
In those days, nobody thought o the security issues which would arise with background listening microphones and devices, and webcams, and now we stand between a heaven of Futuristic technology which could make our lives so much easier (or arguably more complicated), and a hell of a Dystopian Future with Big Brother-Like Government Agencies and Companies spying on one’s every private aspect of one’s life, be it physical, medical, mental, habitual, social behavior.. all data gathered from our actions on Facebook, Google, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and so on, is gathered and analyzed using A.I. to interpret our behavior patterns using Math, This has proved efficient enough that Alpha Go could beat an 18 times world champion 4 out of 5 times in a row.
Will we Blend with Robots AND A.I.?
The answer to this is yes! this is inevitable.
How do Social Networks Use Algorithms to Process and Apply the Knowledge Gained from Our Data and Behaviours? Well, that’s a long topic, and needs many more blogposts to cover the matter properly, but I leave you with some visual food for thought below.