What if it's simple?

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Reply Thu 4 Mar, 2010 05:52 pm
YouTube - The Who - I'm Free
[CENTER] [QUOTE="I'm Free" (The Who)]If I told you what it takes
to reach the highest high,
You'd laugh and say 'nothing's that simple'
But you've been told many times before
Messiahs pointed to the door
And no one had the guts to leave the temple![/QUOTE]
[/CENTER]

This post was sparked by getting this song stuck in my head, and by twirlips thread "In what order...".

What if the answer really is simple? The answer to what people are generally seeking when they study religion, philosophy, the universe, or human nature. The answer to "what's it all about, what's the purpose of life, what should I do with my time here?".

Perhaps we just don't believe it's simple, or perhaps we just don't have the guts, as the Who suggest. I read an article today called

[CENTER]"The "Instrumentality" Heuristic

Why Metacognitive Difficulty Is Desirable During Goal Pursuit"
[/CENTER]

Abstract wrote:
The literature overwhelmingly demonstrates that feelings of ease are good and that objects that are easy to process are much liked. We propose, and demonstrate across three experiments, that this is not the case when people are pursuing a goal. This is because people pursuing a goal (e.g., "become kinder") usually invest efforts in whichever means (e.g., donate to a particular charity) they perceive as most instrumental for attaining their goal. Consequently, in their minds there is a correspondence between instrumentality of a means and feelings of effort. This correspondence becomes reversed in people's minds during goal pursuit, and they also come to view an object that is associated with feelings of effort rather than ease as more instrumental for goal attainment and consequently more desirable. When an object is not a means to fulfill an accessible goal, or when goals relating to the means are not accessible, subjective feelings of ease improve evaluation, as found in previous research on ease of processing.


There seems to be at least some scientific backing to this (although the researchers used different scenarios, and research has it's limitations). Since people associate effort with achieving their goals, the value things that require effort more than things that are easy (or simple).

In twirlips thread, two things jumped out at me. Twirlip has a list of some 42 philosophers he would like to read (many of whom have multiple books). He says:

Twirlip wrote:
I find it a struggle to get through any books at all these days
...
Nor will a mere historical summary satisfy me (although it will be a useful guide); I have to read some of the works of the major philosophers themselves.


Later, jeeprs mentioned meditation retreats:

jeeprs wrote:
I have undertaken one of the 10-day Vipassana Meditation Retreats which are offered by S.N. Goenka, free of charge, at centres in many countries. Great care is taken to differentiate this training from 'organised religion' and 'dogma'. Participants are encouraged to apply themselves to the practice and observe the results. It is an extremely arduous course, and the timetable they recommend for your daily practice is also pretty demanding. I will own up that I am not able to observe their recommended 'two-hour-per-day' regimen, but I nevertheless do practice regularly and there definitely are benefits.



This certainly isn't a thread to call them out and say "you fools, putting all that effort into it". And I apologize if you mind having your names in the thread. I have certainly said and will probably say again things similar to what I have quoted here. But right now I'm trying out a different perspective, and inquiring if the answer is indeed simpler.

Why don't we just ensure our happiness day by day, meanwhile keeping an eye out for the future? Maybe today, what would make us happy is reading Plato and meditating--but perhaps we'd be just as happy with a historical summary instead of the entire works and a 30 minute session instead of a 10 day retreat. Is our attraction to things that are "a struggle" or "arduous" just part of our faulty cognitive heuristic that assumes effort is what gets us the results we want?

I think so, but I'm left with a discomforting "So what do I do???" feeling :bigsmile:
 
Pythagorean
 
Reply Thu 4 Mar, 2010 06:12 pm
@Jebediah,
I have found that order, simplicity and balance are the most difficult things to achieve.
 
Twirlip
 
Reply Thu 4 Mar, 2010 06:15 pm
@Jebediah,
"The way out is through the door. Why is it that no one will use this method?" - Confucius (who, however, probably wrote a lot of books).

I'm a lazy SOB, and certainly not attracted to difficulty, but my conscience sometimes insists that effort is required, however little I like it!

By the way, when I read that passage attributed to 'Abstract', I was initially convinced that it was a parody, like this Biblical one by Orwell:
Quote:
Objective considerations of contemporary phenomena compel the conclusion that success or failure in competitive activities exhibits no tendency to be commensurate with innate capacity, but that a considerable element of the unpredictable must invariably be taken into account.
 
sometime sun
 
Reply Thu 4 Mar, 2010 06:26 pm
@Twirlip,
We cant be Heros if we dont slay them dragons.
 
awareness
 
Reply Sun 7 Mar, 2010 05:54 pm
@Jebediah,
to your first questions.

'The answer to "what's it all about, what's the purpose of life, what should I do with my time here?".'


What it is all about is your learning about who or what your are.
The purpose of life is to go through that learning process.
The most efficient way to spend your time hear is to learn about your self.
If you understand the whole truth about "you" you will understand your place and your purpose anywhere you are.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Sun 7 Mar, 2010 08:33 pm
@Jebediah,
I once considered writing a philosophy text in parentheses.

It began like this:

"In a perfect world, there would be no need for philosophy. (However.....)" The rest of the book would be the section in parentheses.


In the Bible one of the consequences of the Fall is that we are 'doomed to labour'.There is a verse, and a beautiful spiritual song, called 'Come unto Me, all ye who labor, and I will give you rest...' (The version by Take 6 is superb.)

"Why don't we just ensure our happiness day by day" - why indeed? It seems unfortunate that one does indeed have to labour, and also grow old, and look after things, and see the people you love grow old and die, and the many other trials and misfortunes that befall living beings. There may indeed not be a higher aim than being happy day by day, but it is actually not a simple thing to acheive, from what I observe. Existence seems to come with a fair amount of suffering attached to it, and I don't see how you can duck it. (Hence.....)
 
Lost1 phil
 
Reply Mon 8 Mar, 2010 06:15 am
@Jebediah,
On my desk at work is a little sign it states...."The purpose of Life is to live it."

Lost1
 
polpol
 
Reply Mon 8 Mar, 2010 02:41 pm
@Jebediah,
Jebediah, You are absolutely right. In fact it is a sign of intelligeance to be able to find the simplest solution to a problem. I was just reading about Zen and how it promotes simplicity and day to day wisdom. A master explained what Zen philosophy was all about
by saying "When you are hungry, you eat and when you are tired, you sleep"...the important thing is to live in harmony and to concentrate on the present but then again that is not so simple today and ten day retreats are a way to unplug and reconnect with just being. Yoga also teaches not to put more energy than necessary in what we do. It's also a matter of temperament, some like reading, others don't. Philosophy is not about books, it's about inquiry and that's what you are doing, so keep it up, it's very interesting.
 
shiknlitle
 
Reply Mon 8 Mar, 2010 03:05 pm
@Jebediah,
Agree to a point! If it seems to good to be true, or 'too easy' - it probably is - not true, or not legit! Almost like going back to the hippie stage. Too many people already take this. Living day to day, a simple life can mean to some avoid confrontation, la la la, and then might as well wear a sign saying "kick me" or "take advantge of me, I'm easy". Also leads to enabling those who choose not to accept responsibility-- either ignore it, or don't recognized because of a life of being enabled.
 
Arjuna
 
Reply Mon 8 Mar, 2010 03:46 pm
@shiknlitle,
shiknlitle;137642 wrote:
Agree to a point! If it seems to good to be true, or 'too easy' - it probably is - not true, or not legit! Almost like going back to the hippie stage. Too many people already take this. Living day to day, a simple life can mean to some avoid confrontation, la la la, and then might as well wear a sign saying "kick me" or "take advantge of me, I'm easy". Also leads to enabling those who choose not to accept responsibility-- either ignore it, or don't recognized because of a life of being enabled.
Yes if it seems too good to be true, it probably isn't true. That's one that gets relearned from time to time.

But I've noticed that many people, when offered a simple solution to a healthcare problem, will refuse it. I think it's because they think that if they're in THIS much pain... then it's going to take a therapy that's of equal magnitude. I've wondered if we had more witch doctors to jump around and scare the heck out of people, certain surgeries could be avoided... especially the ones that are known to have a poor success rate.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Mon 8 Mar, 2010 04:12 pm
@polpol,
polpol;137633 wrote:
. A master explained what Zen philosophy was all about by saying "When you are hungry, you eat and when you are tired, you sleep"...


and after rising at 4:00am for zazen and study and working between times in the garden, one will indeed be both hungry and tired :bigsmile:
 
Jebediah
 
Reply Mon 8 Mar, 2010 06:58 pm
@Arjuna,
polpol;137633 wrote:
Jebediah, You are absolutely right. In fact it is a sign of intelligeance to be able to find the simplest solution to a problem. I was just reading about Zen and how it promotes simplicity and day to day wisdom. A master explained what Zen philosophy was all about
by saying "When you are hungry, you eat and when you are tired, you sleep"...the important thing is to live in harmony and to concentrate on the present but then again that is not so simple today and ten day retreats are a way to unplug and reconnect with just being. Yoga also teaches not to put more energy than necessary in what we do. It's also a matter of temperament, some like reading, others don't. Philosophy is not about books, it's about inquiry and that's what you are doing, so keep it up, it's very interesting.


Thanks for the quote, I'd heard it before but forgotten it. I do think I overstated things in the OP, really it's more about this:

Arjuna;137662 wrote:
Yes if it seems too good to be true, it probably isn't true. That's one that gets relearned from time to time.

But I've noticed that many people, when offered a simple solution to a healthcare problem, will refuse it. I think it's because they think that if they're in THIS much pain... then it's going to take a therapy that's of equal magnitude.


As if (as shown in the study), we have a bias towards assuming a solution that requires more effort is better. The way I was putting it, I was implying the hard way wasn't better. But it's more like we are biased to thinking it is better, when it's only better sometimes.
 
Pepijn Sweep
 
Reply Thu 6 May, 2010 12:29 am
@Twirlip,
 
 

 
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